Lehrstuhl für Empirische Pädagogik und Pädagogische Psychologie (EN)

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Project titel:

Learning4Kids: App-based learning for kindergarten children at home

Type of project and funding:

ERC Starting Grant – funded by the EU


03/2019 – 01/2025

Project team:

Project description:

Children’s early literacy and mathematical competencies are important prerequisites for academic achievement in school, but many children start life disadvantaged due to their family circumstances and the lower quality home learning environment they experience. In the ERC-project „App-based Learning for Kindergarten Children at Home“ (Learning4Kids) we select and develop digital learning programs to support and improve children’s literacy and mathematical competencies. We use digital devices as they are very common nowadays and appeal to many families, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. We plan to visit 500 four-year-old children in their second-last year of kindergarten and their families in their homes and track them until the end of Grade 2. Children and their families are randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. Families in the intervention group will receive tablets including literacy and mathematical learning apps as well as written information about the Home Literacy Environment and the Home Numeracy Environment with practical tips on how to support their children’s literacy and mathematical skill development. Two control groups (with and without tablets) will be assessed to analyze children’s development.

Research questions:

The aim of this project is to test the impact of the intervention measures on the quality of the home learning environment and the short- and long-term development of children’s competencies. We expect the intervention to improve the quality of the home learning environment and to support children’s development of literacy and mathematical skills.


Kinder spielerisch auf die Schule vorbereiten (
Written in the context of this project and recently published:: Kinder spielerisch auf die Schule vorbereiten (Wirth et al., 2022)
Non-fiction guide book for parents and kindergarten teachers.


Published by Hogrefe. ISBN: 9783456861982


More information also in the article Schulvorbereitung? Ein Kinderspiel! (Wirth et al., 2022) at: https://www.hogrefe.com/ch/thema/schulvorbereitung-ein-kinderspiel



Selected publications:

  • Niklas, F., Annac, E. & Wirth, A. (2020). App-based learning for kindergarten children at home (Learning4Kids): study protocol for cohort 1 and the kindergarten assessments. BMC Pediatrics, 20, 554. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-020-02432-y

  • Wirth, A., Stadler, M., Birtwistle, E., & Niklas, F. (2022). New directions in the conceptualization and operationalization of the home learning environment. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000749

  • Birtwistle, E., Schoedel, R., Bemmann, F., Wirth, A., Sürig, C., Stachl, C., Bühner, M., & Niklas, F. (in press). Mobile sensing in psychological and educational research: Examples from two application fields. International Journal of Testing. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/15305058.2022.2036160

  • Mues, A., Wirth, A., Birtwistle, E., & Niklas, F. (2022). Associations between children’s numeracy competencies, mothers’ and fathers’ mathematical beliefs, and numeracy activities at home. Frontiers in Psychology. Advance online Ppublication. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.835433

  • Mues, A., Birtwistle, E., Wirth, A., & Niklas, F. (2021). Parental (STEM) occupations, the home numeracy environment, and kindergarten children’s numerical competencies. Education Sciences, 11, 819. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11120819



  • What does the Learning4Kids project investigate?

We are very interested in how your child develops his/her skills specifically in the context of the home learning environment. For this reason, the families were visited at home four times. During these 90 minutes visits we interacted and played with the participating children and checked what the children were already able to do. In addition, the parents were asked to read a short story to their children and to play with them for a short time.
Randomly selected families received a tablet on which we have gradually installed educational apps with which the child could engage daily. This tablet was collected again after 10 months.
In addition, the kindergarten teachers of the participating children filled out a short questionnaire about children's behaviour twice a year. When the children are in elementary school, we will survey their academic performance three more times in two school years and ask the participating parents and teachers to fill out questionnaires.


  • How long does the Learning4Kids project take?

The project will last a total of four years: From the child's penultimate year of kindergarten through the end of second grade in elementary school. The project will last until the summer of 2023 for families who started in the summer of 2020, and until the summer of 2024 for families who started in the spring of 2021.


  • Will the visits take place only at home?

The first four visits took place at home. It depends on the families and schools where the last three visits take place. They can still take place at home, or at the kindergarten/school, or at the university (Leopoldstraße 13, 80802 Munich).

  • What happens if I move or my data changes during the project period?

In this case, please contact the project team as soon as possible, so that we can keep your data up to date and coordinate the further procedure with you.

  • What happens to my data in the project?

Of course all data will be treated strictly confidential. Your contact data will be kept separate from all other data and will be disposed of securely after the completion of the study. All data that was collected in the project is evaluated completely anonymously, so that no conclusions can be drawn about you or your child.

  • Can I withdraw my participation from the project if I no longer wish to participate?

Of course you can withdraw your participation from the project at any time. This has no disadvantages for you or for your child. Your personal data will be deleted immediately upon your withdrawal.