Finland: Becoming and the Youngest Children at Home and in ECEC

Part of the Policy and Pedagogy with Under-three Year Olds: Cross-disciplinary Insights and Innovations book series (POPED, volume 2)


This chapter will focus on the youngest children and the everyday contexts and practices of their lives in Finland. The chapter explores the concept of ‘becoming’ within childhood, particularly within early childhood education and care (ECEC) in our country. For the youngest children, their homes and nuclear families have been historically and culturally constructed as the first and most important social and emotional growth environments. For families, the discourses concerning the ‘best or right place’ for their young children to be cared for and learn in are fuelled by the extensive system of financial incentives for home care (e.g. maternity, paternity and home allowances). Only about 40% of children aged between 1 and 3 attend ECEC in day-care centres or ‘family day care’ outside of the home. However, linked to the recent and strong culture of home care, many politicians and stakeholders have expressed concerns about the low attendance rates of the youngest children in ECEC. Diverse financial incentives have been proposed to increase these attendance rates. Thus, the discourses on what is ‘best for the child’ are becoming more complex, as they now include institutional ECEC options outside of domestic environments. To explore becoming in this cultural, historical and political context, the chapter will first describe the means and institutions that participate in supporting children’s becoming in Finland. Then, the chapter will provide a short description of the historical background of ECEC in a Finnish context, namely, the influence of Germany and Friedrich Fröbel. Following on from this historical review, the chapter will then discuss the current status of ECEC. In recent years, early childhood education institutions and practices have undergone various structural and political changes, such as changes in legislation. Thus, the chapter will also discuss how becoming is interpreted, seen and supported in the new National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care (2018) and in educational practices today in Finland.



We are grateful to Kati Laaksonen for her transcription of the interviews quoted in this chapter. The finalisation of this chapter was supported by Academy of Finland, project no. 321374, Tracing children’s socio-spatial relations and lived experiences in early childhood education transitions (2019–2023).


