The Day Care Act states that all ECEC settings must draw up their own pedagogical curriculum. The curriculum has to describe how the pedagogical learning environment is established. Furthermore, the educational curriculum is to document the learning and development of the 0-6-year-olds. Each ECEC setting decides how to implement the curriculum. Every second year the curriculum is to be evaluated and the evaluation must be published.
The top-level requirements to the curriculum are binding for all ECEC settings. The current requirements are drawn up by the Ministry of Children and Education with help from multiple working groups. The working groups included experts, stakeholders and practitioners within the pedagogical field. The current requirements (the pedagogical curriculum) came into force with the Act on 1 July 2018.
The Day Care Act states that:
- The ECEC setting must cooperate with the parents to make sure that their work support the individual child’s development of social and general skills. The focus on the child’s development contribute to ensure that the child have a good and secure childhood.
- The ECEC settings are to provide experiences and activities that contribute to stimulating the imagination, creativity, digital awareness and linguistic development of the child. The activities should also give the child room to play and learn, as well as room for physical development, interaction and the possibility of exploring the surroundings.
- The ECEC settings are to provide the child with a possibility of participation in decision-making and joint responsibility and thus contribute to developing the child's independence and cooperation skills.
- The ECEC settings must form a learning environment that also pays attention to marginalised children to ensure their well-being, learning and development.
According to the Day Care Act, the main language at ECEC settings is Danish. However, the municipalities have autonomy to permit English, German and French to be the main language spoken in a setting if it does not cause integration issues.
Areas of learning and development
The Day Care Act states that the curriculum must state how the learning environment support children’s general learning including curiosity, drive, self-esteem and movement within and across the following six main themes:
- The versatile personal development of the child
- Social development
- Language and communication
- Body, senses and movement
- Nature, outdoor and science
- Culture, aesthetics and community
ECEC settings are free to choose the pedagogical method. The methods in ECEC settings are based on play, adult-led activities, spontaneous activities, child-initiated activities and daily routines. When choosing the methods it is important that the children’s differences such as age, personality and perspectives are taken into account.
The children practice the ability to concentrate, remember, retell, and make drawings of what they have experienced. In addition to this, they learn to engage in social relations and to make compromises. Movements and rhythmic are used as teaching methods that support the physical development of the child. The teaching materials used by the children are provided by the institution and are free of charge.
There are no statutory requirements as regards to the assessment of children’s development and how it is carried out. However, standardised guidelines are available to support child assessments conducted in ECEC settings.
The ECEC settings carry out regular assessments of the children. Assessments of a child’s general development is based on the child’s development, competences and well-being. The assessment method and criteria varies between ECEC settings. The assessments are also used to evaluate the learning environment, and if necessary, modify the learning environment to support the children’s development in the best possible way.
Furthermore, the Day Care Act states that if any linguistic, behavioural or other conditions cause the ECEC staff to believe that the child could benefit from language stimulation, a language assessment must be conducted. The language assessment takes place when the child is between two and three years old. For children who do not attend an ECEC setting, the language assessment is compulsory.
The language assessment tests four different skills:
- Productive spoken language
- Receptive spoken language
- Phonetic awareness
- Communicative competency
The language assessment follows these steps:
- The parents are informed about the assessment and provide the ECEC setting with the background information about the child.
- The parents fill out a questionnaire about their child’s vocabulary, use of grammar and linguistic complexity.
- The ECEC staff completes the assessment. The assessment is completed by filling in a form assessing the child’s vocabulary and ability to create sentences.
- The assessment result is made available for the parents. If necessary, action is taken in order to support the child’s language development.
Transition to primary school
Children normally start school at the age of six. Deferment is possible. The final decision about deferment has to be made with parental consent.
The Day Care Act states that the ECEC settings are to establish a learning environment that ensures a smooth transition from the ECEC setting to primary education. The municipalities can set further guidelines to ensure a smooth transition.
Preschool is a common measure offered by the municipalities. Normally, children start preschool between three to five months before they start school to get familiar with the environment.
Preschool takes place at the leisure-time care facilities at schools (SFO). The preschool does not have its own curriculum and must follow either the themes of the pedagogical curriculum (applies to ECEC settings) or the preschool class competence areas (applies to the first year of school).
The aim of the preschool is to ensure a smooth transition from day care to school. Often preschool activities consists of play, teaching, and learning to get familiar with the structure of a school day. The Ministry of Children and Education have collected best practise examples to inspire and guide the municipalities in their organisation of preschool.