The Education Division's advisory services provide general guidance via telephone Mon-Fri 10.00–12.00 and 13.00–15.00, and at the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10.00–12.00 and 13.00–15.00 at Työpajankatu 8, 00580 Helsinki.

What is pre-primary education?

All children attend pre-primary education in the year they turn 6, which is one year before the start of comprehensive school. During the year, children learn social skills through playing, moving, exploring, and artistic activities to strengthen their self-esteem while getting familiar with letters, numbers, the nature, and the urban environment. Pre-primary education considers the children’s individual needs and ways of learning.
Kuvituskuva
Photo: Konsta Linkola

The child’s learning path progresses from early childhood education through pre-primary education to basic education. Therefore, the place of pre-primary education is often located close to the child’s future school. School and pre-primary education work in close cooperation already during the pre-primary education year. The children get to know their future classmates when those who continue to attend the same local school are placed together. The child’s need for support is always considered when allocating the pre-primary education place. 
 
Pre-primary education is free and lasts four hours a day between 8.30 am and 13.30, mainly during the school year. Each pre-primary education place determines the times they provide the education. In addition to pre-primary education, the child may participate in paid early childhood education that supplements pre-primary education until the child goes to school. Supplementary early childhood education is provided at the child’s pre-primary education place, which is usually the daycare centre. 
 
In Helsinki, Finnish- and Swedish-language pre-primary education is offered as a municipal and private service. Private daycare centres provide pre-primary education also in languages other than Finnish or Swedish. For more information, see Pre-primary education in different languages

In Helsinki, municipal pre-primary education is provided in Finnish, Swedish and North Sami. Municipal pre-primary education is also available in various bilingual options, including English, French, German and Russian. Pre-primary education is also provided in private daycare centres and schools. Find out more about municipal pre-primary education in different languages.

Autumn term starts on 10 August 2023 (Thu) and ends on 22 December 2023 (Fri). 

Autumn break is from 16 October 2023 (Mon) to 20 October 2023 (Fri). 

The Christmas holiday is from 23 December 2023 (Sat) to 7 January 2024 (Sun).  

 

Spring term starts on 8 January 2024 (Mon) and ends on Friday 31 May 2024.  (NB! Comprehensive school ends on Saturday 1 June 2024.)

Winter break is from 19 February 2024 (Mon) to 23 February 2024 (Fri). 

Finnish-language pre-primary education follows the term and holiday times listed above with the exception that the pre-primary education school year 2023–2024 will end on Friday 31 May 2024.

Helsinki is divided into pre-primary education admission areas. The city will assign places in pre-primary education for children attending municipal early childhood education. The city assigns places also for those enrolled in pre-primary education in daycare centres within their own pre-primary education admission areas. Enrolment only applies to those children who are not attending municipal early childhood education in Helsinki before starting pre-primary education.  We assign pre-primary education places to children in municipal early childhood education and to children who are not covered by the service at the same time and on an equal basis.  When we assign a pre-primary education place, the child's home address, the pre-primary education admission area according to the home address, the child's future local school and the language in which the pre-primary education is organised are taken into account. If there are several daycare centres providing pre-primary education in the admission area, the child's place of pre-primary education may not be the same daycare centre where the child has been attending early childhood education.

You can check on the Service Map(Link leads to external service) or from the Education Division’s advisory service which daycare centres provide pre-primary education in your area.  

  1. Click here to go to the Service map(Link leads to external service).
  2. Under the home address field, select the 'Public service areas' menu.
  3. Select 'Pre-school education' from the list below.
  4. You will see a list of Finnish- and Swedish-speaking areas, from which you can select the one you want. Select either this year 2022-2023 or next year 2023-2024.
  5. You can also search for your own pre-primary education area by entering your home address in the field at the top left.

Pre-primary education admission areas 2023–2024 (PDF, non-accessible content)   

Pre-primary education admission areas 2022–2023 (PDF, non-accessible content)  

We assign places in pre-primary education for children in municipal early childhood education as well as for those enrolled in pre-primary education. Enrolment only applies to children who are not attending municipal daycare or early childhood education before starting pre-primary education. The places will be assigned within pre-primary education admission areas based on their children’s home addresses. When assigning pre-primary education places, we consider which schools the children will attend after pre-primary education based on their home addresses. 

If you decline an assigned place in pre-primary education, the place becomes vacant, and you must apply for a new place within the application period.  

If the child is not attending municipal daycare or other form of early childhood education before pre-primary education, you must also apply for a place in pre-primary education. You can list up tp two preferred locations on the application.  

Pre-primary education admission criteria as of 1 January 2023 (PDF)  

Pupil welfare means promoting and maintaining the children’s good learning, balanced mental and physical health as well as social wellbeing. Pupil welfare is primarily carried out as preventive measures that support the entire pre-primary education community.     

Psychologist and social worker services are part of pupil welfare in pre-primary education.   

