Home Education Preschool

Getting cold feet as temperatures plummet and the kids want to make snow angels in sandals? No worries, YLC’s got your winter wardrobe woes covered – booties, bags and beanies!

Parenting +46

If you’ve been in Sweden for a while, you may find yourself well aware of what winter is like, but still overwhelmed by the daunting task of dressing your wee little tykes appropriately. YLC is here to give a breakdown of what you need for your kids to enjoy quality time outside, all winter long.

The Swedes like to say there is no bad weather, just bad clothes. Parents, take heed: Children in most Swedish schools, particularly preschools, spend a lot of time outside. But of course, depending on what age your children are – their clothing needs will differ. Let’s get started!

 

General advice for kids of all ages

Wool is your best friend when winter rolls around – not just for your own socks, but as the layer of clothing closest to your child’s skin. Wool keeps kids warm while wicking away moisture, unlike cotton, which locks it in. As the snow piles up you will be grateful for the existence of wool socks, wool bodysuits, wool long undewear, wool balaclavas, wool hats, and even wool shoe inserts. Layering wool with cotton or fleece (depending on the temperature) is also a wise move, but keep wool close. It may well take additional time to peel off more layers, but it’s practical to be able to remove or add some clothes depending on your child’s activity level.

 

Footwear

During not-quite-frozen winter weather and not-quite-spring months, your ambulatory children would benefit from lined rain boots. Prices vary depending on the brand, but regardless, lined rain boots are a staple for dark, damp days. (No bad weather, remember?) Swap out regular socks for wool socks for some extra warmth.

And when you do need full-on winter boots, Gore-Tex is your friend. I repeat, Gore-Tex is your friend. Children’s boots range from expensive to even more expensive to “Are you freaking kidding me?” expensive.  Across this range of prices, you have boots with Gore-Tex waterproofing and some brands that claim to be waterproof (involving technology that is unfortunately not Gore-Tex). Cheekiest are those boots that are blessed with neither.

If you want your child to spend any amount of time outside, don’t even think about buying winter boots that are not waterproof.

To save money, look at Blocket, Tradera, and flea markets or second-hand shops to get a used pair. The smaller the size, the greater the chances that the boots were only used for a short time since kids’ feet grow so fast; buying used in this case can save you upwards of 400 SEK.

 

Newborn to crawling stage

Chances are that much of your time outside with a newborn will involve the child being already cocooned into a stroller bassinet (“liggdel”, or, for some strollers, this might be called a “mjuk-“ or “hårdlift”). When the weather drops below zero, many parents use a winter “åkpåse” (travel bag), which looks like a sleeping bag. These åkpåsar are available in a range of sizes and prices, with off-brand one-size-fits-most being the cheapest.

If you’re not going to be outside for long and your baby is inside a winter åkpåse within a bassinet, they won’t need much more clothing than a hat and perhaps some light outerwear overalls and a regular outfit underneath. It’s easy to overdress small babies, so keep in mind that when they’re protected from wind inside the stroller and in an åkpåse, they’ll be quite comfortable.

babybag

If you plan to be out longer or your child is no longer in a bassinet, some warmer outwear overalls, a hat and mittens, and boots should be sufficient coverage for short trips in the stroller. When it’s colder and you’ll be outside with the stroller for a longer period of time, go all out. Keep your child cozy and content with winter overalls, boots, hat, mittens, and that åkpåse.

 

Toddlers and preschool-aged kids (through age 5)

Outerwear options for small children include one-piece overalls and two-piece sets. A convenient advantage of overalls is snow can’t get inside even when kids roll in the snow. They are also faster to put on than separate pants and a jacket. However, it’s easier to peel off a coat indoors while running errands, whereas removing the top half of overalls usually results in them falling below the child’s hips as they walk.

Much like winter boots, winter outerwear comes in a range of prices and quality. Frequently you get what you pay for, but not always, so know what qualities you want in your outerwear.

They should be waterproof and hold up to use and abuse. Having taped seams and reinforced knee, bum, and elbow areas contribute to durability.

Some brands will include info on the tags describing the degree of waterproofing of the external fabric.

If you understand Swedish or have a patient Swedish-speaking friend, check out this year’s review of children’s winter overalls from product evaluation agency TestFakta here.

Many Swedes also swear by putting a sheep skin in the stroller, keeping your child snug and warm even in the coldest weather.

 

Children 6 years and above

Which outerwear you choose for your child will depend upon how much time they spend outside. If your child enjoys playing in the snow (which is pretty much a given for any child not yet a teenager) keep this in mind when you decide on the quality of outerwear you are willing to pay for. As with younger children – the trick is smart layering and most (children’s) clothes shops stocks wool undergarments (often called an underställ) for older children (and adults) as well. They won’t mind wearing them – all their friends will be too!

Again, bargains can be made on sites like Tradera or Blocket – but don’t rule out the sports shops like Stadium and Intersport. Often they will have a range of options to suit all purses.

Enjoy the snow!

 

Alexandra D’Urso

Boston-area native Alexandra moved to Sweden in 2009 and gave up cod for smoked salmon and Sam Adams for wine in plastic bottles with screw caps. When not bragging about the awesome aspects of Swedish life to people back home, she spends time writing and laughing loud enough to disturb innocent bystanders.

Follow Alex and Your Living City on Twitter!

 

Widely used in preschools in Sweden, the Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy that has gained world-wide popularity due to its holistic approach, placing the natural development of the child at its core.

7551690792_0957eb8643_cPhoto: Penn State/ Flickr (file)

Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach, had a vision for a public school that aims to combine the children’s welfare, education and fundamental rights with the social needs of families. His philosophy is founded upon three central beliefs; firstly, each child is unique, secondly, children construct their own experience and thirdly, a child-centered approach is central to learning. 

What is ‘Reggio Emilia’?

Reggio Emilia is named after a small city in northern Italy. After WWII and the destruction that it had caused, parents in Reggio Emilia decided that a new type of education needed to be established. Cue: Loris Malaguzzi, a local teacher and parent. Inspired by the ideas of pedagogical theorists such as John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, she supplied the demand by founding the Reggio Emilia approach, an approach very different from the traditional school setting at the time.

One of the key principles in this approach is a belief in the positive image of the child. It builds on the concept that each child has the desire to connect with others, to engage in learning and to enter into a relationship with their environment.

What are its main principles?

  • Education based on Interrelationships – a network exists between the children, parents, and the teachers, all working towards the same purpose.  This network creates cooperation, collaboration and co-construction of knowledge.

  • Each person constructs their own intelligence from direct interaction with the environment and in social groups.

  • Child-centered philosophy – the child’s interests guide the curriculum.

  • The teacher’s role is complex; they are learners alongside the children while they are also the researcher and contributor to the child’s capacity to learn.

  • The school environment is “the third teacher”; a positive environment encourages participation and discovery. Space is organized for projects and children’s work is displayed around the school. The arrangement of structures, objects, and activities encourages choice, problem-solving and curiosity.

  • Long-term projects are undertaken as vehicles for learning – ideas may spring from both the children and teachers.

  • Documentation is a key element; it communicates the life of the school and the development and learning process of each child using many sources, such as photographs, note-taking and the child’s work itself.

  • Real-life experience, such as field trips, allow children to question the world and develop theories.

The Hundred Languages of Children

 

A child has a hundred languages, but is robbed of ninety-nine.  Schools and culture separate the head from the body, they force you to think without a body and to act without a head.  Play and work, reality and imagination, science and the fantastic, the inside and the outside, are made into each other’s opposites.

