Hungary has experienced significant political, economic, demographic and social changes since the end of Soviet domination in the 1990s. The gradual move towards liberal-democracy has been accompanied by growing emphasis on individualism, choice and diversity. Universal kindergarten provision for 5-6 year olds is a long established feature of the Hungarian education system, but little is known about parental choice (Török, 2004). A case study (Yin, 2004) of factors influencing parental choice and satisfaction was undertaken in one Hungarian town. This was based on a survey of 251 parents of children attending both mixed-age and same-age groups across 12 kindergartens. Parents suggested that the most important influences were geographical location and the individual pedagogue(s). Given that traditionally each pedagogue follows ‘their’ cohort from kindergarten entry to primary school, their influence appears heightened. Although generally satisfied with their chosen arrangement, parents from same-age groups expressed significantly more confidence and satisfaction, particularly in relation to cognitive development and preparation for school. Parents appear less convinced about the trend towards mixed-age groups and questions are raised about sufficiency of evidence of their benefits in a Hungarian context and the driving factors behind change.
- same age groups
- mixed-age groups