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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Educational guidelines


4.Early childhood education and care

4.3Educational guidelines

Last update: 2 July 2024

Steering documents

Article 14 of Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE), amended by Law 3/2020 (LOMLOE), establishes the general organisation and pedagogical principles of both cycles of ECEC. Royal Decree 95/2022, establishes the organisation and minimum teaching requirements for Early Childhood Education. National and regional educational administrations determine the mandatory educational guidelines that apply to the entire stage of ECEC, following the above mentioned regulations. The curriculum (objectives, competences, content, teaching methods and assessment criteria) is determined by the central Government, in collaboration with the autonomous communities in their respective areas of management, following article 14.7 of LOE, as amended by  LOMLOE.  

  • The Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD), by means of Royal Decree 95/2022, specifies the minimum teachings for the second cycle, which serve as orientative guidelines for the first cycle. This minimum teaching standards include objectives, key skills, specific competences, assessment criteria, basic knowledge and learning situations for the whole stage.
  • The educational administrations establish the curriculum for the entire Early Childhood Education stage, which will include the minimum teachings established in Royal Decree 95/2022 for the second cycle of the stage.
  • The educational centres develop and complete the curriculum established by the educational administrations, adapting it according to their context. To this end, the educational centres have to develop:
    • The school development plan includes the specifications of the curriculum as set out by the education authority.
    • The yearly general programme covers all aspects concerning the organisation and running of the school for the school year. This includes the projects, the curriculum and all action plans.
  • The teaching staff and the rest of the professionals in charge of the pupils adapt the specifications to their educational practice, based on the Universal Design for Learning and taking into account the characteristics of their pupils. For this purpose, they draw up the classroom programme.

No guidelines are issued by the educational administration at the state level for the provision of ECEC at home. At the regional level, the Community of Madrid and the Chartered Community of Navarre  do have rules governing this type of ECEC provision. 

Areas of learning and development

The educational administrations establish the curriculum for the entire Early Childhood Education stage, based on the minimum teachings established in Royal Decree 95/2022.  Early Childhood Education is the beginning of the acquisition process of the key competences set out in the Recommendation of the Council of the European Union of 22 May 2018:

  • linguistic communication skills;
  • multilingual skills;
  • mathematical competence and scientific, technological and engineering skills;
  • digital skills;
  • personal, social and learning to learn skills;
  • citizenship skills;
  • entrepreneurial skills;
  • cultural awareness and expression skills.

The key competences are reflected both in the different curricular elements and in the pedagogical principles of the stage.

The curriculum for Early Childhood Education also includes in  article 7 certain objectives which are the achievements that children are expected to attain by the end of the stage. The achievement of these objectives is linked to the acquisition of the key skills and they are:

a) Getting to know their own body as well as others' and their possibilities of action, and learning to respect differences.

b) Observing and exploring their family, natural and social environment.

c) Progressively acquiring autonomy in their usual activities.

d) Developing their emotional and affective capacities.

e) Interacting with others on an equitable basis and progressively acquiring basic guidelines for coexistence and social relations, as well as practising the use of empathy and peaceful conflict resolution, avoiding any kind of violence.

f) Developing communication skills in different languages and forms of expression.

g) Being introduced to logical-mathematical skills, to reading and writing, and to movement, gesture and rhythm.

h) Promoting, applying and developing social norms that foster equality between men and women.

In accordance with Royal Decree 95/2022, the curriculum of Early Childhood Education is organised in three areas listed in its ANNEX I:

     - Growth in Harmony. This area focuses on the personal and social dimensions of the child. Attention is paid to physical-motor development, the acquisition of self-control and the construction of personal identity.

     - Discovery and Exploration of the Environment. This area fosters the process of discovery, observation and exploration of the physical and natural elements of the environment.

     - Communication and Representation of Real Life. This area seeks to develop in children the skills that enable them to communicate through different languages and forms of expression as a means of developing their identity, representing reality and relating to other people.

