APIIF pilot - Abecedarian Programme,
Implemented as Innovative Renewal 

Can a well-proven, American evidence program be applied to a Danish context and contribute to enhancing the qualifications of the pedagogic practice in nurseries and daycare institutions?

When the Abecedarian Program was implemented in the US in the early 1970s, the program was both expensive and complicated – but effective too. After 15 months with the Abecedarian Program, the children demonstrated measurable cognitive improvements, and these positive effects have followed the children since then and can be measured up to an age of 30 years old on social and health parameters.

Based on 40 years of experiences, the Abecedarian Program is now fully developed with a set of principles for positive adult-child interactions that can be integrated in daycare institutions. The pilot project adapts the program to a Danish context in preparation for a following effect evaluation.

Time period:


Target group:

0-3 years old children in nurseries and daycare institutions.   

Number of participants:

10 nurseries and 10 daycare institutions in Randers.


The professional course of development consists of four two-day courses and trains the professionals in the four basic principles of the Abecedarian approach:

  • Prioritization of language: The adult learns to be more aware of his or her use of language in the social intercourse with the individual child and to find more opportunities to have conversations with the child - and to use a richer and more varied language in these conversations to stimulate the language of the child.
  • Learning by playing: The adult learns to use simple games to enhance the interaction with the individual child or with a little group of children. The adult works with repetitions and with differentiating the conversation, so it fits with the learning level of the individual child.
  • Communicative reading. The adult learns to use reading in an interactive way with one or a few children, to stimulate the children’s communicative and interactive abilities.
  • Learning in care situations. The adult is trained to see and use the daily routine care situations (e.g. change of nappy, eating) as a learning situation, in which care, emotional support and learning can be ensured through conversations and adult-child interactions.

The professional course of development builds on the evidence from the research program VIDA’s approach to training and anchorage of pedagogic development and innovation.    


Through the pilot project, the American Abecedarian Program has been translated to and tested in a Danish context in the spring of 2015. The project is integrated in a professional course with a focus on organizational learning that builds on the evidence program VIDA.

An anthropological observation study in the pilot project’s 10 nurseries and 10 daycare institutions has examined how implementable the program is. In addition, the organizational part of the program – including weekly work plans, evaluations and a poster with specific development goals for each child - has been examined.

The aim is to develop a program that can give the pedagogues and day minders tools and methods that can be maintained after the training program ends by establishing positive practices and points to pay attention to in the regular interactions with the individual child.

The translation of the program included a checklist for the examination of implementation fidelity. The list was used in a questionnaire survey showing which staff groups who had answered the questionnaire, and furthermore which of these had high fidelity.

In the project, possible ways of measuring the development of the children are also studied - internally by daily evaluations of the individual child’s engagement and profit. Moreover, possible ways of measuring the effects at a general level, on the child’s development, and specifically at a socio-emotional level, are studied too.

Two new measuring instruments are being used in a Danish context (ASQ-3 and DECA-I/T), of which DECA-I/T has been translated to Danish for the first time. 


Danish School of Education (DPU), KORA, Randers Municipality, and The University of Melbourne. Danish School of Education (DPU), KORA, Randers Municipality, and The University of Melbourne.    


The pilot project was completed in the autumn of 2015. An effect evaluation is expected to be launched in 2016. The pilot project was completed in the autumn of 2015. An effect evaluation is expected to be launched in 2016.    


Professional development, 0-3 years old, language, nursery, daycare institution. 

Project group

Bente Jensen

H bldg. B, 230
P +4522119726
P +4522119726

Kimberly Meunier

Project leader
The University of Melbourne

P 1.919.928.6090

Jacob Nielsen Arendt


P +4561163373


No publications yet.


About APIIF in AU's research database.

About Abecedarian worldwide.