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


4.Early childhood education and care

4.2Organisation of centre-based ECEC

Last update: 27 November 2023

Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting

Children have a guaranteed place in a kindergarten, within the municipality in which they live, from the age of 1 year until the age of 6 years, when they begin primary school. They are not guaranteed a place in a specific kindergarten. Private providers and municipalities with available capacity can also offer places for children younger than 1 year. However, as paid parental leave of absence from work has a duration of almost 1 year, few parents or guardians apply for a place before the child has turned 1 year old.

Attendance in kindergarten is not compulsory, and there are no formal entrance requirements. The parents or guardians can choose which kindergarten they would like their child to attend and send an application to the municipality. All kindergartens approved by the municipality must collaborate on the admission of children. The parents’ or guardians' choice of kindergarten will be taken into account.

Each child has the right to a place in a kindergarten in the municipality where he or she lives, but they won't necessarily receive a place in the parents or guardians preferred kindergarten. A coordinated admissions process ensures equal treatment of children and equal treatment of municipal and private kindergartens.

Group size and child-staff ratios

Kindergartens are normally divided into groups of children aged 0-2 years and children aged 3-5 years, or mixed age groups of children aged 0-5 years old. The group organization is the responsibility of the kindergarten owners.

In August 2018 the Kindergarten Act introduced a new standard regulating the child-staff ratio in Norwegian kindergartens. At the same time, the existing standard for the child-teacher ratio was reduced. For children below the age of 3 years, there must be a minimum of one staff member per three children. For children aged 3 years and above, there must be a minimum of one staff member per six children. The child-teacher ratio requires a minimum of one pedagogical leader/qualified kindergarten teacher per seven children below the age of 3 years, and a minimum of one pedagogical leader/qualified kindergarten teacher per 14 children aged 3 years and above. Kindergartens had to meet the requirements in the regulation for the child-teacher ratio by August 2018, and the requirements for the child-staff ratio by August 2019. The standards do not regulate the organization of the kindergarten, (i.e. group size).

The pedagogical leader/qualified kindergarten teacher must have at least a Bachelor’s degree (International Standard Classification of Education level 6). See also Chapter 9.1.

Annual, weekly and daily organisation

The annual schedule usually starts in August, as does the primary school year; however, the kindergarten owner decides how many days a year the kindergarten is open.  The kindergarten owner decides whether the kindergarten will be closed during shorter and longer vacation periods, such as Christmas, Easter and the summer holidays.

There are no national regulations concerning weekly and daily timetables. Most ordinary kindergartens are open at least 41 hours a week (Monday –Friday) and some are even longer. Children may attend part-time or full-time. Full-time attendance is 41 hours or more per week; however, parents or guardians can choose how much time they actually use. Normally kindergartens open at 7.00 or 8.00 and close at 17.00 or 18.00.