  1. Alanen, L. (2009). Generational order. In J. Qvortrup, W. A. Corsaro, & M. S. Honig (Eds.), Handbook in childhood studies (pp. 159–175). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Asetus neuvolatoiminnasta, koulu- ja opiskeluterveydenhuollosta sekä lasten ja nuorten ehkäisevästä suun terveydenhuollosta. (338/2011). [Decree on maternity and child health clinic services, school and student health services and preventive oral health services for children and youth]. Retrieved from
  3. Broström, S. (2006). Care and education: Towards a new paradigm in early childhood education. Child & Youth Care Forum, 35, 391–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. FinlandCare. (2019). FinlandCare. Retrieved from
  5. Fröbel, F. (1906). The education of man. (W. N. Hailman, Trans.). New York: D. Appleton and Company. Retrieved from
  6. Fröbel, F. (1909). Friedrich Froebel’s pedagogics of the kindergarten, or, his ideas concerning the play and playthings of the child. (J. Jarvis, Trans.). In W. Lange (Ed.). New York: D. Appleton and Company. Retrieved from
  7. Hännikäinen, M., & Rutanen, N. (2013). Important themes in research on and education of young children in day care centres: Finnish viewpoints. Nordisk Barnehageforskning/ Nordic Early Childhood Education Research, 6(26), 1–10.Google Scholar
  8. Hänninen, S. L., & Valli, S. (1986). Suomen lastentarhatyön ja varhaiskasvatustyön historia. Helsinki, Finland: Otava.Google Scholar
  9. Hollo, J. (1919). Mielikuvitus ja sen kasvattaminen. Jälkimäinen osa. Porvoo, Finland: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö.Google Scholar
  10. Karila, K., Kosonen, T., & Järvenkallas, S. (2017). Varhaiskasvatuksen kehittämisen tiekartta vuosille, 2017–2030. Suuntaviivat varhaiskasvatuksen osallistumisasteen nostamiseen sekä päiväkotien henkilöstön osaamisen, henkilöstörakenteen ja koulutuksen kehittämiseen. [Roadmap on the development of early childhood education, 2017–2030]. Retrieved from
  11. KELA. (2015). Home and family. Benefits for families with children and housing benefits. (Brochure). Retrieved from
  12. Kokko, H. (2010). Sivistyksen varhaista käsitehistoriaa. Kasvatus ja Aika, 4(4), 7–23. Retrieved from Scholar
  13. Laaksonen, K. (2017). Vanhemman ja kasvattajan luottamuksen rakentuminen varhaiskasvatuksen aloituksessa. (Master’s dissertation). Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Retrieved from
  14. Laki lasten kotihoidon ja yksityisen hoidon tuesta. (1128/1996). [Act on Home Care and Private Care Allowances 1128/1998]. Retrieved from
  15. Laki lasten päivähoidosta. (36/1973). Act on children’s day care. Retrieved from
  16. Millei, Z., & Alasuutari, M. (2016). Binds of professionalism: Attachment in Australian and Finnish early years policy. In E. B. Petersen & Z. Millei (Eds.), Interrupting the psy-disciplines in education (pp. 33–57). London/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care in Finland. (2016). Regulations and guidelines 2017:10. Helsinki, Finland: Finnish National Agency for Education.Google Scholar
  18. Rutanen, N. (2011). Space for toddlers in the guidelines and curricula for early childhood education and care in Finland. Childhood, 18(4), 526–539. Scholar
  19. Rutanen, N., & Hännikäinen, M. (2016). Care, upbringing and teaching in ‘horizontal’ transitions in toddler day-care groups. In J. White & C. Dalli (Eds.), Under-three- year-olds in policy and practice (pp. 57–73). Singapore, Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
  20. Sipilä, J., Rantalaiho, M., Repo, K., & Rissanen, T. (Eds.). (2012). Rakastettu ja vihattu lasten kotihoidon tuki. Tampere, Finland: Vastapaino.Google Scholar
  21. Suhonen, E., Sajaniemi, N. K., Alijoki, A., & Nislin, M. A. (2018). Children’s biological givens, stress responses, language and cognitive abilities and family background after entering kindergarten in toddlerhood. Early Child Development and Care, 188(3), 345–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Terveydenhuoltolaki. (1326/2010). Act on health care. Retrieved from
  23. THL. (2017). Varhaiskasvatus 2016. Tilastoraportti 29/2017. Retrieved from
  24. United Nations. (1989). The UN convention on the rights of the child, 1989. Retrieved from
  25. Uprichard, E. (2008). Children as ‘being and Becomings’: Children, childhood and temporality. Children & Society, 22(4), 303–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Välimäki, A. L., & Rauhala, P. L. (2000). Lasten päivähoidon taipuminen yhteiskunnallisiin murroksiin Suomessa. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka, 65(5), 387–405. Retrieved from Scholar
  27. Varhaiskasvatuslaki. (540/2018). Act on early childhood education and care. Retrieved from
  28. Varhaiskasvatussuunnitelman perusteet. (2016). Määräykset ja ohjeet 2016:17. Helsinki, Finland: Opetushallitus. Retrieved from Scholar
  29. Varhaiskasvatussuunnitelman perusteet. (2018). The National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education, updated version of the 2016 core curriculum (Määräykset ja ohjeet 2018: 3a). Helsinki, Finland: Opetushallitus. Retrieved from Scholar
  30. von Wright, G. H. (1974). Paideia. In G. H. von Wright (Ed.), Ajatus ja julistus (2nd ed., pp. 11–57). Porvoo, Finland: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö.Google Scholar
  31. von Wright, G. H. (1983). Humanismi elämänasenteena. Helsinki, Finland: Otava.Google Scholar
  32. von Wright, G. H. (1999). Minervan pöllö. In G. H. von Wright (Ed.), Tieto ja ymmärrys (pp. 123–282). Helsinki, Finland: Otava.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

Personalised recommendations