About Thrive by 3

What is Thrive by 3?

In Thrive by 3, a comprehensive proffesional development system is tested to support children’s development and learning. The system is based on recent research and is a way to work on quality building trough proffessional development with staff in toddler groups throughout an entire schoolyear. The goal of the study is to investigate whether the staff can become even better at promoting children’s security, well-being, learning, and language development in everyday life. Participating in Thrive by 3 does not imply a lack of quality in the participating childcare centers! On the contrary, competent teachers/staff know that one is never done learning and that everyone has opportunities to improve even more in their work by practicing even more.

The project involves observations focusing on what staff members do and say in interaction with children, feedback to the staff, as well as tailored supervision through refelsction on groups of staff from the participating toddler groups. The quality measure used is called the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), and all observations, scoring, and supervision are conducted by trained pedagogical leaders (head teachers) or directors employed by the municipalities/city parts. Three full days of seminars are held for all staff, focusing on how relationships can be adapted to children’s typical development and needs at one and two years old, in order to enhance teacher-toddler interaction quality. Through these activities, we aim to provide a common knowledge platform and a common language—a better starting point for the work you will do in the department during the schoolyear.

For parents, materials have been developed on the typical development of 1- and 2-year-olds and how they can support it. Parents also have access to this website so they can learn more about what you are working on in the departments.»

The effectiveness study

To investigate the effectiveness of Thrive by 3, the childcare centers were randomly assigned to two groups. One group received Thrive by 3 during the schoolyear 2018-2019, and the other group received Thrive by 3  the following year (in 2019-2020). The one group could therefore function as the control group in the first year. Participation in both of these groups was equally important to draw conclusions about the effectiveness.

Both teachers and staff in the daycare centers and parents filled out questionnaires. Questions for staff focused on the child’s development, temperament, and behavior, the child’s well-being inchildcare, staff’s own well-being in the childcare center, and their education and work experience. Questions for parents were related to the child’s development, temperament, and behavior, parents’ perception of the child’s well-being in the daycare center, as well as parents’ own education, employment, and finances.

The children were, of course, too young to fill out questionnaires, but saliva samples (children sucking on a cotton swab) were taken to measure the stress hormone cortisol. This was done for a random sample of children (approximately 300) to examine changes in stress levels during a day, at home and in daycare, throughout the year, and to assess whether any improved teacher-toddler interaction quality at the group level, led to lower stress levels in the children.»

Who participated in the study?

Seven municipalities/city parts in the Eastern part of Norway and in Trøndelag were involved, with between 7-16 daycare centers participating from each municipality – a total of 78 childcare centers. All toddler groups in the childcare centers were part of the quality building interventiont. In total, there were 187 toddler departments with approximately 790 staff, more than 1500 children, and their parents participating in the study. Participation was voluntary, and all staff and parents received written information and provided written consent to participate.

Why is high quality so important for toddlers?


The quality in childcare depends primarily on the quality of relationships and interactions between the adults working in the childcare and the children attending. How the adults engage with the children and create safe, stable, and stimulating environments is crucial for childcare quality and has an impact on the children’s well being, development and learning.

Quality not only matters for the child’s day-to-day well-being but also influences the child’s development long after they have left the childcare center. Good childcare quality can prevent mental difficulties and mitigate differences in areas such as language, learning, and self-regulation before  school enterance.

Those of you working in early childhood education and care, therefore, have one of society’s most important jobs!»

High childcare quality can be characterized by staff who:

  • Are warm, supportive, and caring
  • Are attentive to the child’s needs
  • Respond to verbal and non-verbal cues
  • Stimulate the child’s curiosity and desire to learn about the world

In addition, high quality  depends on:

  • Well-educated staff who are dedicated to their work with children
  • Facilities that are safe, hygienic, and accessible to parents
  • Group sizes that allow staff to interact effectively with the children
  • Professional development that ensures continuity, stability, and improvement
  • A development-oriented curriculum

In ecah toddler group, all staff will therefore work to support children’s social and emotional development by:

  • Ensuring a positive climate in the group where adults enjoy palying and interacting with the children, the children enjoy each other, and where mutual respect is shown
  • Being sensitive adults to children’s signals and ensuring that each child is seen and included, encouraged, supported, and comforted based on their needs
  • Taking the children’s perspective, adapting to them, and engaging them based on their interests
  • Providing behaviorguidance and  support by having a predictable structure and being proactive adults who focus on positive behavior, and helps regulate the children’s feelings and behavior

Children’s cognitive development and learning will be supported through the staff’s work by:

  • Actively facilitating learning and development through interaction and children’s natural exploration
  • Supporting children’s reflective abilities by providing high-quality feedback, asking questions, encouraging children to explain their thinking, providing hints for children so that they succeed in participating in, or complete a task or activity, facilitating problem-solving, developing ideas, and engaging children
  • Providing language support to the child by using varied language, expanding statements, verbalizing actions and emotions, and asking open-ended questions

Collaborators and funding

Thrive by 3 is a collaboration between the Regional Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (RBUP) East and South Norway, BI, Norwegian Business School, and the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, Department of Mental Health, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The project is led by educators, psychologists, and researchers. Funding for the project has been provided by the Research Council of Norway.