- Loris Malaguzzi

In Reggio Emilia, there is an expression: “A child has a hundred languages.” Whilst children explore, investigate and test their ideas, they are encouraged to demonstrate their understanding through a symbolic language, of which children have many (such as drawing, painting, dramatic play, and writing).

Key to understanding the mind-set behind Malaguzzi’s approach to learning is her poem, the Hundred Languages of Children:

The Hundred Languages of Children

The child is made of one hundred.

The child has

a hundred languages

a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinking

of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.

Always a hundred

ways of listening

of marveling, of loving

a hundred joys

for singing and understanding

a hundred worlds

to discover

a hundred worlds

to invent

a hundred worlds

to dream.

The child has

a hundred languages

(and a hundred hundred hundred more)

but they steal ninety-nine.

The school and the culture

separate the head from the body.

They tell the child:

to think without hands

to do without head

to listen and not to speak

to understand without joy

to love and to marvel

only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:

to discover the world already there

and of the hundred

they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

that work and play

reality and fantasy

science and imagination

sky and earth

reason and dream

are things

that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child

that the hundred is not there.

The child says:

No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi

Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

 

For more information about this approach, contact the Reggio Emilia Institute in Sweden. They organize workshops and can provide material for you to read.

Sources:

Dodd-Nufrio, A.T. Reggio Emilia, Maria Montessori, and John Dewey (2011).  Early Childhood Education Journal, 39, pp. 235-237.

Reggio Emilia Institutet, Stockholm  www.reggioemilia.se

Reggio Emilia Organization, New Zealand www.reggioemilia.org.nz

www.reggiokids.com

 

Sarit Grinberg

Heading back to work? Sending the kids to preschool? Some savvy Stockholm parents give us their top tips on how to handle the transition from holiday into every day.

437273743_654727dd8f_bPhoto: David Conklin/ Flickr (file)

Going back to work and leaving your child at nursery for the first time is an emotional time for any parent. On the one hand, you’re riddled with doubt about whether you’ve picked the right preschool. On the other, you’re feeling guilty about going back to work at all. And on the third hand (that you wish you now had), you’re also under time pressure in a way that you’ve never been before.

It’s a juggling act. And sometimes not a pretty one. But things can be made easier and with these top 10 tips from parents who’ve been there, we’re hoping working parenthood can be easier for you.

1. Be comfortable in yourself with your choices, whatever they are – Anonymous

One of the biggest issues parents face is doubt; it’s hard to know whether you’re making the right decisions and the impact on your family life can be huge. My tip is to question yourself as to what you’re doing. e.g. Are you working because you love your job? Because you need the money? Because you don’t want to stay at home? And conversely, are you not working because you love being at home? Because there’s nothing else you’d enjoy more? Because you don’t need the money? These are all valid reasons, but it’s you who needs to be comfortable with them. Apply questions to any decision you’re feeling unsure about and see whether you can justify those decisions to yourself. Once you do, you can face anybody who questions your choice.

2. Enjoy your work, don’t feel guilty and enjoy being ‘you’ – Eleanor

Sometimes, going to work and having a break from your children can make you appreciate them so much more than when you were with them. It can be easier to dedicate all of yourself to little ones when you’ve had the satisfaction of eating at an extremely non-pram-friendly place, not had to dash home for naps and, dare I say it, go to the toilet by yourself. Enjoy all the things about work that you can and come home feeling happy to be a mummy again.

3. Make sure you have time planned for yourself – Anonymous

When you have a day-job and then come home to the night job of being a parent, it can feel like you never have a break. To this, I would suggest writing down the three hobbies you’d most like to pursue if you were not working or a mummy and choose at least one that is easy to fit into your lifestyle. If it’s rock-climbing, designate a time for rock-climbing each week and agree it with your partner or whoever could help out; if it’s seeing friends, make sure you manage to get a night out as often as you can. Make the most of weekends and evenings, even if it just means fitting in bit more sleep than you’d ordinarily have during the week. For more sedentary pursuits, see if you can make a long commute pay off; a friend of mine manages to knit the most beautiful things on her 45 minute train journey; it probably helps a lot with commuter rage too! Don’t feel guilty about doing things for yourself. The last thing children need is a parent who’s resentful or depressed; it’s important for you to feel happy too.

4. When it’s time to go home after school, we always try and do something fun, even if it’s looking at a book together on the bus on the way home! – Khadra

Since you have reduced the amount of time you spend with your children, see if you can make that time fun for the both of you. Toddlers can find even the most mundane tasks (like laundry) thrilling and their enthusiasm is infectious! If you do want to do household chores together, I would recommend that you are prepared for the task taking approximately 3 times as long, being 5 times as messy and perhaps never being completed. It’s still fun, promise! You could also get out and about (a play-centre or park can be a good bet as children love it and you can meet up with other parents) or you could devise a special project to complete together with your child. Don’t put pressure on yourself (or your little one); it’s a time where you can both get a lot out of just being with each other, rather than completing a task or learning a skill. The key is that you’re doing something you both enjoy together.

5. When my son started pre-school (after in-schooling) I didn’t start work for a week. Having a week with him in school and not back to work gave me time to relax and mentally prepare myself….. Best thing I did! – Heather

Before you plan when to go back to work, you need to look at the in-schooling procedure at your nursery; some can be as much as 3 weeks long. Firstly, allow time for this and more if your child is very attached to you and you feel like in-schooling may be difficult.  Then allow at least one more week before returning to work; you have just been at one job for a good long time before returning back to a very different line of work. You deserve a break, some ‘me’ time and also some time to prepare yourself, both emotionally and mentally, for your job.

6. Prepare up front for your child to be sick; once in nursery, they pick up and pass on everything – Chantel

There’s no denying it; however much interaction your little one has had with other children before, it probably won’t have been the same as being in class every day with their peers. This has many benefits; children learn to socialize and work in groups. They also learn to share everything… including germs. Of course, if you’re a glass half-full kind of person, this is also a benefit in terms of building up their immune system. But it’s hard to be that person when you’ve had to take three days off work in order to be used as a sick bucket. Bear in mind that you will need to take time off for your children being sick; check your work policy and the Försäkringskassan website to see how you claim these sick days off. More importantly, work out a system with your partner as to who takes days off when; you do not want to be arguing the matter out over a sick child.

7. Do try and replicate the schedule you have at nursery at home – Anonymous

I believe that children gain a lot of security out of an established routine. If nursery always has lunch at 11 and nap at noon, it might be confusing for your child to manage until 12 for lunch and then not nap until 1pm. It’s not impossible and it’s up to you, but consistency of routine can help your child settle into nursery more easily.

8. To maximize sleeping time and reduce morning stress, get everything ready the night before… I even have my son sleep in his clothes for the next day if we have a really early start and then we just brush teeth, put on shoes and we’re out the door in under 10 minutes! – Rachel

I don’t know if scientists would agree, but I’ve always found the equation:

UWP + JWT = Chaos + Stress

where UWP stands for Unpreprepared Working Parent and JWT stands for Just Woken Toddler

to be a true one. Mornings are the times when you have the least amount of time and the most things to do.  Children need to be woken, go to the loo, have their teeth brushed, be changed into new clothes, have breakfast eaten and their bag ready before heading out the door…  not to mention your own routine. If you’re really pushed for time and have a long commute, you can eliminate everything but the first three actions. Lay out your own clothes and accessories and prepare your bag. It saves time and bleary, early morning fashion decisions. Do the same for your children and have breakfast ready to eat on the journey.

