Participation in Kindergarten



Prof. Dr. Raingard Knauer
E‑Mail: raingard.knauer (at) fh-kiel (dot) de

Rüdiger Hansen
E‑Mail: r.hansen (at) par­ti­zi­pa­ti­on-und-bil­dung (dot) de

Participation is the key to edu­ca­ti­on and democracy

Child par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on is a cen­tral fac­tor in the over­all pedago­gi­cal qua­li­ty of a child day­ca­re faci­li­ty. All child­ren have equal rights to par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on; the­re­fo­re, adults have the obli­ga­ti­on to ensu­re the­se rights. Participation is key to a suc­cess­ful edu­ca­tio­nal pro­cess and is as an act of “lear­ning demo­cra­cy” in its ori­gi­nal sen­se an important edu­ca­tio­nal issue wit­hin child day­ca­re facilities:

  • Education unders­tood as pro­cess of appro­pria­ti­on is not pos­si­ble without invol­ving child­ren as acti­ve agents wit­hin this pro­cess. Successful edu­ca­tio­nal poli­ci­es requi­re children’s participation.
  • Democratic edu­ca­ti­on by means of par­ti­ci­pa­to­ry demo­cra­tic prac­ti­ce is a path of lear­ning that begins at birth and takes on a new qua­li­ty when child­ren enter day­ca­re as an insti­tu­tio­nal set­ting wit­hin the public domain for the first time.

Participation has been an issue in many German child day­ca­re faci­li­ties for some time now. But not only ever­y­day prac­ti­ce at the cen­ters dif­fers great­ly, the­re are still diver­ging views con­cer­ning the approach to par­ti­ci­pa­to­ry pedago­gi­cal prac­ti­ce in child care set­tings as well. Child care pro­fes­sio­nals as do mothers and fathers need to have the cou­ra­ge and the sen­si­tiz­a­ti­on for the neces­si­ty of but also the vast oppor­tu­nities offe­red by child par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in order to ful­ly com­mit them­sel­ves to giving up some of their power in plan­ning and decisi­on-making struc­tures to child­ren. Although child care pro­fes­sio­nals are cognizant of the impor­t­ance of children’s par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on and are wil­ling to encou­ra­ge actu­al invol­ve­ment of child­ren in decisi­on-making pro­ces­ses, they still qui­te often lack spe­ci­fic metho­di­cal know­ledge nee­ded to pro­vi­de child­ren with genui­ne oppor­tu­nities to make their own choices and decisi­ons on mat­ters affec­ting them.

The Institute for Participation and Education can pro­vi­de sup­port in the fol­lowing areas:

  • Examination and expan­si­on of the scope of pre­exis­ting child par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on prac­ti­ce wit­hin day­ca­re facilities
  • Development of appro­pria­te pro­fes­sio­nal prac­ti­ce con­cepts for indi­vi­du­al day­ca­re centers
  • Staff trai­ning in par­ti­ci­pa­to­ry practice
  • Design and ana­ly­sis of pilot pro­jects on child par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on and education