Childcare and pre-school education

Performance for children in Tivoli park in Ljubljana. Photo: S. Rancov

Slovenia has established an integrated approach to pre-school education, combining education, play and care in pre-school institutions. Comprehensive care for preschool children involves meals, rest and sleep, as well as various educational programmes. Pre-school education is not compulsory; it admits children from 1 to 6 years of age or to the age when they enter primary schooling.

Pre-school education is performed by public and private pre-school institutions (vrtci). Parents have the right to choose pre-school education programmes for their children in a public or private pre-school institution. The aim of pre-school institutions is to support the parents in bringing up the child, to improve the quality of family life and to create good conditions for the development of the child's physical and intellectual abilities. 


Public pre-school institutions are founded and partly financed by local communities. They are also financed from parents' contributions (from 0 to 80%, depending on their income), from the national budget (for specific purposes like transport of pre-school children) and from donations and other sources.


Pedagogical and pedagogical-educational work in pre-school institutions is conducted in Slovene, except in ethnically mixed areas, where it is conducted in Italian or bilingually - in Slovene and Hungarian. Activities are organized in coeducational groups.


Operating times of the pre-school institution may vary, according to the needs of the parents. Usually operating times are 5 days a week throughout the year from 5.30 am to 4 pm. Larger pre-school institutions also offer afternoon departments, which are open until 8 pm.


Pre-school institutions can offer programmes of different length. The day-programme includes education, childcare and meals. It last from 6 to 9 hours and can take place in the morning, in the afternoon, throughout the day or in turns.

The national curriculum for pre-school institutions is based upon appreciation of individual differences in development and learning, as well as on appreciation of the child's integrative and balanced development. The objectives, contents and activities are designed separately for the first and the second age-group of children. For the sake of better transparency they are divided into various fields; however, the suggested curriculum themes extend over the stringent limits of a single field and are placed into the context of the children's every-day life in a pre-school institution. The following subject fields are included in pre-school institution activities: physical exercise, language, art, society, nature, study, mathematics. Interdisciplinary activities like ethics, health care, safety, traffic education are incorporated into all those fields.