Why is daycare good

Is the day care center good for my child?

Is that what you are? I just read the article online for a while. Refreshing read.

At the back of the article the note: In order to protect the anonymity of the author, we have used a pseudonym. Your name is known to the editors.

Hmm The article is not about a private disclosure. I hit my husband. Or poisoned my dog.

No. The author did not put her one-year-old child in the crib!

Although she is a single parent.

What can I say? Probably that the topic is quite emotionally charged. You can see that in the more than 1000 comments - once full approval, then again the good one is padded and tarred (generally the level of the comments is terrifying - a lot of accusations, a lot of anger, a lot of just-say-something).

I wanted to say something about it. And more from the children's perspective: What kind of care is suitable for the small child? And what does science say about it?

Crash course crib debate - what does science say?

The initial situation is actually easy to understand. And yet so complex that it suggests one thing: a blanket answer to the question: are cribs good or bad for children? there is not any. There is even less an answer to the question: Is it going to a day nursery? for my child the right option? The living conditions and personalities of families, parents and children are simply too different for that: some families can get by without an additional income, others don't, some have lots of helping hands within reach, with others grandma and grandpa are on cruise all the time . Some find life with a small child wonderful, some so-so, others are overwhelmed every day. Some have a daredevil child, some a little mimosa. Some only want to use the crib for a few hours, others as long as possible. Some live in the crib desert, others just happen to be near this wonderful facility, which Carla also goes to, and even when I walk in there I feel good. Some have a partner, some are single parents. Some have to skip a "never-come-back" job to stay at home, others have a job that can be waiting for them (some have a job they hate). Some cannot imagine anything other than part-time, others nothing more than full-time. Some can work at home with their children at the same time, for others this is unthinkable ...

So now I prefer to stop there, although there is still a lot to add to the list. I just want to say: the ONE answer, which is probably the right decision to me would not exist. So keep beating your arguments. But be nice to each other.

On the other hand, what science can safely say about the crib question is pretty straight forward:

What science not flat rate can say is:

  • ... that children from normal backgrounds in day-care centers generally make better progress in their development than if they were cared for at home in the first 3 years. She cannot make this statement because evaluations show that the results of the daycare visit ultimately depend for the most part on the family environment. It cannot affect them because the positive effects of external care (in some studies, “well” external childcare show, for example, linguistic advantages) are either only temporarily observed or are so low that they cannot be safely attributed to the care situation.

What science against for sure can say is:

So: The effect of “outside care” depends on the families, but also on the quality of daycare, its duration and when it began. And it depends on the child.

And another thing about the small print: How is the external support in individual cases science can do that nothing say, it evaluates very large data sets, then very different scenarios end up in one pot.

For me, that would be a decent start to look at the crib issue from a child's point of view. Then I would like to take a closer look at what actually exists. I am based on my work for my recently published book “Education shapes mindset”, in which I also take a close look at the nativity scene (I quote from it for a long time).


First. Attachment comes before education

Crèche education is a highly complex matter. She has to face a fundamental problem of child development: small children don't just rush off in their development. Rather, they need a tailwind and some provisions: When small children do not feel well, they cannot turn to the world, they close themselves off. They are busy with their stress. Only when they have alert, curious eyes do they begin to explore their surroundings. They only have alert, curious eyes if they feel safe and in good hands. Without this emotional reason, even the best “early education” offer will not get stuck. That is why the bottleneck of education is not simply the educational offer - all teachers on earth can tell you a thing or two about it - but the child's inner ability to educateadmission.Good overview of the basics of early education at: Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina e.V. et al. (2014): Early childhood socialization: biological, psychological, linguistic, sociological and economic perspectives. Online at http://www.leopoldina.org/uploads/tx_leopublication/2014_Stellungnahme_Sozialisation_web.pdfStressed children do not learn, the formula is that simple and brutal. Such children are as if covered in Teflon - even the most sophisticated offerings roll off them.

That is the reason why good day nurseries are not characterized by their range of programs, materials or play opportunities, but by their ability to convey emotional security to the small child: I get support when I get in need, I am not at the mercy. The big ones pay attention to my needs and I can realize myself in the game. That is the basis - I can trust, I am sure I belong.

