In Finland, compulsory education can be completed either by participating in elementary school education or by learning the knowledge and skills corresponding to the curriculum of elementary school education in some other way—such as through homeschooling. This means, then, that education is compulsory but schooling is not.

Parents, in other words, have the legal option to choose homeschooling for their child’s primary school education. Even so, there are regulations that the guardians must adhere to in terms of the child’s compulsory education—and the guardians can be fined for failure to fulfill these duties—so awareness of these responsibilities is important.

When homeschooling, the child is not a student in any school. Instead, parents themselves are responsible for offering their child the required education defined in the National Core Curriculum. Homeschooling parents are responsible for purchasing books and other learning material in addition to the actual tutoring. There is freedom for choosing the methods of teaching as long as the required goals in the state curriculum are met and parents are able to demonstrate the progress of learning in a good manner. Most homeschoolers make a portfolio or a blog demonstrating the work done over the year.

When parents choose homeschooling for their child, they must send a written notification to the head of education (opetuspäällikkö) of the city/municipality of their residence, who will in turn name a monitoring teacher responsible for following the student’s learning progress. The monitoring teacher will not teach or evaluate the skills of the student, but follow the progression of the studies and whether the student reaches the goals set out in the Core Curriculum.

If the student has been attending a school before starting homeschooling, one should notify the school as well. The school must give a certificate of departure when the student transfers to homeschooling.

The guardian is responsible for the costs and making arrangements to ensure that the homeschooler makes progress in their education. The guardian also makes sure that the homeschooler gets the necessary services for health care and well being.

One difficulty that people have in trying to understand educational regulations in Finland arises because there is no common terminology among the various English speaking communities. And while the Finnish Education Administration has created a Finnish-English glossary of education-related terms, the English versions do not necessarily match those actually used in English-speaking countries. Terms such as ”preschool,” ”reception,” ”kindergarten,” ”elementary school,” ”middle school,” ”secondary school,” ”high school,” and so on often mean different things in the UK than they do, for instance, in the U.S. Take the term ”preschool,” for example. (See Comparison Table). In the U.S., ”preschool” refers to the more-or-less informal schools for children younger than five years old, who then move on to ”kindergarten” (age five) and then ”elementary” or ”primary” school (ages roughly from six through ten or grades one through five).

This means, then, that English speakers should try to understand exactly what the various stages in the Finnish education system involve rather than to try to attach their own particular terminology as equivalents of Finnish terms. For example, the term ”esikoulu” literally translates as ”preschool,” but esikoulu is not the equivalent of what English-speaking countries mean by the word ”preschool.” Esikoulu is equivalent to the U.S. version of kindergarten, for example, with the exception that American children start kindergarten at age 5 rather than at age 6 as in Finland. And the British school system, on the other hand, has a very different set of terms than the American. Things get even more complicated when we take into account all other English-speaking countries, not to mention the many English speakers in Finland from non-English speaking countries and for whom English is their second or third language.


EsiasteBefore Primary
• varhaiskasvatus (ages 0-5)early childhood education and care (ECEC)
• esikoulu (age 6)• preschool; pre-primary
• peruskoulu (ages 7-15—grades 1-9)• primary school; basic education
Toinen aste eli keskiasteSecondary
• lukio TAI ammattikoulutus (ages 16-18)• high school (general upper secondary) OR vocational education and training (VET)

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Children at age 6 are entitled to receive esikoulu (pre-primary / UK year 1 / US kindergarten) tutoring, and this level can also be done as homeschool esikoulu. Municipalities might not have clear rules about monitoring home esikoulu, so it is best to contact the appropriate municipality officials for more information about it in your municipality.

The guardian must ensure that they meet the goals set for compulsory esikoulu education. Suomen Kotikouluyhdistys ry recommends that the guardian carry out the child’s teaching and activities in compliance with the goals of the Early Childhood Education Curriculum 2014 and to document the child’s learning and activities during homeschooled kindergarten.


Compulsory school education in Finland covers ages seven to eighteen.

All students in Finland, whether in the municipal school or homeschool, are bound by the most recent valid curriculum. Based on regulations set forth in the National Curriculum and Homeschooling Guidelines, the guardians can draw up their own curriculum for the compulsory education student, which provides the knowledge and skills corresponding to the basic education curriculum. If the guardians prepare their own curriculum, it must be submitted to the municipality of residence and the monitoring teacher.

While some home learners might choose to follow their local curriculum, they are only required to meet the goals of the national basic education curriculum.

While in special cases accommodations in the curriculum are allowed for those students attending municipal school, learners studying at home, on the other hand, cannot leave out a common subject included in the national basic education curriculum. Special education accommodations can only be made for those studying at the municipal school. (OPH 2019) Nevertheless, homeschoolers are not tied to a specific learning method or school grades under law.

