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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Educational guidelines


4.Early childhood education and care

4.3Educational guidelines

Last update: 9 June 2022

Steering documents

A new early childhood education and care (ECEC) curriculum was developed and adopted by Ministerial Order No. 4694 of 2 August 2019. This curriculum proposes a unitary approach to ECEC from birth to the age of 6 years; previously, there were different guidelines for each age group. The 2019 curriculum, currently implemented in all early childhood education settings, sets out the pedagogical framework for supporting children’s holistic development through education and care practices that enable children to reach their full potential. In addition, the curriculum allows teachers to personalise their approach based on every child’s interests, needs and potential. 

The principles listed below set out the fundamental values underlying the development of the ECEC curriculum:

  • child-focused education (knowledge of, respect for and valuing the child’s uniqueness, needs, necessities and characteristics),

  • respect for children’s rights (the right to education, the right to free expression, etc.),

  • active learning (creating learning experiences where the child participates actively and may choose and influence how the activity is carried out),

  • integrated development (through a multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary approach to activities),

  • interculturalism (knowledge and recognition of and respect for national values and the values of other ethnicities),

  • equity and non-discrimination (the development of a curriculum that ensures, equally, development opportunities for all children, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status),

  • education as interaction between educators and the child (the outcomes of education depend on both parties participating in the process, the child’s individuality and the educator’s/parent’s personality).

Areas of learning and development

According to the abovementioned Curriculum 2019, ECEC should take a holistic approach, addressing five areas of child development, namely:

  • physical development, health and personal hygiene;

  • socio-emotional development;

  • cognitive development and knowledge of the world;

  • development of language, communication and the premises for reading and writing; 

  • learning skills and attitudes.

Ante-preschool level

The categories/types of learning activities mentioned in the ECEC curriculum, at ante-preschool level, are as follows:

  • thematic activities

  • routines and transitions

  • games and activities at choice.

These are structured in a syllabus with a specific time allocation for each category/type of learning activities, for the age spans concerned, as presented below:

Age span

Categories/types of learning activities

Time spent on learning activities carried out with children per day/shift (core practitioner)

Total time spent on learning activities per week

0–18 months

Child-initiated games and activities 2.5 hours

2 hours 

10 hours


Routines and transitions

2.5 hours (2 days/week)

3 hours (3 days/week)

14 hours


Adult-initiated thematic activities

10-15 minutes

1 hours




25 hours

19–36 months

Child-initiated games and activities 

2.5 hours

12.5 hours


Routines and transitions

2 hours (4 days/week)

2.5 hours (1 day/week)

10.5 hours


Adult-initiated thematic activities

20-25 minutes

2 hours




25 hours

The learning activities (i.e. educational activities during which children learn) in the syllabus are conducted with the entire group of children or in small groups, throughout a day and/or a week.

To support teachers to organise the activities for children, a typical weekly/daily timetable programme has been developed for each type of programmes (regular hours and long hours / weekly).

The duration of activities in a day and, implicitly, in a week varies depending on children’s particularities and the interest shown by the child / group of children in these activities, the content of such activities and how they are carried out.

That is why it is recommended that, for the first age span (children aged between 3 months and 1 year), the duration of an activity is at most 5-10 minutes. 

Moreover, the ECEC curriculum indicates that, irrespective of the duration recommended for carrying out an activity of the syllabus, at least for the youngest age span, the teacher should assess the reaction of every child and, based on this, decides on the duration of an activity, how it will be delivered and its content. For example, if the children in the group do not react well or show no sign that they have understood a story accompanied by pictures/dolls/puppets, the activity could continue with the teacher bringing to life the characters in the story - using sound, dialogue and movement - or by simulating the characters leaving, as a clue that the activity has finished.

For infants (birth to 3 years), the duration of activities is entirely based on children's individual needs and capacities.

Preschool education level 

The categories/types of learning activities mentioned in the ECEC curriculum for preschool education are as follows:

  • activities in experiential fields (which may be general or subject based)

  • games and activities of choice

  • personal development activities.

