Care for children (ECEC) under 3 years old (0–3 years) is provided in nurseries (detské jasle, officially called zariadenia starostlivosti o deti do troch rokov veku dieťaťa - facilities of care for children up to 3 years of age) or child groups. Nurseries can be founded by municipalities, however, most of them are founded and operated by private entities or churches. Nurseries are methodologically managed by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic.
Preprimary education in the Slovak Republic is provided by institutions called kindergartens (ISCED 020). As a rule, kindergartens admit 3-6 years old children. 2-year-old children can also be admitted if allowed by the kindergarten’s capacity.
Founders of kindergartens are mostly municipalities and cities (public kindergartens), natural or other legal persons (private kindergartens) and state-recognised churches or religious societies (church kindergartens).
Pre-primary education in the last year of kindergarten is compulsory for children from the age of 5. Compulsory school attendance in public kindergartens is provided free of charge.
Kindergartens are professionally and methodologically managed by the Ministry of Education, Research, Development, and Youth of the Slovak Republic.
Education in kindergartens is driven by the school educational programme (školský vzdelávací program) that kindergartens must create in compliance with the state educational programme (štátny vzdelávací program). After the completion of the last year of pre-primary education in kindergarten prior to compulsory school attendance in primary school, children obtain pre-primary education at ISCED 020 level.
Reforms based on the Plan of Recovery and Resilience introduced gradual implementation of legal entitlement to a place in kindergarten. 4-year-old children will have a legal entitlement to a place in kindergarten from 2024/2025 and 3-year-old children from 2025/26.