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Poland - Preprimary & Primary Education

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferencePoland - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


Preschool education (Wychowanie przedszkolne) is part of the formal system of education in Poland. There is a well-established network of state preschools that children may attend between ages three and six. Formal school education before age 7 is not compulsory, but currently 97 percent of the nation's children attend. Preschool education is designed to aid child development, promote personal independence, and instill a sense of confidence in one's self and abilities. Preschool education helps those between the ages of three and five develop communication and social skills, so they can cope with any situation. Parents may participate in arranging activities.

Programming is based on assumptions that: children expect approval and safety; they need to develop communication and social skills; they should be encouraged to explore and understand their environment and the larger world; they should examine their creative nature; they need to know how to recognize and express emotions; they must learn how to live in a group; and they must also learn to act independently. Polish teachers are expected to generate situations whereby children can realize their innate potential.

Polish education features a so-called zero year (Zerowka) for six-year-olds, which helps children make a fluid transition from preschool to primary school. Beyond this transitional nature, however, preschools have educational value. Preschools measure a child's progress. They can help recognize the child's potential and alert professionals to any need for specialized intervention. Preschool teachers help children understand themselves and the outside world, develop relationships with peers, and build their own system of values.

From seven years of age, all children must attend primary school, which is divided into two teaching stages. The first is integrated teaching, classes I-III (Szkola podstawowa I etap) for children aged seven to nine. The second is block teaching, classes IV-VI (II etap) for children between 10 and 13.

The first stage of primary education should develop literacy and an understanding of numbers; teach children how to use simple tools; help them become independent and self-confident; develop sensitivity; strengthen cultural, historical, national, and ethnic identity; and teach children to explore their environment and the world. Integrated education takes advantage of children's experiences in family life and other situations.

At this stage teachers give lessons, which follow the established curriculum. The routine is adapted to pupils' ability and includes physical exercises every day, totaling approximately three hours per week. Class I has a minimum of 20 lessons per week. Fifteen of them are general in nature and mandated by law. Another three lessons per week are assigned at a tutor's or the headmaster's discretion. Compensatory activities, in accordance with appropriate regulations, make up another two lessons a week. Beyond these, additional lessons may include religion or ethics (two per week) and corrective gymnastics (two per week). Class II is structured in the same manner with the minimum lesson number raised to 21. Class III features a minimum of 23 lessons weekly.

The second stage of primary education (II etap) features classes IV to VI. Education at this level is designed to help students gain adequate knowledge and skills; promote curiosity and stimulate intellectual activity; develop sensitivity toward and empathy for disabled persons; instill proper social attitudes; and teach appropriate behaviors. Schools strive to create the necessary conditions for gaining knowledge and skills. The curriculum includes thematic blocks covering: patriotic and social education; preparation for family life; health care education; and public relations.

Beginning with class IV, a considerable degree of structure appears. Students receive at minimum 26 lessons per week. Six are in culture, the Polish language, history, and social science. Another six are in mathematics and biology. Foreign language training accounts for three, fine arts and technical activities for two and physical education for three. One lesson per week takes place with a tutor, and five per week are at the tutor or head-master's discretion. An extra two lessons per week in religion and ethics are set by special regulations but are not counted toward the number of compulsory lessons. This structure is identical for classes V and VI.

After finishing six years of primary school, children take aptitude examinations, which are administered and assessed by the school's internal board. Such testing measures achievement and informs both parents and teachers. Results are communicated to the next level of schooling, the gymnasium.

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