How do Germans develop children’s self-confidence? From the popular school circus

How German build up their children’s confidence? Let’s talk about Circus camp….

It has been a while after since we came back from summer vocation. Finally I can take some quiet time to look back what we did and where we have been during last 2 months….Instead of traveling around last previous times, this year we stayed in one place to “stay as a regular living”. Kids spent most of their time playing in garden, only Marcus attended a 4 days soccer camp & a 5 days Circus camp.

During the 4 days Circus camp, kids have done everything including gymnastic, parkour, barefoot on glasses, put off fire with hands….it sounds so difficult and dangerous, however, my kids were practicing everyday repeating, furthermore, they designed a “Dog’s Circus” at home! ( why dogs? becoz when they were practicing, there were always 2 dogs lying aside 🙂 )

Started from entrance ticket, seat arrangement, program design, performance, orders..all by themselves! So, a leisure summer camp turned out to be a PBL-project! The Butterfly affection is much bigger than I would have imaged!


Kids are allowed to choose what they like to do and go deeper on it!


Every morning from 8-9am is sort of free time, as some still coming. In our class there’re more than half kids are experienced or attended previous years camp, it seems so professional to me when seeing them rolling or turning ^^

First 3 mornings are “learning time”, kids experience all kind of activity, including: gymnastic, parkour, wooden sticks fighting, jumping loops …etc. Afterward they can choose 2-3 kinds of activity to focus on. In the afternoon of the last (5th) day, there’s a performance to parents. So kids will perform those activities they chose.


In the afternoon, when focus are mostly loosing, teachers will take the kids outdoor, playing water or sth. Out of curiosity, I asked the teacher, “Does everyone choose what they like? no one ever said NO, I don’t want to do anything! ? ” Janet, who has been working in circus-teaching field, told me..

” Of course they could say no! We encourage them to say no! It’ takes courage to say NO to teachers! We respect their opinion, if kids can’t learn how to express their feelings, it could happen that they’re bullied and they’re afraid to say it! “ teacher Janet said.


Janet shared her experience in our phone interview: There was one girl who came as first time, no friend, no desire…she didn’t know what to do so kept hiding in the corner. She doesn’t do or say anything, no matter what we do. I by chance brought my dog to work during that week, so I asked the little girl, if she wants to be the petsitter of my dog? Finally she smiled since the first time…And because of the dog, other kids started to talk to her, in the afternoon the very same day, she joined us!


I can’t help to think, in my society… seem not having right to express themselves. Whenever they wanna say something that they want or they don’t want, adults always say: ” Just do what I told you, it’s all for your sake!”

In asian society, instead of gently guiding, it’s very common to command from up to down , from authority to the subordinations. As the latter approach is easier and faster to achieve the goal, however, the former requires absolute Respect!


Learn “the danger” as young as possible!

It’s quite easy to tell if a kid likes the subject or not. After picking up my son at the first day, he can’t stop telling me what he had done whole day, and he didn’t stay late in bad the next morning..I can tell, yes , he loves the class!

Inner driven motivation is the key! If a person has no interests to what he/she is learning, then it’s pointless at all! Force him/her to do will not only getting no result, but will also ruin the relationship between parents & children.

At the 2nd day pick up time, my son told me how he practiced whole day WALKING BAREFOOT ON BROKEN GLASSES!!! I was shocked! OMG~ shouldn’t people in circles rolling a stick on plates or rolling forward/backward to stand up, sth like that? How come they walk on broken glasses, moreover, barefoot!! Isn’t that dangerous? Isn’t that hurt?!

Can preschool children do such dangerous moves? “Yes, we especially encourage younger children to learn about more dangerous items, such as standing on broken glass or putting out fires with their hands.”

After listening to what the teacher said, I think many parents should have their jaws almost dropped like me! But this is for a special purpose.

The broken glass used in circus training is the bottle of red wine or champagne that is readily available in European families. The teacher will explain to the children that when a lot of broken glass is put together, it is actually relatively safe.

Because each individual point acts as a support point for the force, such a common pressure will not cause harm to our skin; the same principle will not hurt lying on a bed of nails with many spikes.

