On 25 April 2018 the Education, Culture and Science Committee of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia conceptually supported amendments to the law that provide for the beginning of a proportionate, balanced and flexible transition to the acquisition of the content of basic education from 6 years of age by providing opportunities to implement the educational programme for grade 1 also at pre-school. Whereas for children of five years of age at the pre-school educational stage the mandatory one year preparation for the acquisition of a basic education is provided for. A child will be able to study in the preparatory programme for one more year in conformity with the opinion of the family doctor or the opinion of the psychologist, starting education in grade 1 at the age of seven. “Going to school at the age of 6 or 7 will always be the choice of parents,” emphasizes the Minister of Education and Science, Professor Kārlis Šadurskis.
“Now a new educational content is developed successively and according to the interests and needs of six-year-old children, by encouraging them to understand themselves and be more aware of the world around them, create new knowledge on the basis of their pre-existing one, try, think and seek other solutions. The children will be able to begin acquisition of basic education either at nursery school or at school where pre-school educational and basic educational programmes are already being implemented and there is a suitable learning environment that meets the developmental needs of children. For a six-year-old child in grade 1 it will be necessary to ensure – an extended-day group, outdoor activities, games and recreational activities,” explains Guntars Catlaks, the head of the National Centre for Education.
The purpose of the suggested changes is promote the mental, intellectual and physical development of children through the provision of an appropriate learning environment that is safe, changing, exploratory, as well as encouraging to study, learn and create. The planned educational content to be acquired in grade 1 and methodology are appropriate for the content of the mandatory pre-school education to be acquired at the age of six.
It is intended to determine that the duration of one lesson in grade 1 shall be 35 minutes. A multi-dimensional forms of teaching organization through the provision of the rest, games, plays, practical classes, as well as open-air classes and study trips in parallel with lessons are essential for the implementation approach of the new educational content. From the state budget earmarked subsidies after lessons all pupils in grade 1 will be provided with the possibility to receive pedagogical assistance and to spend their leisure time outside mandatory classes in an organised way. Consequently, pupils shall have a safe environment to spend time in the extended-day group, which includes the children's rest and fresh-air activities, individual help to pupils, games, plays and other classes and activities. Also, after the mandatory lessons a pupil may attend the interest-related educational hobby groups and optional classes.
The children who in the school year 2017/2018 are beginning the mandatory two years' preparation for the acquisition of a basic education, will continue this in the school year 2018/2019. For the second year of the new mandatory preparation they will be offered the transitional programme, so that, by continuing education at school, by grade 4 to even out differences between both grades 1 of the school year 2019/2020. On 1 September 2018 the implementation of the new educational content in a pre-school educational institutions will be commenced and the children of five years of age will acquire the new mandatory content of pre-school education within a period of one year in order to in the school year 2019/2020 they will be prepared to start education in grade 1 with the competency-based educational content. In this school year the six-year-olds will continue the acquisition of the content of the pre-school education that they have started in the school year 2017/2018 and have completed only part of the content of pre-school education. On 1 September 2019 both 5 and 6 years old children, who on 1 September 2018 began or continued studies of the mandatory pre-school education, will begin studies in grade 1 according to the new educational content.