Up-to-date legislation defines an upper limit for the end of compulsory education, but no lower limit. ”Compulsory schooling shall end when the basic education syllabus has been completed or ten years after the beginning of compulsory schooling” (Basic Education Act 628/1998, Section 25).

In order to complete compulsory education, ”one must participate in basic education organized in accordance with this law or otherwise obtain information corresponding to the curriculum of basic education” (Basic Education Act 628/1998, Section 26). Studying that is not tied to year classes is possible in primary school (Basic Curriculum Principles 2014, 38), and when applying the first point of special teaching arrangements (Basic Education Act 628/1998, Section 18), it is possible, for example, to transfer a student (with the guardian’s consent) ahead to the year class for which it is estimated that they already has sufficient knowledge and skills. The possibility of a home learner to study without being tied to age-specific year classes is explained through the foundations of the Basic Education Act and the Basic Education Curriculum referred to above. For example, a home learners can progress in some or all subjects faster than the year class division. They can also achieve the knowledge corresponding to the basic education curriculum before the ninth grade.

As with all subject areas, students studying a second domestic language have three levels of support offered to them at the municipal school, such as general support, enhanced support, or, if necessary, a special support decision if the previous levels of support are not sufficient for learning the language. If there is still no effect, you can be exempted from studying the subject. But in homeschooling, there is no possibility to receive this extra support or to be exempted from studying common subjects.


Homeschooled students may be taught in their native language, but any student living permanently in Finland must acquire the knowledge and skills in Finnish and Swedish corresponding to the Finnish basic education curriculum.

In some municipalities, the population is large and there are several schools in different languages of instruction, which means that, for example, monitoring homeschool in a certain language can be easily arranged. Some municipalities, on the other hand, have very few residents, perhaps only one small school and a few teachers. In this case, practical arrangements in a language other than the school’s language of instruction can be more complicated.

It is important to be aware of the possible local school language limitations and discuss them with the municipality’s education authorities in advance when deciding on homeschooling. Guardians, then, should discuss these issues with the municipality in advance. Since the municipalities have different practices in organizing the monitoring, Suomen Kotikouluyhdistys ry cannot take a position on the language in which the supervision is organized.

Often Finnish is the mother tongue of the homeschooler and Swedish is the second domestic language (B1) or vice versa. When the homeschooler’s mother tongue is other than Finnish, Swedish, Sámi, sign language, or Romani, Finnish is studied as an S2 language and Swedish as a second native language or vice versa.

In Finland, it is also possible to study remotely in a foreign language in another country according to that country’s curriculum, in which case the country in question monitors the learning progress. The language of instruction must be an official language in the destination country.

In the school environment, language learning would proceed in such a way that the first-year student would go to a preparatory class, during which Finnish is taught more intensively. For the second year, the student switches to a regular class to study, usually in Finnish. According to Section 18 of the Basic Education Act, this can be used for B1 Swedish. It is not automatic that students are exempted from studying a language, but if they come to Finland for the 8th or 9th grade without a previous schooling background, the situation would be unreasonable to learn two domestic languages at the same time. However, if the child has attended some school earlier in their life and comes to Finland for example in the 6th grade, then they are expected to study the B1 language just like everyone else


Homeschoolers do not get diplomas per se. If homeschoolers so wish, the learner can take proficiency tests to receive a diploma called “erityinen tutkinto” (“special degree”). In this special degree, the competence of the home learner is evaluated in relation to the general curriculum of basic education and its goals.

​A regular primary school final certificate is not strictly required for admission to postgraduate studies, though. You can also apply to upper secondary school or vocational education through discretionary selection, unless it is an educational institution that selects students only through a separate entrance or selection exam. You can also enter a high school as a student without a regular school-leaving certificate or a similar certificate, if the applicant has sufficient conditions to complete high school (lukio=”upper secondary”) studies. 

Adult high school or online high school are alternative ways to complete further studies if the home learner is interested in high school studies but has not made it to the local high school of their choice. Depending on the educational institution, there may be special considerations when searching for a place to study. For example, a vocational educational institution that enables discretionary choice can accept a maximum of 30% of students in one application due to learning difficulties, social reasons, or difficulties in comparing school certificates. Some educational institutions, including upper secondary schools, may have their own emphasis, entrance, or aptitude tests or, for example, the possibility to provide additional evidence, which is taken into account in selections. Additional points can also be obtained, for example, from work experience or participation in workshop activities. One possible route is an apprenticeship, to which people over 15 can apply. (Adult high school 2020; Etälukio 2020; How students are selected… 2020; 2020; 2020.) It is a good idea to contact possible postgraduate study places directly for more information.


Kotiopetus, kotikoulu ja oppivelvollisuus: Suomen Kotikouluyhdistys ry