Finding childcare and raising children in Italy

family in Italy
Updated 2023-04-15 20:25

If you have decided to move to Italy with young children, you have probably chosen the best destination to go to. Italians give time and a special place to family and children, whether at mealtimes, on holidays, or simply in everyday life. Even if both parents work, everything is done to make your life easier. So whether your child is of nursery or pre-school age, you can count on a wide range of facilities in Italy.  

The school system in Italy

The Italian school system is organized in different cycles:

  • Daycare or Asilo nido, attended by infants aged 0 to 3 years
  • Nursery school, Scuola materna or Scuola dell'infanzia, for children aged 3 to 6
  • The primary school, Scuola Primaria, for children aged 6 to 11
  • The lower secondary school, Scuola Secondaria di primo grado, for children aged 11-14
  • The Scuola Secondaria di secondo grado or Liceo, for teenagers aged 14 to 19.

All schools in Italy can accept foreign pupils, but this means that your child will have to follow a curriculum in Italian. An alternative is private international schools, which allow your child to study in English and/or French. You will find many of them across Italy.

There are public schools, scuola statali, run by the Ministry of Education, and public schools. The latter are of two types, the first are called paritarian and play a public service role, and the second are completely autonomous. Public schools in Italy are free of charge, unlike public schools, for which you have to consider an average of about €6,000 per year for a secondary school.

Childcare in Italy

It is common for both parents in Italy to work and for young children to go to a daycare, asilo, or after-school facility or to be looked after by a family member. It is particularly common for grandparents (nonni) to take responsibility for grandchildren during the week. But if you can't consider this option, there are several alternatives.

If you plan to work during your stay in Italy, you can entrust your children to the following structures:

  • the daycare (Asilo nido)
  • the nursery school (Scuola Materna or Scuola dell'Infanzia)
  • licensed nannies, known as tagesmutter, are halfway between daycare and a nanny. This is a trained educator, usually a mother, who takes care of the children in her home.

Good to know:

Education is accessible to all children living in Italy, regardless of their nationality.

Daycare in Italy

Daycare centers in Italy welcome children from the age of three months to three years. This facility is mainly for working parents who need someone to look after their children during the day.

The cost varies depending on the location, the length of time spent in care each day and the type of services provided. For example, facilities run by the local municipality are generally cheaper, although they are in high demand. You will find slightly more availability in private daycares, but these are not regulated nationally except for those that are contracted with the municipality. Check with your local authority, as the service differs from region to region. Nurseries are generally open from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Nursery school in Italy

Nursery school accepts children aged between three and six years. Most children in Italy attend a nursery school, although it is not compulsory. These schools cater to children between 8 am and 5 pm and are regulated by the Ministry of Public Education.

While the state-run Scuola Materna is free of charge, a small fee is often charged for transport (scuolabus), meals, and any before- or after-school care. You may also have to pay for extracurricular activities that require specialist teachers, such as sports and music. The cost of private nursery schools varies from €100 to €500 per month.

The kindergarten closes during the holidays, so if you have a child, you will have to find an alternative during these periods, for example, holiday camps, campi estivi, which you can find through the municipality or parish in which you live.

In terms of the curriculum, the emphasis is on learning through play, body and movement, messages, speech, words and space. Music, dance, art, crafts and nature will also play a formative role in the program. The children will receive a final report before transferring to primary school.

Good to know:

Places in nursery school are often limited, so remember to register your child well in advance.

Generally, children in Italy do not learn the basics of reading and writing until they enter primary school (Scuola Elementare or Primaria) at the age of six.

Useful links:

Ministry dell'Istruzione e del Merito

Day Mother Service Domus

Support for children and families (Milan)

Child and Family Support (Rome)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.