Bringing family to Sweden

Moving to a new country involves adjusting to often very different aspects of everyday life. Brining family to Sweden is intended to help you find answers to common questions international residents face when moving in Sweden. Here you can find more information about bringing family and children to Sweden.

Click the +/- symbol beside each topic listed below to find more information. Do not hesitate to contact us for additional questions.

Childcare & education

The norm in Sweden is that both parents work. High quality, affordable childcare is therefore very important to Swedes. Publicly subsidized childcare is available to all children between the ages 1 – 12. This includes both day-care for pre-school children and after-school care for school-age children. Most child care centres are run by the municipality, but there are also private day care centres and parent co-operatives, though most of these also receive government subsidies.

In Sweden, all children are required to start school in August of the year that they turn seven years (first grade). However, the majority of children choose to start school a year earlier and go a voluntary kindergarten program. Children can start first grade at six, if the family wishes.

School attendance is compulsory up to the end of the ninth grade. Almost all pupils go on to upper secondary school, “gymnasium”, where they can choose different programs with an academic or vocational profile. There are several international schools in Sweden which teach in English. Most of these are found in large cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

Preschool ages 1-5

Preschool is available to children from age one to the time they begin preschool class for six-year-olds or primary school. Thanks to a legal cost limit, it is affordable to all parents. While supporting parents during daytime work or studies, preschool offers a safe and instructive place for children to learn, explore and play.

Preschool is the collective name for three types of activities available to young children: preschool, family daycare homes and open preschool. Like childcare for schoolchildren, preschools have two primary goals. First, they help provide stimulation for a child’s development and learning. Second, they enable parents to combine parenthood with work or studies.

Municipal governments are responsible for providing preschool, normally within three to four months after the parents have submitted their request. Preschools can be either publicly or privately run. In most cases, this allows parents to return to full-time work as soon as their parental leave is finished. It also applies to children of parents who study, are unemployed or on parental leave.

A place is to be made available to each child for at least three hours a day, or 15 hours a week. Places must be provided at a reasonable price that is strictly limited by each municipality, and meals are always included. The maximum cost for preschool is SEK 1,260 a month per child, according to 2009 levels.

Children in Sweden begin preschool at different ages, and attend for different amounts of time per week. Preschools are open year-round — apart from certain holidays — according to a daily schedule based on the needs of parents and children.

Preschool class - age 6

Preschool class allows young children to meet future classmates and prepare for primary school without the stress of heavy studies or homework. Mainly for six-year-olds, it provides a fun learning environment by combining the methods of preschool and primary school.

In Sweden, preschool class is non-compulsory. It gives children a transition year during which social activities and lighter learning go hand in hand. This might include anything from learning the alphabet and basic counting to more creative games, drawing and colouring. Because preschool classes are closely linked with primary schools and leisure-time centres, children also have the chance to socialize with new classmates and future teachers.

Municipalities are required to offer places in preschool classes to children from the autumn of the year they turn six and until they begin primary school. A preschool class covers at least 525 hours a year and is provided free of charge, including meals.

Like preschool for younger children, preschool classes should be offered as close as possible to the parents’ home and consider the individual needs of parents. As with all other forms of schooling and childcare in Sweden, children with physical or learning disabilities are offered additional support as needed.

Compulsory schooling - ages 7-16

In Sweden, all children between seven and 16 are required to attend school. Education at this level is provided free of charge and by law includes a hot meal.

The majority of Swedish primary, or elementary, schools are municipally run. In many areas, independent schools are also available, offering a similar basic education, but with a more specific focus. Many specialize according to teaching methods, linguistic/ethnic orientation or religious profile. All independent schools must be approved by the National Agency for Education.

Until recently, students were not given scores or grades until the eighth grade. However, this is changing somewhat as more schools begin to offer written evaluations at a younger age. In the ninth grade, which is the final year of compulsory schooling, formal grades (avgångsbetyg) are given to the students and these are used for admission to high school.

As a supplement to primary schooling, children up to the age of 12 have access to daytime childcare, both before and after school. These leisure-time centres, family day-care homes and open leisure-time activities give parents the support and the flexibility needed to continue their work when school is not in session — whether in the morning, late afternoon or during school holidays.

Child healthcare

Barnavårdscentralen (BVC)
The paediatric healthcare centre (Barnavårdscentralen or BVC) conducts regular health check-ups on healthy children up to the age of six. After the age of six, children are helped by the school health services. The BVC is equipped with nurses specialised in paediatric care, district nurses and doctors. The BVC also provides vaccinations and advice regarding nursing, food and sleep. The BVC is often located in connection to your primary care centre.

All services provided by the BVC are free of charge. Parents can choose how often they would like to come for health check-ups, support and advice regarding their small children. Most BVC require for you to make an appointment in advance, some BVC also offer a drop-in service.

If your child is ill (regardless of age), parents should turn to their local primary care centre (vårdcentral), or the paediatric emergency clinic for help.

You can also, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, call the Medical Advice number, 1177, to get:

  • medical advice from a registered nurse,
  • advice on how to take of your child during the illness, or
  • information on where you can go if the child’s condition calls for care by a physician.

For poison information call 08-33 12 31 during daytime, or after hours 112.

For emergencies or life-threatening situations, call 112.

Child dental care

If your child is suffering from toothache or just needs a check-up, you choose whether to go the public dental service or a private dentist. The public dental service (called Folktandvården) is available locally throughout Sweden (find your local clinic on www.folktandvarden.se) as are many private dentists.

Everyone who is registered as resident in Sweden is entitled to free dental care up to and including the year they turn 19, regardless of whether they use a public or private dentist (tandläkare).

If your child needs emergency dental treatment you should first go to your own dentist. If your child should suffer a serious dental injury at night, or in connection with an accident, you can call 1177. You will then be referred to an on-call dentist who will carry out emergency surgical procedures.

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