This primacy of bond security also establishes a meanness that still exists today: These foundations are primarily created outside of educational institutions. And there especially in the family. In this first network of ties, the child builds up his internal supplies, and these are at the same time the basis for education: what sticks, what rolls off? No wonder every result of educational research confirms the role of the family: The parental home is the decisive broker (and destroyer) of opportunities. Good summary and literature overview on the influence of the family on educational success at Büchner, Peter: Early Childhood Education and Social Inequality, in: Ahlheim, Klaus / Ahlheim, Rose (2014): Early Education - Early Access? Hanover: OffizinAhlheim (2014), p. 76 and 77. Those who come to the Kita with good educational qualifications will leave it with good educational qualifications for school - and in turn emerge from the latter with good educational qualifications for further training or studies. In other words, attachment and development come before education. on this Bernier, Annie et al. (2010): From External Regulation to Self-Regulation. Early Parenting Precursors of Young Children’s Executive Functioning, in: Child development, 81 (1), pp. 326–339 ​​as well as Lucassen, Nicole et al. (2015): Executive functions in early childhood: the role of maternal and paternal parenting practices, in: British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 33 (4), pp. 489-505.
Because of the overwhelming influence of the family relationship and attachment system, the term "educational distance" of the families of origin must also be qualified, which is sometimes cited as an explanation of failed educational paths of the children. Of course, there is a good correlation between education in the parents' home and successful education among children. But that's not because one child has books on the shelves at home and the other child doesn't. Rather, it is because one child starts the educational establishment with a good "reason for detention" - curiosity, keen eyes, self-confidence, to repeat a few ingredients - and the other does not. And these ingredients are not formed on the bookshelf, but on and in successful relationships with important people. In this respect, it is not enough to simply fill up the bookshelves for educational authorization.

Second: The number of ties available is meager in many day nurseries, but not sufficient in some

It is understandable that politicians often look at day nursery education from the perspective of opportunities; they also have “family-remote” issues in view, such as the supply of skilled workers, increasing the employment rate among women, pension progression, economic growth, etc.

The social compensatory argument is at the forefront of the official statements. According to this, young children from socially disadvantaged families get development advantages by attending a day nursery, through which they can catch up with children from better-off families.

I will say something about this hope in a moment, but first I would like to look at the crèche offer from the perspective of “completely normal” parents - those with no particular social burden. After all, for most parents, day nurseries are not social work facilities or a child rehab with which they want to solve their family problems. They want institutions that support their children on their development path even when, for example: they are completely normal children. For this reason, by the way, I would also like to see more pedagogical arguments in relation to day nurseries than socio-pedagogical arguments.

To do this, we would have to come back to the question: Do you profit? all Children from daycare? So, for example, also those for whom care at home works to a certain extent?

I have already outlined the research answer, but I want to repeat it here anyway, because it is surprisingly clear, both for socially stressed and for children who are not stressed. It reads: Infants and toddlers, in whom the social connective tissue at home is not strong enough, can benefit from visiting institutions, if special efforts are made for a commitment-fair accompaniment. That is, if they are cared for in good to very good facilities. Beckh, Kathrin and others show how important the quality of care is for promoting the development of socially disadvantaged children. (2014): The influence of facility quality on the linguistic and socio-emotional development of children with and without a migration background, in: Frühbildung, 3/2, pp. 73–81. The reality, however, looks like this: Children from resource-poor households are more likely to end up in poorer institutions. The early childhood education landscape is thus characterized by educational segregation: the most needy children (i.e. children from families with the weakest social connective tissue) tend to end up in weaker crèches. Children who experience unreliable and trusting relationships at home have the greatest need to experience constant relationships, warmth and reliability in the day care center. (Data from Büchner, Peter (2014): Early Childhood Education and Social Inequality, in: Ahlheim (2014), pp. 72–90. However, these are conditions that only very rarely exist in Germany according to the very elaborate NUBBEK study : only three percent in day care centers, five percent in day care and seven percent in kindergarten groups. What is more common are inadequate facilities: »Inadequate quality was found in seven percent of day care centers, ten percent of kindergarten groups and twelve percent of Crèche groups to be found. «Bensel, Joachim (2014): The quality in day care. Results of the NUBBEK study, pp. 52–56, here: p. 53. Online at www.verektivenbiologie.com/publiken/fachartikel/PDF/ KD38.pdf For these facilities (and possibly also for a considerable part of the very many facilities with "medium quality") the opposite applies: The children in these facilities are exposed to development risks - the earlier s he go there, the longer you go there, the more often you are there, the more clearly. And the qualitatively modest facilities accumulate precisely where children are cared for the longest in facilities and where a particularly large number of families face social problems - namely in the eastern federal states.

