“In the facilities funded as language day-care centers, we were able to identify high-quality language stimulation, pronounced multicultural attitudes on the part of the educator team and effects on the quality of stimulation in the children’s families.” This is how Katharina Kluczniok, professor in early childhood education and Education at the Freie Universität Berlin, important results of their practice-related evaluations of the language day-care centers.
Precisely because of the clear successes shown by several evaluation reports in cooperation with the University of Bamberg, the timing of letting the program end at the end of the year is “difficult”. The focus on language promotion that is integrated into everyday life is the central answer to linguistic and social deficits from the Corona period in daycare children, which they should not take to school.
The fact that additional specialists and specialist advice for the language day-care centers will not be financed by the Ministry for Family Affairs beyond the funding period that runs from 2016 to the end of 2022 causes outrage, as reported. More than 7,000 part-time positions at a corresponding number of day care centers are funded with 25,000 euros each year. A total of 1.3 billion euros will flow during this period, including funds from the Corona catch-up program.
In Berlin, 300 day-care centers with an above-average proportion of children with special language needs are taking part. Berlin is losing 13.2 million euros a year as a result of the project, Education Senator Astrid Busse (SPD) complained.
From the start, the program was only scheduled until 2022, and limited funding is also common for such federal aid. However, the traffic light government had promised in the coalition agreement to consolidate the promotion of “language day-care centers” as an instrument for more equal opportunities.
But the new Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Lisa Paus (Greens), revised this with reference to the Good Daycare Act and a planned law on the quality development of daycare centers: In it, language training will become a “priority field of action”.
Sharp protest comes in particular from the Union faction in the Bundestag. The traffic light seems to have “lost sight of early childhood education, despite the full-bodied announcement,” explained family policy spokeswoman Silvia Breher (CDU) to the Tagesspiegel.
The planned law on day-care center quality cannot replace language day-care centers because there is an acute need for action due to the pandemic and the refugees from Ukraine. The program must be continued at least for a transitional period.
Dorothee Bär (CSU), deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary group and digitization expert, told the Tagesspiegel: “For children who need support, the language daycare centers lay the foundation for academic and professional success.” To catch up later on what is missed at a young age , is much more difficult for those affected and the state treasury is significantly more expensive.
In fact, there could initially be a loss of quality in the affected daycare centers, says FU professor Kluczniok. “The additional specialists are coached by the specialist advice on how they can contribute to quality and team development, how linguistic suggestions can also come through a language-related and culturally sensitive room design in the day-care center – and also through digital offers.”
Retaining the position for the specialist is “of fundamental importance”, writes daycare manager Martina Junius from the daycare center Kleine Weltdiscoverer in Hellersdorf in an open letter that is available to the Tagesspiegel.
The federal program made it possible to set up a library in the day care center, to offer a language working group and, most recently, a media working group with further training for the team. In addition, there are projects such as “literacy, gender sensitivity and diversity” and a daycare center podcast for which children are interviewed, reports Junius.
The carers in language day-care centers would “systematically teach skills and abilities to the children with special needs without which their development into independent and socially competent personalities is significantly more difficult,” Dorothee Bär points out.
Therefore, as part of the upcoming budget negotiations, she will “do her utmost to reverse the cut in funds for the language day-care centers and to demand at least a fair transition from previous program funding to the day-care center quality law that has been announced, but is still light years away”. Bear.
Due to the shortage of skilled workers, it is quite likely that many language specialists will be able to stay in their day-care centers as educators without money from the federal government. But the specialist consultations are in danger of disappearing. “Then the question arises as to how long-term all the new knowledge about early language learning will remain in the institutions,” says Kluczniok.
Anchoring in day-to-day day-care center work that there should be plenty of occasions for the children to speak – for example when eating and getting dressed – in addition to the morning circle and reading aloud, and that the non-German family languages are also valuable, requires constant new efforts and input from specialists who have their heads have free time for it.
“Nobody can replace the specially trained specialists! The educators are already doing enough, they can’t do that too,” a parent is quoted as saying in the daycare letter. The children are also attached to the experts: “They make great picture book cinema for us,” says one of the “beetle group”.
Katharina Kluczniok emphasizes that the continuous communication with the parents about questions of language stimulation at home often requires extra strength. Especially since the new digital focus has only just been developed: An evaluation of how often and in what way digital offers are used in the daycare center and how conscious use of digital media is taught will run until the end of the year. Daycare manager Junius also writes that she is still at the very beginning of digitization.
So does the evaluation come up empty? “No, the results radiate out to the entire day-care center landscape, in which the concept of everyday language education and close cooperation with families must be carried forward anyway,” says Katharina Kluczniok optimistically.