‘Being on the move’: Time-spatial organisation and mobility in a mobile preschool.

Gustafson, K.
van der Burgt, D.
Journal of transport geography 46, 201-209.


The purpose of this study is to examine the phenomenon of the mobile preschool, i.e. a bus which has been partially transformed into a preschool that travels to different places during the day. More specifically, the study seeks to explore daily routines and activities with regard to logistics and creation of time and space.


The study shows that the social order of the mobile preschool is structured by 'being on the move'. The constant travelling requires many routines for children and staff and a great need for planning by the staff. The analysis indicates that logistics prevail over daily planning, and that the bus defines specific roles for staff and children who spend about half their day on the bus. The staff act as attendants who cater for the children, and the children become passengers fastened to their seats. Moreover, the study shows how children cope with a high level of freedom when visiting public spaces. Through frequently rehearsed routines such as toilet groups, gathering in a circle, using whistles to call one another, walking in line, etc., the children embody space and time defined by 'being on the move'.


The field work consists of one week's observations in a mobile preschool in a medium-sized city in Sweden. The bus belongs to a stationary preschool and counts 22 children between 4 and 5 years old. The authors conducted participant observations, video footage, interviews and informal conversations with children and staff, and carried GPS tracking. The study focuses on transport situations in the bus and on how routine activities were organised. Moreover, the study focuses on how children and adults experienced and used time and space within and outside these activities. Subsequently, a critical analysis gathered different data to describe situations from the days observed.


Gustafson, K. & van der Burgt, D. (2015). ‘Being on the move’: Time-spatial organisation and mobility in a mobile preschool. Journal of transport geography 46, 201-209.

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