New kindergarten opened in Kašelj
On 9 May, City Holiday, the Pedenjped kindergarten opened its new unit Pedenjcarstvo distinguished by its spatial design. The special feature of the unit is its department for children with disorders on the autistic spectrum.
The kindergarten is housed in a circular building in a shape of a ring with an open central atrium and rooms encircling it like a fan. The atrium serves as a green open-air living room where children can play, explore, study and socialize.
Separate playrooms offer privacy, while the inside halls and spaces in between are suitable for joint activities and connecting. The multipurpose area is equipped as a gym intended for physical activities as well as for socializing, holding performances, meeting with parents and staff training.
Kindergarten for autistic children
The new kindergarten in the first in Slovenia to offer a special programme for children with autism within the public kindergarten network. It is a contribution to the professional development of specialised education and learning methods within the national curriculum as well as to the promotion of a positive attitude and the provision of adequate conditions for vulnerable groups of children. Namely, kindergarten enrolment is for many parents the first time they are faced with the fact that their child is autistic.
Public kindergartens for children with special needs, including children with autism, offer two different programmes – development and regular departments facilitating integration with additional professional assistance, but this is not always optimal for autistic children. Many times it seems to be conceived too broadly without providing specific conditions which children with autism need for optimal progress. That is why kindergartens in Ljubljana want to give the parents of autistic children the opportunity and possibility to enrol their preschool children in a specialised preschool department offering a high-quality early intervention programme for children with autism. The aim of the programme is for children to develop a positive self-image, to successfully participate in and carry out kindergarten activities, and to develop strategies and skills needed for successful integration into the neurotypical world of their peers – especially with regard to the subsequent entry into the regular primary school programme.
Considering the high share of people with autism we believe a different conceptual basis for working with autistic children and people in the sense of social integration into society is needed; with the new department we are introducing a new concept and are again breaking ground in a crucial area of organising different education for them.