Long-term meaning of early developments and educational experiences in kindergarten and family for educational and life success of young adults aged 18 years

Time span:
1. July 2019 - 30 June 2021

BiKSplus [3-18 is the first national study to address the long-term meaning of early competencies and experiences in the family and kindergarten learning environments for various developmental aspects in early adulthood.

The study started in 2005 with 547 children at the age of about three, their families and the educational staff in the kindergartens and was continued until the end of the children's primary school years. Children, parents, educators and primary school teachers were interviewed repeatedly during this period and asked for their opinions on topics relevant to education.

The results of the first study showed that the literacy competences (e.g., knowledge of letters, recognition of rhymes) acquired before the school entry were related to reading speed in Grade 2. In addition, the results of the BiKS study indicated that the quality of kindergarten is related not only to early mathematical competences at kindergarten age (e.g., counting and recognition of quantities), but also to advanced mathematical competences at primary school age (adding and subtracting).

Whether these relationships can still be discovered after the transition to secondary schools had been investigated in the BiKSplus [3-13] study.

That time, 454 children and their parents who had already taken part in the study were questioned again in autumn/winter 2015/2016 during a visit at home. Most of the children were in Grades 7 and 8 and were 12 and 13 years old, respectively. The survey focused on aspects of linguistic, mathematical and social-emotional development, satisfaction with school, the circle of friends and life as well as aspects of leisure activities and school performance.

The results showed different dimensions of the early home learning environment to be differentially associated with students’ mathematics and reading achievement in secondary school. Further, high quality of child care has been shown to be related to high students’ mathematics achievement and less behavioral problems at the age of 12/13 years.

The aim of the new study BiKSplus [3-18] has been to highlight the long-term importance of the quality of early childhood education in preschool and family and of early childhood competence development for educational and life success in early adulthood and to gain more insights into possible explanatory mechanisms (e.g., accumulation of learning experiences over the lifespan) in this context.

In particular, the consequences of the long-term effects of the earlier learning environments on the cognitive areas of development and educational pathways (e.g., successful completion of schooling), on social-emotional competences (e.g., prosocial behavior) and on non-cognitive aspects (e.g., cultural activities) have been be investigated. The importance of early childhood competences were to be included in all questions.

For pedagogical practice, the findings should serve to enable statements to be made about which competences can be promoted more strongly from an early age and to identify those characteristics of high-quality kindergartens and those factors in families that are suitable for promoting children in the best possible way.

The new data collection enabled an analysis of the developmental processes of children aged between 3 and 18 years and the effects of their individual learning environments on their later educational and life success, particularly in relation to the meaning of the learning environments and developments in primary and secondary school age, through the availability of the already existing, high-quality longitudinal data.

In order to investigate this question, those parents and their children, who had so far taken part in previous data collection points, were again asked to participate in the study. They were questioned at a further time in autumn 2019 and spring 2020. Most of the young people attended Grade 12 or the second year of apprenticeship. They were asked about their educational careers and further plans as well as their social and health behaviors. Furthermore, parents were asked to provide information on their children's educational background, home support and social and health behavior in terms of a multi-informant perspective.

We would like to thank the participating young people and their parents for their support and cooperation, without which this study would not have been possible.