”Förskolegården. En pedagogisk miljö för barns möten, delaktighet och inflytande”.

Engdahl, K.
Doktorsavhandling. Umeå: Institutionen för tillämpad utbildningsvetenskap, Umeå Universitet.


The objective of the dissertation is to investigate how meetings between children are shaped in the pedagogically adapted outdoor environment in Swedish preschools ("förskola"). The dissertation has special focus on how children’s participation and influence is expressed in relation to the various facilities in the play areas at the preschools. The dissertation has three overall research questions:

  1. How are children’s interactions and actorship manifested in different encounters?
  2. What meanings are offered by the physical outdoor environment?
  3. How are children's’ interaction and actorship understood in terms of participation and influence?



The results of the dissertation show that when children meet other children they have an opportunity to share a common reality and they develop through these different meetings. Children actions and interactions are influenced by the degree of recognition that arises in the meeting with other children in the outdoor environment, as well as the meeting with early childhood educators. The children perform as both verbal and physical actors, for example when they express their willingness by “patrolling” around a specific playground installation or area. Most often, the children test a collective, in contrast to an individual actorship towards the adults.


Further to this, the results demonstrate that it is important that the playground at the preschool offers a varied outdoor environment as children use the many configurations/facilities in the environment and render them with different meanings and interpretations.


The dissertation concludes that the majority of the children in the activities studied were socially competent and good negotiators. The children were assessed as having a good basis for participation and influence in outdoor activities.


The study is an ethnographic study building on two years of field studies in the outdoor environment at three different preschools from 2008 to 2010. The participating institutions all expressed an interest in developing the pedagogical outside environment at the preschool. The preschools were located in three different municipalities in Sweden. The empiricism was collected through observation and photographs of the outside areas used by most of the children at the preschools. The observations were regularly supplemented with informal conversations with the children as well as subsequent interviews with the early childhood educators. The children were between 1 and 5 years of age.


Engdahl, K. (2014). ”Förskolegården. En pedagogisk miljö för barns möten, delaktighet och inflytande”. Doktorsavhandling. Umeå: Institutionen för tillämpad utbildningsvetenskap, Umeå Universitet.

Financed by

Not disclosed