Finnish ECEC is based on an integrated approach to care, education and teaching, the so-called “educare” model. Learning through play is essential.
In Finland, teachers use a guided learning approach taking into account children's individual interests and abilities, guiding them during play through goals across subjects.High-quality pedagogical activities strengthen children’s transversal competences (such as Kipinä's integrated six core curricular domains). Development of transversal competences is affected by many factors: the approaches used; the way learning environments (such as Kipinä's classrooms / imaginarium / reading room / outside structures / technology / resources / toys) are used and how children’s learning and well-being are supported.The objectives of transversal competence are taken into account when developing operational culture and learning environments and these are embedded in Kipinä's learning outcomes.
In Finland instruction is based on the conception of learning defined in the National core curriculum for early childhood education and care. The task of instruction is to promote children’s learning and to help the children understand themselves, other people and the surrounding world. In early childhood education and care, children are encouraged and motivated to learn new things as well as guided to use different ways of learning.
The instruction supports and utilises children’s natural curiosity and desire to experiment. The instruction takes into account children’s developing skills, interests and strengths as well as their needs for individual support. In addition, the instruction is based on the objectives set for learning environments, transversal competences and pedagogical activity.
Teachers have the duty to secure the preconditions for playing, supervise the play in a suitable way, and ensure that each child gets an opportunity to participate in playing together according to their skills and capabilities.
Critically, teachers must support the development of the children’s play with a systematic and goal-oriented approach by either guiding it from outside or participating in it.
Teachers must observe and document the children’s play. Observation of play increases the teacher’s understanding of children’s thoughts and interests as well as their emotions and experiences. These observations are used in planning and guiding play and other activities.
Professional competence (as well as gender sensitivity) in detecting children’s initiatives for play and responding to them in an appropriate way is required of the teachers.