What needs do children aged 2 to 6 years have for care and how are these needs met? First, it is well-known from studies by Bowlby, Spitz, and others that babies need emotional communication with an adult. It appears from the present study that older children need not only this, but also attention to and interest in what they are occupied with. Secondly, different patterns of care were found. The main result was a pattern of high quality of care and a pattern of low quality of care, the main difference being the teacher's degree of attention to, interest, and engagement in the activity of the child. Finally, it was found that the joint activity and the interchange among the children had a character similar to the pattern of care in the children's day care center. These results are discussed in the context of personality development.
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The study was carried out by a group of researchers, viz. Agnete Diderichsen, Ann Jacobi, and the author of this paper. The section entitledCare and Children's Joint Activity builds on further analyses of the data from this project, and the present author alone is responsible for this analysis and the conclusions drawn. The project was financed by the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs, BUPL (The National Federation of Child and Youth Educationists), and the Danish National Institute for Educational Research.