From Iceland — Do Shit: Get Your Kid Into Leikskóli

Do Shit: Get Your Kid Into Leikskóli

Published July 10, 2024

Do Shit: Get Your Kid Into Leikskóli
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons

The Útlendingur’s ongoing guide to getting shit done

Is there anything as wildly wonderful and simultaneously stressful as being a new parent? You’ve welcomed a darling little baby into your home, doted on them around the clock, filling their squishy little belly with nutrients, changing their diapers, rocking them to sleep and showering them with more love than you knew was even possible before their arrival.

The most likely opportunity for a child to be offered a leikskóli spot is during the annual stóra innritun, the mass intake of children based on the number of children graduating kindergarten to attend elementary schools.

But around the 12-month mark, it sure would be nice to ship that screaming, snotty bundle of joy elsewhere during the day so they can expand their educational horizons and you can struggle to hold a conversation with another adult back at work. That’s where Reykjavík’s early childhood education system is meant to kick in, welcoming children as young as 12 months into one of the city’s roughly 80 kindergartens (leikskóli, in Icelandic).

It’s the “meant to kick in” part of that last sentence that makes leikskóli admissions a hot topic, as parents scrambling for childcare to bridge the gap between parental leave and their child being offered a spot seems to be the anecdotal rule, rather than the exception.

“Reykjavík has been aiming to be able to offer children from 12 months old kindergarten spots. But for various reasons, the city hasn’t really been able to do that so far,” says Ólafur Bjarkarson, who oversees kindergartens within Reykjavík’s School and Leisure Department. “So for the past few years, children have been around 18, 19, 20 months when they’re getting into kindergartens. So people are worried about that.”

Reykjavík has been building new schools to meet demand, but, as Ólafur explains, new construction is happening at the same time that many older school buildings are being shut for renovations, requiring children to be transferred to other schools. In short, it’s a constantly shifting puzzle for Ólafur and his team.

Back to the admissions process

Getting your kid into leikskóli is a matter of heading over to, logging in with your rafræn skilríki (the secure login system that sends a push notification to your phone) and following the registration process. It’s possible to toggle between Icelandic and English on the page. The first page after logging in will list the children in your household who are of leikskóli age, so you can click the icon associated with them to begin registration.

Parents can register their child for a minimum of two and maximum of five schools. Once registered, the child is added to the waitlist, which is sorted by age, with older children being given priority for a leikskóli spot. There is a parallel waitlist that is given priority over the general admissions list; it’s populated by children with special needs, the children of leikskóli staff and children coming from difficult home environments.

“It’s always based on the age of the child,” Ólafur emphasises when asked if there’s anything parents can do to expedite their own little muffin’s acceptance into a leikskóli. “So, if your child is, for example, three years old or older, they’re probably going to be pretty high on the waiting list. There are always changes, with people moving away from Reykjavík or changing kindergartens within Reykjavík.”

That’s good news for parents who are just arriving to Iceland — you can’t apply for a spot until your child has a kennitala, but when you apply is less important than when your child was born.

Those already living in Reykjavík may want to look into local dagforeldrar, who are individuals offering in-home childcare for children from six months old until they are accepted to leikskóli. Securing a space with a daycare you trust could help bridge any gap between the end of parental leave and the arrival of that coveted leikskóli admission note.

The most likely opportunity for a child to be offered a leikskóli spot is during the annual stóra innritun, the mass intake of children based on the number of children graduating kindergarten to attend elementary schools. These admissions offers are sent to parents in April and May each year for their child to start school in August or September.

Ólafur advises parents to be proactive, saying, “it’s very important that parents looking for kindergarten spots be in contact with the city phone centre (411-1111) or the kindergarten you’re applying for, to ask about the situation, any possibilities for admissions or just to get information.”

Though it’s offline at the moment while the annual intake is in progress, Reykjavík also operates a leikskólareiknirinn, or preschool calculator, where parents can track their child’s spot on the waitlist and see the situation across different schools in order to inform decisions about which schools to include on their child’s application. When operational, that calculator can be found at

“There have been a lot of new kindergartens and just in the last two years — we’ve opened more kindergartens than in the 15 years prior,” Ólafur concludes. “So there has been a lot of improvement and development happening.”

Follow the Grapevine’s Do Shit series to collect tips and tricks for navigating life and bureaucracy in Iceland.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!