This dissertation examines the inherent meanings in the claim that the pre-school is "a complement to the home". The meanings are analysed in order to explore the reasons behind the extension of child care in Sweden, and particularly during the period 1990-1995.The dissertation has two objectives. The first objective is to analyse the aims, as identified by the state and the municipalities, for pre-schools and family day nurseries to act as a complement to the home; with an additional analysis of the children's social and cultural contexts.
The second objective is to analyse how employees and parents interpret the idea that pre-schooling is a complement to the home. Date used for this research is national programme information, guidelines used at municipal levels, and empirical data from one questionnaire to staff and two questionnaires to parents. Theories about frame factors and curricula constitute the points of departure for the analyses of the national programmes at state and at local levels, and for the analyses of the questionnaires.
The analyses shows that the concept of "a complement to the home" has varied over time and that it is contextually dependent. In the 1930s, when there was a need to improve children's playing environment to compensate for small, cramped, and dark homes, the pre-school was designed to provide large, light rooms. During the 1940s and the 1950s, it was assumed that child care should act as a complement to the home (i.e., not be regarded as a competitor). Such different connotations inherent in the concept of "a complement to the home" reflect the Zeitgeist of the various decades. They also show how the needs of children and family have been expressed; which, in turn, related to the need for women to be active in the labour force.
The results of the analyses show that official documents, parents and staff express a belief in pre-schools and family day nurseries as important complements to the homes, particularly in reference to children's social development. But the differences the parents express concerning their children's upbringing are shown to relate to their educational background.
The actual activities of the pre-school complement are worked out in close cooperation between parents and staff. Difficulties occur when individual children's needs are taken as a point of departure. This result suggests that the pre-school can be a complement to each child only when divergences in opinions between staff and parents are limited. Family nurseries, which generally are less organised and have fewer children than pre-schools, can provide child care that is more designed to fit the specific needs of children and parents. One of the conclusions of this study is that pre-schools are run on the basis of staff efforts, and that co-operation with parents constitutes a decisive factor in the future development of pre-schooling.
Umeå: Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet , 2001. , 190 p.
Child care in Sweden, analyse the aims, co-operation with parents, pre-schools and family day nurseries