Plads til barndommen: En undersøgelse af sammenhænge mellem plads, rum og pædagogisk praksis i børnehaven.

Gammelby, M.L.
Ph.d.-afhandling. Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg.


The purpose of this study is to examine the importance of the physical frameworks of daycare centres (kindergarten) for contact between children and early childhood educators. Focus is particularly on how the early childhood educators discipline the children through the physical layout of daycare centres. Further to this, the study aims to elucidate the symbolic importance given to the physical and material framework through everyday practices at daycare centres.


The study concludes that a child's body has to be restrained and controlled when the child is at the daycare centre. Not only the physical space determines a child's opportunities for development, but also the pedagogical norms and rules for where and how the child's body is allowed to move.

The study shows that the division of rooms at daycare centres is very important for the pedagogical practices as the early childhood educators use their position in the rooms to adjust the level of discipline up or down to a higher or lesser extent. Space and pedagogical practices set up implicit frameworks for the child and its body; "here you must be calm", "here you can romp about", and some children are better at controlling this than others. This implicit pedagogy encourages the children belong to, and not belong to, certain places at the daycare centre. This places conscious as well as unconscious demands on the child to learn how to act in a room. In daycare centres at which demands on how the children should behave are made less clear, it is more difficult for the children to live up to the behavioural norms defined by the early childhood educators.


The study collected data from a total of four daycare centres in Denmark. The four daycare centres were selected on the basis of the following criteria: area, spatial layout of the institution, i.e. use of rooms and number of rooms as well as the layout of the rooms in the daycare centre. The data material is based on a triangulation of data consisting of field observations in the four daycare centres, registration of the physical space as well as interviews with early childhood educators. Moreover, this was supplemented with plans and photo material, but this should be considered as a type of secondary data. The researcher spent around 14 days in each daycare centre - two one-week visits as well as some short introductory visits. During the observations, the researcher took field notes. During the observation study, the everyday life and activities in time and space were registered for three children from each daycare centre. The children were selected on the basis of age, gender and level of physical activity, in order to incorporate diversity in the group. Interviews were carried out with one early childhood educator from each of the daycare centres following the observation studies.


Gammelby, M.L. (2013). Plads til barndommen: En undersøgelse af sammenhænge mellem plads, rum og pædagogisk praksis i børnehaven. Ph.d.-afhandling. Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg.

Financed by

The Danish Building Research Institute, Town, Housing and Property Department, Aal-borg University; and the Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Denmark