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Facts and tips for finding and comparing preschools

Engelska (ENG)

When it is time for your child to start preschool you, as a guardian, will be asked to say what you would prefer regarding the preschool your child will attend. The guide below will help you to find and compare preschools.

Förskolebarn med pedagog på 4H-gård.

Similarities and differences between preschools

All preschools operate according to the same rules, but they work in different ways. Preschools may differ, for example, in terms of the number of children, size of groups and training of staff.

The preschool curriculum states that preschool education must give your child the opportunity to develop in different areas, including language, mathematics, health and sustainable development.

Many preschools are municipal, but there are also many independent preschools which are operated by private organisers. Preschools may also use different educational orientations. Routines, outdoor environment, facilities and food may also vary between preschools.

Before choosing a preschool, consider whether any one aspect is particularly important to you or your child. Contact the preschools themselves in order to get a better idea of those you are interested in. Many preschools offer visits by appointment or hold open days.

Questions to ask the preschool

  • Can you describe how you teach?
  • How do you work with the different areas of the curriculum, such as language, mathematics, health and sustainable development?

Size and composition of preschool and groups

Preschools may be of different sizes. Some may have one group of children, while others may have many different groups. The size and composition of the groups of children may also vary. Some preschools divide children by age, while others mix children of different ages in the same group.

The size of the groups does impact your child's safety, development and learning. However, there are several other factors that influence quality, such as staff skills, staff density, the composition of the group and the indoor and outdoor environment.

About child group size and benchmarks on the Swedish National Agency for Education website (in Swedish)

Questions to ask yourself

  • Is my child happier in a larger group with many friends, or in a smaller group with fewer relationships?

Questions to ask the preschool

  • How many trained staff work in each group of children?
  • How many children are in each group?
  • Do the groups of children have common areas, separate sections or both?

Statistics on children, staff and groups, National Agency for Education website (in Swedish)

Preschool staff

Both women and men work in preschools. There are usually different professional categories: preschool teachers, child minders and other staff, such as visual, drama or music educators.

Staff qualifications may vary between preschools. For example, there may be a larger or smaller proportion of trained preschool teachers. Preschool teachers have a special responsibility in education and for the pedagogical content of teaching. The teaching is led by the preschool teachers, but child minders and other staff may also be involved.

In order to get an idea of the number of children and the number of staff in a preschool, look at the preschool's number of children per full-time employee (any part-time employees at the preschool have been converted to full-time positions).

The level of staff turnover, how the preschool handles the need for substitute staff and how staff develop their skills may also vary from one preschool to another.

Questions to ask the preschool

    • How many preschool teachers are there in the preschool?
    • What do you do when you need to bring in substitute staff?
    • How do you work to develop the skills of your staff?

    Municipal and independent preschools

    There are municipal as well as independent preschools, although most preschools are operated by the municipality. Independent preschools may be run by, for example, a limited company, a religious community, a foundation, an economic association or as a parents' cooperative.

    Teaching must always be non-denominational, i.e. free of religious elements.

    Questions to ask yourself

    • What preschools are there close to where I live?
    • Does it matter to me if my child attends a municipal or independent preschool?
    • Does it matter to me in what form the preschool is run, for example as a parent cooperative or by a religious community?

    Questions to ask the preschool

      • If the preschool is run by a religious community, is this reflected in activities and if so, how?
      • If it is a parent cooperative, how much am I as a guardian expected to help with cooking, cleaning and other chores?

      Pedagogical orientations in preschool

      Preschools may be operated according to, or be inspired by, different educational orientations. This means that they design their daily activities based on different ideas about people and how children learn.

      Regardless of the pedagogical orientation of a preschool, it must comply with the preschool curriculum. The aim is that all children attending preschool feel safe, enjoy themselves and develop.

      Read about several examples of educational orientations below:

      Questions to ask yourself

      • What is important to me and my child in terms of educational orientation?

      Questions to ask the preschool

        • Do you work with any particular educational orientation?
        • What are the core values of the orientation you apply?
        • What does the orientation mean in practice, on a typical day at preschool?

        Starting preschool

        When your child starts preschool, the first few days usually consist of an introduction or orientation. This normally means that you, as the guardian, will be together with your child at the preschool. During this period your child will gradually get used to being at the preschool without their guardian. Different preschools have different procedures for orientation and how long this period lasts.

        Questions to ask yourself

        • Do I have any special requests for the orientation?

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • What does introduction consist of?
        • What is expected of me as a guardian?
        • Can my child have a longer introduction if necessary?

        Contact with the guardian

        The preschool is to work closely and in a spirit of mutual confidence with you, the guardian. Preschools may have different routines for keeping in touch with guardians. Some preschools send weekly letters describing what the children have been doing during the week. Others provide information via a digital instrument such as an app.

        Staff will also usually tell you a little about your child's day when you collect them from preschool. Guardians are also welcome to ask questions. You will also be invited to at least one parent-teacher conference per year. A parent-teacher conference is a conversation between preschool staff and the child's guardian(s) about the child's development and learning. The preschool may also organise different types of meetings where you can meet other guardians.

        Questions to ask yourself

        • What is important to me in my contact with the preschool?

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • How do I learn about what you do and how my child is doing?

