Alna kindergartens

Engaging the most important persons in a child’s world

The first years of a child’s life are crucial for their development. In the municipality of Oslo, kindergartens are regarded as the first step in many years of education. At this point in their development, learning social skills and proper Norwegian is vital for the children to be prepared for school. Due to a more multicultural and diverse population, it is more challenging to ensure this in some of Oslo's districts. As a bigger effort to improve children's language skills, the district of Alna has established a project to strengthen the partnership between the kindergartens and the parents.

The brief
We were asked to map out how the parents experience the public kindergarten as well as analysing the opportunities throughout the user journey. Based on this insight we were to explore how kindergartens can help to build a good cooperative environment and how this can improve the children’s language development.

Early on we discovered that our main focus should be finding a better way to cooperate and communicate with the parents. Only when a good line of communication and mutual understanding is established, the kindergarten employees can focus on ways to collaborate on a child’s language development with the parents. As professional educators they know very well how to do this.

We based our solution on three main insights:
1. In many of the meetings between kindergarten employees and parents, the employee will only focus on giving information instead of listening to what the parents have to say.
2. The kindergartens do not take advantage of the weekly schedule as the point of communication it can be.
3. Neither the amount nor the content of the written information sent from the kindergartens are adapted to parents with weak Norwegian language skills.

The primary solution is a dialogue card called “A Good Start”. It has open topics that the parents and the employees have to talk about during the kindergartens initiation period. The card is a tool that helps the employees in the kindergartens getting to know the parents and the kids. This is meant to build a good foundation for the partnership between parents and the kindergarten, and will make it easier to discuss more inflamed topics at a later point. Other supporting concepts aim to create an understandable hierarchy in all the information the kindergarten sends out and setting basic rules for how all information should be presented and developed.

The concepts are now being prototyped, and the plan is to implement the solutions in 2017.