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Group size in preschool. Implications for development and quality

Conference contribution
Authors Pia Williams
Published in The Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA) Helsinki Finland
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Keywords Preschool group size quality
Subject categories Educational Sciences


According to the Swedish National Agency for Education, 2014, the number of children enrolled in preschool has increased during the last ten years. In Sweden, the majority of children, approximately 84 per cent, are enrolled in preschool, which constitutes the first step of the educational system and embraces children from one to five years of age. There is a limited amount of research about how group size impacts on preschool teachers’ working conditions and their ability to support children’s learning and development in line with the curriculum intentions. From a perspective on quality, this paper aims to describe conditions for children’s learning in preschool in relation to group size. Question at issue is: How do preschool teacher’s express views on group sizes in preschool? The study is based on Urie Bronfenbrenner ́s ecological system theory. Methods used are semi-structured interviews and a survey answered by preschool teachers. Analyses are drawn on Bronfenbrenner ́s theory to examine similarities, differences and the variation of available conditions for learning and knowledge formation. The study follows the Swedish research council guidelines and ethical rules in social science research. Ethical aspects of the research were taken into consideration, including in particular requirements for confidentiality, consent, information and autonomy, along with the emphasis that participation in the study was voluntary. The results indicate that group size in preschool is depended of interacting factors, such as: preschool teachers competence and qualifications, indoor and outdoor environment, number of children per adult and the composition of the child group. Preschool teacher express that fewer children in groups allows for greater communication and interaction and more opportunities to meet and stimulate children’s learning and development.

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