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‘It doesn’t need more toys, but the feeling of being needed!’

‘Nest’erl’ is the name of the new, spacious childcare centre at ULRICHSHOF and now offers six times more space than before. Here, little adventurers can discover and play freely, supported by a loving community. Michaela Lankes, member of the ULRICHSHOF management and Head of Childcare & Entertainment, explains the unique concept and the wide range of activities on offer.

What is the ‘Nest'erl’?

The ‘Nest’erl’ is our indoor WaldWunderWerk childcare centre. Here we offer little adventurers a unique world full of play, fun and creativity. We focus on an open structure that gives children the freedom to discover and express themselves.

Kinderbetreuung im "Nest'erl"

What is the core of the new care concept?

The main approach is that the children are not just looked after to pass the time, but because we really need them. For example, if we need decorations, we make them together. If we need something to eat, we cook together in the kitchen. Or we do gardening together. It’s about giving the children the feeling of being needed instead of constantly giving them new toys. Children get more and more toys these days and yet it’s often not enough because they are used to this overload from an early age. That’s why our premises are deliberately minimalist in design to create more space for individualised childcare. Less fun material means more genuine interaction and more focus on the children. I am convinced that our approach will work, even if we differ from conventional children’s hotels.

‘In our materialistic world, it is important not to forget the simple things.’

Michaela Lankes

How does the new concept differ from traditional programmes?

In the past, childcare programmes were often planned with fixed programme items. When I started Pony Camp, I realised that childcare should actually be organised differently. Over the years, I have learnt that less planning and more flexibility to respond to the children makes the time much more fulfilling. In our materialistic world, it is important not to forget the simple things and to realise that children are not a burden. If we raise them to be emotionally intelligent and resilient right from the start – as our basic concept at EMALAMA Raidho Kids envisages – they feel good and don’t need constant entertainment. They feel important and needed, which means they don’t constantly need new toys. The media world is loud and full of impressions, so a calmer and simpler approach is often better.

How do the children react to this new approach?

It can be difficult for many children to accept this at first, especially if they are criticised for not having enough toys. But this is where we need to set an example for the children. ‘Energy follows attention’ means that everything in our lives becomes greater when we focus our attention on it. If we focus our attention on positive things, this will enrich our lives. Children look at us and sense when we are authentic and full of joy. For example, when we sing and really enjoy it, the children join in enthusiastically. They then don’t need toys because they feel that we are offering them a meaningful experience.

How was the new concept integrated into the planning and construction phase?

Our concept is also reflected in the design of the premises. The shell of the building is modern, but we have deliberately gone back to our roots to create a cosy atmosphere. Many people remember that as children they loved to sit in their grandparents’ warm parlour. We wanted to convey this feeling of cosiness. One example is our tiled stove in the ‘Nest’erl-Stubn’. Although we couldn’t install a real stove with a fire for fire safety reasons, we have a wood-burning tiled stove with a heating element behind it, so it’s still cosy and warm at the children’s table. This also shows the children that there are always alternative solutions, even if something doesn’t work as desired.

‘Our concept is based on warmth, security and togetherness.’

Michaela Lankes

What makes the ‘Nest'erl’ so special?

Our concept is based on warmth, security and togetherness. We welcome children from 0 to over 100 years of age – from 9 am to 8 pm. There is no registration, anyone can drop in spontaneously and celebrate everyday life. We cook, bake, plant, do handicrafts, build and make music together. It’s a place where all generations can come together and spend time together.

What special activities are on offer?

In the ‘Nest’erl-Stubn’ we celebrate kitchen parties, cook and eat together. Our music room invites you to discover your own melody of the heart with instruments from all over the world. We also have a pottery workshop and an area where fabrics, yarns and natural materials can be used creatively.

How do you cook together in the ‘Nest'erl-Stubn’?

In our ‘Nest’erl-Stubn’, the wooden spoon becomes a magic wand. We cook together to our heart’s content – sometimes regional Bavarian, sometimes exotic and unusual, but always with love. Our kitchen fairies lead the mini cookery course and show the young and old chefs new tricks. We then enjoy the finished delicacies together at the children’s table. You can register for the supervised lunch or dinner.

What is special about childcare at ‘Nest'erl’?

Our carers lovingly look after the children – accompanied and unaccompanied. They provide a sense of security and a meaningful time. We want to show children and their families how beautiful life can be and inspire them to have new experiences together. On request, our youngest guests can be carried in a sling or baby carrier by trained babywearing consultants – we call this ‘wrapped in love’.

What are the principles behind the support?

It is important for us to emphasise that we are guided by the principles that are successful in cultures with particularly happy, competent and resilient children. These principles are also confirmed by recent studies, for example from Harvard University. It is about creating a close connection, spending meaningful time together and rediscovering everyday life and interaction with nature as the greatest game in life. So away from artificially created separation and towards natural connection and unity. We would be delighted if many young and old adventurers found their way to us and were inspired by our ‘Nest’erl’. Life is full of wonders, and we are here to discover these wonders together.

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