Norwegian version

Small Children, Large Cities: Kindergarten Qualities, Inequalities, Communicative complexities

The research group is concerned with understanding kindergarten quality, and what constitutes a good kindergarten life, in relation inequalities in children’s socio-economical living conditions outside the kindergarten, and to the resources (material, relational, digital) that children, parents and employees use to communicate and connect across these contexts.

The group applies interdisciplinary and multi-methodological approaches and aims to lift out the perspectives of small children, parents, and employees, illuminate processes in urban areas with varying degrees of living condition challenges and promote holistic understandings of relations in specific local, regional and national contexts.

Head of research group

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  • Members

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  • About the group

    This research group (established 2022) springs out of three research communities focussing different aspects of children’s everyday life:

    • Kindergartens – quality services to the youngest children: knowledge about the subject contents in kindergartens, the contexts, structures and processes affecting this and the outcomes for the youngest children (continuation of work in the research group Blikk for hverdagsliv. Utfordringer i barnehager for de yngste barna/BLU)
    • Homes – families’ in the (digitalised) consumption society: knowledge about the concerns of families in everyday life related to their appropriation and use of various goods and private/public services and on how the different material, relational and digital resources of families impact on their experiences of inclusion, belonging, trust, participation and vulnerability in different communicative networks inside and outside the home (continuation of work in relation to the project RELINK, centre CEDIC og research school DIGIT, i collaboration with SIFO, SAM and TKD).
    • Local communities – different urban childhood landscapes. Knowledge about specific places and spaces where children grow up, specifically focussing on providing insights into situations, perspectives and networks among children, families and kindergartens in living condition challenges areas (continuation of work linked to Storbybarn – tverrfaglig forskning på barndom i storbyen (former REACH) in collaboration with SVA, all faculties at OsloMet, UniKom, Oslo municipality and sub districts). 

    The research group seeks to further develop and link these areas of knowledge aiming to promote holistic and situated knowledge about different circumstances in children’s lives in kindergartens, homes, and local environments.

    The government strategy for kindergarten quality Barnehager mot 2030 states that all children should be provided with a good quality kindergarten service independent of where they live and which kindergarten they attend. Understanding quality differences between kindergartens is however a complex issue as qualities of different arenas in children’s lives, and children’s integration in these, vary in time and space and interact in ways that produce social and economic differences between children, groups, and areas. To build knowledge about the varied factors and dynamics that impact on children’s lives in different places is therefore central to the work of promoting good quality kindergarten services for all children.

    Over 80 percent of children in Norway grow up in cities and towns, where situations vary in different areas. Area-based variations are particularly evident in the larger cities where we find both highly mixed as well as homogenously segregated composed neighbourhoods. These variations are poorly captured in the large-scale mappings of kindergarten qualities. Insights are particularly scarce with respect to the needs and dynamics at play for children and families in areas with living condition challenges and how kindergarten employees and parents work and cooperate to accommodates such needs.

    The research group works to develop projects, methods, and analytical perspectives that can add such knowledge to the available knowledge base. This involves amongst other things tracing links between national and local understandings of kindergarten qualities and – focussed particularly on large city contexts – between how various local understandings relate to social inequalities between families and the varied communicative complexities in the local landscapes where children live their everyday lives. The group deploys various methods to bring out the voice of children and parents and to initiate collaborative and co-productional processes to involve children, parents, employees, owners, students, and teachers in the identification of problems and knowledge building. Reflecting on and further developing analytical perspectives and procedures to handle research ethical challenges related to such methodologies is also part of the groups work.

    The research group aims to expand the knowledge base and understandings of the relationship between kindergarten, children’s everyday life and emerging societal challenges and on implications for developing sustainable, work-life-oriented, and professional relevant education (cf. SDG 4.2, 4.7, 10.2, 11 og 15). 

  • Projects

    • Citykids – interdisciplinary research on childhoods in urban areas ( (financed from 2022 by OsloMet/SAM and Oslo municipality). Contact person: Mette Tollefsrud.
    • Diversity competence in kindergartens (commissioned part projects, linked to Citykids, in the Area Based Strategy Project led by Sub-municipality Søndre Nordstrand, financed by Oslo Municipality 2021-23). Contact person: Mette Tollefsrud. 
    • Consequences of the corona epidemic for children and kindergartens – a follow-up study ( (a commissioned project financed by Udir, Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, 2022). Contact person: Nina Winger.
    • Competence building in small kindergartens (Financed by the County Governor Oslo and Viken 2020-22). Contact person: Ellen Os.
    • Pilot – guidance of kindergarten owners to promote kindergarten quality (Financed by Udir, Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, 2021-2024). Contact person: Ellen Os.
    • Relinking the weak link. Building resilient digital households through interdisciplinary and multilevel exploration and intervention (Financed by Research council Norway, IKT-Pluss, 2019-24). Contact person: Ardis Storm-Mathisen. 
    • User perspectives on the digitalisation of welfare state services in children’s everyday life (Pilar 4, CEDIC  - Centre for the study of digitalization of public services and citizenship financed by OsloMet 2020-25). Contact person: Ardis Storm-Mathisen.
    • Anticipations by kindergarten employees about the diverse parental group as a resource (PhD project linked to Citykids, financed by OsloMet). Contact person: Unn Granløv.
    • How kindergarten employees work with the mathematics learning of small children (PhD project, financed by OsloMet). Contact person: Jovana Ackovic.
    • Interactions between the kindergarten teacher and a group of children. Experiences of continuities in pedagogical work with the youngest in kindergarten (PhD project, financed by OsloMet). Contact person: Helen Bergem.
    • Good weekdays for 1-3 year olds in kindergartens (linked to the University kindergarten arrangement, financed by R&D resources OsloMet). Contact person: Ellen Os.
    • Kindergarten materiality, multicultural connectivity and belonging (research group collaborative project, financed by R&D resources, OsloMet). Contact person: Ardis Storm-Mathisen.
  • Partners

    • Oslo Municipality
    • Sub district Søndre Nordstrand
    • University kindergartens
    • All faculties at OsloMet
    • Network of Norwegian universities through CEDIC and the research school DIGIT) 
    • University College Copenhagen; Malmö University; University of Gothenburg through the ‘Network for critical pedagogy across the bay’