Rum, barn och pedagoger: Om möjligheter och begränsningar i förskolans fysiska miljö.

Bergström, S.E.
Ph.d.-afhandling. Umeå universitet, Umeå.


The purpose of this study is to illustrate how the physical environment at daycare centres (förskola) structures and organises the activities of children, and how the physical environment enables or restricts children's activities.


The study finds that the early childhood educators' norms and rules for what is allowed and not allowed - with whom and when, become explicit through the layout of the physical environment at the daycare centre, which in different ways aims at organising and structuring the overall group of children.

The study also finds that daycare centres in which order and structure are considered important goals, provide less space for the child to act independently. Moreover, it shows that children and early childhood educators seek in different ways to achieve a balance between individual and collective activities through the opportunities and restrictions found in their physical surroundings. The balance and dynamics between individual and collective activities can therefore be understood and clarified by viewing the physical surroundings as a tool that invites the children to do different activities.

The study shows that the majority of collective play with a common activity framework takes place in rooms with diverse and more neutral material. Rooms that are more static also encourage and stimulate the children to talk and negotiate to a higher degree with one another about the possibilities enabled by the physical environment. The children's interaction with one another and the physical environment enables them to develop new and more complex options. Consequently, the physical environment is a pronounced and important part of the children's learning and development.

Finally, the analysis shows that there is a great difference between the three daycare centres examined, in how much the early childhood educators try to understand the child's perspective. The children's possibilities to discover new options are influenced by whether the early childhood educators are sometimes able to deviate from the predefined rules, regulations and norms to benefit an equally and commonly negotiated expansion of the play activity between the child and the adult. However, the study finds that the early childhood educators only rarely negotiate in equal dialogue with the children about the possibilities and the direction a play activity can take.


The data basis for this study is composed of video footage, interviews, photos and plans of the daycare centres studied. The study design is a multiple case study in which one play room group from each of the three daycare centres makes up one case. From autumn 2006 to spring 2007 each play room group received six-ten visits and was observed indoors as well as outdoors, resulting in 50 hours of video material. At the beginning of the study as well as at the end, all early childhood educators from the play room group were interviewed in teams of two-three persons. Each interview lasted about one hour. Both the video footage and interviews were transcribed for further analysis.


Bergström, S.E. (2013). Rum, barn och pedagoger: Om möjligheter och begränsningar i förskolans fysiska miljö. Ph.d.-afhandling. Umeå universitet, Umeå.

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