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Professional Child Care


NB Language of instruction will be Dutch unless English-speaking students participate

Admission requirements



The number of mothers who return to the workforce after childbirth has been growing rapidly. Thus, out-of-home child care has become an important environment in which young children’s development is shaped. How do these environments affect children? Are children better or worse off when they are in child care rather than exclusively at home with their parents?

This course examines the impact of different types of child care environments (e.g., center child care, home-based child care) on children’s social-emotional and cognitive development. The focus is on attachment relationships between children and their professional caregivers and parents. Based on Bowlby’s theory of attachment, researchers in the 1960s had reasons to be concerned about the possibility that daily separations from the mother would be associated with less opportunity for the child and mother to form close and warm relationships. Have empirical studies since then demonstrated that these concerns were justified? And how does child care affect other aspects of children’s development, i.e. their social behavior, cognitive development, and health? This course will give an overview of more than 30 years of international research in child care, answering these and related questions.

Special emphasis is on the quality of child care, with ample attention to the measurement of various indicators of quality. Child care quality in the Netherlands will be discussed and put in an international perspective. A major focus will be on results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, the most comprehensive scientific study to date of early child care and its relation to child development.

Moreover, we will discuss recent advances in child care research, including studies of physiological markers of stress (cortisol), children’s immune system (secretory IgA), differential susceptibility to child care, and interventions to improve quality of care.

Course objectives

Achievement levels:
1. Vakinhoud
1.1 De bachelor heeft kennis van en inzicht in fundamentele begrippen en theorieën uit de pedagogische en aangrenzende wetenschappen.
1.2 De bachelor heeft kennis van de geschiedenis en ontwikkeling van de pedagogische wetenschappen.
1.4 De bachelor heeft kennis van (beleid van en voor) het pedagogisch beroepsveld.

  1. Academische Vaardigheden
    3.1 Het verzamelen van wetenschappelijke literatuur, kritisch bezien ervan, vaststellen van de relevantie en samenvatten van de kern.
    3.2 Het wetenschappelijk en ethisch kunnen analyseren en beschrijven van praktische en theoretische pedagogische vraagstukken.
    3.3 Het formuleren van een consistente visie of betoog met passend afgewogen wetenschappelijke argumenten.
    3.4 Correct schriftelijk rapporteren over pedagogische vraagstukken, zowel in een academische als in een andere professionele context.

Professioneel gedrag
4.1 Kan wetenschappelijke kennis en inzichten toepassen op opvoedings- en onderwijsvraagstukken.
4.2 Is in staat om met begeleiding kennis van het vakgebied te verdiepen en verbreden.



Mode of instruction

Lectures with assignments.

Assessment method

Written exam and paper (final grade: exam 75%; paper 25%).


During this course Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

  • Clarke-Stewart, A. & Allhusen, V.D. (2005). What we know about childcare. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Electronic syllabus with papers (via Blackboard).


Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for lectures, seminars, exams and re-exams. Student who do not register, cannot attend courses or take exams.


  • Registration for the lectures of the course is possible as of two months through one week before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the seminars of the course is possible as of two months through one week before the first seminar at the latest.


Student must register for each exam through uSis. This is only possible until 10 calendar days before the exam. More information on exam registration

Contact information

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.


Dr. H.J. Vermeer (co-ordinator), via e-mail.