29.12.2015  Hilde von Balluseck

Frühe Bildung Online - The Concept

In this article the author describes the principles and theoretical foundation of this website.

How does early education work?

While early childhood is the period of life from birth to starting nursery or school, early education includes all of childhood, which in Germany means reaching the age of 13. From the age of 13, young people are considered adolescents.

This portal originates from the requirements for childhood education. The interests of those dealing with them are subordinate to these requirements. Thus the first matter to consider is what children bring into educational processes and what support they need.

Care and recognition
In Germany, we talk about the triad of "Erziehung, Bildung und Betreuung". In English, no distinction is made between "Erziehung" and "Bildung", which both translate to "education". On the other hand, "Betreuung", which translates to "care", is also separate from education. In German scientific literature, "Bildung" has garnered the highest level of importance among these three components, and "Betreuung" the lowest. The disdain toward traditionally female activities is expressed here; a fact, however, that disregards central findings in developmental psychology.

The first thing that a child needs when it comes into the world is affection and devotion, without which it cannot thrive. Affection is above all expressed in efforts to satisfy the child's most elementary needs: eating, drinking, sleeping and having its nappies changed. The corresponding nurturing activities are accompanied by the first forms of communication between – mostly – mother and child. There is welcome physical contact, periods of smiling and looking into each other's eyes, and vocal and then linguistic dialogues. Without positive nurture, these signals are not received – the child's elementary needs are too strong. During nurturing activity, children experience a recognition of their physical being and their needs for contact, making nurture a part of the education process. It lays the foundation for the child's awareness of its own value, which is a requirement for joyfully acquiring the content of education.

Education and autonomy

Feelings of security, combined with recognition, give rise to a connection to the first attachment figure(s), which is necessary for emotional growth. In parallel to the desire to be close to a loved one and perhaps imitate them, the desire for autonomy also grows: I can do it alone. For this reason, Maria Montessori's proposition – "Help me to do it myself" – is central to child education processes. Only when the child experiences itself to be effective will it avidly take up stimuli in its environment and process them in a constructive way.

Connections are also formed in the care provided at nursery and day care. As very young children are not only particularly vulnerable but also particularly receptive to education, excellent equipment is precisely what is needed in these places of education in order for the education processes built upon them to be successful.

Curiosity and a passion for discovery

Education is not something we have to force on small or bigger children. As helpless as a child may be when it is born, it approaches its environment with its senses from the outset, and wants to explore that environment. A baby knows very quickly where it can get something to eat and looks for its mother's breast. The baby also very quickly perceives what is in its surroundings and tries to explore it – whether it is its mother's hands or her hair, or a moving toy above the bed. And just a short time thereafter, the child's senses are so distinct that it turns when light or sounds change. With increasing opportunities for perception and action, it tries more and more to explore the world. If the world of grown-ups – whether professionally or privately – latches onto this curiosity, the child has a good chance of discovering its potential.

Curiosity and a passion for discovery are key drivers in education processes. Children take the greatest joy in learning when these needs are satisfied. And parents and specialists alike have a sense of achievement when they align themselves with these childhood resources and do not destroy them by means of undue or detrimental behaviour (cf. Prengel 2013).

Collaboration and participation

Education processes succeed in collaborative relationships when children take part in decision-making. The greater the children's scope to pursue their own interests and research goals, the greater their awareness and ability to take part in discussions and decisions. And again, it spurs a growth in the feeling of self-efficacy, which is needed for interests and motivating education. The chances of participation grow as the child gets older, and are a condition for children's commitment to learning at school.

Collaboration and negotiation processes among children themselves are another factor for successful educational processes. Social competencies and a sense of justice and injustice develop, partly with our help, but also frequently without adult involvement. Peers are more important.

Achievement and inclusion

Children are achievement-oriented; they all experience the joy of an achievement being recognised. In the family and at nursery, this willingness to achieve and corresponding successes can still be recognised without certificates. An awareness of competition is already presentbut grows at school.

In the family, parents must learn to deal with differences if, for example, one child is particularly gifted but the other is moderately so.

