Kindergartens and childcare
Kindergarten(barnehage) is a voluntary educational program for children below school age. There are both municipal and private kindergartens, with a common admission process. More than 90% of all children living in Oslo attends kindergarten.
The Norwegian kindergarten philosophy
Play, care, learning and formative development are important in the Norwegian kindergarten.
The core values are:
- Children and childhood
- Diversity and mutual respect
- Equity and equality
- Sustainable development
- Life skills and health
Childhood has intrinsic value, and kindergartens shall take a holistic approach to the children’s development. Kindergartens shall work in partnership and agreement with the home to meet the children’s need for care and play, and they shall promote learning and formative development as a basis for all-round development. Play, care, learning and formative development shall be seen in context.
The “Framework Plan for the content and tasks of kindergartens” forms the basis of the pedagogical practices.
Different types of kindergartens
As you start to explore the kindergartens of Oslo, you will likely come across different Norwegian terms explaining how some kindergartens differ from others by being especially targeted for various groups.
- The most common type of kindergarten. Kindergartens can be either public or privately owned. These kindergartens are open for applications from everyone.
- This is a kindergarten usually owned by a company or organization. These types of kindergartens primarily admits the children of employees at specific companies or workplaces.
- A small unit kindergarten primarly for the youngest children. The location is usually in the private home of the owner.
- A kindergarten that primarily submits the children of higher education students. You can for example find one of these kindergartens at the University of Oslo.
- A drop-in kindergarten where parents accompany their children. The activities focus on play, language and relationships and is a great way to socialize with other kids and parents in your neighborhood.
Public kindergartens vs. private kindergartens
Public kindergartens are owned by the Municipiality of Oslo, while private kindergartens can be owned by commercial enterprises, a company (bedriftsbarnehage) or a non-profit organisation.
All Norwegian kindergartens, wether they are public or privately owned, are obligated to follow “The Framework Plan for the content and tasks of kindergartens”. The difference in pedagogical practice between public and private kindergartens are therefore minimal.
The admission to Oslo’s kindergartens are allocated through a common application process administered by Oslo municipality. The main admission deadline is 1 March of every year with commencement the following August or September. You can apply at any time, also after the admission deadline. However, most kindergartens do not have vacancies to accept new children outside of the normal process.
Each individual kindergarten have a website with specific information.
You have to use the Oslo municipality webpage to apply for kindergarten when you are applying for kindergarten for your child. The English section contains basic information. In the Norwegian section, you will find a wider set of articles with more detailed and practical information.
You can apply even if you do not yet have a Norwegian identity number (personnummer). You will need to get a premade number to use for application purposes, before you apply. It is the local city district office (bydelsadministrasjonen) in which you live who can make it for you, and contact information can be found on the application webpage.
It is possible to visit kindergartens before applying for a place. Kindergartens usually have open days during the winter time, the ones that are not listed do not have an open day, but you can contact the kindergarten to arrange a visit.
Cost of kindergarten
Kindergarten fees are partially covered by the public and the additional fee is set according to the family’s income.
There is an additional fee for daily meals, which differs from kindergarten to kindergarten.
You pay in advance every month, except for July which is free of charge due to the vacation requirement. Children have to have three weeks of vacation every year, and at least four weeks in total.
Oslo is a diverse city with over 200 nationalities. This is reflected in the kindergartens, through the nationalities of children and the employees. A large number of children attending Oslo’s kindergartens are bilingual. The language spoken in Oslo’s kindergartens are mainly Norwegian, though in Sami kindergartens the main language is Sami.
Employees are trained to meet the children’s need for extra care and support when they enter a kindergarten environment where they do not know the language.
The framework plan for kindergartens determine that the employees must be mindful of how communication and language affect all aspects of a child’s development. Through dialogue and interaction, the children shall be helped to communicate, participate, listen, understand and create meaning.
Kindergartens shall acknowledge and value the children’s different forms of communication and language, including sign language. All children shall receive appropriate language stimulation in kindergarten, and all children shall be able to participate in activities that promote communication and comprehensive language development
The number of staff per child
All kindergartens must have at least:
- one employee per three children under the age of three.
- one employee per six children over the age of three.
- one educational leader per 7 children under three years.
- one pedagogical leader per 14 children over three years.
Children are considered 3 years old from August of the year they turn three.
The staffing agreement for the municipal kindergartens also states that all children must belong to a group, department or similar. The groups of children must not be larger than what is pedagogically justifiable and safe. As a general rule, the groups should not be larger than the number of children who require more than four adults in basic staffing. The organization must take care of the children's need for connection.
Preparation to start kindergarten
Do you wonder what an ordinary day in a Norwegian kindergarten is like, and what you need to bring for your child?
Keep in mind that this is a general list and that you might get a more specific one.
Other forms of daycare
Nannies are not publicly regulated like kindergartens are. You enter into a personal contract with the person you hire, so be vigilant of references and sign a formal contract if it is a regular arrangement. There are ad listings available online, or you can ask people you trust if they know of someone. If you employ someone privately, you will need to submit the expenses in your tax returns.
In Norwegian: dagmamma, barnevakt, praktikant.
It is not always easy to know who to contact, we recommend that you call the Oslo Serivce centre at 2180 2180. Calling from abroad? Remember to include the national code +47 or 0047.
The service center will be able to give you the informaton or direct you to the correct person.