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Day 2 in Stockholm........

So after two days touring Pre-schools in Stockholm I sit in my hotel room with my head buzzing full of ideas and feeling completely inspired.  I also feel saddened at how nurseries in the UK are subject to such strict regulations that restrict our children’s freedom and creativity.  When did we stop allowing them to be children??

Both Chloe and I have been completely struck by the calmness and space in the three Pre-schools we have visited in Sweden over the past 24 hours.  The nurseries are open, airy with neutral colours and minimal clutter.  The children are happy, content, engaged and there is so much focus on them as individuals and fostering their social and emotional development.  Adults facilitate their play but don’t intrude.  They really connect with the children on an emotional level and are tuned into their developmental needs in a totally different way to what I have seen from our Practitioners in the UK.  Children in Sweden are confident and capable learners from a very young age.  They are truly independent thinkers who are encouraged to make decisions for themselves.  Similar to our British Values, the adults in Sweden encourage democracy and an understanding of each other in all areas of the Pre-school.  We have seen how children have a real sense of ownership over their play and can direct their own learning.  During today’s garden time in the scorching Stockholm sun we watched the children playing a traditional Scandinavian game of Kubb, which involves them throwing wooden batons in two teams to knock down wooden bricks on the opposing team’s side.  What really impressed Chloe and I was how engaged every child was and the level of focus to aim and throw the baton.  The children were a real team and supported and encouraged each other as they took turns to throw their baton.  After some time, they told the adult that they were hot and so together as a group they made the decision to finish the rest of their garden time in the forest under the shade of the trees. 

Moving into the cooler forest area, we were surprised to see huge rocks that the children were jumping over with skill and confidence.  As we watched one child leap across a wide gap, both Chloe and I commented how neither of us would have made that jump!  The children scattered into small groups and started to explore.  The adult translated to us as a young boy confidently spoke to us in Swedish.  He wanted to show us the grass he had been collecting for some time and where he had hidden it. Both Chloe and I trotted up on to the rocks to where he had created a bed of long grass.  His friends helped him gather more grass and we watched as they worked together to fill the gap with grass.  Another group found a frog which generated a lot of excitement and the adult to explained to us how they are not allowed to take the animals as this is not ok for living creatures.  She gently places it back under the rock where she had found it.  With only one adult for the 16 children, they were given freedom to ‘just be’ without imposing adults. 

One thing that we have really noticed throughout our visit is how happy everyone is.  There are no stressed adults around as they have little paperwork to do and so their focus is truly on the children.  We haven’t seen a single child cry or argue- even the one year olds!!!  They are confident and self-sufficient, they problem solve independently, testing their own ideas.  They adapt and change what they are doing if they discover it isn’t working.  They seem proud, satisfied, willing, enthusiastic and resilient.  So I am left wondering at the end of today……..is this not what we want for our children?!

Michelle Brockwell

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Posted by Tracy Seed on
Great to read your blog about your experience on the trip with us all. Fabulous to be able to share this with you. When I reading how much you have seen and understood I feel encouraged -your comments inspire us to continue to arrange this trip for educators.
I'm looking forward to sharing even more with you tomorrow about empathic communication :)
Posted by Maria Bennett on
Simple questions really, before we search for answers, how many hours the practitioners work per week and how much they are paid? How old are most of the practitioners? What is the family/community background of those children? Are the good facilities and the adequate garden space funded by the government?
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