1.3 Kindergartens

Sweden introduces recommendations on group size

In 2016 Sweden issued a recommendation on group size of 6–12 for the younger children (1–3 years) and 9–15 for the older children (4–5 years). The recommendation is based on a review of recent research. The research emphasises that group size should be seen in relation to staff qualifications, staffchild ratio, make-up of the group of children, and the physical environment in the kindergarten (Swedish National Agency for Education 2016a). Norway has not made any recommendations on group sizes.

The average group size in Sweden is 16.7 children. For children aged 1–3 it is 13.2 children (Swedish National Agency for Education 2016b).

There are 6,087 kindergartens in Norway. 46 per cent of them are municipal kindergartens, while 54 per cent are privately owned. Private kindergartens tend to be smaller, which means 51 per cent of children attend municipal kindergartens and 49 per cent private kindergartens. The total number of kindergartens has fallen over the last few years, primarily because of the decline in family kindergartens and open kindergartens.

Fewer family kindergartens and open kindergartens

In 2015 there was a total of 632 family kindergartens, almost all of them privately owned. Nearly 250 family kindergartens have closed since 2011 (Figure 1.6). As a result, 4,300 fewer children are now attending family kindergartens. 2 per cent of kindergarten children currently attend family kindergartens and most of them are under the age of three (Figure 1.7).

There is now a total of 171 open kindergartens, almost 100 fewer than in 2011. Open kindergartens are most common in the largest municipalities.

Figure 1.6 Kindergartens by type. 2011-2015. Numbers.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training

Figure 1.7 Children in family kindergartens by age. 2011- 2015. Numbers.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training

Most kindergartens are organised into departments

89 per cent of all kindergartens have organised their children into departments or are so small that all the children are in a single group. Over the last few years kindergartens have been taking an increasingly flexible approach to grouping the children.

Stable group sizes

For the youngest children (0–2 years) the most common group size is 9 children, and for the oldest children (3–5 years) it is 18 children. 18 children is also the most common group size for mixed age groups. By group size we mean how many children usually participate in the regular groups that a team of staff is responsible for.

Figure 1.8 Children by kindergarten size. 2011-2015. Numbers.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training

Figure 1.9 Kindergartens by organisation form and size. 2015. Per cent.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training

Floor space ratio

The recommended indoor play space ratio is 4 m2 net per child older than three years of age and just over 5 m2 per child under the age of three. The outdoor space should be around six times bigger than the indoor play space.

Almost all kindergartens meet the floor space recommendations for play and common areas

The average floor space ratio in 2015 was 5.5 m2 per child, a figure that has remained relatively stable since 2008. Almost all kindergartens meet the floor space recommendations for play and common areas.

Entitlement to a kindergarten place

All children turning one year of age before the end of October in the year in which an application is made, is entitled to a kindergarten place.

A large number of outdoor kindergartens

1,617 kindergartens report that they have adopted a distinct profile. Outdoor kindergartens are the most common type. Almost 500 kindergartens report that they are outdoor kindergartens or have an outdoor group. This is just under 10 per cent of all kindergartens (see Figure 1.10).

A profile in this context is a sustained approach that is reflected in the kindergarten’s annual plan and/or statutes and which provides direction for the kindergarten’s pedagogical practices.

In 2015 there were 23 Sami kindergartens in Norway, attended by 523 children.

Figure 1.10 Kindergartens by profile. 2015. Numbers.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training