Day care centres in Norway – a growth sector

In Norway all children aged one-five years are offered a place in a day care centre (in Norwegian: barnehage) at a reduced price.

Four children. Photo: Morten Brun

The day care system is a fast-growing part of Norway’s educational sector in terms of both numbers and content, creating a great many changes. That in turn raises the question of how staff can offer young children what they need while keeping to the framework plan.

Given current knowledge about child learning and social development, the answer probably lies in committed staff who are willing to participate in constant professional development, but whose attention is nevertheless concentrated on interaction with the child.

This provides the best basis for a good learning environment for both children and adults.

Over the past five years, the number of Norwegian children attending day care centres has risen by 36 338. No less than 286 153 attended in 2012.

Figures from Statistics Norway also show that the proportion of children in day care centres was highest among those aged three-five, at 96.6 per cent. It was somewhat lower, at 80.2 per cent, for children aged one-two.

Norway’s framework plan for the content and tasks of kindergartens was revised fairly recently, and new revisions are also in the pipeline. The plan adopted in 2011 placed even greater emphasis on the seven subject areas in the day care centres.

Nor is it all that long since the day care sector in Norway was brought under the central authority of the Ministry of Education and Research.

Taken together, such developments point towards a stronger concentration of attention on the day care centres as a priority arena and the first building block in lifelong learning.

You can learn more on this website about a good learning environment in day care centres.

Positive interaction with grown-ups and other children while receiving good guidance from the adults provides pre-school children with a solid foundation for learning and development. They learn codes for social interaction, new words and concepts, and knowledge from the subject areas.

They will also feel secure by interacting with caring personnel who pay attention to them and take responsibility. This creates a good learning environment in the day care centre.