The “playing with fire” project is very important for children of any age, especially because fire needs to be recognized! Here the children will learn that the yellow outer flame has the highest temperature, and the blue flame core has the lowest temperature, so it is the key to skillful fire extinguishing.

After the teacher’s explanation, I realized that children come to the circus to learn more than juggling or gymnastics. Many physical concepts are also obtained invisibly.

Really knowledge is power!

The last day is the closing ceremony, and every parent is looking forward to seeing their children’s performances! There is a handwritten program table on the right-hand wall facing the performance venue. Children have uniforms of different colors depending on their age. Our brother is the first year to participate, and he is also one of the youngest.

At the beginning, the gymnastics were performed by the more experienced older children. Everyone had an excellent sense of balance. It reminded me that many children around me were sent to the courses of Sensory integration. More contact sports, maybe you don’t need to make up for it when you reach the school stage. Next comes parkour, samurai sticks, and more.

What amazes me the most is not how skilled the children are, but how this group of children who have only known each other for 5 days can carry out all the shows in an orderly manner without the guidance of a teacher, props between each paragraph All need to be replaced, and performers may also be repeated or replaced, but the teacher did not take the initiative to direct the whole one hour, and all the children coordinated and reminded themselves.


The child can perform the program in an orderly manner without the guidance of the teacher

The preview of the show is only on the fourth day, and the other three days are individual exercises.

That is to say, these children have memorized 9 programs in less than a day.

Because the smoothness is so surprising to me, most of the scenes I see in China are the teachers playing hard under the stage, and the children staring at the teacher and their companions with suspicious expressions on their faces. …. So I couldn’t help but ask Mrs. Janet, where is the trick to teaching?

The teacher smiled and answered me two key points:

1. Individual ability: everyone knows their own actions and positions. The teacher will name and decompose each action of the group activities, so everyone will know their own position. Of course, there will always be one or two people with relatively large nerves in each group. At this time, other companions will take the initiative to help and prompt. Since the project is chosen by yourself, you will be more devoted and serious in the process of practice, and naturally you will also ask yourself when performing.

2. Teamwork: The teacher is integrated into the background of the performance. Although as an audience, I always feel that the teacher is not in command, the teacher still plays a role of prompting. They perfectly integrate themselves into the overall activity, stand with the children, and everyone on the stage is a part of the performance, rather than standing in the front to point fingers and become a unique individual. This is very important for the children because the teacher is with them and it is a team effort. These two points may seem like nothing new, but the harmony that makes everyone shine in the team is very difficult.

The circus project has always been a regular annual event in many primary schools in Germany (on average at least once every 4 years). Why do German school principals keep repeatedly inviting circus teachers to the school? The biggest reason is that they saw the child’s self-confidence in this activity!

As children grow up, they must participate in competitions big and small: from schoolwork exams to sports, they are all compared. However, there are not only no competitions in the circus project, but there are various categories for children to decide according to their preferences and skills. Each child can choose an activity that suits them without comparing themselves with others.

From the very beginning, let children try and make choices by themselves, which is respect for a person. Children have the motivation to learn independently and go all out to perform better!

The teacher’s job is to integrate each individual, and everyone will show their learning results together. What this whole process gives children the most is the building of self-confidence! They saw that they could do difficult tasks and believed in their own abilities; they learned the social skills needed to work in groups.

Finally, the teacher also shared a short story with me. In fact, in addition to ordinary schools,

They are also often invited to special schools for events.

Because it’s more important to them!

In the case of physical inconvenience, such children are easily affected by external pressure and become less confident in themselves, and such training can make them discover that their bodies are actually very capable of doing it! Through the activities performed by the circus, every child can challenge themselves,

Greatly boost your self-confidence!

This summer vacation in Germany, our experience of going to the mountain of knives and putting out fire with bare hands, let me see the most important core and essence of German education:

First, respect children’s choices and decisions, even if they go against the expectations of adults;

Second, the ability of individual development to the extreme, while conforming to the norms of the group; finally, self-confidence is the cornerstone of all learning,

Only confident children will have everything possible.

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