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Estonia:Teaching and Learning

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Overview Estonia

Contents

Estonia:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Estonia:Historical Development

Estonia:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Estonia:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Estonia:Political and Economic Situation

Estonia:Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Estonia:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Estonia:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Estonia:Organisation of Private Education

Estonia:National Qualifications Framework

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Estonia:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Funding in Education

Estonia:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Estonia:Higher Education Funding

Estonia:Adult Education and Training Funding

Estonia:Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Organisation

Estonia:Teaching and Learning

Estonia:Assessment

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Estonia:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Higher Education

Estonia:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Estonia:First Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Bachelor

Estonia:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Estonia:Second Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Estonia:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Estonia:Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Distribution of Responsibilities

Estonia:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Estonia:Main Providers

Estonia:Main Types of Provision

Estonia:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Estonia:Teachers and Education Staff

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Management and Other Education Staff

Estonia:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Estonia:Management Staff for Higher Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Quality Assurance

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Educational Support and Guidance

Estonia:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Estonia:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Estonia:Mobility and Internationalisation

Estonia:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Mobility in Higher Education

Estonia:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Estonia:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Estonia:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:National Reforms in School Education

Estonia:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Estonia:National Reforms in Higher Education

Estonia:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Estonia:European Perspective

Estonia:Legislation

Estonia:Glossary

Steering Documents and Types of Activities 

Organisation of teaching and learning in a preschool child care institution is based on the curriculum of the preschool child care institution, compiled on the basis of the National curriculum for preschool child institutions (2008). The curriculum of the preschool child care institution shall determine the objectives and principles of teaching and learning, organisation of teaching and learning, the expected general skills and the expected results of the development of 6-7-year-old children in the subject fields of teaching and learning as well as the principles for assessing the development of children.  Curriculum guidebooks provide help in compiling curricula of preschool child care institutions, offering details at each age level. 
The general objective of teaching and learning is comprehensive and consistent development of the child in cooperation between home and child care institution.

Supporting the development of a child in a child care institution is teamwork for which the director of the child care institution is responsible.

The general skills to be developed comprise:

  • playing skills;
  • cognitive and study skills;
  • social skills;
  • reflexive skills.

Fields of teaching and learning comprise:

  • myself and the environment;
  • language and speech;
  • Estonian as a second language (in an institution or group with other language of instruction);
  • mathematics;
  • arts;
  • music;
  • physical movement.

Where necessary, an individual development plan is compiled for a child with special needs on the basis of the curriculum of the preschool child care institution.

The development of general skills is supported through all teaching and learning activities, integrating the contents of different fields.

The study contents of fields derive from children’s everyday life and their surrounding environment. Study activities include listening, speaking, reading, writing, observing, exploring, comparing, calculating and various movement, musical and artistic activities.

Cooperation between teachers and personnel and the inclusion of parents are important factors in the work of a preschool child care institution. Both contribute to the creation of a study environment which supports the development of a child. The responsibility of  teachers and parents has grown with regard to assessment and support of a child’s development (e.g., holding development interviews with children).

Teaching Methods and Materials

The choice of methodology by a teacher shall be based on the concept of learning provided for in the National Curriculum for Preschool Child Care Institutions, according to which a child learns by imitating, watching, exploring, experimenting, communicating, playing, practising, etc.; a child is an active participant in teaching and learning and takes pleasure in action. Upon planning and carrying out teaching and learning, the specific characteristics of children, incl. abilities, linguistic and cultural background, age, gender, health status, etc., shall be taken into account. Teachers shall be the persons who direct the development of children and create an environment that promotes development. A child shall be involved in planning of activities, shall be directed to make choices and analyse what has been done. In teaching and learning, conditions shall be created to develop the ability of a child to plan his or her activities, make choices, relate new knowledge with earlier experience, use the acquired knowledge in different situations and activities, discuss the acquired knowledge and skills, assess the effectiveness of his or her activities and take pleasure in his or her success and the success of others, and cope with failures. 

