This report is based on the first 1,681 questionnaires on kindergarten quality, addressing overall quality in the kindergartens attended by 5 year olds enrolled in MoBa. Quality assessment includes structural factors, such as group size and staff educational level, as well as procedural factors, such as educational practice. This report also describes differences and similarities among children in the kindergarten, such as special needs, friendship and adjustment to kindergarten.
- Variation in structural quality in kindergartens: The vast majority of educational directors (90.5%) hold a master’s degree in preschool education. Of the remaining 9.5%, just over half have pedagogical training, while the rest have less than a college or university education.
- Variation in educational practice and indicators of procedural quality: The educational directors themselves show strong variation in terms of what they choose to emphasize, and how they structure work within their departments. More specifically, there is variation in kindergarten teaching practices, the educational content of children's everyday life and in routines for regular observation and assessment of children's skills.
- Differences and similarities among 5 year olds in kindergarten: There is tremendous variation in development among the 5 year olds in our sample. According to data collected, about 15% of the children in our sample have special needs. The most common difficulties reported are restlessness and difficulty concentrating (4.5%) and language delay (4.3%). We also find children with emotional difficulties (3.0%) and behavioral problems (2.8%). These numbers are in line with other diagnosis-specific epidemiological studies for prevalence.
- Representativeness of the data: It is important to note that the mothers of 5 year olds in MoBa are not a completely random sample. They differ somewhat from other mothers in that they have higher educational levels, are somewhat older and were less likely to live alone at the time of birth than mothers in the general Norwegian population. There are very few Norwegian studies that examine variation in quality between kindergartens. In Norway, many of the structural conditions in kindergartens are federally regulated (for example, use of the same curriculum). Meanwhile, the National Curriculum gives very little methodological direction, allowing each educational director to choose methodological approaches and priorities. This can be very positive, giving the staff a feeling of confidence and influence in their department, but, alternatively, may threaten quality by yielding less overall control over the educational content of kindergartens, and more variation between kindergartens.
- Important questions for further research include examining specific quality indicators in kindergarten (structural and procedural) that play a role, either independently or in combination, in children’s development and whether these relationships are stronger for some children than for others.