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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of center-based ECEC


4.Early childhood education and care

4.2Organisation of center-based ECEC

Last update: 2 April 2024

Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting

The pre-school education curriculum is designed for children from birth until they begin attending the pre-primary education curriculum, that is, up to 5–6 years. The Maternity leave is from 1 to 2 years and children rarely start attending ECEC institutions before they reach 1.5 year. Vast majority ECEC settings are designed for children from 2 years.

Children must start the pre-primary education in the calendar year when they turn 6. Primary education starts at age 7. At the decision of the parents, children can start the pre-primary education a year earlier, but not earlier than at 5 years old.

Admission procedure to a state or municipal ECEC setting. The state (if the ECEC setting belongs to the state) or municipality (if the ECEC setting belongs to a municipality) establishes the procedure for admission to ECEC. At the national level, the Law on Education (Švietimo įstatymas) stipulates that the right of priority is granted to a child living in the catchment area assigned to an ECEC setting. The catchment area of an ECEC setting is assigned by the municipality, state or private owner of the ECEC institution. Parents (guardians) can choose an ECEC setting outside the catchment area where they live, however, the child will be admitted to this ECEC setting only if there are vacancies. Other admission priorities are set by municipalities and the state, which can rely on the 2003 recommendations (Rekomendacijos) approved by the Minister of Education, Science and Sport to municipalities regarding the centralised admission of children to pre-school and pre-primary education. The main provisions of the recommendations are:

  • follow the order of the application registration date (some municipalities have refused this criterion);
  • give priority to:
    • children with special educational needs;
    • children from single-parent families;
    • children from socially aided families;
    • children from families with three or more children;
    • children, one of whose parents is a pupil or a student and is studying full-time at an educational institution;
    • families whose father is on active military service;
    • children whose parents are disabled in the first or second group;
    • other cases determined by the state and municipalities, for example, a brother or sister already attends an ECEC setting.

Admission procedure to a non-state (private) ECEC setting. The procedure for admission to a private ECEC setting is determined by the owner of the institution. An additional priority may be the fact that a particular ECEC setting is attended by a brother or sister; a child is a child of an institution employee, and so on. The fact that a child lives close to a private ECEC setting is not usually a necessary condition for admission or an additional priority to admit a child earlier than other children.

Group size and child/staff ratios

In Lithuania, there is set a number of employees and core practitioners per group, not a number of children per staff member / core practitioner. This is regulated by the Lithuanian Hygiene Standard HN 75:2016 (Lietuvos higienos norma HN 75:2016) approved by the Minister of Health. The table shows the group sizes according to the age of the children in the group. Moreover, it is stated how many staff as well as core practitioners – have to work specifically in a group.

Age of children Maximum no of children per group No of core practitioners (auklėtojas, pedagogas) per group
Indoor ECEC setting    
From birth to 1 years old 6 2
1-2 years old 10 1
2-3 years old 15 1
3-7 years old 20 1
From birth to 3 years old 8 2
From birth to 7 years old 10 2
1-7 years old. 12 1
2-7 years old 16 1

The pre-school educator (ikimokyklinio ugdymo auklėtojas) and the pre-primary educator (priešmokyklinio ugdymo pedagogas) – the person who is most senior in the group and educates the children – must have acquired a teacher’s qualification. If this person does not yet have a teacher’s qualification, he or she must acquire it within 2 years from the beginning of working as a pre-school or pre-primary educator.

Annual, weekly and daily organisation

Pre-school education and pre-primary education take place on the basis of the school year. That is, the school year begins on 1 September and ends on 31 August of the following year. 

Pre-school education under age 6

The management of pre-school education in Lithuania is decentralised. The procedure for organizing education time, taking into account the educational needs of families raising pre-school children, is adopted by ECEC providers (i.e. the institution implementing the rights and obligations of the owner or the owner).

Usually both municipal and state ECEC settings operate throughout the school year. A non-state (private) ECEC setting may decide that it will not work during the holidays for school education pupils. For example, a private ECEC setting may be closed from 24 December (Christmas) until the New Year and three weeks in the summer.

Children are distributed in groups according to their age and number of children. The groups for under-3s are called lopšelis (nursery), while older children attend darželis (kindergarten) groups. The working hours of each group are determined by the institution’s owner, taking into account the wishes of the parents. The start and end of the day’s work may vary from one ECEC setting to another. The working hours of the day also vary – there are institutions working 3–4 hours, 5–6 hours, 9–10.5 hours and 12 hours during the day. There are also establishments open 24 hours a day (weekly kindergartens). In order to make the working hours of the ECEC setting flexible, early and extended day pre-school education groups are organised.

Each ECEC setting sets its own daily routine – education / rest time – according to the chosen duration of the work. In all groups, if the education lasts longer than 4 hours during the day, meals and sleep time for children are organised. Educators and assistants usually rest during children’s sleep time.

Pre-primary education for 6 year olds

Pre-primary education is organised according to the Outline of the Procedure for Pre-Primary Education (Priešmokyklinio ugdymo organizavimo tvarkos aprašas) approved by the Minister of Education, Science and Sport. The pre-primary education curriculum covers one year. The minimum duration of the pre-primary education curriculum is 640 hours for educational activities. Each setting set its holiday period, but it usually corresponds to the holidays that take place in schools. It is recommended that children’s holidays are organised according to the holidays in general education schools and the needs of parents (guardians).

The pre-primary education curriculum in the kindergartens usually lasts longer than the 20 hours per week. That is, children are educated and cared for throughout the day. When a pre-primary education curriculum is implemented by a school, it may offer full-time care and education if it can ensure conditions that meet hygiene requirements. For example, to be equipped with places for children to sleep.

In the pre-primary education group, educational activities start no earlier than 8 a.m. In groups with more than 4 hours a day of educational activities, children’s meals and recreation are organised. Educators and assistants usually rest during children’s sleep time.

The pre-primary educational activity is an integral process. It is not divided into separate areas (individual subjects) and takes place in an integrated way.