9. To help with a quicker drop-off,  plan a special routine between you and the kids – Rebecca

I’ve often heard (and indeed experienced) this story: you’re feeling nervous and guilty at drop-off and your child senses this. This makes it harder for them to let you leave; they may even play up on purpose. You linger, making the situation worse and leave a crying child, which makes you feel sick all day. No fun.

The best thing to do is to prepare your child in advance with a routine that you both participate in to signal that you’re leaving. It could be a secret handshake, waving at the window three times, two kisses on top of the head; whatever you’d like, as long as it’s got a timely and definite end-point. Let the teachers know about this, so they can then take over easily. Do not linger too long, but if you feel you need to, find a hiding place where your child cannot see you and check how they’re doing from afar. They’ll usually be fine. If the hiding place is not an option, call the preschool after an appropriate amount of time has elapsed; they will be able to tell you how things are going.

10. If you don’t have family here and you both work full time, get a babysitter for at least a few days – Caroline

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, paid or otherwise. Many of us are here with no family to help out and there will be people who are willing to share the load. If your partner hasn’t been as involved in cooking, cleaning and baby-caring, now is the time to kick-start them into action! If you can organize a pick-up or drop-off rota with a friendly mum, that can help things enormously. And if you can afford it, don’t be ashamed to get someone to help out; if it leads to less stress and more time, it’s money well spent!

 

Good Luck!

 

Farrah Gillani

Follow Farrah and Your Living City on Twitter!

 

More and more we are seeing a rise in alternative schools, and the meaning of ‘education’ has become relative as there is no one way to educate. The world is quickly changing and schools need to adapt so that they can prepare the student – the individual – for the future.

Montessori Tools

At the same time, some parents are becoming increasingly disappointed with public schools, and with the traditional or ‘mainstream’ way of teaching and learning. Alternative education has become a trend and is growing rapidly around the world. With the school choice system in Sweden, parents have the right to choose any school for their child, making it easy for parents to choose alternative schools. In addition, any of these alternatives are run as independent schools, which means parents do not need to pay large fees.

Most schools in Sweden are run using the Reggio Emilia approach. We shall runa full article on this type of schooling later. For now, here are some alternative education programs that are growing around the world, and are available here in Sweden.

Waldorf Education

Rudolf Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy

What is it?

Developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf education is a humanistic approach to pedagogy, based on a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements. The approach emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning. Another important concept is the threefold nature of the human being in which body, soul and spirit are taken into consideration.

In Waldorf education, the idea is to engage the feelings of the child through art, music and rhythm. There are over 900 schools around the world.

Goals

Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head. One of the goals is to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals, and to help every child fulfil his or her unique destiny.

The central focus for the Waldorf teacher is the development of that essence in every person that is independent of external appearance, by instilling in his/her pupils an understanding of and appreciation for their background and place in the world, not only as members of any specific nation, ethnic group or race, but as members of humanity and world citizens.

Structure and Curriculum

The Waldorf curriculum is broad and comprehensive, structured to respond to the three developmental phases of childhood: from birth to approximately 6 or 7 years, from 7 to 14 years and from 14 to 18 years. Teachers are to provide meaningful support for the child to comprehend these phases fully and to bring “age appropriate” content to the children that nourishes healthy growth. Schools and teachers are given considerable freedom to define curricula within collegial structures.

There are Waldorf schools all over Sweden. For a full list of schools, click here.

A traditional Waldorf toy – the Rainbow. Photo Credit: Rjabinnik and Rounien

In the news

  • On October 31st 2012, the School Inspectorate announced that the request to start an inner city school with a Waldorf approach has been approved.
  • A 2007 study in Sweden comparing Waldorf and state schools reported that Waldorf pupils were more likely to have a positive learning attitude, less likely to have passing tests as the goal of their learning, and had a “more in-depth study style” in higher education. They also showed more tolerant attitudes to minority groups and less tolerance of racist ideologies, were more involved with social and moral questions and were more likely to believe in the social efficacy of love, solidarity, and civil courage as opposed to legislation or police control. Waldorf students also tended to wait longer before attending university.
  • A 2012 study of Waldorf pupils in Germany concluded that, in comparison to state school pupils, Waldorf students are significantly more enthusiastic about learning, report having more fun and being less bored in school, more often feel individually met, and learn more from school about their personal academic strengths.
  • Despite the fact that Waldorf students are less exposed to standardized testing, U.S. Waldorf students’ SAT scores have usually come above the national average.

 

Montessori Education

What is it?

192px-Maria_Montessori1913Montessori education, developed by Maria Montessori, is practised in around 20,000 schools worldwide, serving children from birth to 18 years old.

Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, as well as technological advancements in society.

The Montessori classroom, sometimes called the ‘children’s community’, is a carefully prepared environment designed to facilitate the development of the children’s independence and sense of personal empowerment.  In this environment, children move freely within it, selecting work that captures their interest. Every small child is responsible for their own environment. When they are hungry, they prepare their own snacks and drinks, they go to the bathroom without assistance, and when they make a mess, they help each other clean it up.

Children are encouraged to learn and experience on their own. The teacher’s role in Montessori education is not primarily to impart knowledge – rather to observe the children and pay attention to each child’s needs and provide the stimulus that corresponds to each child’s maturity and interest.

The Montessori Method goes from the concrete to the abstract, which means that many concrete materials are used during the early school years. The goal is for students to be able to think abstractly.

Goals

The main purpose of a Montessori school is to provide carefully planned, stimulating environment which will help the child develop a foundation for creative learning.

More specific goals are 1) to develop a positive attitude toward school; 2) to help each child develop self confidence; 3) Assisting each child in building a habit of concentration; 4) fostering an abiding curiosity; 5) developing habits of initiative and persistence; and 6) fostering inner security and sense of order in the child.

Curriculum

Known as the ‘Cosmic Curriculum’, the Montessori approach is interdisciplinary, as subjects are woven together. The children make connections between the subject areas spontaneously.

During the early years, the curriculum introduces the children to phonetic sounds, and continues with spontaneous reading and grammar activities.

One of the most important tools in Montessori education is working with specialized educational materials, which are selected for each group. Students learn concepts from working with these materials, rather than by direct instruction

Children working on the phonogram moveable alphabet

Characteristics of a Montessori School:

  • Mixed aged classes
  • Highly individualized
  • Students have their own plan that will guide them in their independent work
  • Freedom with responsibility
  • An environment without traditional school desks
  • Homework uncommon below elementary level
  • Critical thinking encouraged
  • Many activities contribute towards resolution of conflict

For a list of Montessori schools in Sweden, visit:

http://www.montessoriforbundet.se/

***Interesting Fact***

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of the search engine Google.com credit their years as Montessori students as a major factor behind their success.

 

Kunskapsskolan (Knowledge School)

signaturbildKunskapsskolan is one the largest chains of independent or “free” schools in Sweden, serving primary and secondary students. The main characteristic of Kunskapsskolan is ‘personalized learning.’

The classes are small and students have a personal tutor for support and inspiration. Students are assessed and challenged, yet each student’s needs and abilities are considered to be important in shaping the work they are given. Kunskapssolan provides personalized education, and unlike other educational settings, students develop a close contact with their teachers.

Teachers at Kunskapsskolan assume and adapt to the student’s goals, aspirations and circumstances. Each student has one of the school teachers as his personal tutor. When the student starts at the school, students, parents and tutors put together the goals for the results they aim for for the 9th grade. They are then broken down into term and weekly targets which are monitored in personal coaching calls every week.

Each student has his own weekly planning – a personal schedule – based on what needs to be done to achieve the goals. Students have the option to read at a faster pace, to choose between different levels of difficulty and to put more time in the schedule for topics they find difficult.

