How to enroll kids in kindergarten (vrtić) in Croatia

Kindergarten's playground in Starigrad, Hvar
Kindergarten’s playground in Starigrad, Hvar

UPDATED: 3.5.2023.

Enrolling your children in kindergarten before they start elementary school is not mandatory in Croatia. However, it’s good for children to socialize and begin their education earlier.

In Croatia, a kindergarten is called vrtić. This can be loosely translated to mean little garden. Like most things in Croatia, enrollment in a vrtić can take time. More than seems necessary.

The demand for kindergarten services has increased in recent years. Parents are busy and have no other option but to enroll their children in kindergartens or hire a nanny. Kindergartens often don’t have enough space for all children.

Children that have not attended kindergarten before the age of 6 must attend preschool called predškola or mala škola for 1 year before they can start elementary school.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to enroll kids in kindergarten (vrtić) in Croatia

Types of kindergartens in Croatia

Croatia has several types of kindergartens, including:

  • Public kindergartens – city and municipality kindergartens
  • Private kindergartens – owned by individuals
  • Alternative kindergartens
    • Montessori pedagogy
    • Waldorf pedagogy
    • Agazzi pedagogy

[Read: International kindergartens, elementary and primary schools in Croatia]

Montessori pedagogy

Montessori pedagogy is based on acquiring practical knowledge in different areas of life in which a child will participate as an adult. It follows a child’s need for freedom within boundaries.

A child develops their psycho-physical abilities in a carefully prepared environment and activities. Education is based on children’s self-motivation and ability to self-develop and improve their own skills.

A child learns self-discipline and the essential determinants of democracy. They learn that respecting others and their rights means they will ensure the same rights for themselves.

Waldorf pedagogy

This educational method combines different activities, including play, meals, rest, and artistic and work activities.

From an early age, children develop their understanding of ecology. Toys, furniture, and didactic materials are of natural origin. They are shaped and colored to stimulate the healthy development of the senses.

The aim is to develop active, non-violent, and creative play in a child, born from a child’s inner self. In adulthood, this is equal to serious and creative work, born from full freedom.

Agazzi pedagogy

In this pedagogy, a child is at the center, and a kindergarten organizes children’s activities.

The main value is building a relationship between a child and an educator in a special way. This relationship is born from the first meeting with a child who lives with others, plays, works, speaks, and acts.

How to enroll kids in Croatian kindergarten

The requests for enrollment to the upcoming school year are submitted in May for private and April for public kindergartens. Kindergartens will publish a notice of enrollment in advance. The school year lasts from September 1 to August 31.

When applying for enrollment at a public kindergarten, you must choose the kindergarten closest to your home address. If a kindergarten has available places during the school year, you can enroll your children in the kindergarten at any time.

If spots are unavailable, your child will be put on a waiting list, or you can try checking with the other kindergartens nearest to your residence.

Priorities in enrollment in Croatian kindergarten

Some children are given priority during enrollment, including children:

  • Of victims and invalids of the Croatian War of Independence
  • Of employed parents
  • Of single parents
  • From foster families
  • Without parents or adequate parental care
  • From a family with 3 or more children
  • Who live in difficult circumstances
  • With disabilities if they can be integrated into a regular kindergarten program
  • Who will enroll in elementary school the following year
  • Of parents who receive a child allowance

[Read: Family services and child benefits in Croatia]

Documentation for enrollment in Croatian kindergarten

When applying for enrollment, there is required documentation you must provide as part of the application.

The application must include:

  • Izvod iz matice rođenih or rodni list (birth certificate) – view a guide here
  • Potvrda o prebivalištu (certificate of residence) – view a guide here
  • Potvrda o radnom statusu roditelja (certificate of parents’ employment status)
  • Zahtjev za upis (application for enrollment) and popunjen upitnik (completed questionnaire) that you get in the kindergarten
  • Vaccination record (knjižica cijepljenja) showing receipt of mandatory vaccinations

[Read: Mandatory vaccinations required by law]

All application requirements are published together with the formal notice of enrollment that kindergartens publish before applications are open. The notice is usually hung on the kindergarten’s doors.

The results are published no later than the end of June. If you are unhappy with your result, you can appeal to the kindergarten within 15 days.

The application procedure is the same for children who wish to enroll during a school year that is already in progress. If there are available places, you must submit the request. The kindergarten will send you the results within a period of 15 days.

Once your children are accepted, you must sign a contract with the kindergarten in August. Parents of children with disabilities can sign a limited-time contract of up to 3 months.

What is the cost of Croatian kindergarten?

The full cost of a kindergarten program is typically between 210 and 332 euros per month. The prices are determined by the founder of the kindergarten and can vary depending on whether the kindergarten is public or private.

For public kindergarten, parents pay only a part of the costs, and the rest is paid by the city or the municipality as long as the parents meet the residence requirements.

The subsidized price that parents pay is usually up to 80 euros, but the price varies depending on the city. Some cities will cover the whole amount. In other cities, you could pay as much as 106 euros per month.

If you have more than one child you’d like to enroll in kindergarten, usually, you’ll pay a lower price for each additional child.

EU/EEA nationals and third-country nationals without permanent residence in Croatia must pay the full price charged by the kindergarten. Due to this, parents in this situation consider private options instead of public.

[Read: How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia]

How to find a kindergarten in Croatia

A list of kindergartens in Croatia, along with their contact information, is available here. This list is also available as an Excel file here.

You can also view some private kindergarten options in this post.

View our other education articles

Alternativni program i vrtići by Ministarstvo znanosti i obrazovanja
Upis u dječji vrtić by e-Građani

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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