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An ordinary day at a Finnish daycare center

I am an early education teacher, working in Kalkunvuori daycare center. I work in an integrated group where half of the children have special needs, and that is why the group size is smaller (12 children) and the staff resource is bigger than the average (4 adults, of which 2 are teachers), but our daily routines are pretty much the same than in any other group. The children in my group are 3-5-year-olds. There is no similar day but I am happy to share my ordinary day at a Finnish daycare center with you. 

How does my ordinary day at a Finnish daycare center look like?

8.15 am My working time starts

I log myself in using an application on the phone. I check our team’s calendar and read our message notebook. I prepare the circle time that is about to start soon. In the meanwhile the children are having breakfast with two other adults from my group. Our daycare opens at 6 am, but most of my group’s children arrive around 8.

Circle time pictures play an important role

8.45 am Circle time

I am doing some playful stretching and breathing exercises with children while we are waiting for the last ones to finish their breakfast. At the circle time we sing our morning song, check what day it is, look at what is going to happen today using pictures and check who is present today.

9-11 am Activities indoors and outdoors

During this time we work in small groups. Me and the assistant will stay first indoors with the other half of the group. We have a project going on about bears which was decided to be our project theme by the children. Today we are drawing bears. Meanwhile the other half of the group is playing outdoors. We switch around 10 am; my group will get dressed and go play outdoors and the other group comes in to continue their project about the TV-series PAW Patrol.

Are you afraid of bears?

11 am Lunch

All the meals are served in the restaurant, as we call it with the children. I eat with the children, as all the adults do. Today’s menu is spaghetti, vegetable sauce and salad.

Meal time in a daycare center

11.30 am Mini Group activities

After lunch the children will gather up to these mini group activities. (The name of the activity was made by children!) Today is my colleague’s turn to run this activity. We have classifying in program. Me and my teacher colleague plan the activities in advance, according to the goals that are agreed in the children’s individual learning plans. After lunch I follow the children from my table to this activity and help a few who are facing challenges to do it.

Mini group activities

12 – 2 pm Naptime / my PED (Planning, Evaluation and Developing) time

I start by checking my email and Helmi platform (a web interface e.g. to communicate with parents) and continue with a phone call. After that I go to have tea in the teacher’s lounge. I chat with the others, and we have a laugh together – how refreshing! After my break I plan the next week activities together with my teacher colleague. We always plan the big lines together. Planning and working together gives a lot of new ideas to both of us! Then I still have time to prepare the music activity for tomorrow concerning the bear project. I get everything ready on time and go back to the group.

Naptime! Unfolded beds

2.15 pm Snack time

Today kids are having yogurt, bananas and rye bread with cheese for snack. I sit at a table where one of the children uses pictures for communication, I help and model using the pictures.

2.30 pm Playing

Today we have a lottery for the play group combinations. I go with one small group of three children where there is a bit of difficulty in coming to a conclusion what to play, since they are not normally playing that much together. I help them to solve that, and then support the concentration and communication skills in the play.

3.15 pm Going outdoors

I ask the other adults what is the situation in their play groups, and we agree that I will go out first with my small group, since these children are having trouble to concentrate anymore. They really need to go run and play outdoors, to release their energy a bit. I help one with the zipper and the other one with shoes, but otherwise they manage themselves. I go out with them, and after a while the rest of the group follows. The time to go out in the afternoon varies a bit, but usually we go out between 3 and 4 pm. Most of our children are being picked by 4 pm by their parent or other trusted adult.

Let´s play outdoors!

4 pm My working time ends

I log myself out using the app on the phone and leave the phone to our assistant who still stays at work. The parents also log out their children using the same application. The daycare closes at 5 pm. What a nice day we had!

If you wish to learn more about Early Childhood Education in Finland and Educare model, we recommend you this online course. Do you want to get to know solutions which can help your work at the daycare or at home? Or are you interested in playful STEAM education for early years?

Anu Lumiaho

Early Education Teacher

8 thoughts on “An ordinary day at a Finnish daycare center

  1. Hello, my name is Nadine and I am also an Early Years Educator. I live and work in Malta.

    I have a couple of questions , you wrote about the importance of circle time pictures. What pictures do you use? Days of the week? Weather? A time table to show the daily routine? … hehe I guess more than a couple of questions 🙃.

    Between 9am-11am, do you plan more than one activity? Or one activity and free play? Do you have story time? Oh I have so many more questions, but I will stop here 😊. Feel free to ask me anything or contact me @ nadine.camilleri.duca@ilearn.edu.mt

    1. Hi Nadine! Thank you for your comment – we are happy to reflect a bit more. We will get back to you here the soonest! We are sure someone else would like to hear more too 🙂

      1. thank you !

    2. Hi Nadine! I am Anu, who wrote the blog. Nice to hear your comments and questions. 🙂

      At the circle time I use pictures of the days of the week and a timetable to show the daily routine. Also I use some guiding behavior pictures, such as ‘listen’, ‘sit down’, ‘look’ etc.

      In the morning time I plan only one activity. Usually we are engaged with one activity for about one hour and then we will go play outdoors for another hour. Of course sometimes the activity can last even less, and then the children will have free play in addition to the activity. And sometimes of course it can last longer too. We follow a lot how the children are engaged to the activity, how concentrated and interested they are etc. But during that morning time, there is always time for them to have some free play, either outdoors or indoors. We also have story time, but the time for that varies a lot. Sometimes we have it in the afternoon, after snack, sometimes in our mini group activities before lunch or sometimes during the activity time between 9-11. Also the children have a bed time story time when they go for their nap.

      Hopefully these answers helped you to understand our routines better. 🙂

      1. Thank you, very similar to how we spend our days in a way, however we do include numeracy and literacy too. Also our children do not nap at school, even though we do get the ones who cannot help it and fall asleep.

    3. Hi Nadine! Many kindergartens in Finland use these Papunet pictures: https://kuvapankki.papunet.net/selaa
      The words are in Finnish, but maybe you can get ideas for your own group from the images. ☺️

      1. thank you

      2. thank you, some of the pictures are in english too but I can even try and make some in our own language as well

        once again thank you

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