The context of their ECEC and Kindergarten curricula
 5.3 Million
 Average density 17 per sq km. Most sparse in EU
 Current life expectancy: men 76.3, women 83.0 years
 Average household 2.1 persons
 55% of households in single family homes and 45% in
apartment blocks
 Low perinatal mortality
 TFR 1.7
 91% Finnish (an Ugric language: Suomi)
 5.4% Swedish
 Finland is bilingual by legislation and custom
 English widely spoken
 Sami languages (Lap) in the north (Sami)
 81% are Lutheran, yet Lutheranism seems to sit lightly
on their pagan past
 1% Orthodox
 A republic with no official ties to monarch or church
 78% of population have completed upper secondary or
tertiary education
35% have university or other similar qualifications
(Highest in EU)
Repeatedly top in PISA studies
Highest percentage literacy in the OECD
All education, including university, is free
Childcare free, or means tested, till age 7
State comprehensive school 7 to 18 years
Education (cont)
 Reverence for education
 Kindergarten teachers very well trained, often with higher
grade averages than lawyers or medics. Frequently with
School meals for all, free, since 1950s
No real private education, though specialist groups exist
No official curriculum until age seven, though broad
guidelines of principle for ECEC and also for Kindergarten
Much child choice and many project approaches to early
learning. Childcare usually ‘integrated’
 Sovereign parliamentary republic since 1917
 Part of the Russian empire from 1809-1917 and before
that part of Sweden for centuries
President elected every six years
Tarja Halonen, female, elected for second term in 2006
200 members of parliament elected every 4 years;
several parties, coalition usual.
Member of EU since 1995
Finnish working life
 85.3% of women employed outside the home
 Unemployment rate 8%
 Generous social support
 Free medical treatment (high standard)
 High taxes, base tax 52%
 High standard of living
 Per capita GDP in top four OECD countries
 Annual inflation rate (2009) -0.5%
 GDP, 2008 was 187.0 billion Euros
 25% of exports are electronic and optical
 21% are wood and pulp products
 25% machinery and metal products
 Germany, Russia, Sweden, UK and USA take bulk of
Area, geography, miscellaneous
 One third of country above the Arctic Circle
 9% lakes of fresh water
 6% of land under cultivation
 68% of the country in forests
 Capital is Helsinki (1 million)
 Five other major cities
 99% of families have cell phones
 75% have personal computer
 Bears and wolves and reindeer in north
The northernmost university in the
world, Lapland, Rovaniemi
ECEC and Pre-primary (Kindergarten)
 Social policy is the frame for early years education
 All 6-7 yr old Finns entitled to free Kindergarten
 This can be in day-care, 1 to 7yrs, or in school. 6 to 18.
 Parents choose where for under sevens; 80+% opt for
day care (age six to seven)
 50% of children in day care ; 40% at home (special
allowances) 4% private, but paid for (figures approx)
 Private day care is where parents organise it
themselves. They have to act like state day care.
 Municipal day care organised by local authorities.
Day care (cont)
 Child home care attracts an allowance of 295 Euros
pm(2008) and the allowance is part of
maternity/paternity benefit. Usually it is accessed in
the child’s first year and the child then goes full or
part-time (choice) to day care. (approx a third go parttime up to 6yrs)
 STAFF are multidisciplinary because it is ECEC
 One third of staff have degrees including Master’s
degrees. New (2008) regs insist ALL have special
lengthy vocational training. Many also with
Polytechnic degrees
The road to school, Rovaniemi
The road to school near Oulu
Adult:child ratios;
Finance; SN
 Basic ratio is one adult to seven children (age 3-6)
 0-3 is one adult to four children
 Family Day Care 4-5 children per adult
Government and Municipalities (400 plus) jointly
finance Day care, with parental fees (means-tested)
topping up costs
Special Needs 80%+ integration; about 10%+ special
schools and/or classes. Currently under review.
ECEC Principles and guidance 1
 The Prime Goals of the national curriculum for ECEC are:
 1. The promotion of personal well-being
 2. Reinforcement of considerate behaviour and action
towards others
 3. The gradual building of autonomy and self-efficacy
 The guidance states that children learn best when they are
active and through playing, moving, exploring.
 Each Municipality has to write curriculum guidelines
which fit the national ones and these are then incorporated
in the centre’s own curriculum planning.
ECEC Principles and guidance 2
 Content is not DEFINED, since there are (as the Finns
 However, there is an expectation that key constructs
developed through maths, natural sciences, aesthetics,
religions and philosophy will be incorporated in
projects, such that they can be continued meaningfully
in the more precise Kindergarten (preschool)
curriculum which follows at 6 years.
Pre-school age 6 to 7
 Finnish six year olds have a right to free half day pre
school curricula. (Majority do this in Childcare or
‘Kindergarten’, as it is called. Only 10% do it in school,
97.8% receive it.)
 The curriculum is the national Core Curriculum for
Pre-School and is aligned with School Curriculum.
 It is heavily process oriented and ‘developmental’ in its
approach, utilising project methodology and a high
degree of child choice.
 Language, oracy and communication have a central
role in the pre-school curriculum. Methods are not
prescriptive and individual child plans are central.
Preschool education generally
 Provided in every municipality for 700 hours per year.
 Administered by the Ministry of Education
 Since 2004 the curriculum activities(very general) have
been included in the Basic Education Act.
 When the group size exceeds 13 to a fully qualified
teacher , there must be an assistant with at least upper
secondary and vocational training.
 Parents fully recognised as major partners in ECEC
and Pre-school.