It has been a policy objective in Denmark since the 1960s to allow parents to have their children cared for outside the home in nursery and childcare centers, because they wanted to get women into the labor market. Today, both parents usually outside the home. The vast majority of young children is therefore in the nursery, kindergarten or daycare. For example, about 97% of children between three and five years of age are cared for outside the home. Common to all forms of childcare is the educational effort to promote children’s wellbeing, health, development and learning.
All children are entitled to a day care placement. The local municipalities provide the care, but the different forms of care offered varies from one municipality to the next. The most common are nursery, kindergarten and day care. You should contact your local municipality to apply for a placement for the child. Parents pay part of the cost. However, if the parents’ income is low, it is possible to apply for financial support from the municipality.
A nursery is for children from about six months up to three years of age. The staff in nurseries have two main tasks:
1. They must ensure that all children are supervised, do not get hurt, and have a safe day at the nursery.
2. They must ensure that the institution is working on the educational objectives that the legislation has prescribed for the teaching profession.
The objectives of the educational work in the nursery is for children to
learn to interact with each other and to show consideration. Children must also be supported in developing language, and this is done, for instance, by singing songs and reading books to them. The educators also help children to develop their bodies, such as by running, dancing, and jumping. They do this both in the nursery and outside on the playground, for example.
Not all babies attend the nursery. Some go to day care. A day care is for children from approx. six months to three years. In a day care, a childcare provider along with 2-4 other children in the childcare provider’s private home will care for the child. In order to be approved by the municipality as a childcare provider, you must comply with certain requirements for food, hygiene, health and cleaning. For instance, smoking is not allowed in day care homes. Family day cares have the same goals for the child’s development as a nursery.
In many municipalities, there are also different types of private day care, where parents may watch their own child along with one or two other children. Children are typically in private day care until there is space in a nursery or a public daycare.
A kindergarten is for children from about three and up to six years of age. In the kindergarten there are also educational goals for the way educators work with children. The educators teach the children things, such as how they can resolve disputes and quarrels between themselves. In kindergarten, they also read stories and sing songs, both in order to develop language, but also to create a community among the children. In many kindergartens the traditional Christian festivals, such as Christmas and Easter, figure prominently. On these occasions, the institutions are decorated, and the kids help to draw and cut out decorations. In kindergartens attended by children from different religious traditions, they are beginning to teach children about other religious holidays than the Christian ones. They are told, for example, about Eid or Chinese New Year. There is less staff in a kindergarten than in a nursery, because the kids are bigger and able to do more for themselves.
SFO and Recreation Centers
SFO is short for SkoleFritidsOrdning (after school care). The SFO is a place where children in the lower grades of public school can be cared for before or after school by teachers. In the SFO, there are some common activities for all children. This could be things like playing music and theater, painting, sewing or drawing, but it can also be sports activities such as swimming, football or ice-skating.
SFO is also open on school holidays and during summer vacation.
For older children, there are many local club facilities and other leisure activities. Club facilities may include an offer for the older children, which they can utilize after school. One goal of the club facilities is to teach the older children to engage in cooperation and partnership with other young people.
In the club, you can meet and play anything from football to music. Some places offer the young people evening clubs. There they do things like watch movies, play music or play games together. Club facilities must provide older children and young people ideas on what to do in their free time, so they can better plan their leisure.
Both nurseries, day cares, and kindergartens attach the greatest importance to good cooperation between parents and teachers/care givers. Parents hear about how the child did throughout the day, and share if anything unusual is going on at home. Parent meetings are also held in nurseries and kindergartens. Here they can learn more about what is happening in the institution.
Parents with children in day care have the right to form a parent- board, where in cooperation with employees, they can be involved in deciding how things work in the institution and how its money should be spent.