"Bend the fish while it is still fresh": Minority parents’ experiences with the Norwegian nature and outdoors discourses in barnehager
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This study aims at providing an analysis of the experiences of non-Scandinavian minority parents with children in Norwegian barnehager (early childhoood settings) where spending time in nature and the outdoors represents an important part of the programme. The fieldwork and data collection took place in a city in Norway in March to June 2012 and is collected through semi-structured interviews. In the analysis of the data theoretical perspectives of ideas, values and cultural practices within the dominant Norwegian nature and outdoor life discourses and the discourses dominating the view on children and childhood in Norway are utilized. In the analyzing process concepts such as culture, adaptation, reciprocity and resistance have been useful tools to understand the processes of meaning making that take place when people from more cultures meet and have to negotiate and re-negotiate their patterns for life. Theoretical perspectives and ideas of the dominant discourses of the North influencing the views on children and childhood have also been draw on. Due to former colonialization, and to globalization, these ideas have spread to large parts of the world. Structures in society, e.g school systems and curricula are often legacies of the same. The minority parents experience that nature and outdoor life represent both challenges and pleasures. The cold climate and unpredictable weather and cultural practice of being and playing outdoors in the barnehage, represent challenges in terms of clothing for all kinds of weather during all four seasons of the year. Even though they are reluctant to go out themselves, the parents believe that it is important for their children to adjust to the climate and learn to love nature from an early age to be able to thrive in this country. The parents are challenged by their children to take part in outdoor activities. Once they do activities outdoors, these represent pleasures, and the parents tell about the happiness this gives the children. The parents are amazed that the children enjoy being outdoors. The children learn to take part in outdoor play and activities that require special clothes and equipment like skis, sledges, tricycles and the like. This can be experienced as economic as well as practical challenges. Some parents have worries about their children’s health because they are outdoors in all sorts of weather. Their children are encouraged to take part in activities and play that can be risky. From the analysis it appears that some minority parents are worried about their children’s academic learning, and they find there is little academic instruction in the Norwegian barnehage. Some of the parents know they will return to their countries of origin and fear that their children are not prepared for the educational systems in their countries of origin. Despite little emphasis on formal teaching of literacy and numeracy, the parents experience that their children have got other kinds of knowledge. Their children seem to be environmentally conscious children, who zealously separate garbage, are careful with soap and toilet paper and pick up rubbish in the streets. The child-parent roles are at times changed, and the children teach their parents about nature, about observing and listening to birds, about the flora and the fauna.