As mean as it sounds, so it is: There, where the need is greatest, actually only a few institutions can deliver what small children rightly expect for their development: emotional security, caring treatment, human escort to test their own strength. That doesn't mean that there aren't wonderful cribs in Germany - and also in the eastern federal states. And that does not mean that the vast majority of kindergarten teachers in this country do not give their best every day. But for obvious reasons, more than a full-and-clean pedagogy is not possible with the conditions that exist in many day nurseries. Cf. on this Ahnert, Lieselotte (2005): Developmental Psychological Requirements in the Design of Care and Educational Offers for Toddlers and Preschoolers, in: Materials for the Twelfth Children and Youth Report, Volume 1: Education, Care and Upbringing of Children Under Six Years , ed. by the Expert Commission Twelfth Children and Youth Report, Munich: Verlag Deutsches Jugendinstitut, pp. 9–54. Online at https://www.dji.de/fileadmin/user_upload/bibs/Verzügee_Buecher_Open_Access/Sachverstaendigenkommission 12 report on education, care and upbringing of children under six years of age.pdf.

So if we are honest, we have to deal with an annoying fact in the daycare discussion: The daycare care works when the little ones go to facilities that are not very common in Germany, in some places not at all. NUBBEK. National survey on education, care and upbringing in early childhood. Research report 2013, ed. by Wolfgang Tietze and others, Weimar: Verl. das Netz. Or, to put it another way for the sake of clarity: the developmental advantages of attending a day nursery do not appear automatically for the children, but only under certain conditions. If things are going well in the institutions, then those children who are not doing so well at home benefit. Unfortunately, things are only going really well in a minority of the institutions.

In my opinion, the quality of daycare has tended to decline in recent years, regardless of the newer job code calculations. There are currently no more recent data that supplement the NUBBEK study. The study by the German Kita Management Congress (DKLK) based on surveys among day-care center managers sums up its results as follows: “Over 90% of those surveyed stated that they had worked with considerable staff shortages in the past twelve months. (….) Overall, the results show that staff shortages in almost every day-care center lead, at least temporarily, to situations in which even the minimum requirements for supervision are barely met. Given this situation, individual support is almost unthinkable. (...) https://www.deutscher-kitaleitungskongress.de/assets/documents/pressemitteilungen/dklk/DKLK_Studie_2019.pdf, p. 26

I beg your pardon? Individual support is almost unthinkable under the given circumstances? Then why, to get back to the article in Zeit online, does a mother have to justify herself if she does not want to put her child in a crèche at one year old? Perhaps she is interested in what, according to information from specialists working there, “is almost unthinkable” in many day nurseries - namely, the individual support of her child?

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Third: Why is the perspective of opportunities still in the foreground in the nursery discussion?

This is likely to be related to a whole bouquet of reasons - and a few misunderstandings.

