Supporting the Parent-Child Relationship in Kindergartens – Adult Education/Early Intervention and Early Education from One Source

8/2012–12/2013 / Project Head: Prof. Dr. Christiane Ludwig-Körner
Research Associate: Ulla Stegemann

Financed by: Third party funding from the Hamburg Foundation for the Advancement of Research and Culture

Project Description
In a socially deprived district in Berlin, eleven children from five families together with their parents in four kindergarten groups are being supported and accompanied by a specialist trained in the early intervention field. By having the parents involved in the everyday kindergarten life to the greatest possible extent, they can experience good education practice in an exemplary manner and avail of everyday suggestions and motivations when dealing with their children, or also receive help with personal issues. The aims are to have an improvement in the parent-child relationship by means of guided cognition and game sequences, as well as exercises to promote empathy and the ability to mentalise.

Initially, 11 students (psychology study course) were involved in the project, who were able to gain important experience in the sense of "problem-based learning" in a concrete field of practice. They supported the trained staff in their work by conducting targeted observations or by giving individual children additional support.

Aims of the Pilot Project/Issues

  • To test whether children with developmental delays, learning and/or mental health difficulties can be supported together with their parents in such a manner by a specialist in a kindergarten, that only a small amount of additional intervention and help is required.
  • To test mentalisation promoting psychodynamically oriented work "in the field".
  • Are psychology students able to support this work (e.g. by means of participatory observations, individual support of children)?
  • To what extent do the children, parents, kindergarten staff profit from the students’ work? Where is the personal gain for the students here?

A planned manualisation of the pedagogical/therapeutic work had to be abandoned due to the highly differing individual cases. Success in having an improved parent-child relationship is dependent to a large extent on the parental ability to cooperate, as well as their willingness to question and change their own basic attitude to education if required. With several families, it did not prove possible to forego additional supportive measures (such as e.g. logotherapy or support by means of intervention and help in individual cases). All of the children profited from the measures; with support and promotion of their language development, improvement in their attention spans, social competencies, enjoyment of learning and life, creativity, reduced behavioural disorders and greater emotional stability. For the psychology students, the "problem-based learning" proved to be highly motivational and facilitated learning. The students demonstrated a high degree of commitment and their participation was very positively assessed by all of the parties involved.