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Children help plan daycare in new curriculum

The Finnish National Agency for Education early childhood education guidelines from autumn last year became mandatory in the beginning of August. The new rules include a renewed focus on teaching young children life skills, and also seeing kids as a creative resource when planning daycare activities.

Lapsia pihalla leikkimässä.
Playing is still the best way for young children to learn. Image: Mårten Lampén / Yle

Finnish daycare centres are moving to adopt a new, revamped curriculum starting this academic year.

From August 1st, Finnish daycare centres have been obliged to follow the Finnish National Agency for Education's early childhood education and care (ECEC) curriculum requirements. Previously, they were merely guidelines.

The new early years education plan scheme aims to improve daycare teaching by focusing on practical life skills – such as personal hygiene, interpersonal communication and IT know-how – and even consulting the very young students on how they would like to be taught.

Suvi Damski from the Aamunkoitto daycare in Espoo says that if children want to learn about how snails procreate and move around, for instance, then that is what they should be taught.

"We will now be planning our teaching with much more input from the kids themselves," Damski says. "Our starting points are the children's interests, strengths and needs."

Playtime and personal plans

Early childhood care is now considered an even more integral aspect of Finland's overall education system, as the Agency's new rules stipulate that ECEC in daycares should involve goal-oriented childhood development and activities that support learning.

"A child can learn all sorts of things from colors to complex concepts while doing something normal like putting on pants," Damski says.

But daycare centres are not turning into schools, educators say; all situations are opportunities for growth.

"Playing is the real key," said Damski.

The ECEC stipulations also mean that personal education plans will be drawn up for all children in daycare, something that only some centres have done until now. The documents show the strengths of each child as they progress, as well as methods of overcoming possible challenges.

Teachers say the new era will take some new thinking.

"Our point of view is changing, and changes can be bigger or smaller for different people. Here at Aamunkoitto we're all excited about our new responsibilities," Damski says.

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