Interview with the director of Iccf

New School Year – Interview with ICCC Director

The International Children’s Creative Center (ICCC) in Sofia, Bulgaria, is here to help local and expat families.  Children find a safe place to adjust, learn and feel at home here. 

Interview with the director of Iccf

At the beginning of the new school year ICCC celebrates 25 years. Snezhana Daneva, Director since September 2010, tells us more about what this kindergarten in Sofia, Bulgaria offers. What makes it a special place for children and families?

Hello Mrs. Daneva, can you tell us more about what makes ICCC exceptional for the children and their parents?

Every aspect of life at ICCC is special – if I have to single out one thing – we are like one big family. Our teachers create a truly warm and caring environment. Also we are constantly looking to improve. Our families bring diverse cultures, experiences, and very high expectations so naturally we set ourselves high standards.

What is also special about our pre-school is that parents and staff are partners. Not just in the day-to-day life and learning of children but in the management of ICCC through the Parent Board who represent the parent community in the policy and decision making.

What is your educational philosophy?

Pre-school education is so special! It is about sowing seeds – the seeds of love and care for people and the environment, the seeds for respect and cooperation, the seeds for learning. In early years teachers sow the seeds with love, patience and professional knowledge.

Young children learn all the time through their daily experiences – they learn to understand and manage their emotions, to communicate effectively, to move confidently and safely, to manipulate and explore objects and materials. They study how to make discoveries and make connections about things around them.

Unlike in ‘big school’, teachers can’t pack this knowledge into structured lessons because children can’t ‘sit down and learn’ when you want them to. Every pre-school teacher knows that children gain information when they are curious and interested. The job of the teacher is to support them when it happens – to capture the interest, spark that curiosity and provide rich opportunities for interactions that naturally lead to learning.  

In the same way, the teacher should support children to be independent and competent socially, emotionally and physically. Teaching children strategies to solve conflicts, look after their physical and emotional needs. This is a very important shift – support rather than direct, offer children strategies rather than do something for them. This is the direction we follow at ICCC, and it is a long journey, but totally worth it.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a kindergarten director?

I see my role as helping children, their families and my staff feel safe, happy and confident.

I often say that I have the best of both worlds – I work equally with teachers, parents and children. I am so lucky to interact with children every day, to have conversations with them, laugh with and help them. At the same time I have my ‘adult world’ responsibilities and communication, and this is a great and rare balance I can enjoy in my work every day. A smile or a hug by a small child brightens my day!

How do you prepare both parents and children for their first entry into the kindergarten?

For young children who haven’t been separated from home yet, starting school is like jumping from a cliff. They are thrown into the unknown which, naturally, is very distressing. I always explain to parents what their child is likely to experience and how to support them. We want them to trust us, to have confidence in the process and how we handle it.

Our strategy for the start, when new children transition from home to school, is to have a very short stay in the first week, and gradually increase the hours as they become more confident and comfortable.

But before we get to this stage it is important to establish connection with the new families and find out what they want for their child, and if we are looking in the same direction. We are partners, we need to build trust which rests on common values like respect, open mindset, international mindedness, etc.

Who is your favorite children’s book author, and why?

Julia Donaldson, Valerie Thomas with her Winnie The Witch series, Eric Carle, David Shannon, Anna Dewdney and many more. We have a rich library at ICCC, and children love listening to the stories we read every day.

It is a tradition at ICCC for children to donate a book for school on their birthday, and we also have parents come and read a favorite book. This is how we discover new authors and books.

How would you describe the perfect day in ICCC?

No accidents! On a more serious note, a perfect day means a good buzz in each classroom with  children busy playing; happy noise from the playground; a happy reunion and a good word from parents at the end of the day.

What would be your inspirational message for the children and their parents?

Trust play! Playing is the key to high quality learning. Trust your child, they are able to do amazing things. Value every moment spent with them. Give them your best because all paths in their lives start from childhood. And you won’t notice how quickly it ends!

Daily Routine

8.00 am: arrival, play and small group activities

9.30 am: circle time and IEYC group activities

10.00 am: morning snack

10.30 am: IEYC/music/math/Jolly Phonic sessions (Cheeky Chickens and Clever Kittens)

11.30 am: physical education and outdoor play

12.00 am: lunch (see our monthly menu)

1.00 pm: afternoon nap (Little Ladybirds and Busy Bees);

Or Relaxing time, music, dance/karate, art, science classes (Cheeky Chickens, Clever Kittens)

3.00 pm: afternoon snack

3.30 pm: IEYC activities; closing circle;

4.00 pm: free play indoors or outdoors and pick up 􀀯me

6.00 pm: school closes

Children should arrive by 9:25 am in time for Circle and other activities.

