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Early childhood education in different languages

The City of Helsinki provides early childhood education in Finnish, Swedish and North Sami. The language of early childhood education is often selected according to the language(s) the child already speaks. Child can also learn Swedish as a new language in a programme called Swedish-language immersion. Children who do not speak Finnish, Swedish or North Sami can go to municipal early childhood education without any previous skills in these languages. In addition to the options provided by the City, Helsinki also has diverse opportunities for early childhood education in many other languages in private daycare centres.

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Early childhood education in Swedish

The Swedish-language services of the City offer early childhood education fully in Swedish.

The Finnish-language services of the City offer a programme called the Swedish-language immersion in early childhood education. Additionally, private daycare centres also offer different kinds of Swedish-language options.

The daycare centres of the City of Helsinki offer Swedish-language immersion that begins in early childhood education. In this method, the child learns Swedish as a new language by listening and using it at the daycare centre and school. The objective of language immersion is that by the end of basic education, the child has achieved strong language skills in both Swedish and Finnish.

The language immersion path begins in early childhood education or in pre-primary education at the latest, and continues until the end of comprehensive school. By participating in the language immersion for the whole duration of the programme, the child will gain strong language skills.

The child can start language immersion at the age of 4 at the earliest and at the age of 6 at the latest. Swedish must be a new language for the child and one of the languages spoken at the child’s home must be Finnish. It is also important that the family wants to commit to the language immersion, from early childhood education to grade nine of comprehensive school.

In language-immersion daycare centres, the teachers use Swedish with the children, but they understand Finnish and can talk with the parents and guardians in Finnish. Children can freely speak their native language until they have the skills to speak in Swedish. As the learning path progresses and the children's language skills develop, they are encouraged to use Swedish increasingly.

In language immersion, the child learns Swedish as part of all daycare centre activities and through stories, songs, nursery rhymes, games and play, and themed exercises. Educators supplement the meaning of words and expressions with gestures and images. In language immersion, the development of the child’s language skills is systematically supported and guided.

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The language immersion paths available in Helsinki are listed below. The child attends the daycare centre or school of their language immersion path until the end of their basic education. In practice this means that a child starts in language immersion in daycare centre, and then transfers to a Swedish-language immersion school of that path. The language immersion path continues in the language immersion class until the end of grade nine.

  • Daycare Linnunlaulu → Kallio Primary School → Pasila Comprehensive School
  • Daycare Elias → Taivallahti Comprehensive School → Taivallahti Comprehensive School
  • Daycare Lokki → Lauttasaari Primary School → Lauttasaari Comprehensive School
  • Language Immersion Daycare Sälen (private daycare centre) → Lauttasaari Primary School → Lauttasaari Comprehensive School
  • Daycare Myllytonttu → Puotila Primary School → Vartiokylä Lower Secondary School *
  • Daycare Nuotti → Hiidenkivi Comprehensive School → Hiidenkivi Comprehensive School
  • Daycare Pihlaja → Meilahti Primary School → Meilahti Lower Secondary School
  • Daycare Roihuvuori → Roihuvuori Primary School → Vartiokylä Lower Secondary School
  • Daycare Ruskeasuo → Meilahti Primary School → Meilahti Lower Secondary School
  • Daycare Veräjämäki → Oulunkylä Primary School (begins in August 2022) → Secondary School: to be announced later
  • Daycare Vihtori→ Hiidenkivi Comprehensive School → Hiidenkivi Comprehensive School

* An example of a language immersion path: If the child begins early childhood education in the language immersion group at Daycare Myllytonttu, the child will go to Puotila Primary School for grades 1–6 and then to Vartiokylä Secondary School for grades 7–9.

In early childhood education and pre-primary education, the teachers use Swedish only. In the first and second grade, 90% of the education is in Swedish and the children learn to read and write in Swedish. In grades 3–4, about 70% of the education is in Swedish and in grades 5–9 about half is in Swedish.

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As applying to language immersion is not yet possible through Asti, you need to fill out a paper application and send it to according to the instructions on the form.

You can access the application here: Application for early childhood education, PDF (opens in new tab)

  • In section 4 of the form (Need for early childhood education), select the option ’Swedish-language immersion’.
  • In section 5, write the names of the language immersion daycare centres to which your child is applying. You can apply to a total of three different daycare centres. The language-immersion daycare centres are:
  • Write in section 6 (Other matters related to the child’s early childhood education) that the child is applying to Swedish-language immersion.
  • The application period ends annually on 31 March, and the families are notified of the selection by the end of April.
  • You can also apply to Swedish-language immersion outside of the application period. In that case, the child can get a place in a Swedish-language immersion daycare centre if the language immersion group has free places left.
  • If the child already has a place in early childhood education, you can submit a transfer application to a Swedish-language immersion daycare centre for the child.

Children with siblings in a daycare centre’s Swedish-language immersion group or in language immersion grades 1–2 are given priority when applying to Swedish-language immersion. If there are more applicants than there are free spots, the selection is made through a draw.

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There are also Swedish-language options for early childhood education in private daycare centres. Learn more about the private options in the links below. Apply to a private daycare centre by contacting the daycare centre in question directly.

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Early childhood education in North Sami

Daycare centre Susanna in Pasila has a North Sami-language group Luopmánat for children aged 1–5. North Sami-language early childhood education is based on Sami values, which are language, family, community, strong identity, nature, traditional livelihoods, equality and humanity, multiculturalism, peace and solidarity. The objective of Sami-language early childhood education is to raise children to be independent, responsible and social, and support the development of their linguistic skills.

  • You apply to North-Sami early childhood education electronically by filling out an early childhood education application onAsti  (opens in new tab).
  • Select Daycare  Susanna as your preferred daycare centre.
  • Write in the additional information section that your child is applying to the North-Sami language group. .
  • All children are welcome, and you can apply to the group even without any knowledge of North Sami.
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Early childhood education in English

Helsinki has many different options for private English-language early childhood education. Private daycare centres organise early childhood education fully in English and as different kinds of bilingual options in which the portion of English varies. Learn more in the sections below and on the daycare centres’ own websites. Apply to a private daycare centre by contacting the daycare centre of your choice directly.

The City of Helsinki does not provide English-language early childhood education as a municipal service.

Early childhood education in other languages

 

In addition to Finnish, Swedish and North Sami, many private daycare centres in Helsinki offer early childhood education in other languages. Private daycare centres offer instruction in languages such as Estonian, French, German, Russian and Spanish. These daycare centres organise early childhood education entirely in these languages and as different bilingual options, where the amounts of different languages might vary. Learn more about these options by browsing the lists of the private daycare centres below. Apply to a private daycare by contacting the daycare centre directly.

Options in private language immersion daycare centres

Browse the lists of the private daycare centres in Helsinki on the Service map links below: