Lessons from Norway's approach to early childhood education and care

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  Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Lessons from Norway's approach to early childhood education and care

Library Home  >  Approaches to Early Childhood Education
  Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2018
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Norway might be famous for its fjords, but it is the country's early childhood education and care system that’s making ripples in scientific circles.

A study by Boston College has highlighted the successes of Norway's universal early childhood education program, which is offered to all children from the age of one and it suggests that an early educational start doesn't just benefit infants – it narrows the great class divide too.

What were the key findings of the research?

Boston College studied more than 60,000 children enrolled in Norway's universal early education system and found that the provision of early, high quality care, not only has a positive effect on children's language skills, it also has the power to bridge gaps between rich and poor.

Researchers found that:

  1. The country's publicly funded program has led to improvements in children's early language skills, and particularly those from low-income families
  2. By the age of three, this language improvement amongst low-income children attending early child care centres has significantly narrowed the language skill gaps between low- and high-income children
  3. The lessening of these 'achievement gaps' has been most obvious in the low-income communities that greatly increased the number of youngsters attending early child care centres

Overall, the study indicates that by beginning early education and care in infancy, rather than between the ages of three and five, the 'achievement gaps' between advantaged and disadvantaged children are lessened.

What does this mean for the rest of the world?

Lead researcher, Professor Eric Dearing, says, "This study provides some of the first large-scale evidence that public early education for children as young as age one can be critical for children's language skills."

And although the Boston College study encourages debate about the American approach to early education policy, back in Australia it's worth considering how early exposure to education and child care can benefit very young children, and especially those from low-income families.


Resource:

Science Daily

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 10 February 2020

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