Time regulation as institutional condition for children’s outdoor play and cultural formation in kindergarten

Hanne Værum Sørensen, Åsta Birkeland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContribution to book/anthologyResearchpeer-review


Time regulation is an important aspect of the everyday life in any kindergarten and has an impact on which activities are given priority. Outdoor activities are part of the daily schedule in most kindergartens. In this case study, the outdoor playtime in one kindergarten in China and one in Norway is investigated, based on the understanding that children’s cultural formation in outdoor play takes form in a dialectic relation between children’s interests and motives and societal, institutional and weather conditions. The aim of the article is to identify how time regulations provide conditions for children’s play and cultural formation during outdoor playtime. We ask: How does the institutional time regulation interplay with the pedagogical practice and children’s activities in the outdoor playtime?
This research uses a cultural-historical approach and draw on Hedegaard’s (2009) concepts of development and cultural formation as an individual, institutional and societal process. The methods in the case study are participant observations; video and photos from the playgrounds, interviews with the teachers and time studies. The empirical material from the Chinese kindergarten consists of three hours of video and more than 100 photos taken during a week in March 2017 and the same amount of material from the Norwegian kindergarten. The dialectical interplay between the institutional time regulation and children’s engagement in outdoor activities is the unit of analysis in this study.
Preliminary findings indicate that the kindergarten teachers in China as well as in Norway aim at organizing the outdoor playtime for the best of the children and to adjust the pedagogical content and the time schedule to traditions, values and conditions in either country. Group activities and teacher-initiated activities are prioritized in the outdoor time in the Chinese setting while more self-initiated activities and a longer time for transition between indoor and outdoor activities are provided in the Norwegian kindergarten. Focusing on the time regulation of the outdoor playtime this chapter contributes to knowledge about the interplay between institutional conditions and children’s activities and cultural formation in outdoor play.
Translated title of the contributionTidsskema som institutionel betingelse for børns udeleg og dannelse i børnehaven
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren’s Cultural Formation through Outdoor activities. : Børns dannelse gennem udeaktiviteter
Publication statusIn preparation - 2021


  • children and youth

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