Buskerud and Vestfold University College, Kongsberg, Norway
Background. In several Nordic countries, the pedagogy in preschools has a social pedagogical ideal. The focus is on development of social competence, aiming to empower children. There is only minimal focus on teaching and academic learning. The aim of this study is to investigate what kind of support children’s concept formation can receive when children are engaged in everyday language interactions with preschool teachers in Norway. Theoretically, the article is based on theories developed from Vygotsky’s (1987) perspectives on language as a mediating tool.
Design. Two classrooms with two preschool teachers and 18 children in each class participated in the study. The preschool was chosen because it especially focused on children’s language learning.
Method. This study is a qualitative study based on video-taped observations in one preschool, and the data are video-taped observations of language interactions between two preschool teachers and children in two preschool classrooms. Most language interactions in Norway occur in everyday conversations such as play, art activities and meals.
Results. The teachers interacted with the children around topics that engage the children and topics they took initiative to talk about. The teachers invited the children in warm ways to use language to make meaning of the shared topic. However, they seldom presented supplementary concepts or expanded the children’s concept understanding with their own knowledge.
Conclusion. The social pedagogical ideal may have made them associate such sharing of knowledge with teaching.
Keywords: everyday language interactions, learning words and concepts, cognition, preschool
Since the turn of the century, politicians in the Scandinavian countries have placed great emphasis on early childhood education and care. They have been especially concerned with lifelong learning in the field of language learning, early literacy, and numeracy. Almost all children between the ages of 1 and 6 years attend a preschool, and the quality of the learning environment is of great importance. This article presents a comparative study of student preschool teachers’ conceptions of the knowledge that they claim to have acquired about children’s early literacy throughout their bachelor education in Norway and in Sweden. The aim is to compare responses to a questionnaire administered to the student teachers and to examine the similarities and differences in the content of and goals indicated in the two countries’ national plans for early literacy. This study is based on sociocultural theories and has a multimethod design. First, through a discourse analysis we examined the national plans for preschool teacher education in Norway and Sweden and studied similarities and differences. Second, we sent a questionnaire to all student preschool teachers at all universities and university colleges in Norway and at the University of Gothenburg. The differences between the Norwegian and Swedish education students were most obviously seen in their responses to the questions about how they work with early literacy. The discourse analyses showed that the national education plans for preschool teacher education in the two countries differ in certain instances but share common ground in others.
Keywords: early childhood education, language learning, early literacy, preschool teachers, preschool teacher education, comparative study