Sunday, August 22, 2010

Week Two: the Barnehage

Week Two was an effort of easing into normalcy. On Tuesday both Erik and I brought Greta to her new barnehage (kindergarten or daycare). It is known as the Birkebeineren Friluftsbarnehage, which focuses on outdoor activity and play in rather unstructured and natural spaces. The barnehage is a 5-minute drive along the hilltop to one of the buildings used at the cross-country ski venue (the Birkebeiner Ski Stadium) in the 1994 Olympics. It is incredibly convenient to our current location, and we were placed here really just by chance.

Our first impressions were great. Some of you might remember my laments of the quality of child care providers in the US as we searched for daycare when Greta was 13 months old. The teachers here are all have degrees in child development, and seem genuinely invested in their work. The teachers were very welcoming—both to Greta as a new student, but also to us as Americans totally new to the Friluftsbarnehage method. Greta is in a room of 7 children ages 1 to under 3 years (she is the eldest), and there are 2 teachers and often a student teacher as well. We provider her lunch, but every afternoon the teacher prepare a 2pm snack, often including the children in the preparation and baking.

We’ve been excited to witness Greta’s language development now that she is surrounded by Norwegian speaking teachers and children. One of her teachers, Kristopher, stated that she has no trouble understanding when they speak to her in Norwegian, but if there is any doubt, they also address her in English. There is one other 2 year old in her class who has a British father and Norwegian mother, and apparently they are hearing more of his English now that Greta is around!

The other thing that we have been most curious about is how Greta would nap at the barnehage. It is customary for Norwegian babies to nap outside in their prams, even in the winter! They are bundled up under layers of wool, snowsuits, down and more blankets, and apparently sleep quite soundly. Greta is a prize-winning napper, still sleeping for 2-3 hours in the afternoon, but in a crib in a dark room. This would be a change!

One day two, when I stayed with Greta in the playyard for the early afternoon, I talked with Greta about how the little kids were taking their naps in their strollers, and how she would do that the next day. She was very excited about this. So excited, in fact that the next day when Kristopher put her in the borrowed pram, she announced, “I’m ready” and rode around for an hour, never sleeping. We would have been shocked if she had, quite frankly. But by Friday, she reportedly slept for 45 minutes! 

New rainsuit, which she really
does like!
After Greta’s second day it became obvious that her head-to-toe American rainsuit was not going to be adequate in the barnehage play yard. That evening we made a trip down to the recommended children’s store and bought a 599Kr rain overalls and matching jacket, with room to grow.

At bedtime after her second day, she talked about what would happen the next day: “I get to go to my barnehage tomorrow! And play with new toys, and the play food, and the dress-up clothes! And my teachers—what’s their names? And I get to sleep in the stroller! And wear my new rainsuit and play in the water in the boat. . . “ and on it went.

I think we’re off to a great start.

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