BACK TO SCHOOL, THE NORWEGIAN WAY

Erin, Hedgehog Dryer COO and mother of four children (ages 1, 7, 9, and 11), provides a snapshot of getting ready for the new school year in the mountains of Norway.

Some aspects of school seem the same, but some aspects of school life for kids are quite different.

When I grew up in California in the 1980s, going “back to school” was an exciting time. My parents were both educators and thought it was important to help us stock up on a few essentials, including school supplies and a new outfit to wear on the first day of school.

Fast-forward 30 years, and I am now a mother of four children who have mostly grown up in Hemsedal, a small ski town in the mountains of Norway. Some aspects of school seem the same, but some aspects of school life for kids are quite different. I thought it would be fun to highlight some key aspects of school life for kids in Hemsedal. (Note: I recognize these may not reflect everyone´s reality, but this is a snapshot from my own experience.)

The food

When I was a child, I ate lunch every day in the school cafeteria. In Norway, a lunchbox is called a “matpakke” and is prepared in advance to bring to school. (Many Norwegian adults bring their own matpakke to work as well!) The cornerstone of this meal is a simple open-faced sandwich with sliced bread covered with some liver pate, butter and cheese, butter and brown cheese, sliced meat, or jam. It may also have yogurt, fruit, vegetables, or other healthy snacks. No sweets allowed, except for special occasions like if there is a hiking or ski trip planned.

The weather

In my hometown in California, it is often over 100°F (38°C) from late spring to early autumn and rarely ever rains. In Hemsedal, it can snow anytime between October and May, with peak snow between January and April. Kids wear lots of layers, including wool long-sleeved shirts and pants, fleece, wool sweaters, wool socks or tights, boots, mittens or gloves, a neck warmer or balaclava, and hats. They also wear either a thick jacket and snow pants or a snow-proof, water-proof onesie.

Tips:
  • Did you know that Norwegian babies sleep outside in their strollers? Read here how they dress up warmly to stay cozy while they sleep in Polarn O. Pyret’s terrific “Winter Dressing Tips for Kids” guide. The guide includes how to dress for winter for kids of all ages, from babies in strollers to kids walking on their own.
  • It´s a lot of work to keep winter clothes organized and dry. Hedgehog Dryer is a great asset for families with small kids who spend time in wet or snowy weather. For example, Hedgehog Wall is a family-friendly drying and organizing tool that lets you dry wet gloves, shoes and boots in just minutes.
  • Outdoor activities

    In California, on the rare days that it does rain, kids stay inside during recess and lunch. In Norway, the kids are outside all the time, regardless of the weather! The kids learn early to carry their backpacks and gear with them and go on organized class hikes and ski trips regularly. The Scandinavian saying, “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!” means, “There´s no bad weather, just bad clothing!” and Norwegians embrace being outside in the fresh air year-round.

    What are the schools like where you live? How does the weather impact what kids wear and do? Is your kids´ school experience much different than your own?

    Erin Eriksson

    COO

    Hedgehog AS, Winner of the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2022