Children arriving after 9:30 am may disturb activities and will miss important learning opportunities. We ask parents to avoid late arrival.

Children on half day schedule should be picked up by 12:30 pm after lunch..

Children staying the full day must be picked up before 6:00 pm.

Read in our policies section more about the daily routines, parent involvement, health related and other important policies (www://iccf-bg.com/policies)

Lunch menu (www.iccf-bg.com/lunch-menu)

Visit our FAQ page for more information.

PARENTING BASICS – Power Struggles or Coorepation

Shifting from power struggles to increased cooperation - advice from Claire Lerner, a licensed clinical social worker and child development specialist

Few parents have a natural talent for parenting and always seem to know how to strike the right balance between boundaries and freedom for their toddler or preschooler. At our pre-school we often meet with parents who are devoted and determined to give their best to the relationship with their child but instead their toddler’s behavior at home leaves them exhausted and disheartened. We found the advice from a practitioner Claire Lerner really helpful and enlightening.

Each child comes with their unique temperament, there is no question about that. But children are one side in the relationship, the side that can’t take responsibility for their actions. Parents are the side that can take control, and if something doesn’t sound right the first thing to get examined, according to Claire Lerner, is parents’ expectations.

Cheeky Chickens

Throughout the COVID-19 closure the Cheeky Chickens have been busy acquiring new knowledge and skills at home, with the help of their parents. Their teachers are sending each day activities and videos for home learning to cover their current topic Plants and Flowers, math, Jolly Phonics, science, music.

Some of these videos are organized below. The rest you can find in the Science and Music resource pages .

Food and Nutrition

Math Lessons

Jolly Phonics

IEYC Unit Plants and Flowers

Big Busy Bees

Throughout the COVID-19 closure the Big Busy Bees have been busy learning with the help of their parents. Their teachers are sending each day activities and videos for home learning. Our IEYC unit “Once Upon a Time” helps children become better communicators and learn fascinating things about nature and animals by studying four classic tales.

Learning happens all the time at school – when children play together or by themselves, and when they get involved in activities prepared by the teachers.

You can also check out the Science and Music resource pages for more videos

IEYC Unit: The Brilliant Bug Ball

Easter Crafts

Once Upon a Time: The Gingerbread Man

Once Upon a Time: The Turtle and the Hare

Math: shapes, colors, counting


Once Upon a Time: The Three Billy Goat Gruffs

Once Upon a Time: The Enormous Turnip

The Big Turnip Song, Miss Nadya

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RMzBQ8RzPo

Little Ladybirds videos

IEYC Unit: Little Movers Make Giant Strides

SROTY TIME with Miss Dani

Playful Puppies story, read aloud by Miss Dani

Peppa Pig Goes To the Zoo, read aloud by Miss Dani

Easter egg prints craft, Miss Sisi


Science – Weather Introduction, with Mr Yavor

Science – Weather 1, with Mr Yavor

Music for LLB and BBB, Miss Nadya

Music for LLB and BBB, with Miss Nadya

Science video lessons

Our fabulous science teacher Mr Yavor has taken the science classes home to children with these short video lessons. It’s not as interactive as it’s in class but you can still experiment, have fun and watch over and over again!

Big Busy Bees – Insects

Cheeky Chickens science classes

Clever Kittens science videos

Little Ladybirds and Big Busy Bees – Weather videos

Music class videos

Music classes

Soap and Water song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5PZraxA5ps

Tree Hugger song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cafwro-o-PY

Rainbow recipe song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjoFR1TdZ5U

Sun, sun, sun! song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyJOgaupyjc

Birds song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MKznyLC8bg

Tiny caterpillar song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_A9fJx1pPk

ICCC group songs and Teddy Bear Picnic song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpxCmtXloN8

Favorite songs collection – 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-06etkEyso

Favorite songs collection – 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTPdCA4NT7o

Online learning for pre-school children: mission possible

It is not the same as being at school for 6 or 10 hour a day, but it helps! With the COVID-19 closure parents are facing challenging times, and we fully sympathize! Our team quickly reorganized to work from home to support parents as much as we can.

After the initial uneasiness – what could we do to help, and how, the ideas and enthusiasm started to flow. Teachers are preparing activities and home projects, recording stories in English and video addresses for children, music lessons, yoga and science classes. Each day parents get an email with instructions and links – they can do some or all of the suggested activities. They can also place video calls to teachers so children can keep their connection with school. It’s not perfect but we are learning and improving each day, and already receiving positive feedback from parents. Let’s all make the best of the situation, enjoy being together with our families and be grateful for what we have!

Do you have questions?
Call or visit us.

+359 879 403 677
office@iccf-bg.com

Address: 20, Akademik Hristo Hristov Str., Dragalevtsi, Sofia 1415

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