For children between the ages of 1 and 6
Preschool is for children between the ages of 1 and 6. Preschool is meant to be fun, safe and educational for all of the children who attend.
Preschool is voluntary. The objective is partly to make it possible for parents to combine parenthood with working, and partly to offer stimulating and developing activities to the children.
Preschool should stimulate children’s creativity, curiosity and self-esteem. Children should be given the opportunity to develop their ability to explore, communicate and reflect. Educational activities should stimulate children to take initiative and responsibility and give them the opportunity to work both independently and together with others.
The educators should encourage and challenge children to try out their own and other people’s ideas, solve problems and translate ideas into action. This is done, for example, by playing, singing, moving, cooperating, painting and exploring nature. Meals are included at preschool and are a part of the educational activities. Creating security and good relationships with children and guardians is an important task for preschools.
Municipal and independent preschools
There are both municipal and independent preschools. Independent preschools can be operated, for example, by parent cooperatives or staff cooperatives, by a foundation or a limited liability company.
The municipalities are responsible for providing preschool places in the municipality that meet the need so that children are offered a place. The municipality is also responsible for checking that all activities in preschool meet the requirements of good quality and safety. The same rules apply to independent preschools as to municipal preschools.
Who goes to preschool?
Preschool is voluntary. The municipalities must offer preschool to children from the age of 1
- when the parents work or study
- when the parents are unemployed or on parental leave
- if the child has a personal need due to the family’s situation.
Children of people who are unemployed or on parental leave are to be offered a place for at least 3 hours a day or 15 hours a week. Some municipalities offer more time than this.
The municipalities must also offer preschool to
- all children the year the child turns 3 (public preschool, 3 hours per day)
- children who are in need of special support for their development due to physical, mental or other reasons.
Three hours per day in public preschool are free of charge from the autumn semester of the year the child turns 3. The time beyond these three hours is subject to a fee. It is the municipality or the operator of the activities that determines how much a preschool place will cost.
The size of the fee is determined by the parents’ income level. Today, all municipalities use a system with a fee ceiling. The fee ceiling means an upper limit for how high the fee can be for different families.