  • On the one hand, many parents are simply happy when they have found “a place”. First you take a breath and don't look for problems straight away.
  • Second, the actual working conditions in day nurseries are rarely mentioned in the discussion. Many parents are also not aware of how clear a distinction must be made between gross and net in education - i.e. between the numbers on paper and what the children think of.The official job codes are determined differently from federal state to federal state, but in reality the keys proposed by all experts in this field are practically nowhere to be found, which assume, for example, one supervisor for three to four crèche children. The south of Germany (Bavaria and Ba-Wü) but also Bremen are much better supplied than the eastern federal states. In Saxony, for example (as in most of the other new federal states), the law requires an adult to look after five to six of the very young children (infants, one-year-olds and two-year-olds). In other words, about children who all somehow want to be fed, swaddled, carried, comforted, squatted, accompanied to sleep, washed, teeth cleaned, valued, protected, loved and accompanied on games and excursions. But the number only applies to the paper. This also includes the educators who are sick at the moment (there are not a few because of the considerable workload), who are on further training, who are on vacation, or whose positions cannot be filled at the moment (there are more and more, already now has to in elementary education with temporary workers from eastern EU countries), also because only 20 percent of the teachers stay in their profession in the long term. Data according to Tischewski, Oda: How good are German daycare centers? Supervisor without care, SWR2 Wissen [manuscript for the broadcast], broadcast on December 16, 2017. Online at https://www.swr.de/-/id=20517226/property=download/nid=660374/tqpqib/swr2-wissen-20171216.pdf
    In reality, the caregiver key is therefore one in nine (nine children per carer). And that includes the management staff, whose work mainly revolves around documentation, administration, hygiene, pedagogical concepts, parent communication, personnel planning and so on (this part becomes more important from year to year, in East and West alike, you can soon say: Our offspring are increasingly well documented instead of well looked after). In fact, there is a blatant staff shortage in many facilities today, which often means that even the basic needs of the children can no longer be met - but the permanent measurement and documentation of the children who have been around since the turn of the millennium shapes everyday life in the facilities remains unquestioned (this methodology was adopted from company management theory at the time without much discussion - the comparison with given performance targets, known as benchmarking, is intended to identify underperformers in companies). I go into the economization of early childhood education in my book "Childhood is inviolable". No wonder that even the supervisory authorities say about these "legal keys": "Due to the tight staffing key", it could well deviate from the "experienced care situation". Unfortunately, children find their consolation and their development incentives more in the situation they experience than in the text of the law.
  • Anyone who has the courage to speak out about the reality would refer to a great many nativity scenes in this country Welfare emergency speak. I am amazed that this word still evokes strong defenses. I am surprised because the emergency is so obvious. Let's imagine a mother giving birth to sextuplets. Unthinkable! How is she supposed to do that? The neighborhood would stand together and worry about who is babysitting and when, helping with diapers and feeding, accompanying them to sleep, going on an excursion with one or two of the little ones (no more than two, please, that would be too exhausting). And maybe even play with them, read aloud or or or. Only: it does that in a great many crèches in Germany a single person.
  • At the same time (I repeat myself) crèche pedagogy is one of the most difficult fields of development-accompanying pedagogy for children. This has to do with the fact that the constancy of relationships and sensitive development support required of the small child is difficult to get along with long opening times, staff changes, shift systems and stressed staff - all of which are inevitable in institutions (it is also the high level of stress, but also sometimes surprising Due to authoritarian management structures that only very few educators exercise their profession permanently) In fact, especially in educational institutions, because of their small unit size and at the same time steep hierarchy, sometimes surprisingly authoritarian conditions prevail. Quite a few educators fear their "leadership", which actually has a considerable range of sanctions at its disposal. That is not sufficiently appreciated in the debate.
  • However, the prospect of opportunities also predominates for economic reasons. In fact, it is noticeable that the promise of "early education" occurred to our society at the very moment when mothers became a hot commodity on the labor market (in the eastern federal states the promise was relevant earlier, also for economic reasons) . In short: We may also find the day nursery so good because our adult program would not be possible any other way. Like so many other things.
  • The fact that institutional care is discussed so much from the perspective of opportunities also has to do with social power relations, the relationships are clearly regulated among adults: family-friendly companies are a case for Sunday speeches, business-friendly families, on the other hand, a case for the reality. And a family is only really business-friendly if it delegates its duties of care.
  • In addition, critical voices rarely appear in the crèche discussion because almost every political direction can somehow identify with the program: the Greens are convinced by the argument of female emancipation (although I want to note that this is not the reason why many mothers have an additional job at the gas station accept in order to emancipate yourself but rather to be able to afford a vacation with your child). The Reds are convinced of the social compensation argument (I have already discussed that). The yellow ones are happy about the female skilled workers in the economy (compared to men still a comparatively cheap offer). And here too the blacks grudgingly say yes, because social reality has long since overtaken them. Only the new blues are critical - and then put those who focus on the risk perspective of day-care centers even more on the defensive.
  • Another wonderful development has boosted the demand for outside childcare for small children, and for me it is a real reason for looking at day nurseries from an opportunity perspective: The educational careers of women have changed significantly in recent years and have adapted to those of men. This gives mothers significantly more options and alternatives to full-time motherhood. The greater involvement of fathers in education helps to increase the variety of options.
  • The fact that some parents believe that their children will wither away at home by their first birthday at the latest has to do with a misunderstanding. The little child now needs playmates, otherwise it would not make progress socially. But that is incorrect from a developmental perspective: that small The child experiences protection, security, security and consolation primarily from people who are close to them and who are familiar to them Adult. Other children cannot do that. The emotional world of the small child is based on dyadic accompaniment and regulation by meaningful, sensitive adults, the quality of which is in the foreground for its development. Or, as I told the author of the said article: “In the first two years, all children focus on you, children need that to get to know themselves well, we adults need it to get to know our children. In the third year, the children go on a journey to the we. Now the other children become important, and how! Some reluctantly set out on their social adventure, then you can't force them, others faster, you can't stop them. And both need to continue to trust people, to whom they are meaningful and who are good at dealing with children. These can also be strangers who have become familiar and of course also educational staff. "

Pour pure wine

And that's all I can really say about the crib issue. In the interests of the children, I would recommend that we pour ourselves more pure wine more often in this debate:

  • For the initiation of the child’s development, the child’s primary network of ties in the family is still crucial. Everything else is at best supplementary offers, we sometimes forget that.
  • The supplementary offer given in Germany is poor overall. I consider it negligent to simply cheer about the high »educational participation« achieved among small children. We should also discuss the quality of the offer and its sensible use (whether at all, from when, how long, how intensively, etc.)
  • Good crèches and day care can be a valuable offer for additional care for small children, but they are neither a must nor do they just work out of their own accord, for example because professionals work there. No, a daycare center MUST be a “home” for the child in the truest sense of the word (I have described the conditions that must be met for the child to work out).

