Within the Academic Platform of KidsFoundation, behavioural scientists work together to professionalise the practice of childcare. Who is involved in this beautiful mission? Get to know the scientists of KidsFoundation.
‘Childcare is of great value for the development of children, in terms of motor, cognitive, socio-emotional and moral aspects.’
Annemieke Postma Child and adolescent psychologist
Thanks to science we can put together a modern policy for preschools, crèches and afterschool care facilities – a policy that is practical in its implementation and is all about the optimal development of young children. Childcare is of great value to children’s development in all kinds of areas: motor, cognitive, socio-emotional and moral. It is therefore important for us to keep learning from scientific insights. We are already seeing that learning while playing, for example, has major effects.
From my background as a child and adolescent psychologist I have a strong interest in the moral development of children. A child is not born with a notion of what is or isn’t allowed. It still has to learn the rules: from home, from childcare and from society. The child gradually learns to make assessments in new situations, and a good sense of morality helps in the process. The behaviour of the educational staff is therefore extremely important: after all, children learn best by example.
‘For some children, nursery and preschool education is essential in order to make up for developmental delays.’
Annemieke Constandse Educational scientist
For KidsFoundation, my focus lies on nursery and preschool education. Difficult home situations reduce children’s opportunities of having a successful school career. They can often be lagging behind at the early age of two already. Research shows that nursery and preschool education helps to make up for many such delays. I am happy to help KidsFoundation with supplementary research or in guiding one of the Master’s students.
Now that the IKK LAW (legislation for innovation and quality in childcare) has come into force, we will also need to conduct research into day care for children aged 0-2 years. One aspect is the effects of the smaller professional staff-child ratio. And how does that influence the quality of care services? In my work as location manager at Smallsteps I am involved in quality improvement on a daily basis. And I can also contribute to that: when I coach the educational staff positively, the effects are beneficial.
'Science gives us knowledge and insight into how we can best help children in their development.'
Willemijn van der Zwaan Remedial educationalist
Already as a student in Pedagogical Sciences I was interested in child and adolescent psychiatry. I have experience in the diagnosis and treatment of children with various problems such as ADHD, autism and attachment issues. Now, in my work as quality manager at Smallsteps childcare, I welcome the challenge of supporting educational scientists in guiding children. Every child is unique and requires a different approach.
A good care network is very important for children with unusual behaviour. Together with the educational staff of the parents I see what is possible so that the child can develop optimally within the group. I do what I can to foster cooperation with institutions, schools, and the Integral Child Centre. In the future I want to work on the research into play development that grew partly out of a collaboration between Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and KidsFoundation. What are the support, materials and designs that children learn best with?
‘Every day I see how important it is to provide children with focused care. Science enables us to do that’.
Nicole Albers Expert Reggio Emilia
Fifteen years ago I founded KITS, a childcare facility in Groningen and one of the labels of KidsFoundation. Our work is based on the vision of Reggio Emilia, whose premise is that children can express themselves in hundreds of ways, for example through dance, music, drawing or movement. In the last fifteen years I have learned a lot more about Reggio Emilia, translating my expertise into a strong pedagogical policy for KITS. I have also specialised in baby care.
Scientific research in childcare is important because it provides insight into the development and needs of children. In this way we can provide care that is as focused as possible, while stimulating and supporting children. My background lies right where management and movement meet, as I am professionally trained in sports management. This is why, together with my experience with Reggio Emilia, baby care, and the foundation and management of KITS, I can offer a versatile contribution to KidsFoundation.
‘In their behaviour and play, children show how unlimited their creativity is. Everything is allowed and everything is possible: that sense of amazement is magnificent.’
Larissa Snel Pedagogical scientist
Children are bursting with energy, fantasy and creativity. In the 0-4 age range they are not inhibited by awareness yet. Everything is allowed and everything is possible: they are constantly amazed. The most beautiful part about my profession is that I can follow children in their interests. I observe their behaviour and their play, and verify how unlimited their creativity is. But how can we best stimulate this creativity? It is important to keep conducting scientific research into this topic, and for the new knowledge to be properly applied into childcare
‘Combining art and education in childcare: this is the best way to learn to understand children
Sanne Velsma Remedial educationalist
The pedagogical approach of Reggio Emila speaks to me. The founder of this approach was an Italian philosopher. Listening is an important aspect of his vision. Children can express themselves in a myriad ways: maybe not yet in writing, but certainly through other modalities like dance, music, drawing, working with clay and movement. It is our job to understand all those languages. This is why educators and artists often work together in childcare, with group leaders, parents and the children themselves. Children are each other’s best teachers.
‘Childcare is always personalised. For the best practical approach it is essential to always think out-of-the-box.'
