Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting
In Slovakia, children under 3 years old may attend nurseries (detské jasle, officially called zariadenia starostlivosti o deti do troch rokov veku dieťaťa. These are provided as a social service for working/studying parents, parents registered at the employment office, etc.
Nurseries provide routine childcare, nutrition and education.
Children of this age may also be placed with childminders (opatrovateľ detí).
Children above the age of 3 years may attend kindergarten. 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.
Unlike for primary schools, there are no catchment areas for kindergartens.
The admission of children into a kindergarten is the responsibility of the kindergarten headteacher.
As a rule, kindergartens admit children from 3 years of age.
Children over the age of 2 years can be admitted to kindergartens if there are available places, appropriate materials and conditions, and enough space.
Kindergartens also admit children with special educational needs, provided the requirements for appropriate personnel, equipment and space are met.
In accordance with the Education Act, admission to kindergarten is prioritised for children who have reached:
- the age of 5 years;
- the age of 6 years and whose compulsory school attendance has been postponed.
These are legal requirements for the admission of children into kindergartens. In addition to complying with the legal requirements, kindergarten headteachers also follow other admission requirements set by the headteachers themselves and discussed with the pedagogical board. The other requirements for admission to kindergarten set by the headteacher 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 teacher 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.
The place and time for submitting applications for the next school year is published by the kindergarten headteacher, upon agreement with the founder, in the kindergarten building and another publicly accessible place. In addition to the place and time, headteachers also publish the requirements for admission.
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 headteacher to reconsider his or her decision on not admitting the child to the kindergarten. The headteacher 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 was has been admitted to the kindergarten informs the kindergarten that the child has also been admitted to another kindergarten and will enrol there.
Group size and child–staff ratios
A childcare facility for children up to 3 years of age (nurseries) can provide care for a maximum of 12 children in one day room, which fulfils the functions of a playroom and a bedroom.
According to Slovak legislation, the obligation to observe the ratio of five children per employee applies to care facilities for children up to 3 years of age (nurseries). Of the total number of employees in nurseries, 75 % must be childcare professionals and the remaining 25 % may be service employees (cooks, cleaners, etc).
Kindergartens are divided into classes. A kindergarten can have one or more classes. Classes can be age homogeneous or age heterogeneous.
The maximum numbers of children in a kindergarten class, for both half-day and full-day education and care, are:
- 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 enrol their children in a kindergarten, it is possible for the headteacher to 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’s compulsory school attendance has been postponed;
- there is an increased interest of parents in education and care at the kindergarten.
When determining the number of children per kindergarten class, the headteacher 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 and care, 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 non-teaching staff helps children with hygiene, dressing, eating and other personal care.
All kindergartens are managed by a headteacher who also performs direct educational activities with children for 6–23 hours a week, depending on the number of kindergarten classes.
The average number of children per teacher is 20.3 across kindergarten years 1–3 (according to the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information).
Teaching assistants, who are pedagogical employees, can also work in kindergartens. Their task in accordance with 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. In Slovakia, there is no legal regulation determining the ratio of teaching assistants to children.
Educational requirements for kindergarten teachers, headteachers and teaching assistants
Minimum required level of education
ISCED level 3 or 4
ISCED level 3 or 4
ISCED level 3
NB: ISCED, International Standard Classification of Education.
Kindergarten teachers do not need to have any experience prior to the start of their pedagogical work. They only need to meet the educational qualification requirement – a minimum of International Standard Classification of Education level 3 or 4. A kindergarten headteacher must be a qualified kindergarten teacher, have at least 5 years of pedagogical experience and have advanced career level (the first attestation), according to the Education Act.
Attestation of pedagogical employees is a verification of acquired competencies which defines the professional standard for the relevant category and subcategory of the employee who acquired them on the basis of continuous education, performance of pedagogical or professional activities and self-education.
According to the Decree of the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic on continuous education, credits and attestations of pedagogical staff and professional staff (445/2009 Coll.), the content of the attestation work of pedagogical staff and professional staff is objective knowledge that is in line with current scientific knowledge and is defined by the chosen topic, thematic area, performed pedagogical activity or professional activity for the performance of which the employee meets the qualification requirements, and by the focus of the attestation content. In addition, the content of the teacher's attestation work is also defined by the field of study or the subject for the teaching of which the employee meets the qualification requirements and which he has chosen to perform the attestation.
The first attestation is focused on the application of the creative experience of the employee in solving professional methodological problems of pedagogical activities and according to the defined professional standards of individual categories and subcategories of pedagogical employees.
The second attestation is focused on the application of significant innovations and demonstration of the creative experience of the employee in solving professional methodological problems of pedagogical activities and according to the defined professional standards of individual categories and subcategories of pedagogical employees.
For more information on educational requirements for kindergarten teachers and headteachers, please refer to the section Promotion, advancement of the EURYDICE report on Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education.
Annual, weekly and daily organisation
Kindergartens operate throughout the whole year. The school year begins on 1 September and ends on 31 August of the following calendar year.
As for kindergartens in schools, classes take place from 1 September to 30 June of the following calendar year, followed by the school summer holiday.
Holidays also take place throughout the school year: autumn holiday, Christmas holiday, mid-year holiday, spring holiday and Easter holiday.
During holidays other than the summer holiday, kindergarten operations adapt to the requirements and needs of children’s parents.
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 can 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 headteacher 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 in the afternoon.
Kindergartens normally operate from 6.00 to 18.00, but the operation of individual kindergartens varies depending on the local conditions and, in particular, on parents’ demands.
However, no kindergarten operates before 6.00 or after 18.00.
Educational activities in kindergartens are not carried out on the basis of 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 by means of the following forms of daily activities:
- play and activities chosen by children
- health exercise
- educational activities
- time outdoors
- healthy-lifestyle activities (personal hygiene, diet, rest).
Play and activities of children’s choice are independent activities during the time when children are arriving in the kindergarten and leaving in the afternoon. These activities put emphasis on 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 contents, which are 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:
- personal hygiene
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 the 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: 6.30–17.00.
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 circle - discussions, greeting of the day, exercise.
- 8.30-9.00: hygiene, morning snack.
- 9.00–10.00: educational activities, games and activities of children’s choice, planned/proposed, individual/group,
- 10:00-11:45: health exercise, time outdoors associated with a walk to the surrounding area, or realized in the school yard with a different focus (movement, environmental, transport, ecological ...).
- 11.45–12.45: 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.
- 14.00–14.30: individual or group activities, play and activities of children’s choice, educational activities.
- 14.30–15.00: hygiene, afternoon snack.
- 15.00-17.00: play and activities of children’s choice, children’s pick-up by parents.