Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)
Much of the early childhood care in Finland centers around play. There may be no explicit official curriculum for ECEC in Finland, but there is a form of “meta-curriculum” with less measurable concepts such as learning through play, free discovery, collaboration, interaction, own initiative, concentration, and learning to take responsibility for one’s own actions, at its core. It emphasizes the so-called soft skills of balanced growth and taking others into account, over quantifiable metrics.
An early years teacher in Finland must hold a degree from a university or a university of applied sciences, and all other care-givers and instructors at a day-care center must have at least an upper secondary level qualification in social welfare and healthcare. Family day-care givers, who provide care in a domestic setting, must have a vocational qualification in family day-care.
All pre-primary schools and day-care centers in Finland have an action plan in place, based on the national guidelines on ECEC. Furthermore, an individual plan is drawn up for each child in day-care, in collaboration with the child’s parents, and it is reviewed at regular intervals. Much emphasis is also placed on the informal sharing of the child’s daily activities with the parents. The relationship between parents and the carer or educator is an essential part of the child´s well-being. When children participate in meaningful and relevant activities, they experience feelings of success and the joy of learning.
The right mix of care, tacit education and specific teaching promotes a child´s positive self-image, expressive and interactive skills, and develops their thinking. As an example, nursery teachers or carers read out loud to the children every day. This develops children’s imagination, verbal and cognitive skills, without the explicit objective of teaching the them to read.
We believe that this unique combination of learning through play and informal education in our early childhood development and care, gives Finnish companies and organizations great credentials to extend their know-how to other countries as well.