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Learning starts at birth!

Learning starts at birth! A child’s first years should go beyond being kept “dry and fed” to include opportunities for “exploring and discovering.” Children should feel comfortable and safe at preschool and daycare. At the same time their lively minds need interesting and stimulating activities so they can take in the world around them and develop their skills.

Research has shown that the quality of care increases if caregivers are familiar with the fundamentals of early childhood development. It also shows that effective care should also follow a proven pedagogical model, be integrated into a network of practitioners and other adults and include parents.

The OECD report confirms that Germany, especially its western states, has far too few daycare spots for children from birth to age three. In the necessary process of creating more daycare openings, the focus must be on quality. The project has developed “Empfehlungen an Politik, Träger  und Einrichtungen” (Recommendations for policymakers, licensing authorities and daycare facilities) to address this issue (link is under Downloads at right). But this will not be successful unless common educational standards for daycare and for preschools are developed, something that requires both providers to increase their cooperative activities. In addition, the many existing educational and daycare options must also be expanded. The project will present a model plan for discussion in mid-2006.

Our topics

More quality for children under three in daycare

A growing number of kindergartens are opening their programs to children under the age of three. But they often forget that toddlers have different needs than their older peers. They need more space, more structure, different materials and toys, but above all they need “more caregiver,” more intensive adult-to-child interaction, to develop and grow well.

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Materials for practical application

Wach, neugierig, klug: Kinder unter 3 (Alert, Curious and Clever: Children Under Three) – The Bertelsmann Stiftung has been working together with the State Institute of Early Childhood Education in Munich to adapt the British “Birth to three matters” (Sure Start Unit) curriculum. Materials for practical implementation can be ordered from Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung.

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Studies

Children under three need competent guidance for their education. But training for early childhood education professionals often comes up short. According to many experts, knowledge of speech development, systematic observation and successfully managing the transition phase are particularly weak areas. These were the findings of a nationwide study on training and continuing education for early childhood education professionals conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. In addition, partnerships between daycare facilities and other childcare providers are not common practice. An expert panel recommends which responsibilities can be addressed by federal, state and local agencies as well as educational sponsors.

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