There are many reasons as to why I am happy living here in Norway, the summer is not really one of them, but childcare is!
Barnehage (childcare) is another difference between Australia and Norway. It is more than day-care, but different to kindergarten. From 1 to six years old, children go to barnehage. It is made to be accessible for all, and is a normal part of family life. The focus is on play and development.
Our girls attend a gårdsbarnehage. This means that it is on a farm. They are extra lucky, because it is also by the forest! At their barnehage, Ramsjø gårsbarnehage, there are animals that the children look after (horses, goats, chickens), they grow vegetables, they go for walks and have fires in the forest (when permitted). There are two playgrounds; one for the littlest children and a bigger one, which even has a flying fox!! (Something that would not be seen in an Australian playground). The children have freedom, yet boundaries, and it is just a great place where the kids get to play, and be kids! We love it, and our two girls love it.
Barnehage is also a place of learning. Each month there is a new animal which they learn about, and each week there is a new fruit or vegetable. They learn letters and numbers, and there is a big focus on social interaction. G recently spent about 3 months learning about the solar system, and now I think she knows more than I remember.
G is about to head into her final year in barnehage, and is graduating to Trolla. This group is for the final year children, where they prepare for school. O is also graduating from her small group of 10 three year olds, to a bigger group of 3-6 year olds. This is a little sad, as her little group of friends interact so well together and will now get split in two, but she is also ready to “move on up”.
I am grateful every day for barnehage, especially when I see the cost of day-care in Australia increasing constantly, but also because our girls are safe, feel loved and get to be kids even when we cannot be with them.
To see more on the barnehage: www.rambarn.no