It has been a busy couple of weeks as we have begun our placement in a Swedish Preschool. We have already experienced and learnt so much, and can’t believe how fast the time is going!
Our Placement Preschool
We are placed in a school on the island of Ekero, south of Stockholm. We are lucky as Ekero is not only home to the king and the odd ABBA member, but is also very beautiful, particularly at this time of year.
The preschool is relatively large with just under a hundred children, organised into six classes. The children are aged one to five, and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Thanks to the level of state funding for preschools, it is very cheap for working parents to enrol their children in private, full day nurseries in comparison to in Scotland. This means that most children are there from morning to late afternoon.
We have noticed some other differences between Swedish schools and Scottish schools including:
Children in the Swedish preschool are outdoors everyday, come rain, shine or worse! The children are taught to dress appropriately, and take ownership of the various outside spaces on offer, both on the nursery grounds and further a field. The school organises a range of trips into the local community every week.
Each nursery employs their own chef and food is to a very high standard. The children are required to eat the food provided and are not allowed to bring food from home. The school has strict organic and sugar-free food policies. Bread is baked fresh everyday, and teachers, carers and pupils share food together. The kids are trained from a young age to eat what they are given, share the food and use cutlery properly.
Along with the approaches to encouraging pupils to take responsibility for eating, children are also taught to dress themselves, select tasks and activities and resolve conflicts. Regardless of the additional time and effort this is a focus for all staff in the preschool.
The preschool is divided into six classes. Each class has a different focus, and children are assigned to these classes based on their individual needs. Though age is a factor in the decision for staff and parents, developmental stage, child personality, background and additional support needs are also key factors. Teachers and parents work together to decided where in the preschool a child may be best suited and this may change over time. For us this is very interesting as we are each working in different classes, each with a different approach. For example, Lizzie is working in a class that are outdoors for large portions of the day, and even have regular use of an outdoor classroom. Children in this class enjoy extra freedom to explore and run about. Adrienne is in a Bilingual class where children are taught and communicate in both Swedish and English. This is beneficial for children who have an English speaking background or who are developing their language skills. Amy is working in a Montessori classroom where there is a focus on independent play and use of specific resources to develop children’s critical thinking skills. We are able to discuss and compare these differences giving us a better understanding of how other classes work and how the focus in our classrooms differ.
Our Involvement and Planning
We have already had opportunities to work with individuals and small groups in our respective classes, however over the next couple of weeks we will begin to be taking more and more responsibility. There is an English speaking group in the preschool who already have strong use of both Swedish and English. This group meet outside of their individual class to have lessons in English. For the next few weeks we will also be spending time with this group reading Katie Morag books, completing a range of activities based on the stories and encouraging these children to make full use of their English language skills.
Tomorrow we are also taking the whole preschool for a ‘Big Sing’ this is a time when all children come together and sing songs. We have been practicing all weekend and we have prepared a few songs the children know, and a few we hope to introduce them to.
We will keep you updated on the success for our endeavours, and other learning and experiences!
Adrienne, Amy and Lizzie