Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting
The criteria and the procedure for admission to municipal kindergartens, nurseries and primary schools are regulated by acts at local government level and may differ from one municipality to another. In some cities, registrations and applications are processed electronically through a centralised ranking system. If, for a specific reason, the parent/guardian is unable to create an electronic profile of the child, it is mandatory to fill in a written application in the kindergarten/school with all the data necessary for registration and application. The data are entered into the electronic system by the director of the kindergarten or school on the same day. In some cities, the adopted regulations still allow documents to be submitted physically or by email to a specific kindergarten.
The admission criteria for public nurseries and kindergartens are listed below.
Examples of general criteria (in most municipalities) include the following.
- The permanent or current address of at least one of the parents/guardians is in the municipality or in the administrative area of the kindergarten or nursery.
- The child has a parent who is in employment or on parental leave.
- The child has a parent who is a full-time student at a university in the municipality.
- The child attends a municipal independent nursery or private nursery when applying to a kindergarten for the first kindergarten group.
- The child has a brother/sister attending the nursery/kindergarten/school, when both children will attend nursery/kindergarten/school at the same time, or has a twin or sibling born no more than 2 years apart attending the nursery/kindergarten/school.
Examples of social criteria include the following.
- The child has a parent who has died.
- The child has family member whose working capacity has been permanently reduced by over 70 %.
- The child has one unknown parent or a parent who has been deprived of their parental rights.
- The child has been placed with a foster family or with relatives.
- The child is at risk.
- The child is living in a family/household with three or more children.
Examples of additional criteria include the following.
- Up to three children with special educational needs may be taught in a kindergarten group or in a school class. Where there is not another group or class that will provide the same education in the territory of the municipality, the number of such children may be greater, with the permission of the head of the relevant regional educational office.
- Up to three children with chronic diseases can be accepted per group.
In some cities, admission is done through an electronic system. All children applying for admission to municipal nurseries, municipal kindergartens and preschool groups in municipal schools are registered in the application system. Each child receives points according to the application criteria and additional points for each nursery/kindergarten/school in the order that the child applies. Within the procedure, several rankings are made. The rankings are made according to the parents’/guardians’ choice of nurseries/kindergartens/schools and the number of points from the application criteria. The rankings are made separately for each age group and for each nursery/kindergarten/school. At the first ranking, the children are ranked in order of priority according to the social criteria. After this ranking, parents can enrol the accepted children. If there are still available places in the nursery/kindergarten/school, further ranking takes place and children are accepted until all places are filled.
Enrolment and registration of children in private kindergartens and schools are carried out under the conditions and in the order determined by the kindergarten and in the contract for education.
Group size and child/staff ratios
Nurseries and nursery groups in kindergartens
Permanent nurseries are those in which children attend year-round. There are day nurseries, weekly nurseries and mixed nurseries. In the day nurseries, children attend every day except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Children attending the weekly nurseries are admitted on Monday and handed back to their parents on Friday. The children can also be cared for by their parents on other days of the week. In mixed nurseries, children are divided into day nursery groups and weekly nursery groups. In the nurseries, children are divided into groups as follows.
- In infant nursery groups, children aged 3–10 months are admitted. They operate on a daily basis only.
- In mixed nursery groups, children aged 10 months to 3 years are accepted. There are daily and weekly groups.
The sizes of nursery groups are as follows:
- infant groups – 6–8 children;
- mixed daily groups – 8–16 children;
- mixed weekly groups – 8–12 children;
- groups with children with disabilities or chronic diseases – 6–8 children.
In municipalities where there has been a continuous shortage of places in nurseries for at least 3 years, the number of children admitted to a mixed daily group may be increased to 20. This might happen following a reasoned proposal by the municipal council and in coordination with the director of the regional health inspectorate.
The sizes of kindergarten groups are as follows:
- nursery group – 8–18 children;
- all-day and half-day groups – 12–23 children;
- special groups – from 6/8 to 11 children according to the type of disability; a maximum of 4 out of 6 children with multiple disabilities are permitted.
Nurseries must employ the following specialists:
- a nurse or midwife with a higher education qualification at the level of bachelor’s degree (International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 6) in nursing or midwifery;
- a pedagogue with a higher education qualification (ISCED level 6) in the specialty ‘preschool pedagogy’;
- a babysitter with a secondary education (ISCED level 3).
Each group of children under the age of 3 years must be managed by two core practitioners who have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, only one of them must be a ‘pedagogical specialist’ (qualified in early childhood education and care); the other is a nurse.
At least two nurses and two babysitters are appointed to one nursery group in a kindergarten, but the children are cared for by at least one nurse and one babysitter per session. At least two additional nurses are appointed in the weekly nurseries and at least one nurse and one additional nurse are appointed in the infant nursery groups. In the nursery groups that have been increased to 20 children, an additional nurse and one babysitter are appointed.
Staff members per group
Day nursery infant group (up to 18 children per group)
3 core practitioners: nurse(s) and babysitter(s)
3 core practitioners: nurse(s) and babysitter(s)
Day nursery group (up to 18 children per group)
Day nursery mixed group (up to 20 children per group)
3 core practitioners: nurse(s) and babysitter(s)
3 core practitioners: nurse(s) and babysitter(s)
Weekly nursery group
Preschool education is organised into age groups as follows:
- first age group – children aged 3–4 years (or 2–4 years, when the conditions are met for a child to start attending kindergarten at the age of 2 years);
- second age group – children aged 4–5 years;
- third age group – children aged 5–6 years;
- fourth age group – children aged 6–7 years.
