Barnehage (Childcare/Daycare/Preschool/Kindergarten)

The national closing date for applications at most daycare institutions (municipal and non-municipal) is February 1(in some municipalities March 1) and must be made for an entire kindergarten year (August – June/July).

Therefore, it is advisable to plan for day care services well ahead of time and to check out non-municipal private facilities that often operate under more flexible conditions. The municipality can provide an overview and counselling with regards to public and private day care options available in your neighbourhood.

Enrolment applications are internet based and the child’s personal number (personnummer) is required in order to apply.

It can be possible to register your child after the deadline and without the child’s personal number (personnummer). In order to do this, contact the municipality where you are living.

Your child’s daycare will be connected to your home address. If you move out of your municipality you will be at risk of losing your child’s daycare place and will have to file a new application in your new municipality of residence.

A national maximum price scheme for participation in day-care programs has been adopted. The price of enrolment in an ordinary day-care institution is not to exceed NOK 3040 per month (price accurate as of 2019, this amount can change yearly). This excludes food costs, which can be from NOK 200 to 800 per month.

Some daycare centres may allow for part-time spots (80%, 60%, 50%, 40% and 20%). The monthly fees for the daycare service and food costs will then be adjusted accordingly.

There are also discounts for siblings attending daycare at the same time.

Check your respective municipality’s (kommune) website for information on all childcare/preschools (barnehager) in your area and the application form. Look under ‘barnehage‘, ‘søke barnehage plass‘.

The Government’s objective for its kindergarten policy is the provision of kindergarten places of high quality and at a low price. Kindergartens shall provide children with good opportunities for development and activity in close understanding and collaboration with the children’s homes.

Kindergartens are pedagogical institutions that comprise care, upbringing, play and learning. According to the needs of the families, the kindergartens offer full-time or part-time places. Besides being a good pedagogical institution for children, the kindergartens also take care of children while their parents work or study. The aim to build enough kindergarten and the developing work in the institutions are given top priority by the government.

Your child had a right to be enrolled in a kindergarten (barnehage) from August if your child is one year old latest by the end of August that year you are applying. If your child is under a year old, you may be offered a place if there are any vacant places. Childcare & Preschool from ages 1 to 5 is a voluntary service and you are responsible for payment.

The kindergarten is to provide children with good development and activities in close understanding with the children’s homes and take into account: the children’s age, gender, functioning, social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Other offers from the kommune:

  • Family kindergarten (familiebarnehage) – an offer where small groups of children gather in a private home.
  • Open kindergarten (åpen barnehage) – where you meet other people who are usually home with the children, at your own preferred time. The open kindergarten offers children and their caretakers the opportunity to interact with one another.
  • Family Groups (Familiegrupper) – informal playgroups formed by homemakers. Meetings are in one another’s homes. Check around in your neighbourhood for such a playgroup or set one up yourself.
  • Children Park (Barnepark) – Children are left to play outdoors in a daycare playground under the supervision of adults. The park usually consists of one shed which houses tools and toys and a toilet. Barnepark is usually much cheaper than a kindergarten.

Nature Kindergarten/Outdoors kindergarten (Naturbarnehage/Friluftsbarnehage)

Parents can also opt to have their children placed in a kindergarten which is held almost exclusively outdoors, where the focus is on nature and the surroundings. Whatever the weather, children are encouraged to play, explore and learn in a natural environment. The adult supervision is meant to assist rather than lead.

A distinctive feature of these kindergartens is the emphasis on playing imaginative games using whatever resources and ideas come to mind and also playing with toys that are fashioned out of objects that can be found in nature, rather than commercial toys. These kindergartens are meant to fulfill the same basic purpose as other kindergartens, namely, to care for, stimulate, and educate young children.
Each kindergarten is different but these are possible activities that could occur:

  • Playing imaginative games using whatever resources and ideas come to mind.
  • Building shelters or other large structures from branches, with the help of other children and adults.
  • Counting objects or looking for mathematical patterns.
  • Memory games using naturally available objects.
  • Listening to stories; singing songs and rhymes.
  • Arranging items to make a picture, or building a toy.
  • Playing with and learning about farm animals.
  • Drawing pictures.
  • Climbing trees and exploring the forest.

Alternatives to Kindergarten

If your child is unable to get a spot in the preschools, you might have to look at other options, such as:

  • Staying home

Should your circumstances allow, you can stay home with your child/ren. If your child/ren is between one and two years of age and you are a registered member of the National Social Insurance Scheme, you will be eligible to receive cash-for-care benefits. The condition for receiving cash-for-care benefit is that the child does not have a full-time place in a kindergarten that receives public subsidies. A full-time place entails that it is agreed that the child is at the day-care centre for 20 hours or more per week. If the agreed attendance is shorter, 50 per cent case-for-care benefit may be provided. Cash-for-care benefits can be granted for a maximum of 11 months. Contact NAV for more information.

  • Dagmamma (Nanny)

A dagmamma looks after children in her own home or in your home. She is not connected to any organisation and anyone can become a dagmamma, so trust your instincts and check references thoroughly. There are dagmammas who work ‘white’ (meaning they are a registered company and pay tax) and dagmammas who work ‘black’ (meaning they do not pay tax). Payment for a full time dagmamma (Mondays-Fridays, 0800 to 1600) ranges from 4000 – 8500 NOK a month. There is no control over the fees so each dagmamma can demand their own rate. Some dagmammas are home with their own child/ren and look after other people’s children in addition while they wait for a spot for their child/ren in kindergarten. Dagmammas can look after 1 to 6 children. You can look for a dagmamma through your social networks or place advertisements in newspapers and notice boards in your community.

  • Barnepark (Child park)

A barnepark is a outdoor play area where there are some adults watching several children. You can leave your child there for a few hours. The adults watching the children are, however, not qualified. The children will play outside for the duration that they are at the barnepark and will only go indoors for meals and bathroom breaks. Fees differ from municipality to municipality so check your municipality’s website for more information.

  • Au pair

If you are Norwegian or married to one, you are eligible to hire an au pair. An au pair is a young adult from another country who lives with your family and provides in-home childcare services. Note that au pairs can only work up to 5 hours a day, in exchange for the opportunity to live with a Norwegian family and to learn the Norwegian culture. If both parents are foreign, you are not eligible to hire an au pair however there are such families who have managed to hire au pairs so you might want to check this option out. You would probably be able to hire an au pair who is already in Norway, has an au pair visa and is looking for a new host family.