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Want young learners to experience freedom of opinion and participation?

Democratic Kindergartens

location_on Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Democratic Kindergartens enshrine children’s rights into a kindergarten constitution where children use their voice to shape rules and make decisions, guided by understanding and fairness, to provide future generations with democratic skills.
Michael Selck, Director, AWO Schleswig-Holstein
It’s the first time that the basics of democracy and participation, for children in kindergartens, have been defined and executed with verifiable results.

Michael Selck, Director, AWO Schleswig-Holstein

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation

HundrED 2018

Key figures

Innovation Overview

1 - 6
Age Group
-
Children/Users
1
Country
2014
Established
-
Organisation
4 218
Views
Updated on October 19th, 2020
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about the innovation

What are Democratic Kindergartens?

Democracy in Kindergartens is a nationwide pilot project that aims to bring democratic decision-making to German kindergartens. 

The rights of children, as set out in the UN Convention on Childrens’ Rights, is implemented in all kindergartens through the project. For the safeguarding and protection of childrens’ rights, all kindergartens practice democratic processes with the children. They examine these as a group and each individual kindergarten can verify their own democratic development through a certification process.

In a Democratic Kindergarten, the constitution is shaped by the children, with teachers transferring rights to children in an age-appropriate way. The specially trained teachers are equipped to distinguish between opportunities for children to wholly or partially make a decision on something, and to specify when there are times when the educators should take the lead. The focus is on the democratic process itself, not just the vote.

The constitution of the kindergarten is an open framework and is constantly changing through participation. Every new decision is made in this way, as a rolling process. Rules are discussed, negotiated and agreed by all participants to ensure they make sense and are fair. Through this process, children learn from a young age that the commonly agreed rules are mandatory for everyone. This reliability and fairness gives children a framework for their expected behaviour at kindergarten.

The approach also teaches young children that they won’t always get their own way, and that there are different opinions and ideas that are also valid and need to be accepted. This is a major learning objective and the hope is that children will learn to be valuable members of a democracy, tolerant of others and always searching for peaceful solutions. The main challenges are for the staff to share power and to monitor and lead complex discussions to reach a consensus. The parents are completely involved in and informed about the project.

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

May 2019
2000 views
September 2017
HundrED 2018
September 2017
Innovation added to the HundrED
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Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Implement a participation project
Participation projects are planned by professional staff and carried out with the children according to democratic principles.
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02
Develop a kindergarten constitution
In a training session for pedagogical staff, the future self- and co-decision rights of the children are enshrined.
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03
Introduce the constitution to the children
The constitution is introduced with to children through the committees.
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04
Ensure quality management
Each kindergarten must provide a questionnaire about the democratic focus of their everyday work.
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05
Gain certification
A certificate is provided to prove that the kindergarten is following the lead principles of kindergarten democracy.
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