Skip to main content

Children’s Experience of Activities and Participation and their Subjective Well-Being in Norwegian Early Childhood Education and Care Institutions

Abstract

Considering how much time most children spend in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) institutions, the psychosocial dimensions of ECEC institutions and children’s well-being represent a growing research area within the ECEC field. This paper presents results from a study where children’s experiences of subjective well-being and opportunities for participation in ECEC institutions were explored. Research on children’s own perspectives about their well-being has mainly been conducted among children older than those of preschool age, and therefore this study aimed at highlighting the voices of 4-6-year-old children regarding how they experience their lives in ECEC institutions. Quantitative data was collected through conversations with 171 Norwegian 4–6-year-old children based on an electronic questionnaire. The results indicate that even though many children experience a high degree of well-being in Norwegian ECEC institutions, approximately one-third of them experience a medium level of well-being and close to one out of ten experience a low degree of well-being. The results show that the physical environment, the toys/equipment, the common activities and the opportunity to have an influence on where to move, what to do and with whom are of crucial importance for children’s well-being in ECEC institutions. This also includes children’s opportunity to oppose the staff and negotiate and choose activities that differ from those that the staff select.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

References

  1. Bae, B. (2009). Children’s right to participate–challenges in everyday interactions. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 17(3), 391–406. doi:10.1080/13502930903101594.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ben-Arieh, A. (2008). The child indicators movement: past, present, and future. Child Indicators Research, 1(1), 3–16. doi:10.1007/s12187-007-9003-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Clark, A., Kjørholt, A. T., & Moss, P. (Eds.). (2005). Beyond Listening. Children’s perspectives on early childhood services. Bristol: University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Dolk, K. (2013). Bångstyriga barn. Makt, normer och delaktighet i förskolan. Stockholm: Ordfront.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Fattore, T., Mason, J., & Watson, E. (2007). Children’s conceptualization(s) of their well-being. Social Indicators Research, 80(1), 5–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Fattore, T., Mason, J., & Watson, E. (2009). When children are asked about their well-being: towards a framework for guiding policy. Child Indicators Research, 2(1), 57–77. doi:10.1007/s12187-008-9025-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Fine, G. A., & Sandstrom, K. L. (1988). Knowing children: Participant observation with minors (Qualitative research methods 15th ed.). Beverly Hills, California: Sage.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  8. Foley, K. R., Blackmore, A. M., Girdler, S., O’Donnell, M., Glauert, R., Llewellyn, G., et al. (2012). To feel belonged: the voices of children and youth with disabilities on the meaning of wellbeing. Child Indicators Research, 5(2), 375–391. doi:10.1007/s12187-011-9134-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Grieg, A., Taylor, J., & MacKay, T. (2007). Doing research with children (Vol. 2). London: Sage.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  11. Hagen, T. L. (2015). Hvilken innvirkning har barnehagens fysiske utemiljø på barns lek og de ansattes pedagogiske praksis i uterommet. Nordic Early Childhood Education Research, 10, 1–16.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Harter, S., & Pike, R. (1984). The pictorial scale of perceived competence and social acceptance for young children. Child Development, 55(6), 1969–1982.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Huntsman, L. (2008). Determinants of quality in child care: A review of research evidence. Ashfield NSW: Centre for Parenting and Research.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Huppert, F. A., & So, T. T. C. (2013). Flourishing across Europe: application of a New conceptual framework for defining well-being. Social Indicators Research, 110(3), 837–861. doi:10.1007/s11205-011-9966-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. James, A., & Christensen, P. (2007). Research with children perspectives and practices. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Kallestad, J. H., & Ødegaard, E. E. (2014). Children’s activities in Norwegian kindergartens. Part 2: focus on variations. Cultural Historical Psychology, 10(2), 86–94.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Kjørholt, A. T. (2004). Childhood as a social and symbolic space: Discourses on children as social participants in society. Trondheim: NTNU.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kjørholt, A. T., & Seland, M. (2012). Kindergarten as a Bazar. Freedom of choice and new forms of regulation. In A. T. Kjørholt & J. Qvortrup (Eds.), The modern child and the flexible labour market. Exploring early childhood education and care. London: Palgrave.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  19. Koch, A. B. (2012). Når børn trives i børnehaven. Århus: Syddansk Universitet, PhD thesis.

