to the power point presentation titled
The Finnish Preschool System and
• Presentation at the congress 'Childhood, Child good'
• KATHO Belgium on the 18th- 20th of April 2002
• Ph.D Ulla Härkönen
• Ph.D, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education
• University of Joensuu
• Savonlinna Department of Teacher Education
• P.B 55, 57101 Savonlinna
• email: Ulla.Harkonen@joensuu.fi
• http://sokl.joensuu.fi/harkonen
History of preschool 1
• in the1840s: schools for small children
• in 1863 Uno Cygnaeus: a kindergarten and a
model school by the teacher seminar
• in 1888 the first kindergarten in Finland; Friedrich
Fröbel; Hanna Rothman and Elisabet Alander
• in the 1920s Aukusti Salo: the kindergarten and
lower classes are close to each other
• in the 1940s: the kindergarten is like home, not
like school
History of preschool 2
• at the end of the 1960s: the great school reform,
also preschool experiments
• 1970: The Preschool Committee
• 1972: the first preschool curriculum
• 1984: the preschool curriculum for 6 year- olds
• 1996: The Basics of Preschool Curriculum
• 2000: The Basics of Preschool Curriculum
Authorities behind Preschool
National Social Administration
National School Administration
Center for Social and Health Studies
National Board of Education
sometimes alltogether, sometimes separately
The last preschool curriculum is published by the
National Board of Education, but made together
with The Center for Social and Health Studies
Typical things for preschool in Finland 1
• preschool lies between social and educational
• earlier preschool meant ages: 0-6 or 3-6 or only 6
• nowadays preschool means only 6 year- olds
• preschool belongs to early childhood education
as it has always been
• preschool does not belong to basic education
Typical things for preschool in Finland 2
• school obligation in Finland begins at the age of 7
• it has been discussed if the age of 6 would be a
better age to start the school
• preschool is mainly - 80-90 % - arranged by
social authorities in day care centres
• only about 10 % of preschool is arranged by
educational authorities at schools
Typical things for preschool in Finland 3
• the average age group is 65 000 children
• in 1997: 35 000 6 year-olds were in day care
centre preschool groups and 7 500 in school
preschool groups
• nowadays about 6000 preschool children are at
preschool in schools
• in 1999: 80 % of 6 year-olds attended voluntary
preschool, varying from 20 % to 97 % in different
parts of Finland
Typical things for preschool in Finland 4
• the New Preschool Acts entered into force 1.8.2000
• municipalities are obliged to offer preschool education
since 1.8.2001
• preschool is voluntary for a child
• a child has the right to free preschool
• The new Basics of Preschool Curriculum could be used
from 1.8.2001 and be put into full use at least on 1.8.2002
• preschool teachers plan local curriculums in cooperation
with several partners: other teachers, parents, children,
researchers, authorities etc.
Typical things for preschool in Finland 5
preschool covers at least 700 hours a year
preschool can be max. 5 hours a day
preschool can be arranged in many ways
preschool children can be in full-time day care
groups (8-10 hours) or in part-time day care
groups (4-5 hours a day) ; preschool can be a part
of a day or the whole day!
• the preschool children who are at schools may
need afternoon care in day care centres or in
family day care centres
Schedule of a preschool day
m o rn in g m e e tin g
lun ch
se ssio n (p lay, w o rk,
ce le b ratio n ,
e xcursio n , te ach in g )
sh o rt se ssio n
d iffe re n t fro m th e first
o utsid e activitie s
clo sin g th e d ay
g o in g h o m e
The aims and goals of preschool
• offer better learning
possibilities and
good learning
• learn to learn
• enjoy learning
• positive self-concept
• basic knowledge,
skills and attitudes
• understand the
meaning of the group
• learn to differ the
right and the wrong
• good manners
• learn equality
• enjoy the nature,
culture and language
• manage in everyday
Obligatory things in preschool ?
• municipality must arrange preschool
• local curriculums must be planned on the basis of the
national curriculum
• the custodian chooses whether a child gets religious
instruction or world outlook knowledge or some other
ethical instruction
• subjects: language and interaction, mathematics, ethics
and world outlook, science and environment, health,
physical development, art and culture
• learning, teaching, playing, learning environment
• a child can get a participation certificate (not obligatory)
Preschool-teacher education 1
• kindergarten teachers are trained at certain universities’
teacher training departments
• it lasts 3 years
• it is characteristic of the Finnish day care system that the
staff is highly-qualified and highly-educated
• teachers learn the theory of day care and preschool
education as well as the latest research and its
• they know also the day care tradition like Fröbel and other
pedagogies (Montessori, Steiner, Dewey, Neill, Malaguzzi)
• the preschool teachers themselves are also active in
researching the education, learning and teaching
Preschool-teacher education 2
educational science
early childhood educational science
development psychology and psychology
languages, math. , science, music, art,
gymnastics, drama
• practices: 3 weeks in the first year, 2 weeks in the
second year, 4 weeks in the third year in autumn,
3 weeks in the third year in spring
• a student is free to choose only 4 optional cu
• we have the year and credit unit system
Preschool-teacher education 3
• one training preschool class at a nearby practice school
• about 13 day care centres in our small town of Savonlinna
• students go for two practice terms all over Finland and
sometimes for 2 weeks practice abroad
• preschool teachers instruct students during every
practice term
• university lecturers come once to guide and instruct a
student pair during the first practice
• university lecturers come once to guide a single student
during the last practice term
Preschool-teacher education 4:
Preschool and Primary School Teacher Education
3 years: 120 cu
practice 12 cu
candidate’s thesis 5 cu
methodological studies
• early childhood
education for 15 cu
• the structure of the
curriculum is the same
• we are highly integrated
4 years: 160 cu
practice 14-16 cu
master thesis 16 cu + 4 cu
they have more
methodological studies
• more didactics and
school subjects
• many professors and
lecturers are common
(it makes also problems)
Preschool-teacher education 5:
Problems or not ?
• integration with primary school teacher education,
kindergarten teachers and primary school teachers (1-2
classes) may teach preschool children in day care
centres or at schools
• preschool has got most of attention, what about other age
groups in day care ? Under 3 year-olds?
• theories put stress on learning or on development or on
didactics but what about the entire personality and
education of the child?
• schools put stress on didactics, is it too narrow a point of
• how are different action forms: basic activities, work, real
play, celebrations, trips ?
Some www-addresses
http://www.yle.fi/opinportti/makasiini/ 20020415/ullaharkonen.shtml
And welcome to Finland and to
University of Joensuu
Savonlinna Department of Teacher

The Finnish Education System