Steering documents in childcare
Currently there is no centralised educational document for children's groups (dětské skupiny), the Act on Children's Group only specifies the areas on which care should be focused. However, the providers are obliged to work out their own programme of education and care for a child, development of skills, cultural and hygienic habits of a child. This is evaluated as a part of the verification of the quality of care using the standards set by the 2021 Decree on Implementing Certain Provisions of the Act on Providing Childcare in a Children's Group.
Steering documents in pre-primary education
The curricular documents are developed on two levels in Czechia – the national and school-based.
The Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education stipulates the binding framework for education in nursery schools (mateřské školy) and education in preparatory classes (přípravné třídy) of basic schools. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports published the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education (FEP PpE) in 2004. The document was prepared by the former Research Institute of Education (Výzkumný ústav pedagogický) together with experts from higher education institutions, Czech School Inspection and State Health Institute. The follow-up revisions were ensured by the National Institute for Education (Národní ústav pro vzdělávání), again in cooperation with experts from other institutions. At present, the new National Pedagogical Institute has been charged with the duty of managing the programme. The Concrete Expected Outputs were implemented as a supplement in 2012.
Based on the FEP PpE, individual schools prepare school education programmes. The school head publishes the SEP after thorough discussions with the teacher's council and makes this document easily accessible to members of the public in the school. The school head is obliged to discuss the content of the SEP with the organising body. The school education programme should serve as the common basis for pedagogical work in individual classes. On its grounds and in compliance with it, a teacher should prepare his/her plan – the class education programme in such a way the content corresponds to the age, abilities, interests and needs of children of a particular class and that the form corresponds to the working style of the teacher. Teachers usually develop them continuously and occasionally optimise or adjust them.
Some additional requirements on the type of activities organised by nursery schools are set by the Decree on Pre-Primary Education of 2005.
In 2017, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport issued the Information Material for Education of Children from 2 to 3 Years of Age in a Nursery School. The material deals with conditions of education of small children, professional qualification and in-service education of teachers, content of education and funding.
Areas of learning and development
Areas of learning and development in childcare
According to the Act on Children's Group, the care in a children's group (dětská skupina) is focused on:
- assurance of child's needs and education
- the development of skills
- the development of cultural habits of the child
- the development of hygienic and social habits of the child
The provider is obliged to work out a programme of education and care ("programme of education and care for a child, development of skills, cultural and hygienic habits of a child") aiming at:
- forming personality of a child
- physical and psychical development of a child
The plan of education and care is evaluated within the verification of the quality of care using the standards set by the Decree on Implementing Certain Provisions of the Act on Providing Childcare in a Children's Group.
Areas of learning and development in pre-primary education
The Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education (FEP PpE) structures the curriculum by tasks of pre-primary education, framework objectives, key competencies, and educational area.
Tasks of pre-primary education
- to complement and support family education;
- to provide children with an environment full of stimuli for their active development and learning;
- to meaningfully enrich children's daily programme;
- to provide a special care to children;
- to facilitate life and education pathways to children;
- to create conditions for continuation in education in such a way that at all times, individual development possibilities of children will be supported at the maximum;
- to fulfil diagnostic tasks, especially in relation to children with special educational needs;
- to provide early special education care
- development of children, their learning and cognition
- acquisition of fundamental social values, on which society is based
- acquisition of personal independence and the ability to act as an independent personality influencing his/her surroundings
If the objectives are fulfilled, they lead to the development of key competencies basics:
- learning competencies
- problem solving competencies
- communication competencies
- social and personal competencies
- activity based and civic competencies
The educational content is divided into five educational areas:
- biological (The child and his/her body)
- psychological (The child and his/her psyche: Language and speech, Cognitive abilities and functions, imagination, and fantasy, thought operations and Self-concept, emotions and will)
- interpersonal (The child and the others)
- socio-cultural (The child and society)
- environmental (The child and the world)
Structure of each area:
- fundamental characteristics and educational intentions
- partial educational objectives
- education offers (i.e. activities, or opportunities which should be offered and ensured in a particular area)
- expected outputs (competencies) which can be generally considered attainable at the pre-primary level
- risks which disturb the educational process and may endanger its intentions
Digital awareness is not a separate educational area of FEP BE. However, the use of common information and communicative means and techniques is part of the communicative competence and psychological educational area. A revision of the concept of digital education in the FEP BE is currently being prepared.
Education in foreign languages is not compulsory in pre-primary education. However, language education is often part of school education programmes, whether in the form of language propaedeutics, full implementation of a foreign language in education or offer as an optional activity. In addition, some nursery schools provide teaching in the language of a national minority (Polish). Children-foreigners for whom the pre-primary education is compulsory are provided, under specified conditions, free teaching of the Czech language in the form of language training groups in nursery schools, or individual language support.
Pedagogical approaches in childcare
For care in children's groups (dětské skupiny), some pedagogical approaches are given by the standards for quality of care that providers are obliged to comply with. Specific criteria are described in the Decree on Implementing Certain Provisions of the Act on Providing Childcare in a Children's Group. In the area of childcare and meeting the needs of the child, following criteria are set, among others:
- The plan of education and care takes into account the age composition of children, individual needs of each child with regard to his health and mental condition, sets appropriate psychosocial conditions of educational care in children´s group and is based on educational values and approaches to children to reach their full potential, especially cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language abilities and skills and also regulates the conditions and methods of providing care if a child with special needs is admitted.
- The provider describes the process of the child's entry into the children's group in writing and follows these rules, takes into account the individual needs of the child and acquaints the child's parents with the rules of the procedure for adapting a child to a stay in a children's group and, if possible, actively involves them in the adaptation process.
