Norway kindergartens failing kids in key areas

Kindergartens in Norway are worse than previously thought, with a shortage of toys, poor speech development, and bad hygiene, according to a new research project.

Norway kindergartens failing kids in key areas
Norwegian kindergarten children playing outside. Photo: Oslo and Akerhus County Governor
“Childcare services for children under three years of age are not as good as we thought in advance,” Ellen Os, associate professor at Oslo and Akershus University College, told Norway’s VG newspaper. 
Using international quality assessment tools, Os and her team examined 206 kindergartens across Norway, and compared them with international benchmarks. 
According to the study, Norwegian kindergartens rank only the middle of the range internationally, with staff failing in particular to speak sufficiently to small children. 
“Conversation is mostly about what is necessary,” she said. “Children in this age group speak little, and there is a risk that they become a little too silent.”
Os said that although very young children were unable to say very much, they needed exposure to language in order to develop. 
“It’s all about learning, and also about creating a contact,”  she said. “Talking together contributes to social development. It is also important for children’s ability to communicate with each other, be in a community, and listen to each other.” 
The researcher also said that too many kindergartens in Norway either had a lack of toys, or kept toys out of children’s reach. 
“What we can say is that there is a recurring theme in what has happened to equipment in kindergartens,” she said. “It seems as if kindergartens are less concerned with having equipment.” 
She said toys were important as they inspire children to play. 
Finally, she said a mere seven percent of kindergartens in Norway met all the hygiene requirements, with some failing in basic measures such as handwashing. 
The findings will be presented at the conference “Good enough? Perspectives on quality for children under three years old in Norwegian kindergartens”, which takes place in Oslo on 26 and 27 October. 
Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Norway’s Minister of Education and Research, said that the report showed that reforms were needed in Norwegian daycare. 
“There is very, very much that’s good in Norwegian kindergartens, but the report clearly shows that we still have some way to go,” he said.
“It is reassuring that children receive good care, but a nursery school should be more than that. Therefore, we must shift the focus from quantity and the number of spaces to quality in kindergartens.” 


Coronavirus found in Oslo kindergarten and care home

A kindergarten and an elderly care home in Oslo have shut down sections and quarantined staff after discovering coronavirus infections, in a further reminder that the pandemic is not yet over in Norway.

Coronavirus found in Oslo kindergarten and care home
The Kværnerdalen kindergarten has sent home all pupils and staff from its Kumlokket unit. Photo: Oslo Municipality
The Furuset care home in Oslo closed off several units to visitors on Wednesday after three staff and one resident tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, the Kværnerdalen kindergarten has sent home all children and staff from one of its sections after one person tested positive. 
Henrik Mevold, director of community relations at Oslo's elderly care department, said that the municipality was still working on testing everyone who could have come into contact with the infected. 
“We detected that an employee was infected there on Monday, and have continued to work on infection tracking. Over the past few days we have discovered two more employees and one resident infected,” he said. 
Meanwhile the municipality has sent a written message to parents and staff at the kindergarten, saying that everyone connected to its 'Kumlokket' section will be asked to go into quarantine for ten days. 
“The kindergarten has in collaboration with the municipality's consultant doctor made an assessment of who may have been in close contact with the infected,” the message reads. “This applies only to the children in Kumlokket and a few employees associated with this unit.” 
The two infections follow small outbreaks last week in the Oslo suburbs of Sondre Nordstrand and Alna.