The main outcome is for all students to learn and achieve high academic performance, yet not to do it the same way and at the same rate as everyone else.

For more information, visit: http://www.kunskapsskolan.se

 

Home Schooling

Homeschooling

Although it is not completely illegal (as there are exceptions), it is very difficult to get approval for home schooling.  Sweden approved a law in 2010 that restricts home schooling even further, which has led over a dozen families to flee Sweden. The restriction on homeschooling has been protested by many, arguing that it goes against human rights.

 

Parents have the opportunity to visit schools by appointment or during open houses where they can get a better feel for the school. Take the opportunity to research further the different choices you have, and think about your child’s needs and abilities: Which approach and environment would be best for your child? Everyone has an opinion or experience of one or another approach, but the important thing to note is that there is no ONE best approach, just one that works best for YOU!

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.whywaldorfworks.org

http://www.waldorf.se

http://www.montessori.org

http://www.montessoriconnections.com

http://en.wikipedia.org

 

Article by Sarit Grinberg

Photo Credit:  nerxswhgrad

 

 

Our contributors on Your Living City are a wonderful well-informed set of people, who are passionate about what they do. A prime example of this is Sarit Grinberg. She is the founder of the fantastic children’s education website Scholar Kids, designed for anyone interested in children’s learning.

You may also like Sarit’s other articles:

Tips on getting children to read

Finding the right school for your child

University application procedures

Sarit combines practical experience as an English teacher with writing her thesis on education at Stockholm University, as well as running the site and its on-line bookshop. A busy, talented lady indeed and we’re very lucky to have her expertise at Your Living City. But now she’s offering even more: the chance to win 3 x 100 SEK gift certificates to spend in her children’s book store!

The Scholar Kids Bookshop offers a range from storybooks to language and maths books; there are even books for teachers. They guarantee personal service, fast delivery and low prices; moreover if there is something that you would like but cannot find it in the shop, let Sarit know and she will do her best to get it for you.

For the chance to win a 100 SEK voucher to spend in this wonderful store,  all you need to do is:

Like the site on Facebook (which gets you 10% off to start with anyway!) and answer the following questions:

And that’s it! Good luck to everybody – we will do a prize draw on the 5th December. An early Christmas present for 3 lucky readers!

If you have any questions about education, whether for children or adults, Sarit will be more than happy to help. Just add your query in the ‘comments’ area below and she’ll get back to you

Choosing the right preschool for your child is a huge consideration anywhere, but the choice can be even trickier when you’re not on home turf. International schools are often a great option for parents who plan on staying for only a short term or where one parent has a language that is not Swedish. They have the ability to accommodate a diverse community of children who will attend from up to a few months to a number of years.

We have compiled a  list of all Stockholm’s international preschools in alphabetical order. Almost all the schools listed teach in English or another European language, but most of them use the Swedish curriculum. To make it easier for readers, we have indicated what language each school uses.

If we have missed anything or if any information needs to be updated, please let us know.

You may also like:

Map of Stockholm’s International Preschools

Click on the map’s blue flags for the school’s name and information.

View Stockholm International Preschools in a larger map

List of Stockholm’s International Preschools

British International Primary School of Stockholm

Östra Valhallavägen 17, 182 68 Djursholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-755 23 75

Curriculum/Language: British/English

Grades: Preschool, Grades 1-7

E-mail: borgen@britishinternationalprimaryschool.se

Web: www.britishinternationalprimaryschool.se/

Map: Click Here

Bumble Bee

Baldersvägen 17, 145 70 Norsborg, Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-530 632 90

Grades: Preschool (from ages 3-5)

Language: English/Swedish

E-mail: eva.hultstrand@botkyrka.se

Web: http://skolor.botkyrka.se/Anemonen/VaraArbetslag/Arbetslag/Bumblebee/Sidor/default.aspx

Map: Click Here 

Crickets and Dragonflies -The English Pre-School

Rutger Fuchsgatan 9-11 , 116 67 , Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-508 13 303

Grades: Preschool

Language: English

E-mail: annacarin.haeggman@soder.stockholm.se

Web: http://www.sodermalmsforskolor.se/englishpreschool/extern/crickets_and_dragonflies.htm

Map: Click Here

Deutsche Schule Stockholm

Karlavägen 25, 114 31 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-679 98 44

Curriculum/language: German

Grades: Preschool & 1 -12

E-mail: dss@tyskaskolan.se

Web: www.tyskaskolan.se

Map: Click Here

Europaskolan (Södermalm)

Gotlandsgatan 43, 116 65 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-33 50 56 (info centre)

Language: Swedish/English

Grades: Preschool & 1 – 9

E-mail: anette.parts@europaskolan.nu

Web: www.europaskolan.nu

Map: Click Here

Europaskolan (Lilla Europaskolan)

Renstiernas gata 12, 116 28 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-33 50 56

Language: Swedish/English

E-mail: anette.parts@europaskolan.nu

Web: www.europaskolan.nu

Map: Click Here

Europaskolan (Vasastan)

Luntmakargatan 10, 113 51 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-33 50 56

Language: Swedish/English

Grades: Preschool – 5

E-mail: anette.parts@europaskolan.nu

Web: www.europaskolan.nu

Map: Click Here

Engelska Skolan Norr (Engelska Förskolan)

Döbelnsgatan 52, 113 52 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-441 85 95 (head of daycare)

Fax: +46 (0)8-673 2915

Curriculum/ Language: Swedish /English

Grades: Preschool -5 & 6 -9

E-mail: forskolan@esn.se

Web: www.esn.se

Map: Click Here

Finska Förskolan

Urvädersgränd 6B – 8, 116 46 Stockholm

Tel: 08-508 131 19 or 08-508 13 121

Grades: Preschool

Language: Finnish

E-mail: ewa.paajarvi@stockholm.se

Web: http://www.soderforskolor.com/till/forskolor/f/index_.html

Map: Click Here

French Lycée (Lycée Français) Saint Louis de Stockholm

Essingestråket 24, 112 66 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-441 30 30

Curriculum/Language : French

Grades: Preschool & 1 -12

E-mail: secretariat@lfsl.net

Web: www.lfsl.net

Map: Click Here

Franska skolan Ecole Francaise

Döbelnsgatan 9, Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0)8 -598 889 00

Grades: Preschool & 1-12

Curriculum/Language: Swedish/French

E-mail: info@franskaskolan.se

Web: www.franskaskolan.se

Map: Click Here

Futuraskolan International Pre-School

Brunbärsvägen 7, 114 21 Stockholm

Tel: 08-674 00 60

Curriculum/Languages: English

Grades: Preschool

E-mail: coral.ljunggren@futuraskolan.se or info@futuraskolan.se

Web: www.futuraskolan.se

There are also Futura International preschools in Danderyd, Täby & Warfvinges Väg.

Map: Click Here

Futuraskolan International Pre-School

Brahegatan 45, 114 37 Stockholm

Tel: 08-661 16 00

Curriculum/Languages: English

Grades: Preschool

E-mail: ferdie.sevilla@futuraskolan.se

Web: www.futuraskolan.se

There are also Futura International preschools in Danderyd, Täby & Warfvinges Väg.