These are structured in a syllabus with a specific time allocation, for the age spans concerned, as follows:

Age spanCategories/types of learning activitiesTime spent on learning activities carried out with children per day/shift (core practitioner)Total number time spent on learning activities per week
37–60 monthsGames and activities at choice2 hours10 hours
 Personal development activities

2 hours

10 hours
 Activities in experiential fields1 hours5 hours
 TOTAL.25 hours
61–72 monthsGames and activities at choice2 hours 10 hours
 Personal development activities

1.5 hours

7.5 hours
 Activities in experiential fields1.5 hours7.5 hours
 TOTAL.25 hours

The learning activities (i.e. educational activities during which children learn) in the syllabus are conducted with the entire group of children or in small groups, throughout a day and/or a week.

To support teachers in organise the activities for children, a typical weekly/daily timetable programme has been developed for each type of programmes (regular hours and long hours / weekly).

The duration of activities in a day and, implicitly, in a week varies depending on children’s particularities and the interest shown by the child / group of children in these activities, the content of such activities and how they are carried out.

For children in preschool education, the duration of an activity depends on the child’s age, increasing progressively from 15 minutes (children aged 3-4 years) to 35-40 minutes (children aged 5-6 years). 

Pedagogical approaches

The goals of ECEC (for children from birth to the age of 6 years), are:

  • to develop freely, fully and harmoniously a child’s personality, at their own pace and depending on their needs, supporting their autonomous and creative development;

  • to develop the ability to interact with other children, with adults and with the environment in order to acquire new knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours;

  • to encourage explorations, exercises, trials and experimentations, as independent learning experiences;

  • for every child, to discover their own identity and autonomy and to develop a positive self-image;

  • to support the child to acquire knowledge, abilities, skills and attitudes that are necessary when entering the school system and throughout life. 

Play is a child’s fundamental activity, and all types of learning activities rely on it.

Learning activities for ECEC require a coordination of common efforts from the three partners in the teaching-learning-assessment process, namely teachers, parents and children, and also from collaborators and educational partners in the community, whose involvement is equally important. In carrying out these activities, the focus will be on encouraging children to use their initiatives, learning through experiments and individual practice.  The learning activities are conducted individually, in small groups or with all the children in a group.

The teacher is responsible for choosing teachinf methods, taking into consideration the structure of the group and the teaching aids available in the institution and following the methodological guidelines provided in the specific national curriculum and in publications for teachers.

The teacher is responsible for the management of the group. Teachers may independently decide to organise activities with all children (frontal activity), in groups or individually (differentiated activity), depending on the specific objectives pursued by the activity concerned and the level of the children.

The following teaching methods can be used in ante-preschool education and care:

  • play (playing with toys, symbolic play, sensorial play, construction games, educational games, playing with sand and water, imitative play, etc.),

  • art and skill (technically adapted methods for drawing, painting, modelling, practical and household activities, etc.),

  • music and movement (auditions, musical games, games with text and singing, playing with percussion instruments, songs, eurhythmic exercises, etc.),

  • creation and communication (storytelling, memorizing, working with books, picture reading, word games, verbal-imitative games, onomatopoeic exercises, etc.),

  • knowledge activities (observations, reading based on pictures, exercise games, conversations with and without intuitive support, educational games, microexperiments, etc.),

  • outdoor activities (walks, playing in the sand box, sports games and competitions, etc.).

The methods used in preschool education are mainly:

  • methods based on exposition (storytelling, description, explanation, etc.) and methods based on conversation (conversation, heuristic conversation, issue raising, etc.);

  • learning and exploration methods based on discovery: direct exploration of objects and phenomena (systematic and independent observations, small experiments, etc.) and indirect exploration (demonstration through images, films, etc.);

  • methods based on children’s voluntary action (exercises, practical activities, etc.) and stimulated action (pedagogical games, learning through drama playing, etc.).

The teaching aids used in ECEC consist of:

  • natural materials (plants, shells, seeds, insects, rocks, etc.);

  • technical and working objects (measurement instruments, some household appliances, the illuminated table, writing instruments, objects for painting, modelling, etc.);

  • intuitive materials (moulds, layouts, etc.);

  • figurative materials (illustrations, photographs, atlases, maps, albums, token games, etc.);

  • printed or electronic materials (books for children, workbooks, CDs with games and specific learning activities, audiotapes, etc.); the printed materials may be purchased by the ECEC institution (crèche or kindergarten) or they may be recommended by the teacher and purchased by children’s parents;

  • consumables and reusable materials (paper/cardboard with different colours and dimensions, ribbons, pieces of textiles, cardboard or plastic tubes/rollers, plastic lids, etc.).