Esther Scharn Pedagogical scientist
There are tenacious convictions about childcare out there: that it is sad for a child to attend daycare, that ever-changing pedagogical insights are bad for children’s development, that little kids cannot play together. As location manager I see every day that this couldn’t be further from the truth. This is why it is essential for our practice to always think out-of-the-box. Childcare is always personalised: every child is unique and so is our approach. And if parents have specific wishes? Then we also have to think in terms of possibilities. It is in the best interest of the child
‘Interaction with children is important for their well-being. You can learn those skills through interdisciplinary research.’
Janneke van Lummel Psychologist
Structuring, stimulating, and offering the right kind of emotional support. The interaction skills of educational staff are important for children’s development. How can we demonstrate which form of support works the best? By conducting research from different disciplines, such as pedagogy, educational theory and psychology. A shared vision shows the aspects in which professionals can keep growing. Science is a perfect means to professionalise childcare.
‘Discovering and establishing boundaries: it is how children grow. A challenging offering of activities is helpful to this process.’
Michelle Kluiters Pedagogical scientist
For my studies in Pedagogical Sciences I conducted research into the development of children in orphanages and in families. What did I find out? That not only the quality of the care offered makes a difference, but also the quality of the activities offered. I am applying this insight to childcare, where I work as location manager. I continuously re-evaluate and improve the activities offerings, so that we keep challenging children. In this way I give children the chance to explore their boundaries and expand them in a safe environment.
‘Interplay between research and practice produces the best kind of childcare. That applies for early detection too.’
Inge Smit Developmental psychologist
What is good for a child? This question is essential when creating policy for childcare, instructing educational staff and informing parents. Our own ideas about childrearing and development take a back seat here. This is about the interaction between scientific research and practice, which produces the best kind of childcare. The same applies to early detection, so that we can intervene as early as possible when there are developmental and childrearing issues. This is of course done based on a pedagogical partnership with the parents.
‘Educational staff in childcare do so much more than mind the children: they contribute to their upbringing’.
Marjan Schaap Educational expert
Permanent education is essential for the quality of childcare. As an educational expert my interest lies in the growth of educational professionals. How do educational professionals remain curious? How do we ensure that teams become intrinsically motivated to keep learning? I deal with such issues at Smallsteps, where I work as HR manager. At the HR department we create the right conditions to stimulate expertise, using the latest practical and theoretical insights.
I strongly believe in the added value of childcare for the upbringing of children. Educational staff in childcare and aftercare facilities do so much more than mind the children: they contribute to a good, high-quality upbringing. Parents frequently approach us with questions about upbringing. Based on well-founded and applied research, we can substantiate our answers and give parents concrete advice. This is how I want to make a difference with my work for KidsFoundation!
‘The little ones benefit from real attention. Touching, feeding, carrying and lifting them in the right way: that makes a difference.’
Odilia Jansen Pedagogical scientist
A relaxed, calm and challenging daycare environment is crucial to the development of children, as is a pleasant ambiance in the group. The littlest ones benefit from real attention. Being touched, lifted, carried and fed in the right way makes a huge difference. I coach and assist pedagogic employees in this respect. My background as a midwife and baby massage teacher is useful in this area. The question I like to keep asking myself and others is: why? We should remain curious, just like children.
‘There is a reason why children do what they do. Learn to see through children’s eyes: where is their behaviour coming from?’
Natasja de Kroon Remedial educationalist
Since I finished my studies in remedial education I have been active in childcare and in the educational field. Lovingly guiding children is central to all my work. My starting premise is that children have good reason to do what they do. It is our task to find out where their behaviour is coming from. It is therefore important to see with children’s eyes. I train educational staff to do this, so that they get better at responding to every individual child.
Communication is not the only important aspect for a good interaction between child and educational professional: you can also make use of space, materials and activities. For over twenty years I have been impacted by the pedagogical philosophy of Reggio Emilia. Children can express themselves in many ways. If we find one way to really make contact with them, this will contribute to their happiness. For me that is the most important benefit from science: to understand children better, so that they are happier in the group.
“Science benefits everyone. Above all, scientific research offers more opportunities to children.”
Siska Kanninga Expert Reggio Emilia
Offering children opportunities – that is the most important thing to me. As a site manager of KITS Child Day Care Center, I gain a lot of insight into the development phases of children. I use this insight for innovating our childcare. My work is a perfect match with my training background; I have completed the bachelor-level studies Pedagogic Academy and Commercial Economy. That is really what suits me. I often hear that I am an enthusiastic coach to my colleagues.
The added value of scientific research in childcare is huge. Thanks to science we can continue improving daycare and keep responding to new trends and insights. Science can develop tools for children that are even better in line with their perception of the world, and also offers parents and pedagogic professionals starting points for their own growth. It therefore benefits everyone. This is why I am happy to contribute to the Academic Platform of KidsFoundation.