In this study I explore parents’ perceptions of kindergarten as a social institution for the provision of early childhood education and care (ECEC). Global reforms of this important part of the welfare state are a starting point for the research. Redefining welfare ideology and minimizing the social burden on the state leads to the public and scientific debate about the value of early childhood education and its role in investing in human development. In-depth interviews with 30 mothers were analyzed by coding and category clustering. The results show that parents understand the service provided by a kindergarten as complex, aimed primarily at daytime children’s education and development in a specifically organized educational space performed by professional educators. The greatest parental value is children’s opportunity to be socialized or "learn how to communicate," to resolve conflicts and to find compromises, and to relate their behavior with group-mates and peers followed by the development of life skills, surviving with routines, as well as the associated skill initiative. At the same time, the main professional competence of the educator is seen in her/his ability to create a positive emotional climate, an atmosphere of openness for the realization of a child’s individuality and to create a space for comfortable communication with parents.


Early Childhood Education and Care, Early Childhood Education Policy, Preschool, Parents, In-Depth Interview, Parents’ Narratives, Russia

Author Bio(s)

Olga Savinskaya is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the National Research University Higher School of Economics-Moscow. Her research and writing focuses on inequality, social policy, oppression and empowerment of children; early childhood and preschool education, young families, family policy, work-life balance. She is a mixed methods researcher. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Olga B. Savinskaya, Higher School of Economics, Department of Social Sciences, 9/11 Myasnitskaya St., Moscow 101000, Russian Federation. Phone: +7 916 1637253; Email: osavinskaya@hse.ru.


Preliminary drafts of this paper were presented at the Annual Conference “Children and the Society” by Russian Sociological Society. She also wants to thank Sally St. George and Olga Bessolova for their insightful ideas and comments that makes my paper worthy for publishing, and Anna Istomina, Tatiana Larkina, Maria Balakireva, and Anastasia Tsymbalenko for their help with interviewing and transcribing.

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