Projects

A city-wide preschool yard? Challenges and possibilities for supporting inner city preschools' mobility and space for play in dense urban environments 2020-2023

This project will investigate the consequences of urban densification for inner city preschools - without a yard of their own, with a yard on the roof or a small enclosure - and their mobility practices. Methods used are ethnographic fieldwork in several inner city preschools in Stockholm together with interviews with local politicians, urban planners and officials responsible for traffic, public transport and early childhood education in Stockholm Stad. Investigating inner city preschool children’s actual mobility practices in dense urban spaces is crucial for our understanding of young children’s access to urban spaces in terms of mobility, learning and play. Based on theories on childhood and mobility is the aim of the project to investigate Stockholm inner city preschools’ everyday mobility and use of spaces in terms of travel on foot/by cargo bike/with public transport, educational activities, movement and play in and between living environments. The following research questions will drive the study:

  • How do inner city preschools organize and negotiate children’s mobility and use of spaces in terms of travel, educational activities, movement and play?
  • In terms of challenges and possibilities, how do children and teachers experience dealing with the need for children’s mobility in terms of travel, educational activities, movement and play?
  • Which changes and improvements of urban spaces and mobility solutions are necessary in order to support inner city preschool children’s mobility in terms of safe and engaging travel, educational activities, movement and play in and between different urban spaces?

An additional aim of the project is to investigate the perspectives of local politicians, urban planners and early education officials on how the city provides spaces for young children in general and for preschool groups in dense urban spaces in particular.

In the first part of the project we will conduct ethnographic fieldwork in order to investigate inner city preschools groups’ everyday mobility and use of spaces in terms of travel on foot/by cargo bike/with public transport, movement, educational activities and outdoor play in and between living environments. In the second part we will conduct interviews with local politicians, urban planners and officials responsible for traffic, public transport and early childhood education in Stockholm Stad on their perspectives on how the city provides spaces for young children in general and for preschool groups in dense urban spaces in particular. Questions will be asked about which changes and improvements of urban spaces.The project contribute to research on children’s mobility by focusing on new urban childhood realities of living in dense cities, without self-evident possibilities to safe outdoor environments.   

Research funder
Formas

PI: Katarina Gustafson (Institutionen för pedagogik, didaktik och utbildningsstudier, Uppsala universitet) 

Participant researcher: Danielle Ekman Ladru (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga institutionen, Stockholms universitet).

Mobility, informal learning and citizenship in mobile preschools

Urban childhoods and mobility are changing and meanwhile spaces for children are decreasing in Swedish cities. Children’s active participation in the spaces of the city is however crucial not only for children being physically active, but also in order to claim rights to the city, gain spatial competence in navigating the city and learn how to handle people and places. This is especially crucial since increased urban and school segregation have led to divided cities where children from different backgrounds seldom meet. Local school markets today also include preschools and a new phenomenon and an additional choice of preschools has emerged, the mobile preschool. As yet, not much is known about children’s sense of citizenship in relation to preschool age mobility. Mobile preschools are located in buses that on a daily basis travel to different locations in and around the city to provide children with new learning environments. In order to understand children’s mobility in public space, learning and citizenship, the aim of the project is to map the phenomenon of the mobile preschool and critically investigate the ways in which mobile preschools allow children to navigate, participate in and learn from, different spaces of the city. With theories of mobility, learning and citizenship we will conduct an ethnographic study with multiple methods, including participatory observation, video, gps-tracking,  informal and formal interviews with children, pedagogues and parents as well as a national mapping of mobile preschools.

The following research questions will drive the study:

  • What are the affordances and constraints for children’s learning and active citizenship within mobile preschools?
  • What kinds of spaces in the city do mobile preschools visit and how do children and pedagogues navigate and participate in these spaces?
  • How do different municipalities in Sweden organize the mobile preschools and what are the social and cultural reasons for and implications of this?

The research team has well documented expertise in the field of children’s geographies and education. Members of the research team are Danielle van der Burgt (project leader), Katarina Gustafson, Helen Melander, Ann-Carita Evaldsson, Anne Harju, Jutta Balldin, Carina Berkhuizen, Tanja Joelsson, Maria Ojala and Jonas Risberg. Members of the international advisory board are Lia Karsten, Pia Christensen, Sarah Mills, Susan Danby, Ann-Carita Evaldsson and Karin Aronsson.