After determining the number of groups, the maximum number of children per group can be increased by up to two above the maximum of 23 children per group. The increase in the number of children is carried out after a decision of the municipal council in municipalities with a shortage of places in kindergartens. An amendment to the ordinance on the financing of institutions in the system of preschool and school education, which came into force in 2019, provides for the maximum number of children in the groups to be increased above the number determined in this order by up to three under certain conditions. So, for each age group for children aged above 3 years, the maximum size of a group could be 28 children. At least one teacher and one assistant tutor are in charge of a group.
Numbers of children per group, staff member and teacher
Age of children
Maximum number of children per group
Maximum number of children per staff member
Maximum number of children per teacher
10 months to 3 years
Day nurseries accept children from 3 months to 3 years of age for a day session. These sessions take place every day except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The weekly nurseries accept children from 10 months to 3 years of age for a weekly stay. The children in the weekly nurseries are admitted on Monday and handed back to their parents on Friday. The children can also be cared for by their parents on other days of the week, in which case the food for the child’s afternoon snack and dinner is given to the parents.
In mixed nurseries, the children are divided into day nursery groups and weekly nursery groups.
Seasonal nurseries can be opened, if necessary, for a period of 4–6 months.
Preschool education provided in kindergartens and primary schools is structured according to school years. The school year for preschool education begins on 15 September and lasts 12 months. If 15 September falls at the weekend, the school year starts on the next working day. The school year includes study time (from 15 September to 31 May of the next calendar year) and non-study time (from 1 June to September and holidays throughout the year). During non-study time, care is provided without pedagogical situations and only additional forms of pedagogical interaction are organised. During study time, both basic and additional forms of pedagogical interaction are organised. The additional forms of pedagogical interaction expand and improve the basic competencies of children. They are organised by the teacher of the group outside the time for conducting pedagogical situations.
Preschool education in kindergartens can be organised as whole days, as half days or on an hourly basis.
The whole-day sessions provide education, socialisation, training and upbringing for children for 12 hours per day (60 hours per week) during the school year from 15 September to 14 September of the following calendar year. In the whole-day sessions, basic and additional forms of pedagogical interaction alternate during school time. The whole-day sessions include, in addition to pedagogical interaction, time for play, rest, afternoon sleep, meals (breakfast, lunch and two mandatory snacks – between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner) and activities of the child’s choice.
The half-day sessions provide education, socialisation, training and upbringing for children for 6 consecutive hours per day (30 hours per week) before midday. The half-day sessions include pedagogical situation and time for play and rest, and the conditions and time for breakfast and activities of the child’s choice.
The hourly sessions provide education, socialisation, training and upbringing for children aged 3 and 4 years for 3 consecutive hours per day (15 hours per week) and take place only during school hours from 15 September to 31 May of the following calendar year. The hourly sessions are attended by children in a group alongside the children attending whole-day sessions. No more than two children attending hourly sessions can be included in one whole-day group. These sessions take a basic form, and include, if the length of the child’s stay allows, additional forms of pedagogical interaction, the conditions and time for play, rest and activities of the child’s choice.
Across the different session types (whole day, half day and hourly) that kindergartens may provide, learning time is structured into pedagogical situations. The number and duration of pedagogical situations are determined by the state educational standard for preschool education. The pedagogical interaction in preschool education is organised in basic and additional forms. Pedagogical situations are organised only during school hours and ensure the achievement of competencies for the respective age group. Pedagogical situations are distributed across the educational areas on a weekly basis, according to age group, by the teachers of the specific group before the beginning of the school year, with approval from the director of the kindergarten.
The duration of a pedagogical situation at the discretion of the teacher is 15–20 minutes for the first and second age groups (3–4 years and 4–5 years) and 20–30 minutes for the third and fourth age group (5–6 years and 6–7 years). In the additional forms of pedagogical interaction, separate competencies are expanded and improved, which contribute to the child’s personal development and to the diversification of the child’s life. They are organised by the teacher of the group outside the time for conducting pedagogical situations in accordance with the programme applied in the kindergarten, the overall organisation of the day and the interests and needs of the children. The minimum total weekly number of pedagogical situations is:
- 11 for the first age group;
- 13 for the second age group;
- 15 for the third age group;
- 17 for the fourth age group.
The total weekly number of pedagogical situations for each age group may not exceed the above minimum numbers by more than five for whole-day sessions and by more than two for half-day and hourly sessions. In kindergartens and primary schools that implement innovative and specific educational programmes, up to two additional pedagogical situations per week can be organised.
In-person pedagogical interaction in kindergartens and compulsory preschool education groups in schools may be terminated due to extraordinary circumstances. If this happens, the pedagogical interaction is carried out, if possible, remotely and electronically using information and communication technologies. Parents are required to participate in this remote learning. The durations of interactions are determined by pedagogical specialists according to the age of the children but may not exceed 30 minutes per day.
Organisation of time in whole-day kindergarten sessions for all age groups (Monday to Friday)
Out-of-hours provision (before activities)
Out-of-hours provision (after activities)
9.00–11.00: pedagogical situations
10.00–10.30: morning snack
15.30–16.30: pedagogical situations (third and fourth age groups)
15.30 –19.00: games (first and second age groups)
16.30–19.00: games (third and fourth age groups)
The daily distribution of time is determined by the regulations for the activity of the kindergarten or school. Children arrive at kindergarten from 7.00 to 8.30 and can stay until 19.00 if they attend whole-day sessions.