Early childhood education teacher training in Finland

A group of early childhood education teacher trainers from Germany came to Jyväskylä for a professional visit organized by Experience Workshop in March to find out more about the world of education in Finland. Read more about their adventures here.



20 German pre-school teachers came to Jyväskylä to study the early childhood education system in Finland and to tell their Finnish colleagues about their own experiences in Germany. The professional visit was possible due to Erasmus+ funding and was coordinated by Experience Workshop.


Kindergarden visits


Kukkumäki daycare centre

One of the group’s first destinations was the Kukkumäki kindergarden, which is one of the newer daycares in Jyväskylä. It is attended by children between 5 am and 10.30 pm so that children of parents with extraordinary working hours can be looked after.

Deputy Director Susan Hellden-Paavola and special education teacher Sanna Leppänen showed the group around the institution and had an inspiring discussion with the guests.



Kukkumäki is the daycare centre where several authors of the book Playful Learning In Early Childhood Education in Finland have shared their experiences of learning through play. Kristof Fenyvesi from Experience Workshop was among the contributors, too.


Savulahti kindergarden and elementary school

Savulahti was built in 2019 and houses the daycare centre, the preschool and the first 4 classes of the school under one roof. There are several open classrooms here, but children with learning difficulties receive support in small rooms and in small groups. We thank special needs teacher Sari Laitinen for the thought-provoking discussion and excellent tour.



The group was able to observe the children’s everyday environment and daily routines, from which it was easy to deduce the educational emphases: an accepting approach to the child, playful development based on a trust in the natural unfolding of children’s individualities in the appripriate environment.


The German guests had the opportunity to see an open English class, and to tour the spaces of the institution, such as the teachers’ lounge and other venues.



“At both kindergartens, it was very nice that we were allowed to look around the rooms freely. The dialogue with the teachers was very helpful and interesting.”

“The programme has expanded my horizons. The way of working in Finnish educational institutions inspired me and I took away many new ideas and suggestions that I will put into practice in my work.”

(Participants’ feedback)


Theory and pracice of early childhood education in Finland

The group was introduced to the roots, origins and current principles of the Finnish early childhood education system by Kristóf Fenyvesi, STEAM Director of Experience Workshop and researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. The group was particularly impressed by the idea of the Fröbel gifts, a traditional learning tool that is both simple and amazingly creative with its limitless possibilities. The presentation was followed by an intensive exchange of ideas.






After having studied the theory and the practice, participants have highlighted the following observations:

  • Equal starting conditions for all children are important.
  • Inclusion is possible and can succeed with sufficient educational staff.
  • Learning can and should be fun (motivation through room design, appealing
    material, structures).
  • Sufficient exercise and outdoor learning, healthy meals together and structures that pick up and take every child with them enable a great pre-school education in all areas.
  • The pre-school year has a very special and important status.

(Based on participants’ feedback)

Training early childhood educators in higher education

There are similarities between the early childhood education systems in Finland and Germany, but of course, there are differences as well. One of the biggest differences is the level of education at which future teachers are studying for their profession or vocation. In Germany, it is the vocational education field, whereas in Finland it is the higher education field, for instance the University of Jyväskylä, where early childhood education teachers are trained. The guests visited the university, and they received an insight to the training structure due to university teacher Olli Merjovaara.


German teachers listened to the presentation together with a student group of early childhood education from Germany, and who realized their Erasmus+ mobility in Jyväskylä at the same time.





Final activities, evaluation, leasure time


In the end of the week, the group had the opportunity to work with different STEAM tools targeted to pre-school children. In this inspiring workshop held by Kristóf Fenyvesi, they could practice learning by doing via STEAM methods and tools, together with the the German student group.





The group of teachers also had the opportunity to go sightseeing and on excursions in their free time. The mobility ended with a joint evaluation round.


The participants returned home enriched by their experiences.

The company of Nora and Nina was perfect, as they both speak German. They were open to all questions and were competent contacts at all times. They are very special people. Kristof Fenyvesi and the heads of the children’s homes/primary schools are passionate about their work, you could feel it. This is how they can “light a fire” in others. What I take away from this is that love for what I do (and for the children and their families) can move mountains. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for this special and extraordinary experience.

(Participant’s feedback)


Further feedback from the participants





A trip like this allows you to look beyond your own horizons and get to know other cultures, their behaviour and “rules”. It’s interesting to look at this and consider what you can take away and change in your own personal life, but also in the training of educators.


The planning in advance and the support during the week on site was really fantastic. The educational venues were very well chosen and the age range from nursery, kindergarten to primary school and university was broad.


I really liked the fact that furniture in the facilities can be designed in such a way that it is child-friendly on the one hand, but at the same time is also adapted to the needs of the nursing staff (e.g. back-friendly working).

I was impressed by the large outdoor areas of the various facilities. The staffing situation is another plus point. I would find it helpful if German children were not given grades until the 4th grade.


I particularly enjoyed the two visits to daycare centres. In addition to the premises and the palpable team spirit, I was impressed by the two women who guided us there and gave us lots of super interesting information.


I have learnt how important it is to be a companion to the children and to lovingly accept them as they are. Strengthen their strengths and allow them to grow.


Photo cretidts: Nóra Somlyódy, Kristóf Fenyvesi, Maiju Saarivaara


The program was implemented as part of the Erasmus+ KA1 programme, with the contribution of Experience Workshop Jyväskylä and the Gesellschaft für Europabildung (GEB) Berlin.




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