Date: 25-03-2020

BLOG: EDUCAS Case Study from Belgium

EDUCAS aims to create ECEC environments that support children’s development in a holistic way, taking into account the diverse needs of children and families, with special attention to the ones at risk of social exclusion. The consortium is experimenting visions and methods related to organizing ECEC environments and materials within an educare approach.

The Case Study in Belgium

The Belgian (FL) Case Study began by conducting focus groups with families and staff in the two ECEC centers involved in the project: Hippo’s Hof and de Tandem. Inspired by the first Transnational Learning Activity in Italy, the analysis of the focus groups started a CPD (continuous professional development) path with the ECEC staff involved, supported by VBJK. The CPD path has been co-constructed in a bottom-up way with the ECEC centers, listening to their needs.

Main areas of work identified

  • Family participation: how to give a ‘place’ to families, both on a physical and mental/emotional level. How to inform families? How to share with them? How to take their points of views into account? How to foresee a ‘space’ in which they can feel welcome?
  • Educare in mixed age groups: both ECEC centers involved in the project work with mixed age groups. This can sometimes be a challenge, especially when very young children are involved. With EDUCAS we want to explore how to invest in an educare approach that meets all ages.
  • How to consciously connect the educare/spaces approach to the vision of the ECEC center: professionals are reflecting on how the vision from their ECEC center is coherently connected with the educare approach, how to make it visible, how to become aware and how to value it.
  • Focus on integrated working concerning educare: we are experiencing all this through CPD paths that involve the whole staff. Teachers and assistants take part on the thinking process, which is something unusual in Belgium (and in many other EU countries).


  • Planned reflection moments with the two teams (separately and together) occurring every six weeks approximately. During these sessions, staff reflects on its vision and the connection with educare and spaces, through pictures and videos.
  • Exchange of observations and reflection between the two ECEC centers: the centers exchange observations between each other, give feedback and reflect together about how to change/improve the spaces in connection with educare.
  • Both ECEC services use pedagogical documentation to further reflect on their practice within the educare approach.
  • After exploring the points of view of families and staff, those from the children are explored too. Through drawings and interviews, children express how they feel in the spaces of the school/service.

What ‘changes’ happened in practice: some examples

  • Following the ‘less is more’ approach encountered in Italy, the two ECEC centers are creating more ‘calm’ places in their centers, with less but well-thought materials that give space to children (of different ages) to ‘discover’ in their own ways. This need comes out also from the focus groups with parents and staff, and the interviews with children.
  • One of the ECEC centers crated ‘family books’ with the families, creating a connection between the center and home.
  • ECEC centers are reflecting on how to improve the ‘routines’ moments and their spaces (sleeping, eating, hygiene), how to make them more pleasant and how to value them.
  • One of the ECEC centers worked on the connection between pictures and the vision, creating panels to make it visible within the educare perspective.
  • ‘Now I know better what I am doing and why’, a professional says. This is actually the main ‘change’ we are looking for: becoming aware of what we are doing daily, why we are doing it, and how to value it and make it visible.

Next steps

A dissemination activity focused on spaces and educare will follow within the Kiddodag (yearly event for ECEC centers in Belgium), which will take place on 18 September 2020.


The support in the process from the Local Stakeholder Group has been an added value. The Group is composed of key representatives from the Department of Education, Department of Welfare, Child and Family, Infrastructure, University, policy makers from Ghent and Bruges, and training centers. The Stakeholder Group is acting as ‘critical friend’ and supports the development of the project, its influence on policy level, its sustainability and dissemination.


Photos courtesy of ©Caroline Boudry 
De Tandem, Belgium
Photos courtesy of ©Caroline Boudry 
De Tandem, Belgium

 Photos courtesy of ©Caroline Boudry 
De Tandem, Belgium

Photos courtesy of ©Caroline Boudry
Hippo's Hof, Belgium