London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Learning democracy in Danish kindergartens - benefits and drawbacks

Author(s) Kim Judson  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2001  
Editor A. Ross, Learning for Democratic Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
During the last twenty years Danish kindergartens have been through a tremendous development, and experiments have been made in order to build the best educational methods to train children for the society they grow into. From the room-divided kindergarten to the open-plan kindergarten. Kindergartens have usually been structured around a unit divided into rooms, in which each child was allocated to a room according to her/his age. Each room would have a permanent group of staff taking care of the children, and each day was normally very structured, with schedules time-tabling each activity and its duration. Lunch and the afternoon fruit break were set for the same time each day and the children always ate and played at the same times. Each day was structured by rules and managed by the kindergarten teachers. The opposite structure is now found in open-plan kindergartens. Here there are no rules. The children are still based in a special room according to age, but most of their day is spent in other rooms, or outside, with other children of different ages. The children meet in their own room in the morning to say hello to everybody, but then choose which workshop they will attend in the morning and which in the afternoon. Between the workshops the children can play freely either outside or inside the kindergarten and they are free to eat whenever they are hungry. The kindergarten teachers' work is based on the principle that each child is a free individual, free to choose whatever it likes. Choice has consequences for what is possible and what is not possible; when children choose one thing they are in effect choosing not to do another thing ? they cannot take part in all activities.

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