        Children who need special support

        In preschool, all children must have the opportunity to develop, play and learn according to their abilities and needs. Education must take into account, and be adapted to, all the children in the preschool. Children who need special support for physical, mental or other reasons will receive the help they need.

        Right to special support in preschool, Swedish National Agency for Education website (in Swedish)

        Questions to ask yourself

        • Does my child have special needs that require special support?

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • How does the preschool work with children in need of special support?
        • How does the preschool work with regard to the specific support that my child needs?
        • What resources does the preschool devote to special support for my child, for example in the form of staff?

        Preschool facilities

        Preschool facilities and premises may vary greatly. For example, some preschools may have movement rooms, a studio or perhaps a workshop. It is usually possible to visit preschools before choosing. This enables you to take a look at the facilities, for example where the children eat, rest and the play opportunities that are offered.

        Questions to ask yourself

        • What is important for me and my child when it comes to preschool facilities?

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • How do you use your facilities, for example for teaching, playing or eating?
        • Do you have any special rooms, such as a movement room, studio or workshop?

        The outdoor environment at the preschool

        The preschool’s outdoor environment can promote children's health, development and learning in a number of ways. Some preschools have large enclosed gardens, while others have smaller ones. There may be playground equipment, sandboxes, swings or outdoor toys. A preschool with a smaller yard may make more frequent trips to the forest or playgrounds in the vicinity of the preschool.

        Questions to ask yourself

        • What is important for me and my child when it comes to the outdoor environment of the preschool?

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • How do you use your outdoor environments, for example for teaching and playing?
        • Do you typically visit places outside preschool premises? Where and how often?

        General advice regarding open space for play and outdoor recreation, the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning website (in Swedish)

        Activities, play and rest at the preschool

        Preschools have different routines for when children play, rest and spend time outdoors. Below are examples of such routines.

        Activities and games

        Children at the preschool must be offered free play and organised activities, both indoors and outdoors. Preschools may have regular activities that recur on certain days of the week, such as an outing every Tuesday or reading stories at a certain time each day. Many preschools also plan activities outside the preschool, such as visits to museums and libraries.

        Rest

        The children usually rest or sleep at some point during the day. This routine differs depending on the individual needs of the children. In some preschools, younger children sleep outside in their prams. In other preschools, children sleep indoors, for example on mattresses in a quiet room. Staff routines for helping children relax may also vary. Older children often engage in a quieter activity.

        Spending time outdoors

        All preschools offer outdoor activities, but routines may vary. Routines may also vary within a preschool depending on the age of the children. In some preschools, children are always outside when their guardians leave them after a certain time. Some spend most of their time in the preschool yard, while others take their children to the forest or to playgrounds outside the preschool.

        Caring for your child

        Guardians know what routines they, and their children, have at home for example when it comes to going to the toilet, changing nappies or hygiene. For some children, certain habits create a sense of security, such as having a pacifier/dummy or a cuddly toy while resting.

        To help your child feel at home, it may be a good idea to share the routines and habits you have at home, as well as asking about any routines at the preschool.

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • What does a typical day or week look like?
        • How often are you outdoors?
        • What places do you usually visit in the neighbourhood?
        • At what times do children rest, and how is this done?
        • What happens if my child does not fall asleep during the rest period?

        Food at preschool

        Preschools serve meals, such as lunch, snacks and, in some cases, breakfast. The food at the preschool must be varied and nutritious.

        At some preschools, the food is prepared in a central institutional kitchen and delivered to the preschool. Other preschools have their own cook who prepares the food.

        Preschools may use different procedures for children eating breakfast, for example the time children must be present. Preschools work with lunch in an educational manner and may involve children in different ways. How often and when preschools serve snacks can also vary.

        Some preschools serve a lot of organic or vegetarian food. An allergy-friendly diet is provided for any child who needs it. The availability of other adapted diets, for example if you want your child to eat vegetarian food, may vary between preschools.

        Questions to ask yourself

        • What is important for me and my child when it comes to food?

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • At what times do the children eat?
        • How do you eat lunch?
        • Where is the food cooked?
        • Do you offer organic food?
        • What are the options for different types of diets? What if, for example, I wish for my child to eat vegetarian food?
        • What happens if my child does not eat the food provided?

        About meals in preschools on the Swedish Food Agency website (in Swedish)

        Equality in preschool

        All preschools must base their work on the equal value of all individuals and treat children equally, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or disability or that of someone with whom they are associated. According to the preschool curriculum, preschools must actively combat discrimination based on:

        • gender
        • transgender identity or expression
        • ethnicity
        • religion or other belief
        • disability
        • sexual orientation
        • age

        The aim is to give children the opportunity to develop on equal terms.

        Questions to ask the preschool

        • How do you work to combat discrimination and promote gender equality?

        Find more information on preschool quality

        Your municipality website often contains information about the preschools in your municipality, such as descriptions of teaching methods, contact details and evaluations. There may also be links to independent preschools and their evaluations. If the municipality does not have any information, independent preschools often have their own websites where you can learn more.

        Collected questions to ask the preschool

        At the link below, we have collected questions that you, as a guardian, can ask before choosing a preschool for your child.

        Questions to ask the preschool (in Swedish)

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