Kvalitet og innhold i norske barnehager
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In this report NOVA reviews empirical studies of the quality and contents of Norwegian day care services after 2002. The previous review, «Research on day care services. A knowledge status» (Gulbrandsen et al., 2002) was our starting point. The goal of the report is to compile, analyse and assess existing empirical studies concerned with the content of day care services as well as the quality of these services. The review is limited to Nordic, and mainly Norwegian research literature. Great impact on children's lives Why study the quality and content of day care services? Institutions like school and day care influence children at an increasingly earlier age. Since 2000, for instance, the rate of day care attendance has increased from 62 to around 80 per cent. Thus, day care services may have great impact on children's lives. The State's overall plan for day care services presupposes a holistic view of learning, including care and play. However, this means that day care now has a stronger position than formerly as a teaching institution. How to measure quality? How study quality in day care services? The concept of quality has achieved increased prominence lately. Procedures for ensuring quality and quality control has become integrated parts of most of society's sectors. One approach to a phenomenon like quality could be how it is. What characteristics does the phenomenon have, and what is typical? Normatively, one might study the value of a phenomenon. Good day care services, a recent approach to developing good quality services, has three goals; (1) day care services for all children, (2) user adapted day care services, and (3) competent staff. Quality can be understood in many different ways. The studies referred to by us describe different aspects of quality development. At the same time, some are concerned with quality as this manifests itself in individual day care centres. But since the studies we have reviewed do not use the same criteria, their results are sometimes difficult to compare. Chapters two to eight in the report review studies of quality and content related to seven different themes; (1) learning and language development, (2) IKT and maths, (3) gender and equality, (4) inclusion, (5) the youngest children, (6) participation, and (7) space and physical environment. A place of learning The focus on day care services as a place of learning is relatively recent. So far, few studies exist that address learning in this part of the educational system. However, it appears that pre-school teachers are somewhat unsure about the birderline between formal and informal learning, and some are sceptical to the introduction of formal learning at this early stage. however, researchers have focused on language developed for a long time, and international research shows a connection between language experience and later learning. Environments promoting the use of language seem to help children start their formal schooling with better possibilities. A wide variety of studies The studies we have presented about this theme differ in quality, and use different approaches to learning and language stimulation in day care. Accordingly, it is difficult to conclude strongly about how learning takes place in the preschool stage and the effect on later learning. Also, we need more research about the significance of language mastery on children's well-being while they attend day care. Not in the least we need research about how day care centres can handle multiculturality in the shape of a series of first languages among children in the same centre. In addisjon our review indicates a need for more knowledge about other aspects of learning in day care. For instance, we found extremely few studies of the significanceofIKTand maths. Gender and equality The studies we reviewed aboutgender and equality are primarily concerned with the significance of the staff's gender. It is shown that the staff wants to treat the childrenequally across gender, but this ambition is difficult to achieve in practice. Traditional role patterns seem well entrenched in the culture and are difficult to transcend, among the children as well. This indicates the importance o fraising the consciousness of the staff concerning equal treatment of boys and girls. In addition we find little research about how the children themselves «create gender» in their interactions with each other and/or the staff. Nor do we find studies that can shed light on a hypothesis that more male staff will contribute to increased gender equality. Children with special needs Studies about children with special needs in day care centres mainly focus on the staff and how they experience the process of adjusting daily life according to such needs. In relation to these children it is pointed out that individual plans are often difficult to implement in the middle of other hectic activities. In addition little research addresses what the children's own experiences and reflections are. The same lack is underlined in the knowledge review from 2002. The youngest children It seems as if the creation of meaning has been an issue lately where the youngest children are concerned. This has led to a series of methodological and ethical reflections among researchers, in particular concerning how the youngest children's practice can be captured and disseminated. Several of the studies we reviewed address the expressions of this age group, and how they can be understood as active creators of meaning. Increased attention to children's non-verbal expressions can be very useful in shaping day care policies, as well as helpful to day care staff. Participation Participation has been a prominent theme in recent day care research. In particular one has discussed how participation can be understood among the youngest children. However, frew studies address parents' participation. Where children's participation is concerned the research seems to be more concerned with how adults view this, and to what extent the ideal of participation is possible to achieve. In addisjon some have raised the issue of taking the youngest children seriously as subjects, not objects. But there is a lack of studies about the older age group in day care and participation. Space and environment Space and physical room is relatively new as a research theme, and we find a couple of studies addressing how the structure of day care centres can limit children's possibilities. Gender-divided play materials and rooms are discussed as a contribution to the reinforcement of traditional patterns. We have not, however, found any studies that address how persons with special needs can utilize space and environments in day care centres. Recently, the number of so-called nature or open air day care centres has increased, and created a new field within day care research as well. Several studies indicate that more time spent out of doors increases motor skills among the children. In addition it seems as if more men prefer to work in this type of day care. However, more research is needed. More research is needed NOVAs review shows that more research is needed about the quality and contents of Norwegian day care provision. In relation to the knowledge status from 2002 we have seen that some holes are about to be filled, while others remain. The present review does not paint a total picture of what happens in Norwegian day care centres, but it still gives a goodimpression.Ifa more systematic analysis of different aspects of Norwegian day care provision is wanted, this must be reflected in future research, making more in-depth studies possible. More specific approaches couldpreferably include international, comparative studies. In general, we recommend larger and more comprehensive studies, partly good evaluation studies and partly large and well-designed qualitative studies. One of the conclusions from 2002 was a lack of PhDstudies and scant international publications. These conclusions still hold.Barnehagen får stadig tidligere innflytelse på barns liv, og siden årtusenskiftet har andelen barn i barnehagen økt kraftig. Dette forteller at barnehagens innhold og kvalitet er viktige forskningsfelt. Rapporten gir en oversikt over empirisk forskning som belyser temaområdene: læring og språkstimulering, IKT og matematikk, kjønn og likestilling, inkludering, de minste barna, medvirkning, og barnehagens rom og fysiske miljø. Et hovedfunn er at det er stort behov for videre forskning, som i større grad bør resultere i doktorgrader og internasjonal publisering. Fremtidig forskning bør satse mer på spesifikke temaområder innenfor feltet, med mulighet for å gå i dybden i større grad enn det som har vært gjort til nå. I tillegg bør det vurderes å sette i gang større og mer omfattende prosjekter, dels i form av stort anlagte og godt planlagte kvalitative studier.