It all depends on the beginning.

It’s the beginning that counts. Because never again will we learn as much and as quickly as in the first years of our lives. We therefore improve early childhood education and promote the expansion of childcare places.

Especially the early years of life have a great influence on the personal and social development of a child. Every child must therefore be given the opportunity to develop his or her potential and develop optimally. In addition to families, our day care centres are the most important places to accompany and support the development of each child.

Over the past seven years, the state government has massively increased investment in early childhood education. In this way, it has supported the cities and municipalities in creating sufficient and high-quality childcare places. In the coming years, too, we intend to further develop and expand the quality of early childhood education.

The personnel key is an important factor in ensuring quality in early childhood education. According to the “State Monitor on Early Childhood Education Systems” published by the Bertelsmann Foundation in 2017, Baden-Württemberg has the best personnel key in Germany for crèches and nurseries.

Putting children first

Early childhood education focuses on the well-being and development of our children. The policy of the state government will continue to focus on this in the coming years. We want to further expand the various childcare services, measured against demand, and constantly improve the quality of early childhood education and upbringing.

The involvement of the parents in the sense of an educational partnership is of particular importance. The daycare centres promote the personal and social development of the children and impart age-appropriate knowledge to them.

Language support from the first year of kindergarten

“We need language to communicate, to name things, to clarify and exchange thoughts, to share experiences and feelings, and to acquire and pass on knowledge,” says the orientation plan for Baden-Württemberg day-care centres. Language is the key to participation in education and society. Continuous language training, accompanying language acquisition and consistent language support right from the start are important areas of responsibility for day-care centres.

If children need additional language support, they can receive additional language support over the entire kindergarten period. To this end, the state provided additional funds of around 27 million euros in the kindergarten year 2016/2017. This will enable the day-care centres to employ language support staff to supplement their existing staff.

Since the kindergarten year 2015/2016, children from the age of two years and seven months can also receive language support if required, so that language support begins as early as possible.

Cooperation between day care centre and primary school

The successful cooperation between kindergartens and primary schools is an important pedagogical concern. The design of the transition is jointly developed on site.

In the “Bildungshaus 3-10” primary schools cooperate particularly closely with the associated day-care centres. Teachers from the school and pedagogical specialists from the kindergarten jointly carry out play and learning activities at 186 locations nationwide on the basis of the orientation plan of the kindergartens and the educational plan of the primary schools.

Children and family centres

The state promotes day-care centres for children that wish to develop into children’s and family centres. A nationwide range of children’s and family centres is to be created.

The children’s and family centres are based on day-care centres. They are important and familiar places that form the appropriate framework for bringing together education, upbringing and care with low-threshold, family-oriented offerings. They form the centre of a support network of encounters, counselling, education and support. The aim is to strengthen the families in order to increase the children’s chances of a good education.

Special educational offers for children

For children with developmental disorders and disabilities, special educational early intervention programmes are available. The aim is to recognise developmental disorders at an early stage, to offer suitable support to the child and to advise their parents. If parents wish, day-care centres can also support children with disabilities. The goal is the best possible development of the child.

Children with a particularly high need for support and assistance can attend a school kindergarten at the parents’ request. School kindergartens are institutions that prepare children for school.

Quality in training and at work

We have committed and qualified educators in Baden-Württemberg. Good childcare stands or falls with well-trained and motivated specialists in the day care centres.

For the state government, good staffing is the basis for the quality of early childhood education. We want to continue to design the framework conditions in such a way that the educators and other pedagogical specialists have more time available for the children.

To achieve this, we need more skilled workers in our day care centres. In addition to the traditional form of educator training, the model of practice-integrated training to increase the number of graduates has proven its worth.

Why is education so important for sustainable development in early childhood education?

Children want to explore and understand the world, find their place in a group and have a say in it. They learn rules of togetherness and values of interaction. A child’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional development is particularly rapid in early childhood.

The potential of education for sustainable development is particularly great in this area of education: the child learns basic values and skills and experiences that it can shape and that its actions have an impact on other people and its environment.

This awareness is the basis of education for sustainable development, which aims to enable people to think and act responsibly. This requires key skills such as cooperation, participation and self-organisation, which are regarded as essential elements of modern child education.

However, the great ecological, economic and social challenges of our time, such as climate change, are not the fault of children. Are they not overloaded with these problems? Children grow up in this world and have to deal with the consequences of the mistakes of past generations. Today’s children are growing up to be a decisive generation in the question of whether the turnaround will still succeed.

They should be given the opportunity to discover what great opportunities they have in an ever more dynamically developing and culturally diverse world, and what opportunities they have to help shape it. Through their questions, ideas and new perspectives, they in turn advance a transformation and motivate people to rethink.

How can education for sustainable development be applied to early childhood education?

Even in early childhood it is possible to deal with topics relevant to the future in an age-appropriate way. For example, science education can be taught in a practical way and is conducive to the spirit of discovery of most children. Project work promotes self-organisation, a sense of community, negotiation and decision-making processes and is particularly appropriate for children’s learning. At the same time, this strengthens communicative competence.