European Educational Systems

di Laura Di Masi


In Finland compulsory education lasts 9 years, from 7 to 17 years.

The kindergarten system is held by the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, but management is entrusted to local authorities and social services. By law, every child under the compulsory school age has the right to attend the kindergarten. The expenses for the family depend on the income, on numbers of family members and the on time that kids attend the kindergarten.

The main aim of kindergarten is to support families with children.

The children are divided into age groups (up to 3 and from 3 to 6 years old) and can attend full or part time. Kindergartens are generally opened 5 days a week, from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm, but can be opened till 6 or 7 days, depending on family needs.

There are no special requirements to esiopetus admission that is free.

The annual number of hours is minimum 700 for a maximum of 5 hours per day, but the organization of daily timetable, the days and the opening hours per week, etc., are established by each institute.

In large nurseries, children aged 6 years old can be put in a separate class.

The Ministry of Education suggest to have  groups with no more than 13 children, except in case of kids with special needs, in this case the number of children can increase up to 20 in the classroom thanks to the presence of specialized teachers.

Since 2002, a curriculum has been in force for esiopetus that does not include single subjects but topics related to the various aspects of children life and to the world around them. In this way children are introduced to language, mathematics, ethics and philosophy, environment, nature and health.


The Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for pre-primary institutes (kindergartens and infant schools ), both teach Common education. The objectives and tasks are set out in the Law on Pre-School Institutes and in the National Curriculum in 1999.

The National Curriculum, which prepares children for primary school through the development of creativity, communication and skills, divides the contents of the activities into 5 categories:

  • language and speech,
  • mathematics,
  • art,
  • music to which are added for 5/6 year-old kids  a sixth category,
  • Estonian language, in case their mother tongue is different from it.

The planned activities last 10-15 minutes for children up to 3 years old, 25 minutes for children between 3 and 6 years old, and 35 minutes for children between 6 and 7. Children have the opportunity to choose from the various activities offered, so that they are able  to develop an dividual thought, to correct their actions and to be responsible for the results of their actions.

The physical, mental and social development of the kids, are communicated to their parents by written reports  two or three times a year for children aged 3, 5 and 7 years old.

Staff: Teaching staff, which also includes music and P.E. teachers, must have a higher education qualification corresponding to 120-160 credits.

To be continued…

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