  20. Kyttä, M. (2004). The extent of children’s independent mobility and the number of actualized affordances as criteria for child-friendly environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 179–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Løvlie, L. (2013). Kampen om barndommen. In A. Greve, S. Mørreaunet, & N. Winger (Eds.), Ytringer om likeverd, demokrati og relasjonsbygging i barnehagen (pp. 15–26). Fagbokforlaget: Bergen.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Mashford-Scott, A., Church, A., & Tayler, C. (2012). Seeking children’s perspectives on their wellbeing in early childhood settings. International Journal of Early Childhood, 44, 231–247. doi:10.1007/s13158-012-0069-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Neill, S. R. S. J. (1982). Preschool design and child behaviour. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 23(3), 309–318.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. NMER. (2005). Act no. 64 of June 2005 relating to kindergartens (the kindergarten act). Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

    Google Scholar 

  25. NMER (2006/2011). Framework Plan for the Content and Tasks of Kindergartens, issued 1. March. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

  26. NMER. (2010). NOU 2010:8 Med forskertrang og lekelyst. Systematisk pedagogisk tilbud til alle førskolebarn. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Nordin-Hultman, E. (2004). Pedagogiske miljøer og barns subjektskaping. Oslo: Pedagogisk forum.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Østrem, S., Bjar, H., Føsker, L. R., Hogsnes, H. D., Jansen, T. T., Nørdtomme, S., et al. (2009). Alle teller mer. En evaluering av hvordan Rammeplan for barnehagens innhold og oppgaver blir innført, brukt og erfart. Tønsberg: Høgskolen i Vestfold, Barnehagesenteret.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Roberts, H. (2008). Listening to children: and hearing them. In P. Christensen & A. James (Eds.), Research with children. Perspectives and practices (pp. 260–275). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Sandberg, A., & Eriksson, A. (2008). Children’s participation in preschool—on the conditions of the adults? Preschool staff’s concepts of children’s participation in preschool everyday life. Early Child Development and Care, 180(5), 619–631. doi:10.1080/03004430802181759.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Sandseter, E. B. H. (2009a). Affordances for risky play in preschool—the importance of features in the play environment. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36, 439–446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Sandseter, E. B. H. (2009b). Characteristics of risky play. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 9(1), 3–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Seland, M. (2009). Det moderne barn og den fleksible barnehagen. En etnografisk studie av barnehagens hverdagsliv i lys av nyere diskurser og kommunal virkelighet. Trondheim: NTNU.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Seland, M., Sandseter, E. B. H., & Bratterud, Å. (2015). One- to three-year-old children’s experience of subjective wellbeing in day care. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 16(1), 70–83. doi:10.1177/1463949114567272.

  35. StatisticsNorway (2014). Kindergartens, 2013, final statistics. https://ssb.no/en/utdanning/statistikker/barnehager. Accessed 28 Nov 2014.

  36. Storli, R., & Sandseter, E. B. H. (2015). Preschool teachers’ perceptions of children’s rough-and-tumble play (R&T) in indoor and outdoor environments. Early Child Development and Care, 1–15, doi:10.1080/03004430.2015.1028394.

  37. Sylva, K., Melhuish, E. C., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., Taggart, B., & Elliot, K. (2003). The effective provision of pre-school education (EPPE) project: Findings from the pre-school period. London: University of London.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Thoilliez, B. (2011). How to grow up happy: an exploratory study on the meaning of happiness from children’s voices. Child Indicators Research, 4(2), 323–351. doi:10.1007/s12187-011-9107-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. U.dir. (2015a). Barn og ansatte i barnehager i 2014. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.

    Google Scholar 

  40. U.dir. (2015b). Barnehagespeilet. Tall og analyse av barnehager i Norge. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.

    Google Scholar 

  41. UN (1989). The convention on the rights of the child. In U. Nations (Ed.).

  42. Vassenden, A., Thygesen, J., Bayer, S. B., Alvestad, M., & Abrahamsen, G. (2011). Barnehagenes organisering og strukturelle faktorers betydning for kvalitet (Rapport 2011/029). Stavanger: International Research Institute of Stavanger.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Waller, T., & Bitou, A. (2011). Research with children: three challenges for participatory re-search in early childhood. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 19(1), 5–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research funded this project. A special acknowledgement goes to the project manager, Åse Bratterud, at the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sandseter, E.B.H., Seland, M. Children’s Experience of Activities and Participation and their Subjective Well-Being in Norwegian Early Childhood Education and Care Institutions. Child Ind Res 9, 913–932 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-015-9349-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Subjective well-being
  • Early childhood
  • Children
  • Activities
  • Participation