The Kindergarten Act states that kindergartens shall “ contribute to well-being and joy in play and learning, and shall be a challenging and safe place for community life and friendship”. Kindergarten is one of the public services that consumers are most satisfied with. Parents are especially satisfied with the care given to their children by kindergarten staff (Agency for Public Management and Government 2015).
Parents with children in small kindergartens are more satisfied
In-depth interviews indicate that parents value security and care for their children in kindergartens, and further that they associate small kindergartens with security and familiarity. Parents with children in small kindergartens are more satisfied with the kindergarten provision than parents with children in medium-sized and large kindergartens. “Large kindergartens are often not considered the safer option; they have to prove themselves through their practices” (Bråten et al. 2015:9).
Most children are content, have friends and think kindergarten is a good place to be. Most of them also feel that they are being seen, heard and understood by kindergarten staff and that they have a say in kindergarten life. However, almost 40 per cent of children find kindergarten just “tolerable”, and a few are unhappy. A small number of children are harassed by other children. This data comes from a well-being survey of kindergartens in Oslo in autumn 2015 (Sandseter and Seland). The findings are largely consistent with past surveys (Bratterud et al. 2012).
Children are content when:
- they engage in everyday activities such as outings, group time and meals.
- they have good friends and someone to play with in kindergarten.
- they have a favourite adult in kindergarten and feel that they know all the adults well.
- staff do fun things together with them and play with them when they are indoors.
- the adults are available and nearby to provide help when they need it.
A total of 283 children aged 3–5 and 19 kindergarten teachers from 17 kindergartens participated in the pilot survey. The researchers used an online survey tool comprising 50 questions about how the children perceived day-to-day life in kindergarten. A kindergarten employee talked to the children about the different topics and questions posed by the tool and then coded the answers in accordance with the given answer categories.