NAFOL profile: Natallia Hanssen

Natallia B. Hanssen. Foto.After having completed the choir conductor and music teacher education in Molodechno Music College and Education at the Belarusian State Pedagogical University in 2003, I started studying Norwegian language and psychology at the University of Oslo. In 2006, fate brought me to Bodø, and this was the beginning of my interest for special needs education. I took specialization in special needs education and later a Master’s degree in adapted education with specialization in special needs education at UiN (Bodø), titled: «What shall we do today?”. This is a case study of music’s influence on the development of 3-4 years old children’s vocabulary and word comprehension, and was completed in 2011.

My findings from the Master’s thesis suggest that many elements in music can have significant effect in the effort of developing and stimulating children’s vocabulary and comprehension. I believe that it is particularly important that teachers’ views on their own practices are of importance. The teachers I observed acknowledged that there are countless ways of singing, making music and listening, and that we all have the ability to do that. According to staff in the kindergarten where I conducted my fieldwork, this gave them new ideas about forms for systematic language stimulating work in the kindergarten.

My education and professional experience as educational psychological advisor, choir conductor, teacher, university lecturer, have increased my interest in special needs education, which has led me into my PhD project. I want to immerse myself in the field, and find out more about the educational practices related to preschool children with language impairment.

The study has the exact intention of bringing further the practice and experiences from Belarusian and Norwegian kindergartens. There is very little research on this, and I would like to emphasize that this topic deserves to be investigated closer.

The thesis is article based:

  • Substudy 1 from Belarus reviews a view of the importance of a communication-oriented perspective on children’s language training, and considers that children with various challenges need another offer (particularly kindergartens).
  • Substudy 2 from Norway reviews a view that places particular emphasis on free childhood  without any obligations, free unfolding through play, and a view that is all about equality, inclusion and kindergartens adapted for everyone.
  • Substudy 3 will attempt to characterize disparities and differences between Norway and Belarus, and analyze the strengths / weaknesses and advantages / disadvantages of Norwegian and Belarusian special needs education practices. It will help to shed light on different forms of practice. The purpose of this study is to contribute to an improvement of the special educational practice in kindergarten.

Keywords: special needs education, language impairment, kindergarten, preschool children, music, language stimulation, inclusion, tacit knowledge.

Abstract (doc file)