Denmark, we’ve got a problem. Daycare in many countries has to compete with stay-at-home parents, nannies and childminders. In Denmark, childminders are the only real competition. With no serious competition, daycare has been allowed to race to the bottom. A researcher has studied what is going on and the Danish media has gone bananas.
Taken from politiken: Expert “Break with ‘legalise hash and free milkshake’ pedagogy”
Many children in Danish nurseries go around like senseless “penguins” and the loss of adult contact is so pronounced that it damages the development of the children’s brains.
So says the PhD Ole Henrik Hansen from the Institute for Education and Pedagogy (DPU) at Aarhus University. He has video footage and a good 8000 observations spread over 26 children in nine nurseries in the greater Copenhagen area together with questionnaires from 40 000 daycare workers in the country-wide investigation on how it really is in nurseries here.
And it’s not an uplifting picture that Ole Henrik Hansen can give of the conditions.
“It’s only 12.5% of institutions that plan their work. Most daycare workers turn up to work in the morning, sit in a circle and plan their work from there. Imagine if that went on in your child’s school. It would definitely be totally outrageous,” said Ole Henrik Hansen to politiken.
Anything goes in nurseries
The expert certainly doesn’t handle Danish daycare workers with kid gloves.
For many years he has investigated – and criticised – conditions in Danish nurseries. According to Ole Henrik Hansen the problem is that children experience a “legalise-hash-and-free-milkshake-pedagogy” in institutions.
“Anything goes in nurseries. An uneducated colleague can come in and be listened to in the staff meeting- and be taken seriously. At the same time we hold the world record for how early with put our children in nurseries. But we ought to reflect on if institutions are going about it in the right way,” said Ole Henrik Hansen.
He suggests that many Danish nurseries be closed because the level of provision of stimulation and child development is so low.
“We have the attitude about child development in Denmark, that children have to explore things for themselves. It’s fair enough for constructive, strong children. But for the quiet children, and those that are crawling up the walls, it is unfortunate. And it means that years after what happened in nursery, we must use an enormous amount of money on including those children,” said the expert.
Free play or organised activities?
Ole Henrik Hansen’s goal is to do away with unengaged daycare workers who according to him can be found in a large number of institutions country-wide.
But also, that we at the municipal and regional do away with what he calls “hippy-pedagogy”.
“We need to plan daycare worker’s time better and create relationships with smaller groups of children, so that daycare workers have a better opportunity to monitor children. At the same time, there’s a need for leadership that can separate the professional from the personal. It’s a problem when leaders cannot see to it that children thrive and afterwards pass the buck,” said Ole Henrik Hansen to politiken.
The only upside in relation to this problem, according to the expert from Aarhus University is that there is actually is a will to do something. And that people, including politicians have already started looking at whether free play or organised activities are the way forward.
He is currently engaged with yet another study with 20 borough councils that goes under the name “Child-at-the-centre”
Simultaneously he is sitting on a task force group set up by Children and Teaching minister Christine Antorini (S)
“We will soon have some recommendations and I really hope that Christine Antorini understands what has happened in the area. Luckily we can see that many daycare workers are ready to look forward instead of back. Also even though I say many hard things to them about how they work,” said Ole Henrik Hansen.
Taken from politiken: “Expert: Conditions are shocking in Danish nurseries”
Small children are left to themselves to a high degree and met with rejection and indifference by daycare workers.
Daycare workers in the country’s nurseries fail the youngest which results in them shutting down emotionally, shows a new PhD thesis.
Small children all the way down to 10 months are being left to themselves a great deal and met with rejection and indifference from daycare workers, documents video footage and a good 8000 observations spread over 26 children in nine nurseries in the greater Copenhagen area and the questionnaires from 40 000 daycare workers over the entire country, according to Berlingske Tidende.
“Danish nurseries are so miserable that a great deal of them ought to be closed,” said PhD Ole Henrik Hansen who is behind the report.
He says that rejection from the daycare workers gets the children walkring around like senseless “penguins” and the loss of adult contact is so serious that it damages the development of the brain.
Rather have better leadership than more workers
The answer is not more daycare workers, believes Ole Henrik Hansen:
“It’s about organisation and leadership.
“With how things work in many nurseries, we could employ as many daycare workers without the children getting anything out of it,” said Ole Henrik Hansen.
At the Daycare Worker Group Bupl, they are familiar with the recordings.
” Ole Henrik Hansen points out some important things to get the focus onto the children,” said the chair of Bupl Henning Pedersen to Berlingske Tidende.
“But he paints somewhat of a simplistic picture which does not take into account the working conditions of daycare workers in nurseries,” he added.
14 month old boy closed into himself
The chair for the National Parental Association , Fola, Lars Klingenberg, has seen a recording of a small boy of 14 months closing into himself after he was ignored by a daycare worker.
“It really affected me a lot because it is totally clear to see what has happened. It goes straight to the heart of everyone – especially us parents,” said Lars Klingenberg to Berlingske.
- News Translating: Parents need to be involved (adventuresandjapes.wordpress.com)
- Translating the News: Parental Competence Cases (adventuresandjapes.wordpress.com)
- What Britain could learn from Denmark’s childcare model (guardian.co.uk)