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Estonian kindergarten: More than just play

12 December 2023
by Eva Toome

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What do children do in an Estonian kindergarten? Ask them, and they’ll tell you – “We play!”

“Once a little girl even asked, ‘Teacher, if you play all day, when do you work?’ Indeed, our highly educated teachers, holding Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees, integrate play into their work. But it’s a play with a purpose,” explains Kristina Märks, the director of Tallinn Meelespea Kindergarten.

  • Play and learn in Estonian kindergartens
  • Diverse learning experiences
  • A day in the life of a kindergarten
  • Parental engagement and digital platforms
  • Preparing for school: The school readiness card
  • The choice of Estonian parents

Activities in Estonian kindergartens are guided by a national curriculum supporting the child’s development. We offer a diverse learning experience, with activities ranging from arts and crafts, like drawing and clay work, to music education. Core values like tolerance and honesty are emphasized. Throughout all daily activities, we develop a child’s speech but also support their interest in physical activities. There is always something new to discover: whether it’s skiing or swimming.

A day in the life of a kindergarten

But what does a kindergarten day look like? We start early and work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., accommodating parents’ schedules. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are  served, with much attention paid to healthy food. While mornings focus on learning, afternoons are for hobbies. In our kindergarten, children engage in movement, art, robotics, and music. They can choose piano or even ukulele lessons or join dance classes to name a few     .

Parents are not left out either. Digital platforms used in Estonian kindergartens keep parents connected and engaged in their children’s learning journey.

Preparing for school

When the kindergarten ends, each child is given a ‘school readiness card’ from the kindergarten. This card outlines the child’s developmental progress, providing valuable insights for their first school teacher to understand the child’s needs.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that despite preschool education not being mandatory, most Estonian parents opt for kindergarten for their child’s early development.

Because in Estonia, kindergarten lays the foundation for an excellent education years before school starts.

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