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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: 24 January 2024

Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting


Children under 3 years old can attend 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). Nurseries operate as a social service for the support of harmonisation of family and work life. They provide standard care for children, meals, and upbringing. Small children of this age may also be placed with childminders (opatrovateľ detí) or in a child group (more information on children groups available in chapter 4.4 Home-based provision). Parents can change nurseries for their children but the admission criteria are within local autonomy.

Children above the age of 3 years can attend kindergarten. Children who have reached the age of 2 can be admitted to kindergarten if there is free capacity and appropriate material, personnel, and spatial conditions. However, the headteacher must give admission priority to children above 3 years of age. 

Parents have a right to apply for admission of their child to pre-primary education at a kindergarten or a special kindergarten. The vast majority of parents opt for kindergartens near their residence or as close to it as possible. There has been an increase in the number of parents who choose a kindergarten according to the kindergarten’s focus or profile, the quality of the educational programme provided, etc. 

The admission of children into a kindergarten is the responsibility of the kindergarten headteacher. Children attend compulsory pre-primary education in a catchment kindergarten unless their parents choose a different kindergarten. The catchment kindergarten head must admit children with permanent residence in the municipality to compulsory pre-primary education. 

A child that attends kindergarten before it has reached the age from which pre-primary education is compulsory will continue attending compulsory pre-primary education in the respective kindergarten. 

Children who must attend compulsory pre-primary education are given priority in admission to pre-primary education. Other admission requirements are determined by the kindergarten head upon agreement with the kindergarten founder. The requirements are published at a publicly accessible place or on the kindergarten’s website if there is one. They must not be discriminatory or diminish children’s or their parents’ rights.

Kindergartens must not set admission requirements such as both parents being employed or the child’s or parents’ permanent residence being in the municipality in question. They can, however, stipulate that, for example, in case of a large number of applications, they will primarily admit children from the given municipality/area, children of employed parents, etc.

Children are admitted to kindergartens based on their parents’ written application, which parents submit to a kindergarten head with an attached paediatrician’s statement on the child’s state of health, which must also contain a statement on mandatory vaccination. However, the non-vaccination of a child cannot be used as a reason for not admitting the child. Parents can apply to more kindergartens. 

Kindergartens admit children continually throughout the year, or for the next school year. Children are admitted continually if kindergartens have enough capacity. If a child is not admitted to a kindergarten owing to a lack of capacity, all legal guardians can ask the kindergarten head to reconsider his or her decision not to admit the child to the kindergarten. The head will either confirm the decision or overturn it and admit the child. This can happen, for example, when, in the meantime, a legal guardian of another child who has been admitted to the kindergarten informs the kindergarten that the child has also been admitted to another kindergarten and will enroll there.

Group size and child–staff ratios


Nurseries can provide care for a maximum of 12 children in one day room, which functions as a playroom and a bedroom. This number can be increased to a total of 15 children provided the group of children does not have a child younger than one year. Nurseries must observe the ratio of five children per employee. Of the total number of employees in nurseries, 75 % must be professional employees - childcarers and the remaining 25 % may be service employees - cooks, cleaners, etc. 

The minimum qualification requirements to work as a childcarer in nurseries are completed

  • full secondary vocational education in pedagogy with a focus on childcare
  • full secondary general education or full secondary vocational education and completed an accredited childcare course of at least 220 hours.

If a nursery provides care for a child younger than one year of age, one of the childcarers must be a qualified healthcare worker - a nurse, midwife, or healthcare assistant. The conditions for providing care in nurseries are regulated by Act no. 448/2008 on Social Services (Zákon č. 448/2008 o sociálnych službách).

Kindergartens are divided into classes. A kindergarten can have one or more classes. Classes can be age-homogeneous or age-heterogeneous. 

Children in compulsory pre-primary education are usually placed in a separate class. 

The maximum number of children in a kindergarten class is:

  • 18 per class for children aged 2–3 years; 
  • 20 per class for children aged 3–4 years;
  • 21 per class for children aged 4–5 years;
  • 22 per class for children aged 5–6 years;
  • 21 per class for children aged 3–6 years.

If there is increased demand from parents to enroll their children in a kindergarten, the kindergarten head can accommodate more than the legally specified number of children, provided legal conditions for space, equipment, and personnel are met. In that case, the headteacher can admit another three children per class; however, this applies only if

  • the child’s permanent residence changes (e.g. if the family moves suddenly), so that the child can continue pre-primary education in kindergarten at the new place of residence;
  • the child is admitted only for an adaptation or diagnostic stay at kindergarten (this is only a temporary admission of a higher number of children, which ends on the completion of the adaptation or diagnostic stay of the child concerned);
  • the child continues attending compulsory pre-primary education in kindergarten;
  • there is an increased interest of parents in education and care at the kindergarten.

When determining the number of children per kindergarten class, the head may (but is not required to) also consider the number of children under the age of 3 years in the class. 

In classes with half-day education, pre-primary education is provided by one kindergarten teacher. In classes with all-day education, pre-primary education is provided alternately – in shifts – by two teachers. Three teachers work alternately in all-day education classes with more than 10 children younger than 3 years. A member of the non-teaching staff helps children with hygiene, dressing, eating, and other personal care. 

All kindergartens are managed by heads who also perform direct educational activities with children for 6–23 hours a week, depending on the number of kindergarten classes.

Teacher’s assistants, who are pedagogical employees, can also work in kindergartens. Their task per teachers’ requirements and in cooperation with childcare professionals is to create equality of opportunity in education. They help a child or a group of children to overcome structural, information, language, health, social, or cultural barriers. Other staff, such as the school digital coordinator, professional employees, school support team, and healthcare worker can also work in kindergartens.

