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Early childhood education and care

In Slovenia, early childhood education and care is organised in the form of public and private kindergartens, giving parents the freedom to choose education programmes in accordance with their personal views. It is intended to serve children from eleven months until they start school. Enrolment in a kindergarten is not obligatory – parents are free to decide whether to enrol their children in early childhood education and care or not.

Home based care of preschool children can be provided by childminders.

Slovenia is one of the EU countries with the highest level of child admittance in formal preschool education system for children up to three years of age.

In implementing their education and care programmes, kindergartens both help parents care for their young children and assist in their overall development. This improves the quality of life of families and, indirectly, creates good conditions for the development of the economy and society.

Promotion of skills and knowledge

The objective of early childhood education is to promote the development of a wide range of skills and knowledge, such as:

  • understanding and acceptance of oneself and others,
  • ability to relate to others, to cooperate and to respect diversity,
  • identification of emotions, emotional experiencing and expression,
  • curiosity, research spirit, imagination, intuition and independent thinking,
  • language development for the effective and creative use of speech and, at a later stage, also reading and writing,
  • experiencing works of art and understanding artistic expression,
  • gaining knowledge from various fields of science and everyday life,
  • physical and motor development,
  • independence in hygiene routines and in the care for one’s own health.

Quality provision of early childhood education and care is an essential feature of the education programme in Slovenia. Therefore the education staff in public kindergartens as well as in private kindergartens holding a concession observe the Kindergarten Curriculum, which is a fundamental national programme document containing the principles and guidelines of early child education and care and instructions for their implementation, while taking into account the rights and diversity of children. Private kindergartens without a concession can also observe the Kindergarten Curriculum.

In addition, kindergartens must also observe the norms on class sizes and professional staffing levels and the regulations on premises that are all important for the health and safety of children.

Option to choose a kindergarten and a programme

Parents have the option to choose between public or private kindergartens and various programmes that they provide. In doing so, they are not locally limited to the municipality in which they reside. They are also free to choose among various programmes that differ in terms of organisation and time scheduling:

  • full- and half-day programmes are intended for children from one year to school age. They include education, care and meals for the children.
  • short programmes are intended for children from one year of age until they start school. They include education, care, and, optionally, meals for children.
  • early education and care family programme can be provided by a private preschool teacher or a a preschool teacher or preschool teacher assistant. This form of early education and care is provided in the home of the preschool teacher or preschool teacher assistant.

The kindergarten programme is performed by qualified education staff, who create a stimulating and varied environment for providing different activities to develop children’s capabilities and to best support their interests. 

In addition to the variety of activities on offer, every year certain kindergartens carry out many joint projects which have proved to add colour to kindergarten life.

Enhanced activities are part of the programme implemented in kindergartens. Some of them are prepared by the education staffautonomously, while others are organised in cooperation with external institutions.

If parents so wish, they can enrol their children in additional activities, providing they make a financial contribution for the participation of their children in additional activities that are not part of the programme.

Formation of classes according to children’s age

Kindergartens form classes according to children’s age as follows:

  • first age group: children from one to three years of age,
  • second age group: children from three years of age until they start school. 

With regard to the age structure, classes are divided as follows: 

  • homogeneous classes including children of approximately the same age within a one-year span;
  • heterogeneous classes including children of  the same age group (e.g. children from one to three years of age);
  • mixed classes including children of both age groups (e.g. children from two to six years of age).