Schools of the World: How Danish schools screen preschoolers

By | 2017-08-17T18:54:55+00:00 June 28th, 2017|For teachers|0 Comments

When Danish kids start school after kindergarten, they are screened for 3 months before being divided into separate classrooms. This is done to ensure the best dynamics, collaborative environment and to reduce conflicts. We’ve looked into how it is done, and what effect it has.

How the screening takes place and why it is done

The Danish school system is set up a bit differently than most others. Danish kids attend kindergarten from age 3 until the summer of the year they turn 6. Then, they are enrolled in “Folkeskolen” (“The people’s school”) throughout 0 – 9th grade. For those who need an extra year before moving on to Youth School level, there is also a 10th grade.

In 2011, the Ministry of Education decided to change the way kids transition from kindergarten to school or “Folskeskolen.” Before that, kids would exit kindergarten in June or July and start the 0th grade mid-August. Due to the amount of students, schools typically had several classrooms running the same course curriculums simultaneously for each grade level. So, kids would be divided randomly into classrooms. The new law would change that.

From 2011, kids began transitioning from kindergarten to school in the beginning of April. The period from April to August (when they begin grade 0) is referred to as preschool. The purpose of starting school earlier was to ease into the transition and more importantly, for the schools to have the opportunity to screen the kids in one group before deciding which kids would go to which classroom.

“作品展” share made by parent t.sassa in Japan.
Teachers can explore Creatubbles for fun projects for their own preschoolers to create.

In practice, this means that the kids start in one, big group. After the first week of getting used to being in a new environment, learning the basic rules and so on, the pedagogic staff starts to group the kids in various ways. The groupings are kept for 1 or 2 weeks in order for the staff to observe whether the kids collaborate well, or whether there are kids that should not be in the same group for collaborative or social reasons. Collaboration and the ability to play together are seen as equally important.

During preschool the kids will do various activities, including group and individual creative activities. Creatubbles is the perfect place to teach the kids how to present and collaborate, since they can share their creations and see what kids around the world are making. They could look for inspiration for Mother’s day presents (celebrated in May) such as this lovely creation, which would be a good place to start a talk about global traditions. The kids could also collaborate on creations and share them as co-creators, like this one submitted to the Hovercraft challenge.

The re-groupings continue in iterations until mid-June, when the staff are confident that they have grouped the kids in a way that makes most sense in terms of collaboration and social connections.

The effects of screening

Denmark and Finland ranked no. 1 in the most recent International Civic and Citizenship Education Study. The study involved 140,000 students, and the aim was to study how well schools all over the world prepare children for their future lives as citizens of their country and the world. It’s common for the Danish and Finnish schools to nurture children’s abilities to collaborate and create meaningful relationships, instead of solely focusing on hard skills.

The preschool screening program is just one piece of that puzzle, but one that undoubtedly has a great impact on the way kids grow at school, as it ensures the best social environment possible.

“Two mouses on a sumo dojo” was made by creator Melody in Japan, at 5 years old.
Teachers can use Creatubbles to collaborate with other preschools & preschool students around the globe.

One of the core missions of Creatubbles is to create opportunities for children to connect and interact with their peers from around the world in meaningful ways. We hope this article has sparked your curiosity to join in and help your students nurture their collaborative and social skills.

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Trine Falbe has been working professionally with Internet-related things since 2001. She is a lecturer, author, speaker and UX researcher specialising in design for children.