Map: Click Here

Forskaren

Forskarbacken 14, 104 05 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8 508 106 86

Grades: Preschool

Language: English/Swedish

E-mail: forskolan_forskaren.ostermalm@stockholm.se

Web: http://www.stockholm.se/-/Serviceenhetsdetaljer/?enhet=08dbac5d05b94686a80d78453de2a358

Map: Click Here

Greek Preschool Melissaki

Kocksgatan 27B, 126 24 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8 643 65 14 or 070-422 01 46

Grades: Preschool

Language: Greek

E-mail: maria.saivanidou@pysslingen.se

Web: www.melissaki.se

Map: Click Here 

Humpty Dumpty Nursery School

Oxenstiernasgatan 31, 115 27 Stockholm

Tel: 08-663 16 35

Language: English

Grades: Preschool (12 months – 6 yrs. old)

About: Humpty Dumpty is a parent cooperative preschool, the primary aim of which is to provide an English language environment for the children of its members. The active participation of the parent members is vital to Humpty Dumpty’s successful operation. The close-knit working relationship and constant communication between the staff, the board, and the parents are the fundamental ideas upon which we build.The nursery employs six teaching staff. It is a priority for Humpty Dumpty to keep an experienced, highly educated and well-trained staff.

E-mail: info@humptydumpty.se

Web: www.humptydumpty.se

Map: Click Here

Imagination International Pre-Schools

Sätraängsvägen 122 , 18235 Danderyd

Skytteholmsvägen 5, 171 44 Solna

Tel: 076-633 84 94 (Preschool director)

Language: English

Grades: Preschool (12 months – 6 yrs. old)

Info: click here for more information about Imagination International Pre-school

E-mail: info@imaginationinternational.se

Web: www.imaginationinternational.se

Map: Click Here

International School in Nacka (Fisksätraskolan)

Bräntvägen 1, Saltsjöbaden

Tel: +46 (0) 8 718 83 00 (school) or +46 (0) 8-718 83 05 (Förskolechef – Barbro Agnhage)

Fax: +46 (0) 8 718 83 02

Grades: Preschool – grade 9

Language: English/Swedish

E-mail: barbro.agnhage@nacka.se

Web: www.isn.nacka.se

Map: Click Here 

Johannes Skola

Roslagsgatan 61, 113 54 Stockholm

Tel: 08-508 445 00

Fax: 08-508 445 20

Grades: Kindergarten + 1 – 6

Curriculum/ Language: Curriculum based on the Swedish course plan / classes in Swedish as well as bilingual classes in English/Swedish.

About: Native English-speaking teachers provide education in English as a second language in the Swedish classes and teach half of the subjects in the bilingual classes.

Contact : Ingrid Sahl, ingrid.sahl@stockholm.se

E-mail: johannesskola@stockholm.se

Web: www.johannesskola.stockholm.se

Map: Click Here

Les Mélodies

Linnégatan 78-80, 115 23 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 70 792 10 42

Grades: Preschool

Language: French

E-mail: crechelesmelodies@gmail.com

Web: http://www.lesmelodies.se

Map: Click Here

Les P’tits Choux

Frejgatan 85, 113 26 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8 33 12 20

Grades: Preschool (Children separated into 2 groups: ages 1-3 and 4-6)

Language: French

E-mail: info@lesptitschoux.se

Web: www.lesptitschoux.se

Map: Click Here

Lilla Montessori Nursery School

Danavägen 3, 182 60 Djursholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-755 00 11

Ages: (2 -4 years old)

Map: Click Here

Montessoriförskolan Bellmanskällan Parent Co-op Nursery School

The Secret Garden

Brådstupsvägen 9, 129 39 Hägersten

Tel: +46 (0) 8-97 32 05

Ages: 3-5 year-olds

Map: Click Here

Mother Goose Preschool Kungsholmen

S:t Göransgatan 152 , 112 51 Stockholm

Tel: 070-954 64 04

Grades: Preschool

Language: Swedish/ English

E-mail: school.assistant@mothergoose.nu

Web: www.mothergoose.nu

Map: Click Here

Mother Goose International Preschool Ostermalm (Gärdet)

Kampementsgatan 16, 115 38 Stockholm

Tel: 070-954 64 04

E-mail: school.assistant@mothergoose.nu

Web: www.mothergoose.nu

Map: Click Here

Mother Goose International Preschool Kista

Isafjordsgatan 30 A, ground floor, 164 40 Kista

Tel: 070-954 64 04

E-mail: school.assistant@mothergoose.nu

Web: www.mothergoose.nu

Map: Click Here

Olympen Skolor & Forskola (3 campasses)

Jungfrugatan 51-53, 115 31 Stockholm (Svea Torn)

Stickelbärsvägen 3B (Ruddamen)

Stora Mans väg 11B, Älvsjö (Långbro Park)

Tel: 08-664 06 31

Grades: Preschool & 1- 9

Language: Swedish/English

E-mail: info@olympen.se

Web: www.olympen.se

Map: Click Here

Planet Kids Nursery School

Gyllenstiernasgatan 15, 115 26 Stockholm

Tel: 08-662 14 68

Grades: Preschool co operative (1 1/2 – 6 yrs. old)

Language: English

Web: http://www.planetkids.se

Map: Click Here

Pysslingen Förskolan Katrineberg

Katrinebergsbacken 24, 117 61 Stockholm

Tel: 08-68 11 890

Curriculum/Language: Swedish/English

Grades: Preschool

E-mail: katrineberg@pysslingen.se

Web: http://www.pysslingen.se/katrineberg

Map: Click Here

Spanska skolan Colegio Español

Västra vägen 7 C/11 C (terrassplan), Solna

Tel: 08-82 44 65 or 07-019 077 64

Grades: Preschool & 1-5

Curriculum/Language: Spanish/Swedish

E-mail: spanskaskolan@medborgarskolan.se

Web: www.spanskaskolan.se

Map: Click Here

Stockholms Internationella Montessoriskola

Konradsbergsgatan 24, 11259 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 7 05 48 48 08

Curriclum: IB

Grades: Preschool & 1- 8

E-mail: yasmin.sundberg@stims.se

Web: www.stims.se

Map: Click Here

Stockholm International School

Johannesgatan 18, 111 38 STOCKHOLM

Tel: +46 (0)8-412 4000

Curriculum/language: IB/ English

Grades: Preschool ages 3-5, Grades 1 – 12

E-mail: admin@intsch.se

Web: http://www.intsch.se

Map: Click Here

Svenskafinska förskolan Två tungor

Idungatan 3 – 5, 113 45 Stockholm

Tel/Fax: 08-30 75 67

Grades: Preschool

E-mail: forskolantvatungor@gmail.com

Web: www.tvatungor.se

Map: Click Here

The Tanto International School

Flintbacken 20, 118 42 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8 669 71 71

Fax: +46 (0) 8 668 60 07

Grades: Preschool & 1- 7

Curriculum/Language: We have the British system and show the English National Curriculum with adaptations to suit our international student body. All teaching is done in English. However, Swedish is taught mainly from Year 4 and onwards.

Info: We are a small, multi-cultural, family run school with great emphasis on high academic standards as well as developing social skills. We work hard with all children to teach respect for themselves and others, good manners and the importance of having fun while learning.

