Farewell to a barnehage, thanks for the good years

No matter where you are in the world, choosing a childcare place for young kids is a decision you take a bit seriously. We arrived here 4 years ago and with a hell of a lot of good luck more than good management, we hit gold. We found a great barnehage or kindergarten for our 2 kids. We couldn’t even pronounce the name of it when we got the acceptance letter, Rudshøgda Kanvas-naturbarnehage but we were in a ‘winging it’ phase of life. We were embracing this with the same clueless confidence we did our move to Norway 5 months earlier after 2 weekend trips.

Almost four years later, we’re coming to the end of our era with the barnehage this month as Nora goes off to school in autumn.  So I wanted to say my own form of rambling musing thanks for the role they’ve played for this family.

So here it goes, from us to all of the voksne or grown-up people in that big brown one-story wooden building down the road.

Thanks for taking in our 2 kids that September back in 2013, after they had been home with me for 5 months in this new country. The time had come for me to let them go so that they could build lives for themselves in barnehage. They didn’t have a word of Norwegian and the 4 year old in particular was rattled at this great change from his world in London.  The parents could be heard rattling from a kilometre down the road but we took comfort from seeing that you seemed to know what you were doing.

Thanks for speaking enough English to them initially so that they were not totally lost, enough to help them feel secure but not too much to stop them learning Norwegian. Thanks for reading English books sometimes so they felt included. They couldn’t understand the other kids but they knew that you had them covered, you could understand them and were looking out for them. My son said recently that the first words of Norwegian he learned were ‘Ikke følger etter oss‘ which was the other kids telling him to stop following them. He was running after them, desperate to find friends and they, being kids, wanted to get rid of him because they couldn’t make any sense of him, talking in this weird English language.  Kids are resilient as we all know but still, he rarely got up in the morning and said he didn’t want to go to barnehage ( well, in fairness, he did, about 4 times but that was good going in my book). He embraced it because of you, the great teachers, who wrapped him and his sister with the love and support they needed to sustain them as they tried to settle in.

Thanks for letting them be together as much as they needed to be. They relied a lot on each other in the early days and you just let them be, with the wisdom to know that they would find their own small feet there in time.

Thanks for helping them to learn Norwegian. Let’s face it, neither parent was speaking Norwegian at that time, the kids were coming home to an English-speaking environment every day so they learned it from you.  They learned it from other kids too but you were the ones who answered their questions when they didn’t know what something meant in Norwegian, all day every day.

Thank you for teaching them to love the outdoors, regardless of rain, snow, wind or sunshine. My daughter gave us all a telling-off one Saturday recently that we hadn’t had enough fresh air that day to be healthy, we had only been out for 2 hours in the morning….. a pathetic effort in her book.  That one is definitely on you and we are grateful for it (most of the time anyway…).

Thanks for telling us the small things in the beginning, from what clothes to buy to keep them warm and dry, to the most reliable brands to use, the Norwegian washing liquid with magical powers to not shrink woolens to dolls clothes, and so much more. We knew no-one here back then and had no real idea about Nordic winters not to mention naturbarnehager  or nature-kindergartens.

Thanks for the breaks when you took them overnight.  First there was the overnight in the barnehage when they were 4, then you went hardcore with the 5 year olds taking them off on a 6 km hike up the mountains to Nordmarka followed by 2 whole nights away at skiskole or ski school. Then, let’s not forget the orrleiktur when they slept in the wilds to get up at dawn for a glimpse at grouse near a lake. Each time, you took care of them, fed them, kept them safe,  and brought them back to us tired, a little bit tougher and so happy and proud.  I have to also give you credit here for teaching us parents a thing or two about chilling out and letting go. It was clear from the onset that we’d be the neurotic demanding parents if we were ringing to check the state of survival up the mountains.  The kids were having great fun without us.  Have a glass of whatever you fancy and deal with it, parents. So by the time they got home, the parents and the kids were all proud of ourselves. Absolutely ingenious.

Thanks for making them spring out of bed every morning at 6 am, sometimes even 5 am because they were looking forward to their day. There’s been many a morning when we could have done with less enthusiasm on this one but I’m hoping we can come back to you for advice when they’re teenagers if the early-morning lust for life wanes.

And then there were the one-to-one parent meetings. The most memorable for me were their pre-school meetings attended by child and parent. You and they had the meeting, the parent added a few comments here and there. As parents, we were just needed to endorse things every now and again and sign a few papers. As with everything you did, the child, their input and views were central to all and we parents just needed to do as we were told sometimes.  In fact, most of the time.  Thanks for putting our kids first.

And thanks for all the other experiences, gutting fish, whittling sticks, the Kanvas festivals in Frognerparken and all the others at barnehagen, the campfires in the forest, the multi-cultural environment, the hundreds of photos, the making their clothes as dirty as could be from rolling around in I’ve-never-been-quite-sure-what-but-the-washing- machine-is-miraculously-still-working.

I could name names but I would have to name all of you. You did of course know what you were doing, at every turn. We will try to cultivate their love of the outdoors, we’ve already bought the bird book. We’re signing up for the course on which forest berries are edible and which could make us regret finding them.  We will be under pressure but I’m sure we’ll manage.

We will miss you.

Tusen hjertelig takk.



  1. Absolultely wonderful description of wonderful times. I wish we had barnehage in Ireland!

    • Midlife migrant

      Thanks Linda, they are special alright – partially publicly funded and well-regulated which helps hugely. However, it’s the child-centred ethos that makes them shine I think. Yours, MLM.

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