Preschool education will become mandatory in Finland beginning in July. In many municipalities the registration for preschool education is currently underway. The city of Kotka has not specified a deadline for the sign-ups, while in Kouvola the registration period ends today Wednesday. In Hamina the process does not begin until early March.
Making sure that children participate in the year-long preschool is up to the parents, though in actuality nobody supervises the new law.
"The original law draft included municipal monitoring, but it was taken out after municipalities protested," Arja-Sisko Holappa from the National Board of Education says. "If a child does not attend preschool, parents are obliged to offer him or her proper activities and fulfil the minimum requirements of preschool education."
Holappa says the situation is already very good, as some 98 percent of Finnish children receive a preschool education.
Preschool teacher Sirkku Salminen from Kotka says that pre-schooling teaches children how to get along in a group. She says she does not know a single child who has not gone to preschool.
"Getting left behind can bleed into social skills and the abillity to participate in group work," she says.
In the Aittakorpi school in Kotka the threshold for enrolling at preschool is lowered by starting preschoolers off in 10-member primary classes, which has both preschoolers and first-years.