Preschools within modern concepts of childhood and learning Dr. Ljubica Marjanovič Umek
Summary: The reform of the Slovenian educational system in the mid-1990s, including preschool reform, was not only part of the political, social, and economic changes that Slovenia underwent at that time, but also part of establishing certain new theoretical paradigms and the conceptualization of individual subsystems. In preschools, it was necessary to move beyond individual organizational and content-related divisions of preschool education to care and education activities, and the prevailing normative developmental-psychological concepts that defi ned the system and its content. Later on, expert analyses and the fi ndings of Slovenian empirical studies (of which there were not many) indicated the direction for the further development of preschool education. With the backing of in-depth research on early learning in studies from abroad, these Slovenian studies have also indicated certain important steps that still need to be taken to democratize preschools: it is necessary to establish the preschool as a protective factor for children from socio-economically and culturally disadvantaged backgrounds, children of migrants, and children with special needs – and this in the manner already established in modern concepts of early development and learning. Because this involves more than making individual corrections to the system and the curriculum (which inevitably prove to be unsuccessful and eventually undermine an internally coherent system), it is necessary to prepare a new concept for preschools, or white paper on education, if Slovenian preschools are to remain among quality European preschools.