E-mail: mail@tantoschool.org

Web: http://www.tantoschool.se

Map: Click Here

Trilingua AB

Swedenborgsgatan 14, 104 62 Stockholm

Tel: +46 (0) 8-420 188 00

Grades: Preschool

Curriculum/Language: French / English / Swedish

E-mail: sophie@trilingua.se

Web: http://www.trilingua.se/

Map: Click Here

Vittra i Luma Park

Lumaparksvägen 12, 120 31 Stockholm

Tel: 08-556 949 50

Curriculum/Language: Swedish/English

Grades: Preschool & 1 – 3

E-mail: lumapark@vittra.se or info@vittra.se

Web: www.vittra.se

Map: Click Here

Vittra i Sjöstaden

Lugnets Allé 60, 120 68 Stockholm

Tel: 08-556 979 60

Curriculum/Languages: Swedish/English

Grades: Preschool & 1 – 9

E-mail: sjostaden@vittra.se or info@vittra.se

Web: www.vittra.se

Map: Click Here

Vittra i Lidingö

Vesslevägen 3, 181 45, Lidingö

Tel: 08-636 28 70

Curriculum/Languages: Swedish/English

Grades: Preschool & 1 -9

E-mail: lidingo@vittra.se or info@vittra.se

Web: www.vittra.se

Map: Click Here

Vittra i Rösjötorp

Lomvägen 100, 192 56 Sollentuna

Tel: +46 8 585 755 61

Curriculum/Languages: Swedish/English

Grades: Preschool & 1 – 5

E-mail: rosjotorp@vittra.se or info@vittra.se

Web: www.vittra.se

Map: Click Here

Vittra i Telefonplan

Snickerigatan 4, Hägersten

Tel: +46 (0) 8-681 69 80

Grades: Preschool & 1 – 5

E-mail: telefonplan@vittra.se or info@vittra.se

Web: www.vittra.se

Map: Click Here 

Something missing? Incorrect? Simply contact us and let us know! We will be updating our list continually and aim to make this the best reference for international schooling in Stockholm!

Research & maps: Carmel Heiland

Sweden’s generous parental benefits mean that you can stay at home with your child for at least a year; in fact it can be prohibitively expensive to organise child-care any earlier. At some point, most parents have to make that big decision as to which preschool is the right fit for them and their child.

You hold your six-month old baby in your arms. They’ve gone from being a helpless, tiny little being that was up all night to a smiling, cooing little being that’s… still up all night, dammit. It’s a magical milestone, the half-year. But 6 months also marks the time when applications to municipal day-cares can be made. This reminds you that the biggest milestone yet is to come, handing over your most precious bundle to someone else’s care. It means preschool. It means Panic!!

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Or not. It is daunting trying to find that perfect preschool that is to be entrusted with your baby. But the Swedish system, heavily funded by the tax payer, offers a myriad of choices. All at the same low subsidised rate, whether private or state-governed. There is more than one to suit everyone; what you have to decide is what’s important to you.

THE SYSTEM

There are over 1,000 Preschools (Förskolor, or more colloquially, dagis, in Swedish) on Stockholm’s municipal website; this does not include all the private ones that have their own queuing system. As a Brit, the word ‘private’ as a prefix generally means one thing: expensive. In Sweden the cost of sending your child to a private versus a state preschool is the same. The difference lies within who has set it up and is running it, the local authority or a private individual or company. Private förskolor tend to have their own queues, unless they have signed up to the municipal joint queuing system below. You can actually apply to the private förskolor and be placed in their queues the moment you have a personnummer for your child. If you know the preschool that you want the minute you come home from hospital, do this! I applied to the Spanish-Swedish one in Solna when my child was 6 months instead of applying straight away, although I knew that was the one I wanted. It took 3 years before I was offered a place, so do learn from the author’s mistake. You may apply to as many private förskolor as you wish, usually through their own website.

You can view the majority of Stockholm’s preschools here. Yourlivingcity also provides a fantastic list of the international preschools within Stockholm here. It’s also worth talking to everyone in your area, your föraldrer (parent) group, the BVC, and other expats; personal experience of any preschool is the most valuable insight you’ll get. You can apply for up to 5 kommun (local government) förskolor (state your order of preference) through this link.

For the municipal preschools and the private ones in Stockholm who’ve chosen to opt into this municipal queuing system, you will not be placed in a queue until your child is 6 months old, even if you have applied earlier. You should write the date that you wish your child to start nursery. This can be the moment that they turn one, but new terms start in August and January, and that is generally when most children will be given a place. You will then be positioned in the queue. Priority for all municipal förskolor is as follows:-

  1. Those with the support available must accommodate children with special needs first
  2. Priority is then given to siblings of those already in the school
  3. Proximity to the school in relation to other applicants in the area is then considered.
  4. Your ‘queuing date’, i.e. the date that you made your application. If you have the same queue date as other children, priority is given from the oldest child to the youngest.

So, Any Guarantees?

From the private preschools, no. Your queue position determines your likelihood of getting a spot, although it’s worth pestering if you really want the school – the squeaky parent gets the grease in this country. From municipal förskolor, you are guaranteed a spot from 3 months from when you put down your child’s start date. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it doesn’t have to be any of the ones you’ve painstakingly picked. There’s too much demand and not enough supply in these heady baby boom days. If you have to go back to work very soon, you might just have to accept a place across town. Otherwise you can wait it out, but having been offered a place, whether private or from the kommun, you no longer have the guarantee that your child will be placed within 3 months. Bear in mind that that preschool across town might be wonderful, even if you’ve not considered it – an open mind can ensure the best care for your child

Either way, though, you are not taken off the queues for your preferred choice of förskolor. The only time this will happen is if you reject one of those, in which case you will be taken off the lists for that preschool and any others that you ranked lower in terms of preference. So if you’ve rejected choice number 4, you’ll be taken off the queues for number 4 AND 5.

But what is my dream preschool?

The first big decision you’ll need to make as an English speaker is whether you should choose a Swedish or an International preschool. It’s generally acknowledged that children will benefit from having another language in their life, even if it’s only for a short time. That said, there are differences between the Swedish system and your home country’s that might not be palatable. The important thing to remember is that whilst formal learning is delayed for longer than in some countries, the standards do come together in the end. In other words if little Johnny is not learning to read at 4 in preschool, this doesn’t mean that he’ll never learn to read. The Swedish education system is different, not better or worse. Do take a look at the Swedish curriculum and see if you can live with it. If you’re here to stay long-term, it might be worth considering that friendships in Sweden often start out at förskolan and are a great way of assimilating your child into Swedish society.

Proximity is the next big factor to consider. When I asked a friend of mine what to consider when looking at preschools, she got out a 1cm: 100m map of my area, drew a 1cm radius circle round my flat and told me to only bother with any that fell within the circle. Whilst I don’t subscribe fully to this, it can be easy to underrate how difficult a long school run in the snow with a screaming toddler can be. (Although a 12-mum sledding race home does constitute one of the highlights of my stay in Stockholm).

Pedagogy might also be important to you; you may have a passion for Montessori or Waldorf styles of teaching (it’s worth noting that the curriculum in Sweden is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach). There are preschools within Stockholm who offer these distinctive methods of teaching and you can check them out if they offer a particular ‘fit’ for you.

Teacher to student ratio also ranks highly on my checklist in looking at preschools. I feel that the more children who are assigned to a teacher, the less time they have to spend on each of them. These statistics are available on the Stockholm’s stad website here (insert link).

For some parents, food can be a deal-breaker, especially with a child who has allergies or intolerances or political or religious reasons for not eating certain foods. The food at preschools varies greatly; some have a chef on-site with only organic produce served and a vegetarian option every day. It’s worth considering that Barn Mat’ can be a diet of hot dogs, pasta with ketchup, blood pudding and meatballs. See if you can get hold of a sample menu.