Because the conditions are numerous, I would argue for more serenity and flexibility. Many families do without the crèche offer: what's the problem with that? Others find a great daycare center with great staff and experience that their child thrives there: what is the problem with that? Still others see their child in better hands with a childcare provider: what is the problem (the problem is that daycare is politically and regulatory rather disadvantaged and often cannot be implemented due to many requirements). Still others only find a so-la-la-crèche and therefore only leave their child in their care for as short as possible. Or start later. What else can you do? Still others have no choice but to take advantage of what's on offer. And then there are the children: some children find it easier to be cared for by others, some more difficult - that should also be considered. So everything speaks for one thing: each of us has to juggle this course for himself. Yes, you can be one of them. Or something like that.

Therefore, my wish would be, because it would help everyone: that the offer finally gets better.

Unfortunately, I only see this on paper at the moment. What bothers me in reality is the decreasing flexibility - in many day nurseries, for example, half-day offers can no longer be booked. In others, the child has to be brought in at a certain time in the morning, otherwise the gate is closed. What's that about?? I think THAT should call politics on the table, because young families have enough stress already. And after what has been said, you really cannot advocate turning the crèche offer into a compulsory offer. Rather, one should work to ensure that the offer can be used as required, including in the area of ​​child day care. And one would have to work to ensure that, in addition to the political perspective (the more crèche visitors, the better), a developmental psychological perspective also asserts itself among the parents: crèches are CAN offers, some are better than others, some are only good if used wisely, some are harmful . How the individual uses the offer must then decide for themselves.

But we can all advocate that the supply of suitable cribs increases. And so in the end I would like to quote again from my book "Education shapes mindset":

Don't hesitate, don't hesitate!

Yeah, I know that sounds radical. But isn't it time for more honesty and self-criticism? No, nobody has to apologize for sending their children to the crèches, daycare centers and schools that are on offer - we would be completely lost without this offer. Only: Then we as a society have to do everything we can (and that means, in concrete terms: spend money and finally reflect on our duties of care) so that the needs of the children are as good as possible and not the hopes and excuses of the adults.

This also applies to the kindergartens: they are springing up in increasingly modern, ever larger units on the outskirts of the city. Often enough, these are testimonials cast in concrete that we basically don't give a damn about the children's say. Inside, the resource base is stretched to tear apart. Nowhere else than in the field of childcare do so many people have to give up their jobs because of excessive workload. Or simply because they cannot make ends meet financially. Entire wards in hospitals have to be closed because there is a shortage of staff - when it comes to health, nobody wants to be accused of anything. But if there is no childcare staff, everything continues anyway. And this in the face of a multitude of challenges, the educational scope of which is only gradually becoming clear to us - from the inclusion of disabled children to the integration of refugee children to the accompaniment of children with behavioral problems.

If this country weren't so infinitely rich, it could be left with a resigned shrug. But in this country around a hundred children have received inheritances worth thirty billion euros as a gift in recent years - and tax-free. Alexander Hagelüken. Online at https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/kommentar-jetzt-gegensteuern-1.3791643 As a result of the real estate boom of the last decade, almost 2 trillion euros effortlessly migrated into the pockets of the richest 10 percent of the population - that is the total national debt of Germany . We as a society have achieved a material standard of living that generations before us could not even dream of. We live in an abundance that reaches the stars. And yet we fail to provide care for those who are weak and dependent?

Clearly. We lack clarity. And courage.


The author: Dr. med. Herbert Renz-Polster, born in 1960, has been working as a pediatrician and scientist for a long time with child development and health. Research in the field of prevention and health promotion, first in the USA, then at the Mannheim Institute for Public Health at Heidelberg University. Editor and author of various student and medical textbooks and specialist books. Known to a wide audience through several non-fiction books, including the standard work "Health for Children" and "Understanding Children - Born to Be Wild!". He has 4 children and lives with his wife near Ravensburg.