Pre and Compulsory school
In Iceland, preschools are specified as the first formal level in the education system. Preschools are designated for children from as young as 9 months, through 6. Children are not required to attend preschool, but in Iceland over 95% of all children do.
There are no restrictions, other than age, for registering a child in preschool. If a child should have a mental or physical developmental delay, they are often offered early entry to attend preschool, where all developmental needs are met through the provision of support services at no additional cost to parents.
See information here about the rights of the disabled.
Preschools are operated in most instances by the local authorities but can also be privately operated. The cost for preschool tuition is subsidized by local authorities and varies between municipalities.
Parents apply to register their children in a preschool with the municipality where they have legal residence. Websites for education and family services in all municipalities provide information about registration and pricing.
Preschools follow the Icelandic national curriculum guide. Each preschool will additionally have its own curriculum and educational/developmental emphasis. Information about individual preschools is accessible through local education authorities, on preschool websites, or through contacting the preschool director directly.
Compulsory schools (also known as Primary schools) are run by the local education authorities in municipalities and are free of charge. Parents enroll children in compulsory schools in the municipality where they are legally domiciled.
There are usually no waiting lists for compulsory schools. There can be exceptions in larger municipalities where parents can choose between schools in a variety of neighborhoods.
Parents are required to enroll all children aged 6-16 in compulsory school, and attendance is mandatory. Parents are held responsible for their children’s attendance and are encouraged to collaborate with educators in their children’s engagement in study.
Compulsory education in Iceland is divided into three levels:
- Grades 1 through 4 (young children aged 6 – 9)
- Grades 5 through 7 (adolescents aged 10 – 12)
- Grades 8 through 10 (young adults or teenagers aged 13 – 15)
Children and young adults who experience educational difficulties caused by a disability, social, or emotional issue are entitled to any additional study support they may need.
Compulsory schools have full-day teaching schedules, with recesses and a lunch break. Schools are in operation for a minimum of nine months per year 180 school days. There are scheduled holidays, breaks, and days for parent-teacher conferences.
Enrollment forms and further information about local compulsory schools can be found on websites of most schools on municipality websites or additionally, parents can seek assistance with registering a child directly in the administration office at a local compulsory school.
Additional information about compulsory education in Iceland can be found in the Compulsory School Act or in the Icelandic National Curriculum Guide for Compulsory Schools.