The main objective of early childhood education and care (ECEC) is to meet children’s need for care and play and promote learning and formative development as a basis for all-round development.
ECEC is not compulsory in Norway, but children are entitled to a place in a publicly subsidised kindergarten from the age of 1 year. Children can attend ECEC (International Standard Classification of Education level 0) until the age of 6 years, when they start primary school. Municipalities are responsible for assigning a place to parents or guardians and securing enough kindergarten places to meet the demand.
The majority of children attend kindergarten (centre-based ECEC provision). In order to cater for the various needs of all families, there are also family kindergartens that provide ECEC in a home-based environment. Kindergartens are under the overall responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Research.The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is responsible for the development of kindergartens.
The Framework Plan for Kindergartens sets learning content and tasks across the whole ECEC phase, for both centre- and home-based and both public and private provision. According to the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, 50 % of children attend a private kindergarten. Within the same municipality, private kindergartens receive the same funding as public kindergartens do. The owner of the kindergarten is responsible for ensuring that it is managed in accordance with the law and regulations. The municipality is responsible for the inspection of both private and public kindergartens.
Se also the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's 2015 thematic review of early education and care policy in Norway.