The framework of the class
The children have arrived in the country in many different ways but the common denominator is that they do not speak or understand Danish. The reception classes aim for a fundamental acquisition of a second language by following a specialized course of language schooling. The reception classes are divided into M-0 which receives children belonging to kindergarten, M-1 is for children in 1. to 3. grade, M-2 is for 4. to 7. grade and M-3 is for 8. to 10. grade. There are no more than 12 pupils per class and the classes are distributed to schools around the municipalities. The pupils can attend the classes for two years and are then passed on to an ordinary class at a school within their school district in the municipality.
The study is founded on analyses of interviews of the parents of present and former pupils in the M-1 class. It highlights the parents’ attitude towards the school, their participation in school/home arrangements and weather the parents through the school/home cooperation have been provided with the tools to participate in their children’s learning processes.
Furthermore, the study is also based on observations of selected school/home arrangements in a 4-year period. The observations illustrate how the teacher, through goal-directed focus on the experience in the school/home arrangements, creates a spirit of community among pupils, parents and teachers - a ground for dialogue. By inquiring about the pupils’ log books during the interview it is uncovered how the log books, along with the computer, mediates learning and becomes tools for the parents in the pupils’ learning processes.
Even though the study is carried out in an M-1 class, the pedagogy is of a general nature.
Three teachers are attached to the class and two of these teachers have gone through supplementary education in ‘Danish as a second language’. These two teachers carry out most of the lessons in class and therefore it is also them who participate in the school/home cooperation. Beside the regular teacher’s lessons the class also gets four hours a week with an Urdu-speaking teacher. This means that two teachers are present in class twelve lessons a week.
Pupils and parents
The pupils and parents of the reception class do not form a homogenous group but represent individual prerequisites: Linguistically, socially, culturally, religiously and financially. This means that neither the pupils nor the parents have a common social identity from the start. It is created by virtue of the pupils, parents and teachers’ shared internal functions. The shared story of the class is thus important in the creation of self-knowledge of the class’ and the parents’.
Meetings, home visits and functions
There are individual interviews with the parents twice a year and one of these will be conducted in the home environment. There are also four school/home functions, which are applied to the shared work process of the pupils and parents. At least twice a year the parents are invited to joint exhibitions or events at the school. Beside the scheduled contact with the parents, there will be direct contact if questions or problems should arise with the pupils. The parents are always welcomed in class for participation or just to absorb impressions.
Copenhagen with the museums and its characteristics of a metro pole is part of the framework of meetings and tuition
The first meeting the parents have with the school is the enrollment of their child. They are welcomed by the teacher and the principal and via an interpreter they inform the parents about the school structure, goals and the curriculum. The parents receive an introductory leaflet which is composed by the Municipality of Copenhagen and is translated into different languages. Afterwards the pupil and the parents meet the other children in the class. The pupils present themselves, with name, age, country of origin and how long they have been in Denmark, in Danish. Then the new pupil and his/her parents present themselves in their native tongue and it is translated via an interpreter.
Leaving the reception class
When leaving the class the parents have their last formal meeting with the class. On the pupils’ last day of school the parents and siblings are invited to participate in the lessons.
It is a solemn day. The pupil presents his/her log books, songbooks, country books and everything else the pupil has worked with during class. The portfolio, which constitutes part of the pupil and parents’ common story, will be handed over to the new school. Here, the new teacher will go through the portfolio with the pupil, which gives the pupil an opportunity to show and tell about his/hers school experiences, personal experiences and about what he/she has been taught.