Medverkande forskare: Danielle Ekman Ladru (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga institutionen, Stockholms universitet).

A citywide classrooom: Time-space aspects of a mobile preschool pedagogy, 2016-2019

In contemporary Sweden, children increasingly grow up in urban environments. Simultaneously, spaces for children in the city – including (pre)school yard spaces – are decreasing which in children spending more time indoors. Children’s active participation in urban spaces is crucial for their sense of belonging in the society. This is especially important in today’s divided cities where children from different backgrounds seldom meet. An additional choice of preschool has emerged in local school markets today; the mobile preschool. This is a preschool practice in a bus that on daily basis travels to different locations within and around the city. The mobile preschool is regarded as desirable for children’s development and learning due to its scope for outdoor learning, especially in green areas and nature. Findings from a pilot study show that navigating the city and nearby places by bus, seems to give the mobile preschool children a feeling that they know the city, and the mobile preschool can be said to ‘bring children to the city’ as well as ‘bring the city to the children’. Research on the mobile preschool’s implications for children’s mobility and learning in the city is however lacking.

The overall aim of the project is to examine how Swedish mobile preschools use the city as an educational space for children. To answer this overall aim, we pose the following research questions: 

  • What kinds of spaces in the city do mobile preschools visit and how do children and teachers navigate and participate in these spaces?
  • What are the affordances and constraints for children’s learning and interaction in educational activities and daily routines within different locations in mobile preschools?
  • What does it mean to be a ‘mobile preschool child’ in terms of transitions in and out in a mobile preschool?  
  • How do different municipalities in Sweden organize the mobile preschools and what are the social and cultural reasons for and implications of this?

The project is designed as a longitudinal ethnographic research combining theories of time-spatial organization, mobility and learning. We start with a national quantitative survey in order to create a general understanding of the phenomenon as well as to collect information as about existing mobile preschools in Sweden in general; regarding geographical spread, organization, time-spatial organization, choice of destinations etc. as well as how different spaces in the city are used for learning and interaction. The mapping will also lead to selection of two mobile preschools for the longitudinal qualitative part. The selection will be on based on buses that navigate the city differently and have a variety regarding children’s socio-economic and ethnical backgrounds. Fieldwork will be running over one and a half year, during the preparatory training when a group of children join the mobile preschool, participate during an academic year and transfer to the preschool class. Methods used are participant observations, video recordings, formal interviews and informal talk as well as GPS-tracking of the bus and the children.

The project will bring new knowledge about a growing but not yet researched phenomenon - the mobile preschool – as well as how preschool age children navigate, participate and learn in the city. The project will also contribute to the field of research be combining theoretical perspectives in a fruitful and innovative way. 

Tidigare forskningsprojekt

Urbana barndomar. Tidsrumslig organisering av vardagslivet inom familjer 

Katarina Gustafson i samarbete med Danielle Ekman Ladru, Uppsala Universitet.

Mobila förskolan som social praktik och pedagogiskt rum

Katarina Gustafson & Danielle Ekman Ladru

Små barns meningsskapande med lärplattor

Farzaneh Moinian

Fristående skolors arbete med elever i behov av särskilt stöd

Projektansvarig
Claes Nilholm
Delprojekt
Ann-Carita Evaldsson, UU, Eva Hjörne, GU, Katarina Gustafson, UU
Finansiär
Vetenskapsrådet, UVK
Projektperiod
2010-2014

Speciella yrken? - ett projekt om speciallärares och specialpedagogers arbete och utbildning

Projektansvarig
Kerstin Göransson, MH
Delprojekt
Claes Nilholm, UU, Katarina GustafsonAnn-Carita Evaldsson, UU
Finansiär
Vetenskapsrådet
Projektperiod
2012-2015

En skola för avvikare: En studie av undervisningspraktiker och identitetsformering i särskilda undervisningsgrupper.

Ann-Carita Evaldsson & Johanna Svahn

Skolungdomens vapenövningar: en studie av den förändrade synen på barn och unga samt barns och ungdomars relation till vapen och militär verksamhet under 1800- och 1900-talen

Esbjörn Larsson