Career Early childhood education: study or training?

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Study or training - this question is for many who want to do something educational. What speaks for a study? What kind of vocational training? And can both be combined?

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Weichensteller Frühpädagogik: training opportunities and studies

Those who want to take care of the youngest - so far it is usually women who take on this profession - are traditionally trained as educators. But the job description is undergoing a change: Increasingly, the policy recognizes the importance of early childhood education for later development and wants to academize the education.

For this reason, numerous bachelor programs have been created in this field in recent years. But which is the better way - education or study?

Education as educator at a school for social education

Birgit Brombacher knows both things: After completing her A-levels, she first undertook a two-year training as an educator at the Friedrich Fröbel School of Social Education in Mannheim, which alternates between school lessons and day and block practicals. This was followed by a year of recognition in a day care center. Her conclusion: She has learned a lot for the practical work, but from the beginning she lacked the theoretical foundation:

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“To be able to apply to the technical school at all, I had to do a pre-internship. I was just thrown into my job without any previous knowledge. ”

Not uniformly regulated

The education to educator, as Brombacher has graduated, is not uniformly regulated nationwide. As a rule, training at a vocational school for social education lasts two years, followed by a year of recognition. A uniform prerequisite is a middle-level education, usually the secondary school certificate, and a completed vocational education in a socio-educational or social profession. However, there are different ways of proof of activity in the various federal states. So this can vary from a pre-study internship in a socio-educational institution to a completed vocational training.

In most federal states, the training period is three years, which, like Brombacher's, is divided into two years of school education and one year of recognition. In some schools, this is distributed in internships over the three-year training period. If necessary, the recognition year can be completed half a day for two years. Also different are the regulations in which period after taking the final exam the recognition year must be started. And in some federal states, there has been no recognition year for some time, but the entry requirements are regulated differently.

Proof of achievement in education

During the school education certificates of achievement such as exams, project work, chores, which have to be provided. Practical training sessions normally require the writing of internship reports and, in addition, internships provide assessments or certificates of attendance, which are included in the grading. In each half-year, there is a certificate showing the level of performance.

On the basis of the examination regulations of the respective federal state, the school education is completed with the state examination. This can consist of a written work with a subsequent colloquium or exams. In addition, students must demonstrate that they can apply the acquired theoretical knowledge in practical work. In most cases, a work plan must be drawn up and an offer or project with a group of children or adolescents prepared, carried out and followed up on their own responsibility.

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This is what professional education does

Subject of the school education and final examination are almost at all technical schools subjects such as pedagogy, psychology, didactics and methodology of the socio-pedagogical practice, jurisprudence or sociology as well as health education, biology, literature and media work and German. There are also artistic, creative, artistic and movement-promoting subjects on the timetable. A broad spectrum, but without one depth to convey scientific background knowledge. Birgit Brombacher felt under-challenged:

“The training did cover a lot, but with frequent repetitions, short school days and simple exams. I could probably have managed the material from two years in six months. Since the students had very different access requirements, this was not possible. Colleagues with a high school diploma did better overall. ”

Bachelor's degree program

Birgit Brombacher wanted more: A broader knowledge and a sound qualification. Above all, she wanted to expand her range of employment and improve her career prospects. After all, an academic degree brings more recognition - and hopefully as a perspective, a corresponding salary increase. Therefore, after a short detour through a degree in psychology in Dusseldorf and several years as an educator, she joined the bachelor program Early Childhood and Elementary Education (short felbi) at the Heidelberg University of Education.

Here she is now learning the in-depth background knowledge and the scientific approach that have been missing in technical education so far. How important this is when working with small children, explains the course director Professor Dr. Hermann Scholer:

“Early education doesn't just mean tinkering and singing a little. It is much more important that educators know what happens to the child, what effects it has, and how the child will develop before starting educational processes. Therefore developmental psychology is an important part of our course! ”

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The bachelor's degree program with a further focus on early childhood between zero and three years aims to communicate skills, professional, methodological and social-communicative. The six-semester degree program is in high demand: 40 applicants who are assigned to a selection interview per semester come to 520. Tuition fees are 500 Euro per semester. Part-time studies are also possible.

How is the course set up?

The students have to complete a total of 33 modules from five areas. Each module consists of at least two courses and is completed with an exam. The modules are defined as fields of research in areas such as prevention and promotion, education management or early and elementary education. In the field of early childhood and elementary education, however, the students have the choice of compulsory modules such as educational processes in nursery and day care or mathematics and logic in elementary education and the free choice of various modules such as design and image skills, body, perception and dance or philosophy with children.

“Every aspiring pedagogue has very special interests and skills - and they should be able to concentrate on them during their studies. It doesn't matter Sense, if someone who is interested in creativity and handicrafts can only do sports - and vice versa. Our students should get to know everything ”,

explains course director Professor Dr. Hermann Schöler the wide offer.

What do the teaching modules do?

A good half of the modules are covered by lecturers from practice - such as the neuropediatric director of a SPZ, the dramaturge of a children's theater or a psychomotorist. During the lecture period, students also complete a four-hour daily internship, usually in a crèche or kindergarten. As a rule, they spend more than two semesters in one institution.