The psychologist is an expert in matters related to mental wellbeing and learning.   

The social worker is an expert in social services as well as social interaction and wellbeing.     

The common goal of the psychologist and the social worker is to bring new perspectives to the guardians’, children’s and pre-primary education staff’s understanding, knowledge and overall view of the situation, and, when necessary, to help them plan for support measures.   

Their work may be related to:  

  • pre-primary education and school paths,  

  • learning readiness,  

  • friendship skills and working in a group,  

  • lifestyles and functionality of daily life,  

  • health and safety,  

  • emotional skills, 

  • or family situations.  

As a guardian, you can contact the psychologist or social worker on your own or together with the child’s pre-primary education staff.  

Contact details of psychologists and social workers in pre-primary education pupil welfare

Pre-primary education transport arrangement and subsidy principles in Helsinki  

The pre-primary education transport of children attending Finnish-language municipal pre-primary education in Helsinki is arranged and subsidised for both the child and the person accompanying the child in accordance with Section 32 of the Basic Education Act.   

If pre-primary education transport has not been otherwise arranged or subsidised based on Section 32 of the Basic Education Act or other provisions of law, a child attending Finnish-language municipal pre-primary education and the accompanying guardian will be granted an HSL ticket as a transport and accompanying subsidy under the following conditions:  

  • The distance from the child’s home to pre-primary education or from early childhood education, as referred to in the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care, to pre-primary education is at least two kilometres. The transport and accompanying subsidy is granted for transport from home directly to pre-primary education or from pre-primary education to home. If the child attends supplementary early childhood education before or after pre-primary education less than two kilometres away from the pre-primary education location, a transport and accompanying subsidy is granted for the one-way journey only. No transport and accompanying subsidy will be granted for the days when the child attends supplementary early childhood education less than two kilometres away from the pre-primary education location both before and after pre-primary education.  

The distance is measured from the border of the child’ home property, as registered in the national Population Information System, along the shortest route commonly used by pedestrians to the gate of the pre-primary education location or from the gate of the early childhood education location to the gate of the pre-primary education location. The transport and accompanying subsidy can only be granted for one address registered in the Population Information System.  

  • In addition, the transport and accompanying subsidy are conditional on the child attending pre-primary education in a pre-primary education location within the child’s own admission area, in a place otherwise assigned for the child, or participating in the trial for two-year pre-primary education at a pilot establishment or in a language immersion group.  

  • Granting a transport subsidy in the form of an HSL ticket is the primary way of arranging free pre-primary education transport in Helsinki. The transport subsidy will also be granted as a HSL ticket when the journey to and from pre-primary education is deemed too difficult, strenuous or dangerous in view of the child’s age or other circumstances, unless the journey to and from pre-primary education has been otherwise arranged or assisted under these circumstances.  

  • Entitlement to the transport and accompanying subsidy will end if the above conditions for receiving the subsidy are no longer met. For example, if the child’s place of residence registered in the Population Information System changes after the subsidy has been granted, the entitlement to the subsidy ends, unless the conditions for the transport subsidy remain valid and the child’s place of residence continues to be in Helsinki. 

The early childhood education district manager makes the decision on granting the transport and accompanying subsidy. The subsidy is granted by application if the conditions listed above are met. The district managers keep a list of children and guardians who have received a ticket.  

The HSL ticket is granted as a student travel card, travel card or multi-use travel card.  

Applying for the transport subsidy  

Apply for a transport subsidy for pre-primary education using a form that is available at your child’s pre-primary education location. The transport subsidy as a HSL ticket will be granted by the early childhood education district manager. Use the same form to apply for a ticket for the child and the accompanying guardian. Fill in the form carefully and give your personal identity code on the application form.  

A child aged 7 or over in pre-primary education is entitled to a student travel card or multi-use travel card if the above conditions are met. The accompanying guardian is entitled to a travel card or a multi-use travel card if the above conditions are met.  

The student travel card is valid on school opening hours from 6.00 to 18.00 (the travel card is not valid during school holidays, such as the autumn break, Christmas holiday, winter break or other holidays). The multi-use travel card covers the one-way journey from home directly to pre-primary education or from pre-primary education directly home.  

The applications are processed within 1–3 weeks. Copies of the decision will be posted to your home and to your child’s daycare centre, and the original copy will be filed away by the district manager. After the decision, the guardians can obtain the travel card from the daycare centre.  

Pre-primary education transport subsidy, application and decision (PDF)  

Lost travel card  

If you lose your travel card, you can pick up a new card at an HSL service point, but you will have to pay the cost of the new card yourself.  

Other important information  

The travel card and the student travel card are personal and may not be given to anyone else. If a travel card is found to be in the possession of a wrong individual upon ticket inspection, the original cardholder will lose their right to the card.  

Return the travel card to your child’s daycare centre once your entitlement to the travel card has expired.