Training Childhood Educators: The Child’s Individual Development in Focus

“Children learn through their emotions and develop in a threefold connection of head, heart, and hands,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Janne Fengler. The head of the Institute for Early Childhood Education at Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences knows that children – our youngest society members – need role models who pay loving attention to them and who facilitate their growth and development. For students of childhood education at Alanus University, located in Alfter near Bonn, holistic preparation for their future profession includes not only transmission of the academic foundations of the field, with an emphasis on Waldorf pedagogy, but also their own personal development as future teachers. In small groups of 15 to 30 participants, the students intensively examine their own personal histories and devote themselves to subject areas including art and aesthetics, movement, health, and inclusion. This approach allows them to develop a broad foundation of methodological competence for their future roles as teachers and leaders in kindergartens, child and youth welfare organizations, early intervention programs, or all-day care programs. They also participate in the Studium Generale, where students in different disciplines come together to engage with philosophical and social issues – a complementary learning environment that provides additional orientation for students. In addition, students can develop their own focus areas by visiting seminars in music, theatrical arts, or visual arts. Certificate courses on topics such as inclusion and theater education likewise allow students to place individual accents on their learning trajectory and professionalization. “It is not simply a matter of transmitting excellent theoretical knowledge, but also about encouraging personal development on numerous levels simultaneously,” emphasizes Christoph Teixeira, the responsible project manager at the Darmstadt-based Software AG – Foundation, which is engaged in a long-term, strategic partnership with Alanus University. “Our commitment to holistically-oriented and independent institutes of education springs from the desire to prepare future educators for the complex social challenges of our time and to establish a corresponding educational concept, both academically and socially.”

To meet the needs of students’ various life situations, students can complete the bachelor’s degree program in Early Childhood Education in either full-time or part-time; the program also includes preparation for accreditation as an early-childhood educator in Germany. The full-time track, which is designed to take six semesters, is primarily aimed at secondary-school graduates with a university entrance qualification and begins in the autumn of each year. State-certified kindergarten educators or applicants with a comparable background can participate in a part-time program (while continuing to work), which is shortened to five semesters and begins each March.