Specialists who promote children's emotional development and willingness to engage in education are faced with a wide range of differences – diversity – in nurseries, schools and in after-school care. According to the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children today have the right to participation regardless of whether they suffer from disabilities, whether they are from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, or whether they display behavioural problems. This means that specialists have to work on their own preconceptions in order to face this challenge.

Concern for children's welfare, and exerted efforts to meet their individual needs are not primarily cognitive functions. Rather, they are part of a nurturing approach towards the child – of "care" that is – which values other people and, in an open and approachable way, promotes the child in its own capabilities.  It is only this attitude that can enable inclusion; however, it contradicts the needs of an employment market that is becoming increasingly tough. Dealing with this contradiction is one of the great achievements for specialists, provided that they manage to maintain their nurturing attitude.


What education needs

Preschool and school-based education is a luxury in countries dominated by war or in places where people live in refugee camps. This means that in Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Syria – countries undergoing conflict – over 13 million children are not receiving school education (!5229655/), not to mention institutional pre-school education. Refugees in the camps do not have the most basic of necessities, including education for their children.

We have been aware of this education crisis for years, and we barely thought it even worthy of note until refugees made their way to Europe. Now we are faced with global inequality at the heart of our country, and can no longer look away.

Thoughts on what the education system needs must include this new situation – without having solutions already at hand.

Security and ability to learn

Above all, children need the certainty that they are safe at home, and can come to nursery/school healthy. The same is true for specialists. For us, there is currently this basic certainty, which is lacking in many places across the world. This then hinders processes of education. The inner peace and readiness to take up something new, to process it and to acquire it, are lacking. In this respect, we cannot change much from a portal, but we can at least examine it, report on it when we learn something new, and use our information to support those that long for a better future in Germany. One attempt at this is translating this editorial into English and Arabic.
Another catalyst of insecurity is formed by the situation many children in socially and mentally stressful conditions face. Children who experience violence or are neglected by their caregivers are constantly prevented from free development because of fear, sadness, anger, powerlessness or doubt. Because these children are in such great danger, this portal pays particular attention to child and adolescent welfare, as well as to foster families and homes that try to mitigate the damage.

Insecurity also has an effect on the materially precarious position of families. We also focus on this aspect because it is important when it comes to success in education.

Economy and qualification

Alongside the effect that a lack of money has on children's familial environment of causing greater insecurity, the framework conditions for specialists are also key in determining the quality of their work. We take into account all professional groups who work with children up to the age of finishing primary school.

The specialists have received or receive training of different durations, with different content, at different institutions. Payment also differs greatly. There is a gulf between the two professional groups that feature the highest numbers: teachers and caregivers. In contrast to teachers, caregivers predominantly do not have a university education.The training provided for both professional groups is governed differently on a country-specific basis.

The generally higher evaluation of school education in relation to preschool education is one of the examples where different types of education are evaluated differently. These factors mean a different level of prestige and payment for the professional groups named.

This portal will help to ensure that qualification paths are open to all interested parties, to remove federal barriers and to diminish the gulf between the reputation and remuneration of specialists with equally important responsibilities.

This consistently includes inspecting the development of nursery and school education quality. We address quality management in both types of institution.


Which kind of education where?

Places and types of education

Education can be differentiated by formal, non-formal and informal education.

Education that takes place at a specific place of learning (e.g. a school) with the possibility of a final examination is considered formal. Education processes that take place in a specific learning world are considered non-formal, e.g. education in nursery and further education options. They may provide a certificate, but not as a regular verification for entry into a specific job.

Informal education takes place everywhere and all the time, without those affected defining it as education. Every experience, for example helping with cooking in the kitchen at home, is an education process, but no mother and no child would designate it as such.

This portal includes all types and places of education in childhood, and also provides information about training and further training of professional groups who are involved in early education.

Content of education and competencies

Today, the content of education is described as competencies which children are to obtain. This requirement is formulated at nursery level by national education programmes; and for primary school by the lesson plans created by teacher training institutions.

The contents of education that are conveyed at home are informal, and therefore not defined, and differ greatly on an individual basis. The same is true for places of learning such as the playground or holidays. In these contexts, children can learn social behaviour, interaction with diversity and also sport and technical competencies. The competencies that are conveyed in sports clubs or in music schools are more specific. Social competency also counts in sport, while individual performance often dominates in cultural contexts. The effects of these different places of learning on social, sport or musical competencies should not be underestimated, however.

