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The topic “Chances, challenges and risks of preschool support for the development of 3 to 6 year-old children” is no central concern of the tasks of secondary teachers, yet it drew about 60 participants from 13 European countries to the Bildungshaus St. Hippolyt in St. Pölten.

In all countries the support to children by pre-school institutions is seen as a very important contribution to a just school system and to a better development of society. The organisation, the realization of the task of formation and the extent of obligation, however, are different in the various countries, which is due not only to the different historical development, but also to the financial means of the countries and political decisions. How the two tasks of formation and care are distributed and combined with each other, that’s what determines the form of support. In a lecture entitled “Preschool education for small children” Agnès Florin of Nantes University presented the European situation in general referring to her rich experience, and in particular the French Ecole maternelle with its two aims of education/formation and social competences. Kerstin Kipp of Ulm University continued by talking about “Support in early childhood: Impulses given by the neurosciences”. She combined the principle “The earlier the better!” with findings of the neurosciences which in her view mostly confirm pedagogical “truisms”. Finally Gabriele Bäck of the Charlotte Bühler Institute in Vienna presented “The FormationFrameworkProgramme for elementary institutions of formation in all federal states of Austria”, which for the first time describes the (quite demanding) tasks of formation for the kindergardens of all Austria.

In the language groups, which were very international, you, in addition, got a lot of information about the preschool support in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia, and Sweden. A pedagogical workshop led by a German colleague and an exchange of thoughts with teachers at French Ecoles maternelles were added to the group work.

A reception in the town-hall and a guided tour through the centre of St. Pölten, a visit to the monastery of Stift Klosterneuburg with its famous Verdun altar, a reception and a guided tour of the Lower Austrian governmental quarter of the youngest capital St. Pölten offered glimpses into the history and the present of the Bundesland. Some also took advantage of the days before and the free afternoon to visit Vienna, Melk and the Wachau. The concluding excursion with its visit to Stift Lilienfeld, where we could admire the rarely shown codex of the “Concordantiae Caritatis”, and a multilingual mass in front of the statue of the Magna Mater Austriae at Mariazell rounded off the meeting prepared by the Austrian colleagues.

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