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The task of early childhood education teachers and preschool teachers is to support and promote the learning and competence development of children. This teaching work demands solid knowledge of early childhood education, development, learning and pedagogy.

Early childhood education teachers hold primary responsibility for the care, education and teaching of the children in their group, and for planning and assessing their group’s activities. In early childhood education at a day-care centre, early childhood education teachers are responsible for drawing up each child’s personal early childhood education and care plan and for assessments.

In preschool, early childhood education teachers are responsible for implementing the local curriculum and for possible child-specific education plans.

In day-care centres, at least one out of every three care and education employees must be a qualified early childhood education teacher. Early childhood education focusses on pedagogy, which is why OAJ was actively involved in influencing the new Children’s Day-Care Act, which raises the education level of early childhood education personnel.

Could I be an early childhood education or preschool teacher?

The work of early childhood education and preschool teachers demands a high level of theoretical training and sound methodological skills. Their key tools include diverse knowledge of drama and art education, as well as a commitment and sensitivity in working with children of different ages. An eagerness to play is also crucial, because children learn through play.

Key aspects of the work are strong co-operation with the children’s parents and ensuring the parents’ involvement. Broad interpersonal skills and cultural knowledge are highlighted in the co-operation.

Early childhood education and preschool teachers’ job is to recognise children’s periods of sensitivity, and to support, encourage and inspire children to experiment, practice, ask, doubt and wonder. This reinforces their sense of experimentation, practicing and learning.

Where does an early childhood education or preschool teacher work?

Early childhood education teachers and special needs teachers in early childhood education mainly work as teachers in day-care centres. They may also work in other areas of early childhood education, such as in municipal child-care clubs and various association clubs.

Preschool teachers work either in day-care centres or schools.

How does one become an early childhood education or preschool teacher?

Early childhood education teachers complete at least a bachelor’s degree in education sciences focussing on early childhood education or a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, which includes studies that give the student vocational competencies in early childhood education and preschool education.

A person with a degree in social work from a university of applied sciences may also work as an early childhood education teacher. Their degree includes studies focussing on early childhood education and social pedagogy entailing a minimum of 60 credits. The impact of the Children’s Day-Care Act that took effect in September 2018 is such that after 2023, a degree in social work from a university of applied sciences qualifies a person to work as an early childhood education social worker but not as an early childhood education teacher.

The majority of preschool teachers are early childhood education teachers, but classroom teachers also teach preschool. A degree in social work from a university of applied sciences does not qualify a person to work in preschool education.

An early childhood education teacher who holds a teaching degree from a university may become specialised as an early childhood education special needs teacher by completing special education studies in university. A teacher who holds a master’s degree in special education in early childhood education can work as an early childhood education teacher, a special needs teacher in early childhood education and a part-time special needs teacher in basic education.