Mathematics in kindergartens: learning or playing? A comparative study between Belgium and Norway
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This thesis contains a cross-cultural study in which early childhood education in Flanders (Belgium) and Norway was compared. The main aim of the thesis was to reveal the differences in focus for an activity on numeracy between kindergarten teachers in a social-oriented approach (Norway) versus a preschool-oriented approach (Flanders). Two kindergarten teachers in each country were observed during an activity with focus on numeracy and interviewed. In the interview, their own activity was discussed. Furthermore, the videotaped activity of the other country was viewed and discussed. The activities were compared and the reactions of the kindergarten teachers on the other country’s way to offer activities on numeracy were analyzed. The results show that Flemish kindergarten teachers see mathematics mainly in adult-initiated activities and they describe mathematics as ‘learning’. The Norwegian kindergarten teachers see mathematics in everyday situations, where both child-initiated and adult-initiated activities take place, and they consider mathematics as ‘playing’. There is also a difference in the instructional styles. The Flemish kindergarten teachers show signs of both a content-focused style with an emphasis on performance and of a classroom-focused style. Their focus is mainly on the performance of the children. The Norwegian kindergarten teachers mainly display a learner-focused style, where the focus lies on the motivation of the children.
Master's thesis in Early childhood education