Preschool is intended to lay the foundations for the first part of your child’s lifelong learning.
Children are to be offered good pedagogic activities. Preschool is intended to be safe, fun and instructive for all those who attend it. Children are to be given the opportunity of learning through playing, creating and exploring – on their own, in groups or together with adults.
Preschool is a separate form of schooling. Preschool activities comprise education and teaching. The teaching is carried out by preschool teachers, but other staff can also be involved in promoting the children’s development and learning.
The staff plan pedagogic activities in such a way that children get to create, learn and explore. This can be done through play, cooperation, painting, woodworking and singing. Creating security for both children and parents is an important part of preschools’ mission.
Who attends preschool?
Preschool is voluntary. Municipalities must offer preschool for children from the age of 1:
- When their parents are working or studying.
- When their parents are unemployed or on parental leave.
Children whose parents are unemployed or on parental leave must be offered a preschool place for at least 3 hours a day, or 15 hours a week. Some municipalities offer more.
Municipalities must also offer preschool places to:
- All children from the year they turn 3 (public preschool, 3 hours a day).
- Children in need of special support.
There are both municipal and independent preschools. Independent preschools may be run e.g. as a parental cooperative or a staff cooperative, by a foundation or a limited-liability company.
Municipalities are responsible for ensuring that there are preschools and that children are offered places in them. Independent preschools are an alternative to the municipal offering.
Municipalities approve independent preschools and are responsible for ensuring that their activities fulfil the requirements for good quality and safety. The same rules apply for independent preschools as for municipal ones.
What laws govern preschool?
Preschool activities are governed by the Education Act and the curriculum.
The Education Act stipulates that:
- The groups of children have a suitable size and composition, and that children be offered a good environment in other respects.
- There must be preschool teachers, and there may be other staff with training or experience such that the children’s development and learning are promoted.
- Premises and equipment adequate to fulfilling the aims of preschool must be available.
Three hours a day of public preschool attendance is free of charge from the autumn term of the year in which your child turns 3. For further attendance, the municipality or the education provider determines the fees. The Education Act states that fees must be reasonable.
Currently all municipalities use a system with a maximum fee. This means that an upper limit (“maxtaxa”) is set for how high fees can become for different types of families.