Ülle Madise: Law does not say kindergartners should play outside in evening

Sõmerpalu Lepatriinu kindergarten.
Sõmerpalu Lepatriinu kindergarten. Source: Mirjam Mõttus/ERR

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise was approached by a parent who was upset that her children were not taken outside in the evenings. According to the Chancellor of Justice, there are no laws dictating when kindergartners must be outside, despite the fact that kids benefit from the increased physical activity that comes with outside play.

Madise explained, "According to the Preschool Childcare Institutions Act (KELS), the activity and daily schedule of a preschool childcare provider should take into account the institution's national curriculum as well as the cultural characteristics and folk traditions of the community in which the institution is located."

She said, "A ministerial decree outlines the health criteria for health promotion and the daily schedule for preschool institutions."

"The law requires the child to go outside once or twice a day, depending on the weather. The outside air temperature and wind speed, i.e. the perceived outdoor air temperature, determine how much time a child spends outside," Madise said.

The Health Board (Terviseamet) and the Institute of Health Development (Tervise Arengu Instituut, TAI) confirmed to the Chancellor of Justice's advisor that there is no conventional recommendation for how much time a child should spend outside each day. Nonetheless, there are suggestions for physical activity.

"For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children aged 3 to 4 be physically active for three hours per day, one hour of which should be moderate to vigorous. According to the TAI, children are frequently more physically active outside than indoors," Madise said.

The Institute for Health Development told the Chancellor of Justice's advisor that it has been collecting information on kindergartners' outdoor activities. During the fall, spring and summer, the majority of kindergartens allow children to play outside in the afternoon, while only a minority do so during the winter.

Tallinn Education Department told ERR that they do not have information that kindergartners are not permitted to step outside in the evenings. "The Tallinn education department has not enforced any requirements on kindergartens. The department, however, strongly supports children's health and outdoor education. When the weather permits, children's facilities should be using the evening hours for outdoor learning and play," Pirgit Pedgita, a spokesperson for the Tallinn Department of Education, said.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Kristina Kersa

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