The curriculum of each area is made up of:

  • Specific competences: performance levels that pupils must be able to display in learning situations. In order to address these competences, children require the basic knowledge of each area. The specific competences are a connecting element between the key skills, the basic knowledge and the assessment criteria.
  • Assessment criteria: reference points that indicate the level of performance expected by students in the different learning situations.
  • Basic knowledge: knowledge, skills and attitudes that constitute the contents of an area. Its acquisition is necessary for the development of specific competences.
Area Specific competences Assessment criteria Basic knowledge
Growth in Harmony
  1. Progressing in the knowledge and control of one's body and in the acquisition of different strategies, adapting one's actions to the reality of the environment in a safe way, in order to build an adjusted and positive self-image.
  2. Recognising, expressing and progressively regulating one's emotions, expressing needs and feelings in order to achieve emotional well-being and affective security.
  3. Adopting models, rules and habits, developing confidence in one's possibilities and feelings of achievement, in order to promote a healthy and eco-socially responsible lifestyle.
  4. Establishing social interactions in conditions of equality, valuing the importance of friendship, respect and empathy, in order to build their own identity based on democratic values and respect for human rights.
Each cycle contains 2-4 assessment criteria for each of the area-specific competences.

The basic knowledge for each cycle is developed in four sections/blocks:

A.The body and its progressive control.

B. Affective development and balance

C. Healthy life habits for self-care and protection of the environment.

D. Socio-emotional interaction in the environment. Life with others.

Discovery and Exploration of the Environment
  1. Identifying the characteristics of materials, objects and collections and establishing relationships between them, through exploration, sensory manipulation, the use of simple tools and the development of logical-mathematical skills to discover and create an increasingly complex idea of the world.
  2. Progressively developing the procedures of the scientific method and the skills of computational thinking, through processes of observation and manipulation of objects, in order to get familiar with the interpretation of the environment and to respond creatively to any situations and challenges that arise.
  3. Recognising elements and phenomena of nature, showing interest in the habits that affect it, in order to appreciate the importance of sustainable use, care and conservation of the environment in people's lives.


The basic knowledge for each cycle is developed in four sections/blocks:

A. Physical dialogue with the environment. Creative exploration of objects, materials and spaces.

B. Experimentation in the environment. Curiosity, scientific thinking and creativity.

C. Exploration of the physical and natural environment. Care, appreciation and respect

Communication and Representation of Real Life
  1. Showing interest to interact in everyday situations through the exploration and use of one's communicative repertoire, in order to express needs and intentions and to respond to the demands of the environment.
  2. Interpreting and understanding messages and representations relying on knowledge and resources from personal experience in order to respond to the demands of the environment and construct new learning.
  3. Producing messages in an effective, personal and creative way, using different languages, discovering the codes of each one of them and exploring different possibilities of expression, in order to respond to different communication needs.
  4. Participating voluntarily in activities related to written texts, showing interest and curiosity, in order to understand their functionality and some of their characteristics.
  5. Appreciating the linguistic diversity present in the environment, as well as other cultural manifestations, in order to enrich one's communication strategies and cultural background.

The basic knowledge for each cycle is developed in four sections/blocks:

A. Communication purpose and interaction.

B. Languages and their speakers.

C. Oral verbal communication: expression, comprehension and dialogue.

D. Approach to written language.

E. Approach to literary education.

F. Musical language and expression.

G. Visual and plastic language and expression.

H. Body language and expression.

I. Digital literacy. (only for the 2nd cycle).

Regarding the number of hours per year dedicated to teaching each curricular area, there are variations between the different educational administrations of the autonomous communities.

In the ECEC stage, children have first contact with:

  • a first foreign language, as part of learning in the second cycle of Early Childhood Education, especially in the final year.
  • Reading and writing, early initiation experiences in basic numeracy skills, information and communication technologies, visual and musical expression and other skills determined by the educational administrations.

Religious education is included in the second cycle of the stage on a voluntary basis. 

