Pre – primary education The mandatory two-year preschool confuses some of the families of children participating in the experiment

The municipalities and kindergartens included in the experiment were selected by lot.

Next In August, thousands of five-year-olds will start preschool, when a two-year pre-school experiment will start in Finland.

For those who have already participated in early childhood education five days a week, the transition to pre-primary education means at first only a small change in practice and that pre-primary education is given to them by an early childhood education teacher.

Read more: Up to a thousand children from Helsinki may start preschool next autumn a year earlier – What are the benefits of early schooling?

However, for some families, the compulsory nature of pre-school education has come as a surprise. For example, some children may have been in kindergarten and participated in early childhood education for only part of the week.

Law According to him, participation in early childhood education is not compulsory, so absences may have been taken by mere notice. Instead, absences from pre-school education have had to be applied for in the same way as at school.

Indeed, families have been left wondering whether a child who has previously been cared for for four days now has to attend pre-school five days a week.

Municipal there are differences in the practices they have in terms of absences, says the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Development Jarkko Lahtinen.

Lahtinen estimates that in the majority of municipalities, absences for those participating in two-year pre-school education are treated according to the same principles as have previously been taken care of in the pre-school education for six-year-olds.

“In some municipalities, it has been possible to handle it with one application, and in some municipalities it has been possible to request an application for each absence,” says Lahtinen.

According to Lahtinen, the experiment has been prepared so urgently that the municipalities have very little time left to prepare for it.

“In many municipalities, these practical issues will be resolved as they arise.”

Lahtinen recalls that the law on pre-school education only sets a minimum number of pre-school education, ie 700 hours per school year, not on what times or how many days a week pre-school education is given.

Most typically, however, in kindergartens, pre-school education is given in the mornings five days a week, usually four hours at a time, starting at eight or nine in the morning. There are exceptions, because for example, pre-school education for children in shift care could be offered even on weekends.

For two years 105 municipalities are participating in the pre-primary education experiment and their locations were chosen by lot, so the municipalities have not been able to influence the selected kindergartens.

Families, on the other hand, have only been able to choose whether they want to participate in the experiment. In practice, opting out could have meant moving to another kindergarten.

Compulsory pre-school education means that the child must participate in one-year pre-school education or other activities that achieve the goals of pre-school education in the year preceding the beginning of compulsory education.

This can also happen in home care if the goals achieved for pre-school education are met. In practice, however, 99 per cent of six-year-olds participate in pre-school education in Finland.

There have been slightly fewer five-year-olds who have participated in early childhood education, less than 89 per cent.

Teaching– and the Ministry of Culture has not given the municipalities instructions regarding practical arrangements, such as absences, says the special expert Mervi Eskelinen.

If the guardian has announced the child’s pre-school education, the starting point, according to Eskelinen, is that the child participates in all activities.

However, he encourages the absence of arrangements in the best interests of the child.

As pre-school education is not part of compulsory education and pre-school education does not affect a child’s right to access basic education, Eskelinen says that families can report the child’s sick leave and agree on absences for other reasons with the kindergarten flexibly.

“In my view, simply reporting a child’s absence to a pre-school location is a sufficient measure,” he says.

Absences should also be reported at once if the child is regularly away, for example on a certain day of the week.

Eskelinen points out that, unlike in schools, the state contribution to pre-school education is not determined by attendance days.

To experiment a letter was sent to the families of the participating children in late spring informing them of the experiment. Eskelinen admits that due to the tight schedule, not all issues have been considered.

“Municipalities have not had the time to involve parents in the planning in the same way as usual,” says Eskelinen.

He believes the practices will be specified in many municipalities during the summer.

Four years old the experiment is expected to reach a total of about 10,000 children born in 2016 and 2017, about half of whom will start the experiment this year and half next year.

The aim of the experiment is to strengthen educational equality and increase children’s participation in pre-school education as part of early childhood education.

Two-year pre-school education also reduces the early childhood education fees paid by the family in those municipalities that have not already had free pre-school classes for five-year-olds, the so-called whiskey.

Preschool experiment a separate curriculum has been developed for this purpose. In addition, it involves a research project that investigates the effectiveness and realization of the experiment.

In addition to the participating municipalities, there are pilot municipalities that do not provide two-year pre-school education but act as reference municipalities.

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