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The daily internships have special topics and, if possible, are closely linked to the learning content at the university. At the same time, during the lecture-free period, the students also provide thematically allocated, several-week block internships in order to also experience the daily routine in an institution. In addition, the students complete a supervision interview every two weeks during which they reflect on problems of professional practice.

What are the advantages of studying?

It was precisely this interlocking of practical elements, theoretical background knowledge and self-reflection, which she lacked in technical education, that was the reason for Birgit Brombacher to begin her felbi studies. For example, she finds it positive that she now knows which neuronal processes take place in a child when she learns. And she can detect behavioral problems much better in her day-to-day work and then solve the problem by working with specialists from neighboring disciplines, as she explains with two examples.

“If I suspect that a child's motor or language development is impaired, I can now carry out the first diagnostic tests myself and then ensure that the child is encouraged in good time - for example by an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or speech therapist. Conversely, I can also better recognize and promote children's strengths and resources. ”

New media in education

Brombacher is particularly enthusiastic about the potential applications that work with new media such as digital photography and video offer - and for which students in Heidelberg are specially trained in video technology and film editing. On the one hand, they can record their own work on video and then analyze it with lecturers and fellow students on opportunities for improvement. On the other hand, modern technology can also be used in counseling sessions with parents, as the student from professional practice tells:

“We can only achieve something if we enter into an educational partnership with the parents. So it is useful to be able to film child behavioral problems, the child's strengths, the interaction between parents and child, and to illustrate to parents what is already working well and what could possibly be done better. ”

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Dear study as an education

Therefore Birgit Brombacher would, if she could choose today, without the detour educator training and psychology study, decide immediately for felbi. Disadvantages of the course do not occur to her, on the contrary, although she already brought a lot of experience, the contents have not overlapped:

“The course is so well designed that I never thought 'I already know, I already know'.”

Why is an academization of education useful?

More than 50 degreeCourses, which like felbi train specifically for early childhood education, are now available at colleges, universities or colleges of education in Germany. Most have been launched in the last five years and are completed with a bachelor's degree. In addition, there are a few Master's programs as well as extra-occupational offers. As a rule, the Abitur is a prerequisite for study, but at some universities, the Fachhochschulreife is sufficient.

Traditionally, however, there are numerous prejudices against the academic education of educators, according to the motto "What differentiates a lantern that was made by a trained educator from one that was made by an academic?" According to this understanding, education only begins with school.

Criticism of the German education system

This is already shown by the name the pre-school institutions have: German toddlers attend care facilities such as kindergarten or after-school care. The visit is voluntary but costs money. Only school attendance is compulsory and free of charge. In France, on the other hand, the children go to école maternelle and in Sweden to pre-school.

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But since the PISA study, the German education system has come under criticism - especially early childhood education. In an international comparison it became clear: All major EU countries such as Spain, France, Italy or Great Britain also require kindergartens and preschools to have a pedagogical concept and provide verifiable educational standards in five core areas - language, mathematics, sports, early art and science education - and Evaluation procedures to assess the development progress of the children.

Early education is demanding

In Germany, on the other hand, you restrict yourself to more generally formulated objectives such as the “social and emotional, physical and mental development” of the child. And there are also differences when it comes to training: teachers are trained at university level in almost all European countries - but not in Germany!

At the same time, research has long since confirmed the importance of sophisticated education, especially in the first six years of life. Nevertheless, according to a study by the consulting firm McKinsey, which was commissioned by the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Stuttgart, only ten percent of under-3s in Germany attend a care facility, in Sweden it is almost 50 percent, and in Denmark, the European leader, even 64 percent.

What changes now

The PISA shock, expert criticism of the Early Childhood Education System and the adoption of child daycare plans prompted the development of early childhood education programs.

By the year 2013 there should be nationwide for every third child under three years a childcare place. Closely interlinked with this quantitative expansion of childcare provision is the requirement for the quality of education for the very young.

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Quality of education must be improved

“The quality of early childhood education, upbringing and care in our daycare centers needs to be further improved. This can only be achieved if the specialists are appropriately qualified for their educational tasks and the entire professional field is reformed in the face of new educational and family policy challenges. A two- to three-year training at a technical school level is usually not enough to convey this broad and demanding competence profile. ”

sagt Dr. Andrea Binder, Program Manager Education and Society of the Robert Bosch Foundation (delete the GmbH here) in Stuttgart. To push this goal forward, the Robert Bosch Stiftung 2005 has launched the program PiK - Professionals in Kitas.

Professional KITAS

“PiK is a program of the Robert Bosch Foundation for the professionalization of early childhood educators in Germany. Our aim is to achieve a quality boost for the entire system of early childhood care, education and upbringing between 0 and 10 years by developing new training and further education offers. As a result of the PiK initiative, the publication “Studying early childhood education - a framework for universities” was published in 2008. ”

here Dr. Binder

The above framework describes a broad range of competences that can be taught to early childhood education professionals in bachelor's degree programs.

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In addition to pedagogical skills, this includes management skills, organizational skills, as well as concept and quality development - competencies that also enable leadership functions. An increase in teacher education at university level will also be reflected in a higher tariff classification in the medium term, since the remuneration must be reconciled with the job profile of early childhood educators.

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