”Verdier i barnehagen: mellom ideal og realiteter. Et udviklings- og forskningsprosjekt”.

Johansson, E.
Fugelsnes, K.
Mørkeseth, E.
Röthle, M.
Tofteland, B.
Zachrisen, B.
Rapport nr. 43. Stavanger: Universitetet i Stavanger.


The purpose of the study is to examine how pedagogical work with values is expressed in the different daily interactions between preschool staff and children aged between one and five in Norwegian preschools. In continuation of this, the second purpose of the study is to strengthen the way in which staff work with values in the preschool based on the child’s and the adult’s perspective and based on the values that are important for adults and children.



The study shows that adults play a very prominent role in work carried out in the preschool. Adults constantly communicate values through their actions in the preschool. For example, in play situations individual-oriented values or/and community-oriented values are emphasised, and in interactions that take place in the cloak room, values such as care, independence, language and skills are prominent. In addition, the interviews with the preschool managers show that critical incidents are important with regard to working with values, because this type of incident can lead to change. The managers find themselves faced with the dilemma of wanting to be true to their own ideals, while at the same time honouring the system’s requirements.


More specifically, the study points out that values such as care, democracy, and what the author calls a disciplinary value field, are central in the preschools. Furthermore, efficiency is also mentioned as a value in the preschools.


Great emphasis is given to care in the preschools. This is seen in the interaction between child and adult in the form of physical and mental presence. Care also includes rules about the child’s conduct when interacting with the other children, for example being helpful and respecting turn-taking rules.


For staff, democratic values concern unequal terms for the children with regard to their participation in, and influence on, the children’s community, as well as the dilemma they face with regard to protecting the rights of the individual child and the rights of the entire group of children.


The disciplinary value field concerns the rules in the preschool. The analyses show that especially disciplinary action is expressed implicitly, non-verbally and kindly. Discipline is expressed through rules for the children about not disturbing their peers, sitting still, taking turns, sharing with others and making room for others. Equality is also an important issue for staff, in the sense that an individual child should not require more attention than other children, unless the child has special needs.


Values that relate to being efficient were especially identified in the cloakroom situations, where it is implicitly understood that the adults are efficient in their approach to helping the children put on and take off their outdoor gear.



The study design was inspired by participatory action research, the  purpose of which is to generate knowledge and contribute to changes in close collaboration with practitioners - in the study this is preschool staff. The research and development project covered seven preschools in two municipalities in Norway, comprising approx. 230 employees and 650 children in the period autumn 2010 to November 2014. The study was divided into two phases; a development phase and a research phase.


The development phase lasted two years from 2010 to 2012. During this period a total of 63 reflection seminars were held; one researcher and 10-20 preschool staff participated in each seminar. Both participants and the researchers determined the content of the seminar and the themes to be addressed; however, the report points out that the researchers had the overall responsibility for running the seminars. Every six months an inspirational day was held (four in total) for all the participants. These days included lectures, discussions, and presentations of work procedures in the participating preschools. The inspiration days were run by one of the four researchers.


The research phase of the study ran for a four-year period from 2010 to 2014. The empirical material consists of a total of 29 group interviews with staff, 8 individual interviews with the preschool managers, 75 hours of video footage from the preschools and 82 practice narratives. Practice narratives are written narratives made by preschool employees in which they describe and reflect on an incident that took place at the preschool.


The analyses are theoretically based on Jürgen Habermas’ concept of strategic and communicative action. However, other theories and research were used in connection with analysis of the group and the individual interviews, the observations and the practice narratives.


Johansson, E., Fugelsnes, K., Mørkeseth, E., Röthle, M., Tofteland, B. & Zachrisen, B. (2014). ”Verdier i barnehagen: mellom ideal og realiteter. Et udviklings- og forskningsprosjekt”. Rapport nr. 43. Stavanger: Universitetet i Stavanger.

Financed by

Not disclosed