Preschools and In-home Child Care in Iceland

Leikskólar og dagforeldrar á Íslandi
As preschools are the first level of education, parents need to acquaint themselves well with day-care arrangements when moving to Iceland. Here you can find information about day-care possibilities for children, including preschools and in-home child care.

Preschools

Preschools are the first level of schooling and are intended for children under the compulsory school age of six years. They are intended for all children, regardless of mental or physical ability, culture or religion.

Most preschools are operated by municipalities, but some are privately operated and have been accredited by their respective municipality.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture issues a National Curriculum Guide for Preschools, which is regularly reviewed. It sets out the main objectives of preschools and their educational and instructional role.  The municipalities, however, are responsible for the activities of preschools and pay for their operation.

In most municipalities you can apply to have children enrolled in preschool from the age of six months, but only in exceptional cases are children under eighteen months of age accepted into preschools. Children often go to in-home child care until a preschool space is available or attend special preschools for infants, although these are very few in number.

Children generally have to be domiciled in the municipality to be entitled to attend a preschool, although there are exceptions to this.

Most preschools require children to take a four-week vacation over the summer and many preschools close.

Application for preschool

Parents apply for a preschool place in the municipality where the child is domiciled. In most municipalities, preschools admission goes by age, with older children admitted first. 

 

Pre-school fees

In most municipalities, parents pay a certain fee to their children's preschool. Preschool fees are collected for 11 months each year, as children are expected to take four consecutive weeks of summer vacation. Information on preschool fees can be found on the websites of municipalities.

There are discounts for single parents and students and for siblings. Information on discounts for various groups can be found on the websites of municipalities.

When a child starts preschool, the school and the parent conclude an agreement, which has a mutual notice period of one month.

In-home child care

Committees acting on behalf of the municipal authorities grant permits to in-home child care providers, but providers are self-employed and parents should therefore contact the in-home child care provider directly to apply for care for their children. Most municipalities provide subsidies for in-home child care fees. Subsidies can begin following the end of parental leave, i.e. from the time children of married or cohabiting parents are 12 months of age.

In many municipalities, a discount is available for siblings.

Some municipalities offer so-called home-care allowances or care payments, intended for parents who do not avail themselves of other day-care possibilities for children under the age of six.

The websites of the municipalities have lists of in-home child care providers in each location. 

Who should I contact if I have questions?

The office of the municipality where you are domiciled or intend to move is the best place to turn to. 

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