Above is a list of things to consider when looking at förskolor online, but a preschool may tick all these boxes and still not feel ‘right’ when you walk through the door. This is your parental instinct at work – do not ignore it, but do validate it against the following:-

  • Does it feel safe? Are there procedures clearly visible in the case of an emergency? Are the children being supervised well? Is it clean?
  • Are the children happy? You can tell a lot from the expressions on children’s faces.
  • Do I like the staff?
  • Do I agree with the values and policies of the head teacher; bear in mind that there can be a high amount of staff turnover, so it’s important to make sure you respect the person at the top as they will be the ones recruiting the person who will take charge of your little one.
  • Does the daily schedule feel comfortable to you? Is there a good balance of indoor and outdoor activities? Is there proper allocated time for different types of play, for eating, for napping? Is there an emphasis on free play or is there more of a structured learning environment.
  • If playing outdoors is important to you, ask the preschool if they have their own outdoor space or gård. If not, the chances are the children will be walked to the nearest public space and may not get outside as much as if they had their own.
  • What is the in-schooling procedure? Is it flexible?

It sounds like a lot to assess when you go preschool visiting, but it really is worth picking out a place that will suit you and your child best – I speak as a veteran of 4 different förskolor; again, please learn from my mistakes!

As with everything to do with parenting, always remember:

THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG. THERE IS ONLY RIGHT FOR YOU

Perhaps preschool is not for you? There are other options available; we shall write about them another time!

Article by Farrah Gillani

Image by barnaby wasson from flickr creative commons

How do you get your little ones to love reading? Sarit Grinberg, founder of Scholar Kids, provides you with some tips and tricks.

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

- Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Reading to and with young kids helps them better understand the world and develop important language and learning skills. When you read together, kids will develop a love for reading that can last a lifetime.

It is important for parents to find the time to sit down with their kids and take a book (or magazine), and just spend time looking at the pictures, reading, and asking questions about what they see.

Here are some tips to motive your kids to read:

Image by Ohh_food via Flickr Creative Commons

Start as early as possible

Even if you have a newborn, it is not too early to introduce them to reading. Babies love the sound of rhythms and the intonations of your voice. Get kids to listen and look at books as early as possible. As early as 1 month, babies may imitate expressions and are able to follow moving objects with their eyes, and as they get older they will get more active when hearing sounds and looking at pictures.

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A reading environment

Kids are most likely to read if they have many books at home, and it makes a big impact if kids see their parents read, even if it is the newspaper or a magazine (but not the computer!). Your kids will get the idea that reading can be for pleasure and not just for school.

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Let kids pick out their own books

Book choice is a strong motivation for readers. Let your kids pick out their own book. Stop by the library, bookshop, or let them shop for it online. They are more likely to read the books that they choose.

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Rewards for reading

Readers of all ages feel a sense of accomplishment when completing a book. It is a great idea to reward early readers, either by having a star chart or treating your kids to their favourite dessert. Depending on the difficulty level, you can reward by chapter or by book. You can also check out libraries to see if there are book contests to give kids motivation to read as many books as they can.

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Make it a family experience

Some of us may have very good memories of our parents reading to us every night or sitting in the living room reading together. Reading to your kids will inspire them, especially if you make the story come alive by changing your voice and pace, and using sound effects and movements.

Reading together also makes it a time for bonding and cuddling – something both of you will appreciate after a long day. This will help kids subconsciously associate reading with warmth, joy and love, and helps seed the ground for passionate readers later in life.

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Finding out their interests

You can stimulate your kids’ passions and interests. Does he or she love horses? Fairies? Dinosaurs? Encouraging your kids’ interests will also make your kids value having their own hobbies and passions. It also helps knowing their interests when you want to buy them a book for their birthday or holiday as it is likely they will enjoy the book because of the theme.

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Book Clubs

Book clubs, whether they are in a library or online, are a great place for kids to share their love for books. They can suggest books to others, get ideas about books to read, give their critique of a book, and take part in book events that the club is holding. It is great for kids to find others who share the same interests!

Keep in mind that it is the process that counts. Some kids take longer to read than others, and some enjoy it more than others. Don’t rush them or pressure them to finish a sentence, a chapter, or a book. Your job is to help and guide them and encourage them not to give up.

Visit www.scholar-kids.se to join our book club, enter the Scholar Kids Book Contest, and to find out more about reading!

Happy reading!

By Sarit Grinberg

www.scholar-kids.se

Sarit began her academic training in the theatre arts, and later started to teach English as a Second Language in Canada and in Sweden. For the last few years, she has been a freelance English teacher and working in International Schools in Sweden. She is currently teaching English in a primary school and working towards her master’s degree in International and Comparative Education at Stockholm University, and is helping parents keep their kids on track in their education by co-founding Scholar Kids.

Your Living City loves to learn about our readers experiences & ideas and hear their stories. If you have something to say or want to share about your Swedish journey, send us a mail with a writing sample and we will get back to you shortly.

Are you currently trying to figure out what the best options are for your child’s education in Stockholm? Or simply don’t know which questions to ask? Choosing the right school, whether international, English or Swedish, is not an easy decision. Our newest contributor Sarit Grinberg, has an inside view of the school system in Sweden, and shares her experience and insight that should help you find what your looking for and make some of your decisions a little easier…

Families coming from abroad are likely to look into the many international schools available in the city of Stockholm. Though there are a lot to choose from, parents often get frustrated with the choices, not knowing the differences between the schools.

Of course you want the best for your child, and depending on where you come from, you may be looking for a specific environment or pedagogical focus. This guide will help you choose which school is right for your child.

Here is information you should read before enrolling your child in a school.

First, let’s take a look at the Swedish school system:

Compulsory education in Sweden is from year 1 to 9 (approximately from the age of 7-16).

From the age of one, children can attend pre-school (förskola). They can go from daycare style settings to kindergarten style settings, depending on their age. The year before a child goes to the first grade, they have the opportunity to attend the Pre-school class (Förskoleklass), which is similar to the kindergarten year in many countries. From year 1-9, children attend compulsory comprehensive school (grundskola). After year 9, students then can attend a 3 year high school programme (Gymnasieskola). From the Pre-school class (Förskoleklass), children have the opportunity to have Modersmål (mother tongue) classes. These classes are for children who speak a language other than Swedish at home. An instructor comes to the school and helps the child practice and develop their first language. This program is paid by the government. Parents only need to talk to the school administration and fill out a form.

Who runs the schools?

Most schools in Sweden are municipally run. There are many public schools and independent schools, and just a handful of private schools. In Sweden, there has been an explosion of independently run schools. What does this mean? It means that individuals or organizations have been allowed (since 1992) to open and run their own schools with the approval of the government. These schools get funding from the municipality they belong to, and in return they have to follow the Swedish curriculum and laws.

Most international schools are independently run.

What is the admission process?

Whether they are preschools, primary schools, or high schools – schools are to have open applications, but admission preference goes to children who live close to the school and those with siblings already enrolled. The admission process normally starts with the parents filling out an application form from the school website, and sending it in electronically. There may be a queue for many schools, which is why it is important to apply to more than one.

Preschools charge a (small) fee depending on the income of the parents, while primary and high schools are not allowed to charge additional fees. It is important to know that all government funded schools are not allowed to charge parents for school trips, textbooks, and activities (other than after-school programmes).

How does the Swedish Curriculum differ from others, such as the British Curriculum?

Most schools that get government subsidies (funding) are required to have Swedish in their schools. International schools that want English to be taught usually have to make a compromise of having Swedish classes as well.

The Swedish Curriculum differs greatly from ones in other countries, as it is said to be quite general, and teachers have a lot of space to choose learning materials and how to structure classes. As long as the goals of the curriculum are met, teachers and schools have a lot of flexibility in their work. One of the important beliefs in Sweden is that each child should learn at their own pace, and should not be secluded from others. Each level varies as well, as described below.