Even in child day care, and after that in nursery, specialists are faced with a great array of competencies that they are to convey (see education programmes).

Media, and particularly digital media, are an important non-formal area of education today. The older children become, the more important the role of digital education is, and this is true in both formal and non-formal contexts. For all of these areas, we collect material along the entire education chain in order to convey it to you.

And finally
We not only make every effort to ensure professional presentation but also consider ourselves a forum for different opinions. We look forward to your interest and hope to be able to meet the expectations you have that are associated with the title of this portal.


This article is based on many resources. Following are the most important books and articles.

Hilde von Balluseck

Hrsg. 2016 (in Vorbereitung): Professionalisierung der Frühpädagogik. Überarbeitete Neuauflage des 2008 erschienenen Buches.

2010: Der Weg zur pädagogischen Fachkraft. 2010.
Macht und Sexualität in pädagogischen Beziehungen. 2010.

2010: Körperlichkeit und Sinnlichkeit in der Pädagogik.  In: Geißler-Piltz, Brigitte/Räbiger Jutta (Hrsg.):  Soziale Arbeit grenzenlos. Festschrift fü Christine Labonté-Roset.Opladen, Farmington Hills: Budrich Uni Press

2003: Schulstationen in Berlin. Expertise für die Senatsverwaltung.

2003 (Hrsg.): Minderjährige Flüchtlinge. Opladen, Farmington Hills

2000: Zur Entwicklung von sozialpädagogischen Angeboten für Schulkinder in Deutschland von 1945 bis heute. In: Berry, Gabriele/Pesch, Ludger (Hrsg.): Welche Horte brauchen Kinder. Neuwied, Berlin

1999: (Hrsg.) Familien in Not. Freiburg i.Br.

1996:  (Hrsg.): Ganztagserziehung - ja bitte! Berlin

1990: Private und öffentliche Erziehung. Die Arbeit von Frauen in Familie und Kindertagesstätte am Beispiel des Kita-Streiks in Berlin. Berlin


Berliner Bildungsprogramm für Kitas und Kindertagespflege. Weimar, Berlin 2014

Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Hrsg., 2005): 12. Kinder- und Jugendbericht. Berlin

Dornes, Martin (1993): Der kompetente Säugling. Die präverbale Entwicklung des Menschen. Frankfurt a.M.

Fthenakis, Wassilios E. (Hrsg., 2003): Elementarpädagogik nach PISA. Freiburg i.Br.
Gold, Andreas/Dubowy, Minja (2013): Frühe Bildung. Lernförderung im Elementarbereich. Stuttgart

Laewen, Hans-Joachim/Andres, Beate (Hrsg.): Bildung und Erziehung in der frühen Kindheit. Weinheim, Berlin, Basel

Leu, Hans Rudolf/Krappmann, Lothar (Hrsg., 1999): Zwischen Autornomie und Verbundenheit. Bedingungen und Formen der Behauptung von Subjektivität. Frankfurt a.M.:

Prengel, Annedore (2013): Pädagogische Beziehungen zwischen Anerkennung, Verletzung und Ambivalenz. Opladen, Berlin, Toronto

Schäfer, Gerd E. (2007): Bildung beginnt mit der Geburt. Weinheim

The editorial staff of Frühe Bildung Online

Hilde von Balluseck

Prof. Dr. rer.pol., M.A., Social Scientist
  • Until 2007, Professor at Alice Salomon University, Berlin
  • In 2003, designed Germany's first course for caregivers.
  • From 2009 to 2015, Editor-in-Chief of

Contact:  balluseck(at)

Christiane Hartmann

Certified Social Worker/Social Educational Worker
  • Work with people with disabilities
  • Setting up a Grandparents Service for single parents and their children
  • Debt counselling
  • Migrant advice
Contact: hartmann(at)

Kerstin Pack

  • B.A. Education and social management "Frühe Kindheit"
  • State-recognised Caregiver
Current professional position
  • Project management in the communal education office/education authority
  • Freelance work as a trainer for educational specialists

Contact: hartmann(at)

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