Values education in Nordic preschools: Basis of education for tomorrow

What kind of future citizens do we foster in early childhood education and care (ECEC) in order to build cohesive, democratic and pluralistic societies in Nordic countries?

This Nordic study supported by NordForsk involves values education in early childhood settings in five countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Approximately 481 adults and 1930 children between one and six years will participate in the study.

The aim is both to contribute to a change and to create knowledge about the work with values in Nordic preschools. We will investigate how values are prioritized and communicated on different levels and settings ranging from the Nordic level to national policy documentation, preschool communities, and individual practitioners.

Why the study?
The Nordic societies are acknowledged as the world’s most equal, both from economic and gender perspectives. Nonetheless, we know little about how these values are articulated in the educational policies of ECEC, or how values education is realized in encounters between young children and practitioners in Nordic preschools. Although a value perspective is embedded in the core curricula and legislation regarding ECEC in all of the Nordic countries, values education remains one of the most neglected areas in educational practices and research. While there is a strong focus on the subject areas and academic learning, there is a tendency to overlook values.

The study is built on close collaboration between practitioners and researchers. The practitioners’ role is to identify issues that need to be developed and work towards the developmental process in preschools. The researchers' role is to initiate, challenge, and encourage the practitioners to reflect upon values and values education. We will use multiple sets of research data: group interviews, individual interviews, video observations, political documents, diaries, narratives, drawings and seminars. Focus is on the practitioners’ perspectives of values.

What kind of knowledge?
The project will deepen theoretical and empirical understanding of values and values education in Nordic preschools. The project will advance knowledge about commonalities and variations among the Nordic preschools. The results of the project will provide a national and cross-national body of knowledge that can inform a broad spectrum of target groups across the fields of scientific research, teacher education, and educational policy and practice in the Nordic countries and beyond.

Illustration for ValuEd - a drawing of playing children
Children in preschool.