Pre-schools – the curriculum for pre-schools is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, which puts a lot of emphases on child-centred learning. The child is encouraged to observe and experience their surrounding, thus learning on their own. There is also importance in ‘learning through play’ so children spend a lot of time playing. Teachers are not supposed to intervene in the child’s learning, and instead are the observers. There is no grading system in pre-schools, but teachers do make notes, observations, and a portfolio for each child. The values of Swedish society, such as democracy and equality, are instilled in the daily activities of pre-schools, with the goal of creating a democratic and caring citizen.

Primary School – Students have until recently been assessed by a three grade system – Pass (G), Pass with Distinction (VG), and Pass with Special Distinction (MVG). Now the grading system is A, B, C, D, E as passing grades and F as Failing. Children do not receive grades until 9th grade, which is quite different than school systems in other countries. The Swedish government, however, is now proposing to change it so that children get grades from year 6. The grades from primary school are used to apply and compete for entrance to high school.

Secondary School – This level lasts for three years. Secondary school is divided into programs or specifications (i.e. Natural Sciences, Social Sciences), which the students choose. There are currently 18 national programs – 6 college preparatory programs and 12 vocational programs.

All programs give basic qualification to attend university.

Before enrolling your child:

It is very important to visit the school, have someone show you around and answer any questions you may have. It is best to bring your child with you – that way you can see how they fit in during the visit.

  1. All municipal, public and independent schools can be found on the Stockholm Stad (City)

    website: http://www.stockholm.se.

    *You can type the school name in the search to get information and statistics.

    * HINT: Use the translate function on top of the screen if you can’t read Swedish.

  2. School quality and inspection results can be found at:

    www.siris.skolverket.se

    www.skolinspektionen.se

    www.stockholm.se (information in Swedish only).

Things for you to think about:

  • Think about your child’s strong and weak points. Are they interested in particular activities, such as sports or drama?  Some schools focus on one subject more than others.
  • Is it important for your child to go to an international school? Which language should be dominant in your child’s learning?

Questions to ask (yourself and the supervisor) during the school visit:

  • What is the school’s philosophy and their goals?
  • What is the teacher/child ratio?
  • What is the schedule/routine?
  • What are the school hours?
  • What food does the school provide for breakfast/snack/lunch?
  • Does the playground have enough room to run around? Are there sufficient toys/activities available?
  • What is the language of instruction?
  • How many international students are there?
  • Are there school trips?
  • Is there a sufficient amount of books, toys, school material, and resources available for learning?
  • Are teachers qualified or have experience in teaching?
  • How does the school deal with misbehavior and bullying?
  • How often are the parent-teacher meetings?
  • How will the school communicate with me about information and events?
  • What learning tools are used in the classroom? (i.e. whiteboard, computers, projector, games)
  • Which subjects are taught? How often?
  • Are there report cards?
  • How often are there tests/exams?
  • What is the grading system?

 

International Schools

There are many schools in Stockholm that claim to be ‘international’. All International schools focus on diversity and are geared towards families coming from abroad either temporarily or indefinitely. International schools offer English instruction (dominantly or in combination with Swedish). International schools differ from Swedish schools in that they have parents with different demands, and thus offer additions to the Swedish curriculum, sometimes adding more hours to subjects. Most international schools state that they value diversity, respect, and quality in education.

Schools that rely on government funding (public and independent schools) are sometimes pressured by parents coming from competitive countries to be more strict and academic, but these schools have rules under the Swedish law, and thus can’t raise standards as high as parents would like.

Private International Schools, on the other hand, are very much focused on standards, quality, and academics, which is more suitable for parents who believe in high standards and competition. These schools provide an international diploma, which students can use to transfer to any international school in the world (private or public) and students have an advantage when applying to first class universities. As the saying goes ‘If you want quality education, you have to pay for it’. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any good quality public or independent schools. You just have to do some research to find the best ones!

Here is a list of truly international and English-speaking schools in Stockholm that will help you find the best school for your child. Check which schools interest you by looking at the list below, and take a look at their website for an overview before going for a tour.

Private International Schools

For those who are willing to pay extra fees for quality international (all English) education.

NOTE: Students with a personnummer (personal identity number) from grades 1-12 may be entitled to municipal subsidies for their education.

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British International Primary School of Stockholm

www.britishinternationalprimaryschool.se

Levels: Pre-school – grade 7

Curriculum: British Curriculum

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The Tanto International School

www.tantoschool.org

Levels: Nursery – grade 7

Curriculum: English National Curriculum

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Stockholm International School

www.intsch.se

Levels: Kindergarten – grade 12

Curriculum: IPC, MYP, and IB Diploma

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Independent International Schools

For those parents who want an international education (some schools may have Swedish and English) for their child while getting the full subsidy from the municipality. All of these schools have to follow the Swedish National Curriculum.

Vittra

www.vittra.se

Levels: Pre-school – grade 9

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Europaskolan

www.europaskolan.nu

Levels: Pre-school – grade 9

Curriculum: IBO/Swedish National Curriculum

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Engelska Skolan Norr

www.esn.se

Levels: Pre-school – grade 9

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Futuraskolan

www.futuraskolan.se

www.futuraskolaninternational.se

Levels: Pre-school – grade 9

Curriculum: Swedish National Curriculum/IPC for grades 1-5

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Kunskapsgymnasiet

www.kunskapsgymnasiet.se

Level: High school

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Internationella Engelska Skolan

www.engelska.se/

Level: grades 4-9

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Kungsholmens Gymnasium

(International Section)

www.kungsholmensgymnasium.stockholm.se

Level: High School

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Stockholm Language School (Stockholms Språkskola)

www.stockholmssprakskola.org

 

Level: grades 1-9

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International Pre-schools

These schools are focused on the pre-school age, and offer an international (mostly English) environment. Many children attending these pre-schools come from all parts of the world, creating a truly unique international experience. They also follow the Swedish Pre-school Curriculum, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.

Mother Goose International Pre-school

www.mothergoose.nu

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Crickets and Dragonflies

www.sodermalmsforskolor.se/englishpreschool/extern/crickets_and_dragonflies.htm

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Engelska Förskolan

www.engelskaforskolan.se

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Futuraskolan

www.futuraskolan.se

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Humpty Dumpty Nursery School

www.humptydumpty.se

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Imagination International Pre-school

www.imaginationinternational.se

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Planet Kids Nursery School

www.planetkids.se

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Olympen Förskola

(English Section)

www.olympen.se/forskolor.aspx

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Non-English International Schools

For those parents who want to enroll their child in a language specific school (other than English).

Dutch Schools:

Dé Nederlande School in Stockholm

www.nlschoolstockholm.se

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Finish Schools:

Finska Förskolan (Finnish Pre-school)

www.soderforskolor.com/till/forskolor/f/index_.html

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French Schools:

French Lycée (Lycée Français) Saint Louis de Stockholm

www.lfsl.net

Franska skolan (Ecole Francaise)

www.franskaskolan.se

Les Mélodies

www.lesmelodies.se

Les P’tits Choux

www.lesptitschoux.se

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German Schools:

Deutsche Schule Stockholm (The German School)

www.tyskaskolan.se

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Greek Schools:

Greek Preschool Melissaki

www.melissaki.se

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Spanish Schools:

Spanska skolan Colegio Español

www.spanskaskolan.se

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Remember: Before choosing a school, consider your child’s needs and interests, what you expect of your child’s school (environment and learning), and make sure to ask all the questions you may have during the school tour. With all of these in mind, you are closer to finding the right school for your child!

Good luck!

By: Sarit Grinberg

Images by: Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se