500 Children on Waitlist for Preschool in Reykjavík

preschool iceland

Árelía Eydís Guðmundsdóttir, director of the Council for Education and Recreation for Reykjavík City, has stated in a recent interview with RÚV that this will be a “difficult year.”

Last week, registration for preschool in Reykjavík opened for next year. Of the applicants, some 1,500 children will be placed, but more than 500 remain on the waitlist.

In Focus: The Preschool System

On the news programme Kastljós, Árelía ensured Reykjavík parents that children born in February 2022 and before would be guaranteed spaces at a preschool.

In the last election cycle for Reykjavík City Council, campaign promises were made that would guarantee children a spot in preschool from the age of 12 months. This has not yet been the case, with staffing shortages and long wait lists being a problem last year as well.

Preschool Staffing Shortage Leaves 90 Positions Unfilled

Árelía did not say exactly how many children would be without placements this year, but expressed her hopes to “empty the waitlist” as much as possible.

Other Reykjavík City Councillors have also called for increased funding to the preschool system, such as Independence Party representative Ragnhildur Alda Vilhjálmsdóttir.

For the past 15 years, around 1,000 children throughout Iceland have been without preschool or daycare every year.

Exacerbating the situation has been a recent decrease in the number of preschool workers, with many positions left unfilled.

On Kastljós, Árelía stated: “This will be a difficult year. There is no magic solution, but we are working to improve the situation.”


In Focus: The Preschool System

iceland preschools

A rocky startAn announcement on the City of Reykjavík website advertises employment at the city’s many preschools. In addition to the rewarding work of childcare, benefits such as free lunch, a shortened work week, a swim pass, and prioritised placement for one’s own children on preschool waitlists are all enumerated. On paper, this sounds like […]

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Reykjavík Preschool Staffing Shortage Leaves 90 Positions Unfilled

reykjavík leikskóli preschool

In the latest numbers from RÚV, around 90 positions need to be filled before Reykjavík preschools can be considered fully staffed. Approximately 500 children aged 12 months and older remain on waitlists in Reykjavík City alone.

Continue reading: Almost 700 Children Waitlisted for Reykjavík Preschools

Hjördís Rut Sigurjónsdóttir, Information Office for the Department of Education and Recreation at City of Reykjavík, has stated that filling the vacant positions has so far gone more smoothly than expected, with around 95% of full-time vacancies filled. Nevertheless, many children still remain on waitlists throughout the city, with 478 children 12 months and older and 48 children 18 months and older still waiting on placements.

Not limited to the capital region, all of Iceland is experiencing something of a preschool crisis at the moment. Due to recent population growth, however, the problem is most keenly felt in Reykjavík and surrounding settlements. Traditionally, municipalities have accepted children into the preschool system starting at 18 to 24 months. Recently, there has been a push in the City of Reykjavík to start accepting children already beginning at 12 months into the system, to bridge the gap between parental leave and the preschool system. While the 12 month target was a much-requested concession for working parents, the preschool system has had to cope with much higher numbers this year, leaving many children stuck on waitlists.

Continue reading: City Council Introduces Proposals to Address Preschool Crisis

In a statement to RÚV, Hjördís said: “Recruitment for the kindergartens is going beyond expectations and it is clear that the actions taken by the City of Reykjavík have yielded results, such as advertisements and a new application website.”

Despite the progress made, many parents feel that not enough is being done to address the problem, with some having to resort to private daycares or else reduce their rate of employment to care for their children.

This August, working parents staged a demonstration at Reykjavík City Hall, turning the building into a sit-in daycare. The protest was an attempt to force action from a City Hall that they saw as doing little to care for their children.

So far, Reykjavík City has pledged to expand capacity through construction of new preschools and expansion of existing facilities. However, critics say the expansion of facilities cannot address the fundamental staffing shortage and that deeper changes in the education and remuneration of preschool teachers must be made.

Preschool Replaces Sex Shop

leikskóli reykjavík

A new preschool has opened in the Laugardalur neighborhood on Kleppsvegur 150-152.

However, the latest addition to the city’s preschool system is built on the former site of Adam & Eva, a sex shop. The city bought the structure in 2020 for ISK 642 million and has renovated the site extensively, with the new preschool even being nominated for the Green Shovel, an award for sustainable, environmentally-friendly design.

Architectural contractor Þarfaþing has been responsible for the renovations, which have cost around ISK 927 million.

The preschool, called Brákarborg KLÖPP, will add 120 new places to Reykjavík City’s preschool capacity at a time when waitlists, staff shortages, and inadequate facilities have caused something of a crisis in Iceland’s preschool system.

Earlier this August, parents protested at Rekjavík City Hall, with what they called a sit-in preschool. With many children still on wait lists, many parents have had to change their rate of employment to care for their children.

The completion of Brákarborg KLÖPP will partially bridge the gap between Reykjavík City’s needed capacity, and the children currently on waitlists.