The teaching aids used in private ECEC institutions may be much more diverse and numerous, at the individual teacher’s and children’s discretion, than in public institutions. This is because private institutions have a more flexible funding mechanism and charge, in addition to annual tuition fee, an amount for supplies, which parents pay at the beginning of a school year. 


The purpose of assessing the ante-preschoolers’ and preschoolers’ progress is to guide and optimise the child’s development and learning during the interval from birth to the age of 6 years. 

Assessment must follow the child’s progress in relation to themselves rather than in relation to the relative standards of the group.

Assessment of ante-preschoolers’ and preschoolers’ progress is based on specific national standards, namely the Fundamental landmarks of early learning and development of children from birth to the age of 7 years approved by an order of the education minister.

With regard to assessment in ECEC, there are a few important aspects to consider, namely:

  • At the beginning of every school year, the first 2-3 weeks (usually, until 1 October) are dedicated to collecting data about the children (initial assessment). ECEC teachers observe the children at different times during their daily programme and have a dialogue both with the parents and the children, in order to get an accurate idea of their actual psychological and physical development and their level of knowledge and skills. All this information may be written down in the children observation notebook or in the progress evaluation form, and it informs planning for the years ahead. 

  • ECEC teachers have a series of opportunities for ongoing assessment in the daily programme. Considering that in ECEC the main form of learning is play, ante-preschool teachers should use a wide range of assessment techniques. The following methods are proposed for assessing the ante-preschoolers’ and preschoolers’ activities: systematic observation of the child, conversation, the analysis of activity outcomes, the analysis of the social integration process, etc. Play, observation and conversation are vital aspects of assessment.

  • At the end of the first semester, the school year or a cycle, more careful assessment is needed. This is the summative assessment, which requires no fixed delimitation in time and  involes either determining the next steps for advancing through the curriculum or collecting data to complete the evaluation forms for a child’s progress to the next stage (i.e. moving from ante-preschool to preschool or from preschool to primary education). As for the initial and ongoing assessment, it is recommended that teachers use a wide range of assessment methods and tools and to avoid excessive use of worksheets, so than children feel safe and comfortable during this process.

The form for the evaluation of individual progress before enrolment in kindergarten / primary education: 

  • provides accurate, measurable behavioural indicators, which are important for the ante-preschool (2-to 3-year-olds) and preschool (3-to 6-year-olds) of development;

  • is an assessment tool that highlights a child’s regular progress;

  • makes it possible for the teacher to monitor the targets proposed by the curriculum for various areas of development, and to redesign and prioritise the learning activities;

  • reflects the child’s daily activity, revealing gaps and difficulties and identifying any children who are falling behind, so that an appropriate remedial programmecan be developed; 

  • is an efficient tool by means of which the family is co-opted in the process of knowing the child, giving them the possibility to realise what the child knows and is capable of.

Assessment and teaching methods that put the child first and emphasise the formative aspects of play are recommended by the Ministry of Education. These include individual talks with the children; self-assessment; verbal judgments; appreciating the results with praise; encouragement, name tags and medals; evaluative games; role playing; practical pieces of work; marking results on a chart (using symbols) for activities and preferences; displaying children's works; celebrations, outdoor activities, visits, trips.

A child’s progress must be continually monitored, communicated to and discussed with their family. Parents’ involvement, as a source of information and as direct evaluators, may be achieved through activities involving parents, children and teacher), counselling activities, informal discussions (individual, regular or on a daily basis, if necessary), an analysis of a child’s individual portfolio, an analysis of the agenda for communication with parents, thematic letters, etc. 

Transition to primary school 

Before enrolment in primary education, teachers record a longitudinal evaluation of a child’s development and preparedness for the next stage in the child's form for the evaluation of individual progress. This form is generated by each teacher on the basis of the Fundamental landmarks of early learning and development of children from birth to the age of 7 years. It is a working instrument that examines the competencies that the child should have acquired by the end of the preschool period. The longitudinal evaluation form is delivered to parents and can be consulted by the primary teacher before the start of the school year.