SHARE
COPY LINK

CHILDREN

German project spotlights happiness through the eyes of a child

What is a happy day for you? To find the best answers, dance teacher Karina Sillmann began asking the children, ages 7-12, in her class in Aschaffenburg near Frankfurt.

German project spotlights happiness through the eyes of a child
Happy surfing students. Photo: Karina Sillmann

Even over the holidays, amid the gift-giving and glittering Christmas markets, happiness for them boiled down to the immaterial. One girl said her most joyful day was baking cookies with her mom. For others it was simply spending time with their sister, brother, parents or anyone they love.

“I like the honesty that children have and I was curious of their answers,” said Sillmann, who began collecting their answers in the form of letters. “It shows that the simple things make us happy.”

An avid world traveller, Sillmann sought to hear what happiness is for children around the world – from Bolivia to Thailand. In February, she started Children's Happy Days project, and through the blog and connections in other countries, began asking for letters from around the globe.

Sillmann has now received 52 letters from 16 different countries, and responds to each of them personally – sometimes through the help of friends who can translate, as was the case when she received a letter from a boy in Thailand.

She published the letters on her website as a way of reminding people what happiness is when seen from a child’s perspective.

When she travels abroad on holidays, Sillmann also participates in other sports projects with children, be it surfing on the Portuguese coast, or football in the hills of Bolivia.

The dance-enthusiast observed how movement makes children happy – abroad and at back at home. “A happy day to me is a day on which I can dance or do gymnastics. I just feel well then,” wrote a 10-year-old student from her class.

Letter reprint courtesy Karina Sillmann. Photo: DPA

Other non-materialistic experiences that give Sillmann’s students joy are finding a new song to dance to, or inventing their own dance moves, she says.

In general happiness lies in their favourite hobbies such as reading books from a particular writer, playing an instrument or doing sports.

“It’s good to see the world through the eyes of a child,” said Sillmann who continues to collect letters through post. “We often forget what’s important.”

On her website, Sillmann writes letters in five languages, including her German mother-tongue, to request letters from around the world. Photo courtesy: Karina Sillmann

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

EDUCATION

Schools around Germany reopen as Covid numbers sink

As coronavirus figures continue to fall around Germany, several states are again opening schools in full force. Here’s where - and when - in-person classes are resuming again.

Schools around Germany reopen as Covid numbers sink
Elementary shcool pupils in Hanover returned to the classroom on Monday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

On Monday, the countrywide 7-day incidence dropped to 35.1 per 100,000 residents, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The RKI reported 1,978 new cases in the last 24 hours, down from 2,682 a week before. 

In light of the lower numbers, many states have decided to end distance learning and alternating classes, and to return to regular classroom operations.

This marks the first time in several months – in some cases since November – that primary and secondary pupils have been able to return to full instruction.

However, mandatory face masks and coronavirus tests at least twice a week still apply to all pupils.

Where and when are schools reopening?

Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia is reopening schools with face-to-face instruction across the board on Monday.

Lower Saxony, Saarland and Hamburg are also returning to normal operation across class levels in most state regions. 

In Brandenburg, this initially applies only to elementary schools. The only exception is the city of Brandenburg/Havel, where the numbers are still considered to be too high. In a week’s time, the secondary schools are to follow suit. 

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the state with the lowest 7-day incidence nationwide (14.9 as of Monday), students began returning to classes on Thursday. 

Berlin, on the other hand, plans to stick with the alternating classes – where different groups of students attend on different days – until the summer vacations, which begin June 24th.

The capital’s mayor Michael Müller (SPD) recently pointed out that the incidence among students in the capital was higher than the average. 

Rhineland-Palatinate is also taking a cautious approach. Following the end of school holidays in a week, pupils will have two more weeks of rotating classes before everyone returns for face-to-face instruction.

From June 7th in Bavaria, if the 7-day incidence remains stable below 50, face-to-face teaching is planned everywhere. Previously this was only the case at elementary schools and some special schools. 

In Baden-Württemberg, elementary schools are to return to face-to-face instruction if the 7-day incidences remain stable between 50 and 100. 

From June 11th, this is also to apply to all students in grade five and above who are currently still in alternating instruction.

What’s the reaction?

Not everyone is happy with the way schools are reopening. On Monday the Federal Parents’ Council criticised the different approaches taken by the states. 

“It’s like it has been since the outbreak of the pandemic: each state does what it wants,” complained chairwoman Sabrina Wetzel in a statement. “We demand a uniform line on openings as well.”

For parents, the different regulations from state to state are difficult to understand, she said, adding that “it’s also unfair to the children”.

READ ALSO: German teachers call for uniform Covid rules in schools nationwide

SHOW COMMENTS