- Childminders continuously and regularly consult with parents on the needs and development of the child.
The Act on Children's Group prohibits explicitly “using inadequate educational means or limitation or such educational means that affect dignity of a child or that endanger his or her health, physical, emotional, intellectual and moral development”.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs created various methodological materials for providers, available at the website of the project Support for the Implementation of Children's Groups.
Pedagogical approaches in pre-primary education
According to the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education, pre-primary education should be consistently linked to the different needs and abilities of individual children, including specific educational needs. This educational concept makes it possible to educate children in one class regardless of their different abilities and learning potential. A teacher should guide children on their path to knowledge, stimulate their active interest and their desire to look around themselves, to listen and to discover.
Education should be realised on the basis of integrated blocks which do not separate educational areas or components but offer educational content to a child within real-life context.
Conditions should be created for both individual, group and class activities. Children can take part in joint activities in small, medium sized and big groups.
Spontaneous and directed activities should be interlinked and balanced. Children should have enough time and space for spontaneous play and can either finish it or continue with it later. Didactic style of educating children should be based on the principle of an education offer, on the child’s personal choice and active participation. All activities should be organised so that children would be motivated to take part in independent action and experimentation. Suitable methods and forms of work are situational learning (i.e. using situations to demonstrate life situations), spontaneous social learning (the principle of natural imitation), and learning by experience, cooperation through play and children's activities.
Children have enough time to move freely not only in the garden but also within the school interior (see details on daily regime in Annual, weekly and daily organisation).
According to the findings of the Czech School Inspection, the following educational strategies prevailed in 2019/20 school year: independent work of children (65 % of visited schools), direct instruction (54 %) and work in small groups (50 %). Cooperative group education and pair work were organised less commonly.
To help teachers documents were created by the Research Institute of Education, they are available on the methodology portal:
- Class Register Project
- Guidelines for a Class Education Programme
- Guidelines for Methodology of English Instruction in Nursery Schools
- A Manual for the Development of School (Class) Education Programme of Pre-primary School
- Methodology for Support of Individualisation in Education in Nursery Schools
- Notes on the Creation of a School Education Programme for Preparatory Classes
- Particularities of Development of School Education Programmes for Preparatory Classes of Basic Schools
- Self-evaluation of a Nursery School
Cooperation with parents
One of the sections of the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education is devoted to cooperation with parents: it should be realised on the basis of partnership and it is satisfactory in the case parents have the possibility to participate in various events in a nursery school, they are informed about activities in a nursery school, about the progress of their children and they are offered counselling services. The Decree on Pre-primary Education stipulates that a nursery school cooperates with legal guardians of children and other legal entities and natural persons with the aim to support and to organise activities in favour of children's development and to deepen the educational impact of a nursery school, a family and society.
Assessment in childcare
Within the standards for quality of care in the children's groups (dětské skupiny), the Decree on Implementing Certain Provisions of the Act on Providing Childcare in a Children's Group stipulates also following criterion: „The provider sets up observation and evaluation processes in the child's development.“ No further details are provided.
Assessment in pre-primary education
Continuous monitoring and evaluation, diagnostics
According to the Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education should monitor and record the individual development and learning progress of every child continuously. Assessment of a child and his or her performance in relation to a given standard and comparison of children and their performance should not be carried out.
Every nursery school (mateřská škola), and indeed every teacher, can choose or prepare a system for monitoring and assessing children's development. According to findings of the Czech School Inspectorate, the schools most often use individual assessment by teacher (85.4 % of visited schools), so-called portfolio (65.5 %) and “progress maps” (22.4 %).
Written reports (Class register)
Written reports or other documents relating to a child and his or her progress in learning and development are confidential and are available only to teachers or parents. Teachers should use them in their everyday work, in designing individual education programmes, in communication with a child and for informing parents and informal co-operation with them.
Assessment of children's readiness for school
The Czech School Inspection's Criteria for Evaluation stipulate that the nursery schools monitor and evaluate children's achievement during and at the end of the pre-primary education, and if possibly also in further education and actively use the result of assessment in order to improve the education. However, nursery schools are not authorised to assess children's readiness for school as such. This is ensured by school guidance and counselling facilities, usually when the parents request for the postponement of the compulsory school attendance of the child (or early admission of the child to the basic school).
Transition to primary school
The Framework Education Programme for Pre-primary Education emphasises that creating good prerequisites for the continuation of education is a significant task of pre-primary education. However, no concrete measures to facilitate the transition from nursery school (mateřská škola) to basic school (základní škola) are specified.
Many nursery schools are organised together with basic schools – either under one directorate and/or in one area. However, this is not an official measure to facilitate the transition from pre-primary to primary education. Some children of pre-school year attend the preparatory classes of basic school, which should balance their development.
The Annual Report of the Czech School Inspectorate for 2019/20 showed that activities which prepare children for the transition to basic schools are common part of the education in nursery schools, although a low level of individualisation often reduces their efficiency. The cooperation of nursery and basic schools is more successful in entities integrating both types of schools, where mutual communication, the interchange of information, continuity in children's education as well as the participation of pre-primary teachers in enrolling children in basic schools are facilitated. In separate schools, the activities are often limited to single visits of children to basic schools and joint activities acquainting children with school environment. The nursery schools also offer various activities for parents (guardians) aimed at transition to primary level, but usually not within a coherent system.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports prepared the Decalogue for Parents of Preschool Age Children. Basic information is offered to children's parents on matters which the child should manage before entering basic school. An overview of basic skills links and unifies the goals of the family and the school.