Teaching methods and materials

Teaching methods

According to Article14.6  of LOE amended by LOMLOE, the teaching methodology used is based on play, in the context of an atmosphere of trust and affection that promotes children’s self-esteem and social integration.

Teaching-learning practices are based on meaningful and emotionally positive learning experiences, experimentation and play. These practices are carried out in an atmosphere of affection and trust. The education authorities establish a series of methodological principles covering:

  • global perspective of learning;
  • children’s physical and mental activity, and the importance of play;
  • priority of emotional and relation aspects;
  • peer-to-peer interaction;
  • coordination with families;
  • preventive and compensatory actions;
  • attention to diversity, adapting educational activities to children’s specific characteristics, interests, cognitive styles, and maturing processes.

Each school teacher is free to choose the methodology to be used in the classroom, which must, however, comply with what has been agreed at the institutional level and established by the relevant education authority.

Learning situations

For the acquisition of key skills, the methodology to be used should be focused on the learner. To this end, teachers must design learning situations  that are stimulating, meaningful and inclusive, well contextualised and respectful with the students' development.

Learning situations present children with a challenge or problem of a certain complexity depending on their age and development. The creative resolution of these situations implies the integrated mobilisation of what has been learnt in the three areas in which the Early Childhood Education stage is organised. They must be based on a clear approach to the objectives and involve the integration of a set of basic knowledge. Moreover, they should encourage different types of grouping and include cooperative learning experiences in order to solve the proposed challenge.

Curricular materials and didactic resources

In accordance with the methodological principles and in the exercise of their teaching autonomy, schools decide on the curricular materials and didactic resources to be used, including:

  • activity books;
  • printed material;
  • self-produced materials;
  • reference books from the school library or classroom library;
  • news media sources;
  • story books;
  • IT resources and audiovisual media.

Schools also have didactic guides, which provide a didactic foundation to the curricular material used, and guidelines for content sequencing and adaptation. The use of resources related to creative, including musical, expression is particularly important in pre-primary education.

The publication and adoption of curricular materials and didactic resources:

  • do not require prior authorisation from education authorities;
  • must be scientifically accurate, adapted to the age of pupils and the curriculum approved by each autonomous community;
  • must reflect and encourage respect for the constitutional principles, values, liberties, rights and duties, as well as for the principles and values included in both Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE), amended by Law 3/2020 (LOMLOE) and Organic Law 1/2004 on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender Violence.

The textbook selection process follows a series of guidelines in all the educational institutions:

•    the pedagogical coordination commission of the school prepares a report on the textbooks that are considered most appropriate, under the supervision of the school council and the teachers’ assembly;

•    teachers are responsible for the final decision;

•    if the school council does not agree with the final decision, it can make suggestions for the teachers’ assembly to consider.

The education inspection authority of the autonomous community supervises textbooks and other curricular materials, as integral elements of the teaching and learning process. There are sources of municipal and/or regional funding for the acquisition of school supplies and books in the second cycle of ECEC. 


Evaluation in pre-primary education is regulated by the Royal Decree 95/2022 and completed by the education authorities of the autonomous communities.  The latter determine the process for evaluating pupils for their respective regions, although some autonomous communities specify the process for both cycles whereas others regulate evaluation only in the second cycle. Article 20 of Royal Decree 95/2022 establishes that:

  • Evaluation is comprehensive, continuous and training-oriented.
  • Direct and systematic observation is the main technique used in the evaluation process.
  • Evaluation is aimed at identifying the initial individual conditions and the pace and developmental characteristics of the pupils.
  • The evaluation criteria established for each cycle in each of the areas are the reference points for evaluation.
  • The evaluation process must contribute to improving both the teaching and learning processes.
  • The parents and legal guardians of the pupils participate in and support the evaluation.  

Transition to primary school

There are no state- or regional-level guidelines on measures to facilitate transition to primary education.

In order to guarantee the continuity of the training process and a positive transition and evolution from Pre-primary to Primary Education, educational administrations and schools will establish mechanisms to favour coordination between the different stages (Article 21 of Royal Decree 157/2022).