400 professionals in 30 kindergartens - better prepared to work with children with disabilities

Staff of pilot kindergartens are participating in trainings under the project for pilot testing of the EU Child Guarantee in Bulgaria

Момиче рисува в детска градина, а възпитателките му го подкрепят и наблюдават, седнали около него
26 July 2021
EU Child Guarantee
UNICEF Bulgaria/2021

‘We obtained extremely valuable knowledge and above all practical advice on a topic that for years has been recognised as a gap in our work – namely how to communicate with and provide information to parents of children that according to our teams or professionals have difficulties or need support for their development.’ This is the general feedback from headmasters of kindergartens supported under the project for pilot testing of the EU Child Guarantee in Bulgaria funded by the European Commission.

The project, implemented with the assistance of UNICEF, is about financing of activities for inclusive education in 30 kindergartens in 10 municipalities across three regions in the country – Burgas, Sliven and Stara Zagora. Improving and strengthening services for quality inclusive preschool education for children with disabilities and learning difficulties is one of the four components of the project in Bulgaria (More information about the activities is available here).

As part of the support for kindergartens, the teams participate in and receive trainings, practical and methodological guidelines and webinars focusing on children with disabilities and developmental difficulties as well as on their families. Karin Dom Foundation is a partner in the training for kindergartens with the additional support from the experts from UNICEF.

To date, as many as 426 kindergarten staff, including the entire teaching staff and most of the non-teaching staff of the kindergartens in the pilot project, are completing the specialised modules of the training in the area of inclusive education. The trainees also took the inception modules for all staff in the form of pre-recorded self-training webinars designed by an international consultant and adapted for Bulgaria by UNICEF.

The topics in the trainings and webinars included:

  • Support for the creation of inclusive environment in kindergarten;
  • Effective parent engagement, including communication with parents/Engaging and involving parents as partners in the support to promote the development of children;
  • Promoting smooth transition and successful adaptation for children between the family, kindergarten and school. The topic is intended for all staff members in kindergartens and includes specialists from the Regional Centres for Promotion of Inclusive Education;
  • Improved cooperation within the support team in kindergartens;
  • Designing interventions in support of children with special needs;
  • Understanding the differences.

‘This is effectively the first time we get such type of help. The trainings are in a good, understandable language, very practical and with examples from the personal practice of presenters. We did not have this information before; we learn a lot and can apply many things in our work,’

said the headmaster of “Winnie the Pooh” kindergarten in Kazanlak, Emilia Kostadinova.

‘The entire team of the kindergarten benefited greatly from all the trainings to date – they provided us with a whole lot of new ideas and proved really helpful. We are impressed with the practical examples of visualisation, we learned how to create an inclusive environment, in a very functional and convenient way. The practical sessions on augmentative and alternative communication equipped us with ideas for outdoor games that we are looking forward to having in practice. The trainings, provided by ‘Karin Dom’, as well as the webinars for the teaching and non-teaching staff alike gave us so many answers and helped us understand child behaviour.’

This was the feedback from Tzveta Staneva, Headmaster of kindergarten “Little Sun”, Nova Zagora.

‘The phrase ‘special child’ took on a completely new meaning for us, as we came to understand it. We experienced first-hand the possibility of having the children actively participate in the activity of the group and work at their own pace depending on their abilities rather than stay on their own on the side,’ she added.

The headmaster of ‘Happy Childhood’ in Tvarditza, Yanka Kostova, said:

‘We found particularly helpful the explanations on how to design the individual training plan for children with difficulties and in need of support so that this plan become a working document, tailored to the specific individual needs of each child.’

This project is funded by the European Union.

© UNICEF-Bulgaria, 2021

The information and views set out in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.