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Børnehaveklassen in the Danish School System: A Place for Play?


Academic year: 2022

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Børnehaveklassen in the Danish School System: A Place for Play?

Research Topic/Aim

This presentation involves an ongoing study in a Danish børnehaveklasse (kindergarten class, also known as prep-class). Børnehaveklassen has existed since 1962 and became mandatory and a part of the Danish compulsory education in 2009. In the year of becoming six, children attend børnehaveklassen as a preparation to the “real” school life, which is often characterized by the bridge-metaphor. As pupils, the children meet a more structured every day and new ways of working, but at the same time, the environment must include play “… as intrinsic value (value in itself) and as learning through play and playful activities”

(Contents and goals for børnehaveklassen, § 2)

The aim of this study is to gain knowledge about how play and play opportunities are created, initiated, and unfolded in børnehaveklassen – and with what intentions in mind?

Theoretical Framework

The study draws on notions of play from cultural and aesthetic perspectives, and how children do culture aesthetically through play (Mouritsen, 2002; Blomgren, 2021).

Methodology/Research Design

The present study is part of a larger collaborative work involving three researchers undertaken in one school.

The approach is focused ethnography (Knoblauch, 2005) with short intensified fieldwork creating field notes, video recordings, and photos. The research design furthermore implies reflective workshops with the teachers involved.

Expected Results/Findings

Play is somehow framed, and the study will show and analyze teacher-initiated play activities and child- initiated play/children’s own play-culture. The two approaches can be blurred and maybe difficult to separate. Another feature will include findings concerning children’s participation in play.

Relevance to Nordic Educational Research

Play in school educational settings is a fundamental right for the child and a hope for supporting a good childhood life in a time with pressure on obtaining learning skills. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child worries about the increasing control by adults, who can undermine “the child’s own efforts to organize and conduct his or her play” (General Comment no. 17, 2013, p.5).


Blomgren, H. (2021). Play Pockets in Kindergartens: On Framing Blurred Practices with Art, Pedagogy, and Play. In H. Park and C. M. Schulte (eds.), Visual Arts with Young Children. Practices, Pedagogies, and Learning, pp. 100-110. New York and London: Routledge.

Knoblauch, H. (2005). Focused Ethnography. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 6, no. 3, Art. 44.

Mouritsen, F. (2002). Child culture: Play culture. In F. Mouritsen and J. Qvortrup (eds.), Childhood and children’s culture, pp. 14-42. Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark.



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