Minimum qualification requirements to work as a kindergarten head, kindergarten teacher, and kindergarten teacher’s assistant

Position Minimum qualification requirements
Kindergarten head Full secondary vocational education (ISCED 3) in the field of early childhood education, 5-year work experience in the position of an independent pedagogical employee, completion of the basic module of functional education
Kindergarten teacher Full secondary vocational education (ISCED 3) in the field of early childhood education
Teacher's assistant Full secondary vocational education (ISCED 3) in Pedagogical assistant field of study


Child group size and the number of children per employee

Children’s age Maximum number of children in a group Maximum number of children per employee Maximum number of children per teacher/professional employee
under 1 year 12 5 3
1 year 15 5 3
2 years 18 18 18
3 years 20 20 20
4 years 21 21 21
5 years 22 22 22
2-6 years 20 20 20

Information on educational requirements for kindergarten teachers and headteachers is available in Chapter 9.1 Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education.

Annual, weekly and daily organisation

Nurseries provide childcare on working days for at least 8 hours a day. However,  founders (particularly founders of private facilities) can determine the time frame of the provided services based on the individual needs and requirements of parents.

Nurseries provide

  • standard childcare
  • meals
  • upbringing

Organisation of weekly/daily activities is in the founder’s competence and it adapts to children’s individual needs and parents’ needs and requirements.

Kindergartens operate throughout the whole year. Instruction takes place from 1 September to 30 June of the following calendar year, followed by the school summer holiday. During holidays (autumn, Christmas, spring, and Easter holidays), the operation of kindergartens adapts to parents’ needs and requirements. During the summer holiday, the operation of every kindergarten is interrupted for at least 3 continuous weeks so that the premises can be cleaned thoroughly, the environment and toys be disinfected and the staff can take a holiday. 

During the summer months, educational activities organised in kindergartens differ from those that take place during the school year. The time is filled mostly with free play. Activities are less organised and more interactive, and they can be adapted to the interests of children. When several kindergartens are owned by one founder, children may be gathered in one of them during the summer months.

The daily operation of a kindergarten is decided on by the head after prior consultation with parents and with the founder’s agreement. Kindergartens provide half-day or full-day education and care. Kindergartens providing half-day education provide pre-primary education usually for 5 hours a day in the morning or the afternoon. 

Kindergartens normally operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the operation of individual kindergartens varies depending on the local conditions and, in particular, on parents’ demands. However, no kindergarten operates before 6 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

Educational activities in kindergartens are not carried out based on lessons or a subject system. The morning is taken up with a continual flow of educational activities, and in the afternoon the activities are broken up, with various content, focus, and organisation. 

Education in kindergartens is provided through the following forms of daily activities:

  • play and activities of children’s choice,
  • health exercise,
  • educational activities,
  • time outdoors,
  • healthy lifestyle activities (personal hygiene, diet, rest).

Play and activities of children’s choice are independent activities when children arrive in the kindergarten and leave in the afternoon. These activities emphasise individual interests and needs.

Exercise takes place every day at a particular time, generally before a meal (usually breakfast), while observing principles of hygiene (in a well-ventilated room, or outside). It can be repeated during the day and can take place indoors (playroom, gym, etc.) or outside the kindergarten (schoolyard, terrace, playground, etc.).

Educational activities are activities related to facilitating planned educational content, which is part of the school educational programme curriculum. Educational activities can be scheduled as separate units or as part of other forms of daily activity. They can be individual, group, or whole-class activities. The duration of an educational activity is flexible, as children’s abilities and needs, their developmental particularities, and their mental health must be respected. 

Time outdoors has pedagogical, recreational, and health functions. Elements of time spent outside include in particular spontaneous movement, free play, and walks outside the kindergarten site. This takes place every day and can be shortened or omitted only in the case of exceptionally adverse weather conditions. 

Healthy-lifestyle activities include the following:

  • meals,
  • personal hygiene,
  • rest.

Meals are served at fixed times. The meal times (morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack) are determined according to the kindergarten’s operating conditions. Rest in beds is scheduled after lunch and its duration depends on children’s needs. The minimum duration of the rest is 30 minutes.

Educational activities in kindergartens are characterised by the flexibility of alternating between spontaneous and organised activities. Kindergartens arrange daily activities into a routine, which:  

  • provides balanced alternation between spontaneous play and organised activities;
  • creates sufficient space for children’s individual needs and interests;
  • makes sure that healthy lifestyle principles are observed (regular meals, enough movement in the open air, enough exercise and rest).

The daily routine in classes with half-day operation is adapted to the time available. The daily routine of every kindergarten or class is designed to reflect the circumstances and needs of children in the class.

Daily routine example
Kindergarten operation time: 6.30 a.m –5 p.m. 

Educational activities are integrated into all forms of daily activities throughout the whole day.



6.30 – 8.30

children’s arrival, play and activities of children’s choice, morning routine - discussions, greeting of the day, exercise


hygiene, morning snack


educational activities, games, and activities of children’s choice - planned, individual, or group activities


health exercise, time outdoors associated with a walk to the surrounding area, or realized in the schoolyard with a different focus (movement, environmental, transport, ecological ...)


hygiene, lunch, preparation for rest

12.45 – 14:00

rest, with respect to each child’s need for rest or sleep – at least 30 minutes, dressing, hygiene.


individual or group activities, play and activities of children’s choice, educational activities.

14.30 – 15.00

hygiene, afternoon snack


play and activities of children’s choice, children picked up by parents