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Early childhood education and schools

Isojoki - Lasten hoito ja opetus ENG

Family leave and benefits

When a new child comes into the family, parents have the right to family leave, that is, to have free time from working life. This should be notified to the employer on time, no later than two months (2 months) before the birth of the child. When a child is born and grows, parents are entitled to various benefits paid by Kela.

Family leave – time consists of these sections: 

  • maternity leave 
  • paternity leave 
  • parental leave 
  • child care leave 

 

Caring for the child at home

If your family has a child under 3 years old, he can be cared for at home. Kela pays for home care support while the mother or father cares for the child at home. If the child is in municipal day care, Kela will not pay home care support. 

Home care support is paid after the end of the parental allowance period. Home care support is sought from Kela. 

Child care benefits – in simplified Finnish – kela.fi 

InfoFinland: information on the care of a child at home in 12 languages Support for caring for a child InfoFinland 

 

Apply for a place in day care for the child

When the child is about nine months old, and the parental leave ends, one should decide how to care for the child in the future. There are three types of day care: municipal day care, private day care and family day care. 

  • You can apply for a place in municipal early childhood education after parental leave. Then the child will be about nine months old. 
  • A private early childhood education place may be in a private child care centre or family day care or home where the family hires a childminder. 
  • Family day care means a childminder is caring for children at the childminder’s own home. 

If your child needs day care (early childhood education), apply for it on time no later than 4 months earlier, as there is a queue for day care. 

A day care application can be completed online or by submitting a paper form. 

You can fill out an electronic application if you have the following: 

  • child’s identity number 
  • guardian’s identity number 
  • parent’s banking credentials or a mobile ID 

You will receive a notification regarding the place in day care by letter or email. You will be called from the day care centre and agree on the start of care. 

Day care

Day care, or early childhood education, is intended for children under school age. In Finland, municipalities offer early education in public child care centres, family day care and private child care centres. 

Day care organizes a diverse range of activities, such as games, exercise, outdoor activities, music, craft and excursions. 

In day care, the child learns many important skills. Day care is especially important for language learning if the child’s home language is not Finnish or Swedish. Early childhood education teachers and carers are qualified in working in day care. 

Children eat three meals during the day: breakfast, lunch and snack. If your child has any special diet requirements, tell the early childhood education teachers about it. 

Day care takes into account the religion or life philosophies of the family. 

You can find more information on day care in your place of residence on the municipality’s website. 

Finnish refugee aid: Child care vocabulary   Somali | Persian | Arabic | Kurdish 

Ministry of Education and Culture: Information on early childhood education   Finnish | Swedish | English

Finnish National Agency for Education: Multilingual Early Childhood Education — Video in Finnish YouTube 

InfoFinland: Day care information in 12 languages Day care – InfoFinland

Child care fees

Day care has a charge. Parents’ income affects how much day care costs. For a very low-income family, day care can be free of charge. 

When the child begins child care, both parents’ income information (payslip or unemployment allowance decision) should be provided within 2 weeks of the start of care. 

Preschool education

In Finland, education is of high level and quality. All teachers starting with early childhood education are university-educated education professionals. 

In Finland, according to the law, all children attend preschool education for a year before compulsory education begins. Preschool usually begins at age 6. The enrolment for preschool is usually in January-February. In preschool, children learn skills preparing them for primary school. Preschool lasts 4 hours a day and is free of charge. The child receives a free meal in preschool education. Preschool education is usually held in child care centres or school premises. If the child needs day care in addition to preschool education, it is subject to a fee. 

Finnish National Agency for Education: Information about preschool Preschool | Finnish National Agency for Education (oph.fi)  

InfoFinland: information on preschool in 12 languages Preschool – InfoFinland  

School grades 1-9

Finland has compulsory education, which means all children must receive primary education. Compulsory education is prescribed by law. 

When a child moves to Finland, the family should be in contact with primary education as soon as possible. Immediately after moving, the child must undergo a health check before he can start school. 

In Finland, children usually complete compulsory education in comprehensive school. The comprehensive school consists of a primary school and an upper comprehensive school. The primary school includes grades 1 – 6 and upper comprehensive school grades 7 – 9. Comprehensive school normally lasts for 9 years: the school starts in the 1st grade and ends in the 9th grade. 

In comprehensive school, the child and adolescent are taught the knowledge and skills he needs as an adult in society. In school, the child and adolescent develop as a person and a member of society. Basic education is free. After comprehensive school, the young person has the opportunity to continue to study at a vocational school or upper secondary school. 

Finnish National Agency for Education: information on comprehensive education Comprehensive education | Finnish National Agency for Education (oph.fi) 

InfoFinland: information on comprehensive education Comprehensive education – InfoFinland 

Morning and Afternoon Activities in 1st to 2nd Grade

Morning and afternoon activities are intended for 1st and 2nd grade and special education students. The activities are voluntary and have a fee. For morning and afternoon activities, you need to apply for a place for the child in advance. The activities are aimed at reducing the child’s alone time without adults before and after the schoolday. 

School transport

School transport is provided for pupils when the distance to the nearby school is more than 5 km. Transport must also be arranged for the pupil if the school trip is too difficult, dangerous or strenuous in relation to the pupil’s age or circumstances. Many municipalities provide transportation for 1st and 2nd grade students if the school trip is more than 3 km. 

School transport is not arranged if the child participates in morning or afternoon activities. Transportation is for school time only. Transport is arranged only to the pupil’s official address, which is listed on the population register even if the parents have joint custody. 

Preparatory schooling for children and adolescents

When a child moves from abroad to Finland, he can start schooling in the preparatory class for immigrant children. Before a child can begin basic education, he must adequately know the Finnish language. 

Preparatory schooling is for immigrant children of compulsory school age. During preparatory schooling, the child learns the basic skills of the Finnish language. Teaching takes 1-2 years or less, usually a year. 

After that, the child enters the usual class to the school near his home. The child starts school from the class level that matches his skills. 

Wilma - student administration online service

Wilma allows students, teachers and parents to keep in touch with each other. In Wilma, you can: 

  • See the child’s timetable 
  • Send and receive messages to school staff 
  • Get bulletins sent by the school 
  • Notify in the morning if the child is out of school due to illness 
  • Get information on the child’s exams, learning and absences 

The school gives the child’s parents a username and password for the service. Wilma can be accessed via a browser or a mobile application. It is important to monitor Wilma regularly. Instructions for the use of Wilma can be requested from school.