På mandager er det ikke lov med papirfly – en studie av regler og yrkesutøvelse

Skreland, L. L.
Kristiansand: Universitet i Agder.


The purpose of this study is to examine how rules in ECEC centres help shape the practice of the ECEC centre and of ECEC teachers. Three areas are examined: (1) What rules exist in ECEC centres, and how are they justified, (2) how are the rules expressed, and (3) how do rules affect ECEC teachers' practice and the interaction between children and teachers in the daily practice at ECEC centres?


The study shows that rules play a key role in the teachers' practice. The author finds that many rules are about children's safety, and how certain things or rooms are to be used, for example a reading room. The author finds that rules about the use of rooms and things are associated with values, such as children must learn to take care of the things at the ECEC centre. However, rules regarding rooms and things were often disregarded by both children and adults. Safety rules in the ECEC centres include fire and use of the playground. For example, the children were not allowed to jump down from the playhouse roof or throw stones. The author concludes that safety rules are necessary and fundamental for a safe everyday life at ECEC centres, and that safety rules express a fundamental value in the ECEC centre: that ECEC teachers have primary responsibility for the children.

The author finds that ECEC teachers use positive and negative sanctions to uphold the rules. Positive sanctions could be that children were given an ice cream when they had behaved in an exemplary manner at the theatre. Negative sanctions could be that the ECEC teachers would tell off a child, physically remove a child from a place or exclude a child from an activity.

The results show that rules are expressed particularly often in specific situations (rituals) in the ECEC centres, for example when the children arrive in the morning, during circle time and at meals. The author concludes that rituals are most effective when they are considered meaningful by children and adults.

The study shows that ECEC teachers, assistants and children communicate rules, but that they often break the rules. The author interprets the children's breach of the rules as resistance or as a protest against the rules, whereas the teachers' breach of the rules is interpreted as discretion, i.e. "depending on the situation". The teachers consider the context when they break the rules or insist on following the rules.

Finally, the author finds five types of teachers who practice rules in ECEC centres:

  1. The guardian who is concerned about safety rules and with safeguarding the child's life, well-being and health.
  2. The disciplinarian who is concerned about rules and about maintaining order and discipline.
  3. The teacher who is concerned about learning and about creating a creative space for educational learning.
  4. The child-rearer who is concerned about convention and good manners, and who tries to develop a well-adapted and polite child.
  5. The co-player who rarely applies rules, but who tries to be part of the child's world.

According to the author, the teachers not only adopt one, but several, of these positions during a workday.


Data was collected in three different ECEC centres over a nine-month period. The author conducted 15 interviews with a total of 13 ECEC teachers: 13 individual interviews and two focus-group interviews which were sound recorded. In addition, 18 focus-group interviews were conducted with 30 3-5-year-old children. Some children took part in more than one focus-group interview. The interviews with the children were recorded on video. The author also had informal conversations with assistants, but these were not recorded. In addition, the data material consists of written notices with rules from the ECEC centres, for example notices saying "Stop, remember to wash your hands".


Skreland, L. L. (2016). På mandager er det ikke lov med papirfly – en studie av regler og yrkesutøvelse. Kristiansand: Universitet i Agder.

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