Valued Learning Topics in Kindergarten
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In the Scandinavian tradition, how children learn is of much greater importance than what children. However, this study seeks primarily to investigate “what to learn” as opposed to “how to learn.” The matter of what topics are most valued is under-researched, particularly in regard to kindergarten teachers and what they think children should learn during their time in kindergarten. In this study, the abovestated fact was investigated through focus group interviews (Halkier, 2015) in six kindergartens during January of 2020. In each kindergarten, 3-5 kindergarten teachers – 23 in total – participated in these interviews. A qualitative approach was used to obtain participants and capture their perspectives (Kvale & Brinkman, 2015). All of the responses emphasized a common theme, that focus should be placed on learning and developing social competence and early literacy learning (ELL). National Early Literacy Panel (NELP) defines ELL as learning vocabulary and developing oral language, along with becoming familarized with the alphabet, writing letters, and obtaining phonological awareness (2008). In contrast, when asked what the most important aspect was in following the governmental curriculum, kindergarten teachers specified ELL. The findings discussed regarded ELL as a critical topic in early childhood education and care (ECEC), both internationally and in the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark (Børne-og Undervisningsministeriet, 2007; Kunnskapsdepartementet, 2017; Skolverket, 2019). The findings were also discussed regarding social competence as an expression of the Bildung concept (Klafki, 1997) and in regard to Froebelian pedagogy, which has greatly influenced Scandinavian kindergartens. Although this heritage may have been used, shaped and interpreted in a child-oriented direction (Brostrøm, 2004; Håberg, 2017), it has the potential to provide various input and directions.