New early childhood education plan for Finnish Early Childhood Education published

30.11.2022 7.00Updated: 13.12.2022 7.59
Three children at Tuomarila day-care centre studying a craft project held by their teacher.
Photo: Olli Urpela

A new early childhood education plan for Espoo’s Finnish Early Childhood Education has been published. The new early childhood education plan entered into force at the beginning of August.

The Act on Early Childhood Education and Care and the Finnish National Agency for Education’s National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care were reformed at the beginning of August. As a result, the municipal early childhood education plan was also updated in Espoo. The new plan was introduced on 1 August 2022.

The new early childhood education plan consists of the national section prepared by the Finnish National Agency for Education, in addition to which Espoo has supplemented the plan with its own municipal entries and focus areas.

Pedagogical handbook for early childhood education

The early childhood education plan guides and supports all work in early childhood education.

The plan is a pedagogical handbook for everyone working in early childhood education.  It obliges early childhood education staff to take into account, for example, the perspectives of operating culture development, the goals of wide-ranging competence and the objectives and contents concerning areas of learning.

“The plan is the most important document in early childhood education, since it is binding and guides the planning, implementation, assessment and development of practical work nationally,” says Raija Laine, Development Manager at the City of Espoo’s Finnish Early Childhood Education.

A personal early childhood education plan is also prepared for each child in day care or family day care, in which the points of the early childhood education plan become concrete from the perspective of the child in question.

Many parents/guardians are familiar with early childhood education plan discussions, during which the progress of the child’s learning and growth is reviewed and the goals and measures supporting the child’s development, learning and well-being are recorded.

“In the personal early childhood education plan, we determine together with the guardians how early childhood education supports the child on the learning path. Another important tool in all our groups of children is the group’s early childhood education plan. This combines the goals of the early childhood education plan and the children’s personal plans into everyday pedagogical activities,” says Marianne Leppänen, Early Childhood Education Specialist working on curriculum issues.

What will change?

Espoo’s previous early childhood education plan from 2019 was used as a basis for the new updated document. While much of the content is the same, there are also new concepts that were not previously included in the plan.

The new early childhood education plan has a stronger common thread of inclusive principles. In early childhood education, inclusion means that all children have the same rights, no one is discriminated against, diversity is valued and equality, non-discrimination and community spirit are taken into account in all activities. Every child is welcome in early childhood education and every child is also entitled to the necessary support.

Texts relating to supporting the child are another major addition. From now on, early childhood education will apply three levels of support: general, intensive and special support. The implementation of support also involves various forms, including pedagogical, structural and therapeutic support.

Smaller updates have been made to, for example, the concepts used in the early childhood education plan. Examples of new concepts are digital competence and diverse cultural heritage.

Chance to influence the plan

When the early childhood education plan was being updated last spring, the thoughts and views of children and their parents/guardians were collected in Espoo to support the update work.

Feedback was collected both directly from children at day-care centres and through an electronic questionnaire with questions for both children and guardians. A total of over 600 responses were received through the feedback survey.

Marianne Leppänen thanks the families who responded to the surveys.

“All the answers were reviewed and read carefully. We received a lot of valuable insights and comments from our early childhood education clients and have included some of these comments as part of the plan. We would like to thank all the children and guardians who took the time to respond to the survey and thereby participated in the update of the early childhood education plan!”

The new early childhood education plan has already been introduced in Espoo’s Finnish Early Childhood Education. It will be used until the time comes to update the document again.

“Early childhood education is an important part of the Finnish education system. The world keeps changing, so the early childhood education plan needs to be updated from time to time. This way, early childhood education stays in tune with the times and is better able to respond to new phenomena and emerging challenges,” Laine says.

Children’s and guardians’ responses from the survey on the early childhood education plan:

  • “At least I was hoping that we would get a police station at the day-care centre, and we did.” (Child)
  • “My biggest wish for the day-care centre is to play more with my friends.” (Child)
  • “Encourage children to try things themselves and learn new things. Give them permission to make mistakes. Encourage them to get to know all the other children in the group and maybe play new/unfamiliar games with them.” (Guardian)
  • “Some of the important things in early childhood education are feeling that you belong to a group, feeling safe and being encouraged to self-expression. The most important thing is a safe environment where children can be themselves.” (Guardian)
  • “I wish that the children’s voice could be heard and reflected in early childhood education and that they would be encouraged to think independently.” (Guardian)
  • “In early childhood education, the most important thing is genuinely meeting each child. A warm, caring adult who makes the child feel welcome.” (Guardian)

You can view the new early childhood education plan for Espoo’s Finnish Early Childhood Education in electronic format below. The document is in Finnish.

  • Early Childhood Education