Supporting early childhood education: BASF’s “Action on Education” campaign

As part of the “Action on Education” campaign, BASF Aktiengesellschaft is supporting seven projects aimed at boosting early childhood education in daycare centers.

The projects are being organized and carried out by organizations that operate daycare centers in Ludwigshafen – the city of Ludwigshafen and Germany’s two main churches. Ludwigshafen’s 89 daycare centers are taking part in the projects together. An academic research group will provide ongoing support and post-project evaluation for the projects, which are intended to be sustainable and to continue after the project phase is over.

The projects address topics that are an integral part of the educational guidelines laid down for daycare centers by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

1. Project “Language Makes You Strong! Language Bridge Daycare Centers”

Language is the key to successful education and integration, which is why this project aims to improve the development of language skills among children from diverse social and cultural backgrounds.

Promoting language skills in small groups and in everyday classroom situations helps in the following way: using small groups, trained staff use games to systematically teach children with poor language skills a specific number of new words, e.g., “clothes” or “parts of the body.” To consolidate the new vocabulary, each topic is again dealt with in the entire group and in other ways (for example, by naming the different items of clothes when getting dressed). Parents are children’s most important language partners. Once a week, parents who come from other countries or families with educational problems go to the daycare center with their children. They learn in game form how to encourage the use of language using play and get tips on what to do at home.

2. Project “Pure Nature”

This project helps daycare centers to teach children about nature. The idea is to give children a wide variety of ways of learning about nature so that they develop a relationship with nature and the natural world, and experience and understand its relationship with other things. For this reason, an important part of the project is building natural play areas for the centers. Examples include model outdoor play areas, such as building small hillocks, climbing opportunities or making little streams.

3. Project “From Small to Smart”

The aim of this project is to encourage children to be curious about scientific phenomena and to help them learn how to express and think about their experiences. Age-appropriate, hands-on experiments help to encourage their interest in chemistry, math and physics. Specially equipped educational workshops in each of the participating daycare centers also encourage the children to learn more easily. In small groups, the children find out what happens, for example, when they mix paints, what substances dissolve in water or discover “hidden” air. Using materials found in every household, the children are able to make surprising experiences.

4. Storytelling Workshop

Listening to stories from different cultures doesn’t just fascinate children, it also helps them to better understand their own and other cultures. This project uses storytelling as an educational tool: children learn to listen and become storytellers themselves, while at the same time coming face to face with stories from other cultures and traditions.

5. Project “From Piccolo to Picasso”

Helping to develop creative skills in children is the aim of this project, which boosts the esthetic and artistic element of the centers’ curriculum. Children are given the opportunity – based on their teachers’ suggestions – to express themselves using colors, shapes and experimental designs. Artists are also invited to come and work with the children. All the participating centers have set up “children’s studios” – their size depends on the available space – where the children can draw, paint or make things.

6. Project “Guaranty for quality”

This project introduces quality assurance into daycare centers with respect to processes, structures and results. Staff at the centers are trained to monitor and improve the quality of their own work on an ongoing basis. Every year, each center chooses specific areas from a list of defined, quality-relevant subjects that they want to focus on and implement, for example integrating parents into the work of the centers.

7. Project “Observation and Educational Partnership”

This project intends to assist center staff in developing their observational skills: the idea is to be more aware of children’s individuality so that they can be given greater personal support. Center staff are trained to systematically observe children’s development, their strengths and needs and to document these observations for each child. The training also teaches staff how to talk to parents with the aim of persuading them to work more closely with the centers in the interests of the children.

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