Preschool child care institutions implement different child-centred and child-based methodologies: “step by step”, language immersion methodology, Reggio Emilia teaching methodology, Waldorf teaching methodology, discovery learning, outdoor learning, etc. 
Play is the primary activity of children in preschool age. Through teaching and learning activities, teachers support the development of children’s play skills. Play skills form the basis for all general skills and the skills and knowledge in the different subject fields of teaching and learning. The objective is that children 

  • find joy in playing;
  • concentrate on play;
  • creatively apply their experiences, knowledge and impressions from surrounding world in their play;
  • initiate different plays and develop the content of play;
  • assume different roles in play;
  • follow rules of play and are able to explain the rules of familiar plays to others;
  • are able to solve problems during play and reach agreements with playmates;
  • creatively use different objects in plays.

It is necessary to tie teaching and learning with forming a child's physical development and hygienic habits and particularly with play and activities in open air. During the recent years, the role of audio visual and multimedia facilities has grown in teaching and learning activities. The Ministry of Education and Research supports networks of preschool child care institutions and seminars for sharing of good practice in preschool education, and in-service training for the implementation of the national curriculum for preschool child care institutions, including trainings for developing teachers’ digital competence.

Handbooks on the national curriculum for preschool child care institutions, which are available electronically, treat all fields of teaching and learning activities and organisation thereof, the development of general skills in preschool age as well as the evaluation and support of children’s development in a preschool child care institution. Electronic study materials are available for preschool child care institutions in the e-School bag which provides online games and exercises for preschool children targeted at improving language skills or used for therapeutic purposes. In 2014 – 2016, under the programme “Children and youth at risk” funded from the European Economic Area (EEA) grant, NGO Hea Algus programme “The involvement and intervention in education system” was implemented with a view to promoting the principles of inclusive education in preschool child care institutions and schools (40 institutions in total) and building capacity for dealing with risk group children and preventing learning motivation decline, early school leaving and problematic behaviour. As a result of the project, an experience collection of good practice experienced by the educational institutions was issued.

Estonian preschools put a strong emphasis on value education, incl. supporting well-being and safety of children and preventing bullying, facilitating tolerance, care, respect and courage in children and families.

Since 2010, the Ministry of Education and Research has supported the project “Bully-Free Kindergarten” which was implemented in cooperation of the Danish children’s protection union “Save the Children” and Estonian Union for Child Welfare. To date, 75% of the preschools in Estonia have joined the project. With a view to supporting children, parents and preschool child care institutions, Estonian Union for Child Welfare carries out in-service trainings and has developed a website for obtaining relevant advice. The principles of the methodology have been introduced into the curriculum for in-service preschool teacher training in Tallinn University. All preschool child care institutions in Estonia are expected to have applied evidence-based methodologies to prevent bullying by 2020. Health behaviour and health education of children are important topics in teaching and learning in preschools; 40%of Estonian preschools have joined the Network of Health Promoting Preschools. In the field of health education, electronic learning materials and environment assessment techniques have been developed.           

In cooperation of the Ministry of Education and Research, Innove Foundation and the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People, methodological materials for studying Estonian and implementing language immersion methodologies, incl. two-way language immersion, have been developed; counselling, regional information days and trainings have been organised for teachers in preschool child care institutions. In Estonia there are five methodology centres providing methodological support to teachers involved in education of children whose home language is other than Estonian. In 2016, Innove Foundation Curriculum and methodology centre in cooperation with the publisher of soundtracked printed matter DILESY published “Loeme koos” (“Let’s read together”), a series of picture books equipped with a digital storytelling pen. The series was developed to help children with a home language other than Estonian learn the Estonian language. The picture books develop a child’s general skills, playing skills, cognitive and study skills, social and reflexive skills as well as increase knowledge in the fields of “myself and the environment” and “language and speech”.      

Legislative References

National curriculum for preschool child care institutions