Finland early childhood education
Pepa Ódena

In the centers, you are not taught, you learn. The children learn through playing. This philosophy is put on practice all we visited schools, in the teachers speech , in all that we see.
The interior spaces have a lot of facilities.
Daily activities fill most of child time and the mark the need of don't be stricts with the duration of these activities, specialy in eat or sleep.
They stay for a long time outside, even if it's cold (minus -15ºC). We were surprised with the calm atmosphere between the children and the adults.

The primary school starts when the child are 7 years old.

The services for the kids under 7 years old are financed with public funds and they are registered in the social services system.
On a national level the policy for providing services depends on the Ministry of social and health services and the councils are responsable on a local level.

Päiväkoti. Centres for kids under 7 years old, full time, an for children 7 years upper in free time activities extra-curricular.
They offer full time or half a day (middle journey). Some of those centers are open 24 hours . They depend on social services.

Esiopetus. Pre-school services to prepare for the primary school, for 6 year olds. This class can be in Päiväkoti or in the schools. They depend on the educational system. It's optional and free, all the children can attend for a year before starting in primary school. They work 4 hours every day. They close in time. The groups are stable.

Avoin Päiväkoti. Open doors centers. They offer different oportunities for games and socialitation.

Perhepäivähoito. It's a familiar atention system for 0 to 7 years old kids and over. The family workers depend on councils and they must study 250 hours of basic education. There is a supervisor for every 30 workers.

Leikkitoiminta o Leikkipuisto. Play centers , with different kinds of space and activities organized (interior, exterior) . The children have to go with a family member.
Some of these centers are private. Most of them receive council funds.

The city (200.000 h) has 87 päiväkoti, for children under 7 years old, wich cater for about 7250 kids. 20% schooling under 3 attend school . Nowadays, there are not as many places as in the 90s.
The emphasis is on achieving the quality with small groups of pupils. They emphasize flexibility in the services and family participation.
The centers are open o lot of hours to cater for the needs of the family.
For every group of 12 children from 0 to 3 years old, there are 3 adults (1 teacher , 2 nurses-educator)
For every grou of 21 children from 3 to 6 years old, there are 3 adults (1 teacher , 2 nurses-educator).
The adults from each group, hold a meeting each week. All the workers at the center, have a meeting every month.
There are 3 centers in the city which are open on national holidays , sundays and at nights. They receive about 160 children.
The perhepäivähoito, there are 200 family social workers and they take care of about 1035 children.
There are 16 Avoin päiväkoti wich receive 317 children , 77 of them with special needs.
There are 482 nursery teachers ; 34 special needs teachers; 578 nurses -45 of them work in special needs-; 250 familiar workers and 5 people who supervise the family social workers.

There are places in those centres for all the children whose parents apply s and they are always near home.

They pay about 200 euros a month.

All the services are municipal, except 9 private centers which offer some specialitation. (music...)


The municipal centers take care of 22.718 children under 7 years old (65% of children 0-6 years old)

The 383 municipal Päiväkoti, receive 19.856 pupils, about 31,8% of children 0-6 years old. Everybody who apply can go to the centers for a maximum of 4 month or two weeks if necessary.

Normally the groups are full time (8-10 hours daily ) in the school, but there are some part-time groups (midlle)(5 hours maximum)

Ratio adults/children:
" 0 to 3 years old, 3 adults (1 teacher and 2 nurses) for every 12 pupils.
" 3 to 6 years old, 3 adults (1 teacher and 2 nurses) for every 20 pupils.

The annual expenditure on each pupil is about 7500 euros. The families pay about 18%, it depends of the family's income.
The quote can be free or 200 euros in a month maximum.

The esiopetus, preparatory centers/ services for primary school, for 6 years old children are optional and free.
Ratio adults/children: 1 teacher form each 14 pupils and 2 teachers for 26 pupils.
Most esiopetus are in the päiväkoti. They receive 4782 kids (93,4% of 0 to 6 years old children). They works 4 hours daily.

The 584 familiar workers (perhepäivähoito) , take care of 2071 children.

The Leikkitoiminta, are exterior play centers and are a speciality of Helsinki. There are 3 or 4 people working in each center. The children go with an adult . The activities are outiside in the playgrounds and gardens. They are free and it is not necessary take a place. It's necessary to register the boy or girl if they have a snack and it cost about 25,23 in a month
Those play centers are open from 6,15h in the morning to 17,30 in the afternoon.
There are 67 leikkitoiminta in the city. During the day they can have about 14.000 children (with 2500 children simultaneous maximum )
Most of the services are municipal but there are about 53 privates with 114 private workers. Those private centers receive 1073 children (3,5% of 0 to 6 years old kids)