Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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Most children in Bologna attend a scuola materna for at least a year before starting elementary school. In Bologna, preschools are either statali (state-run) or comunali (cityrun). City-run schools have a better reputation, a longer school calendar and generally more funds for projects, outings and activities. There are a few preschools that follow the Montessori approach, including Gabelli, Carducci and Marighetto. For more information, see

As with all public day care, parents who want to send their children to preschool must be residents or have applied for residency at the time of school registration. If your child is registered at the anagrafe, information will be mailed to you automatically. If you do not receive notification, go to your local ufficio scuola. Registration takes place in January and is handled by the ufficio scuola in each quartiere that sends out the registration form and information packet in late fall. If you are interested in schools in different quartieri you must contact their school offices for information. However, the registration form must be delivered to the office in your own quartiere. Unlike day care, admission to the scuola materna is based on where you live and it is often very difficult to send your child to a school outside your quartiere. When the number of applicants exceeds available spaces, admission is awarded according to need. As with day care, there is a graduatoria and children with disabilities, children from single parent households and children with siblings in the same school complex are placed on top of the list. You can request early enrollment for your child for scuola materna if he or she turns 3 in January or February of the following school year, but be warned that he or she will automatically go to the bottom of the graduatoria.


There is no formal inserimento process at preschool although parents who want to send their children full-time might have to wait a few weeks before their child is allowed to spend the entire day at school. Some schools have three sections divided by age while other schools have mixed classes, an important consideration when choosing a school. Children must arrive at school before 9; pick-up times may vary from school to school but generally you may retrieve your child from 11:45-12, from 13-14, or from 16:30-17:30. Children get a morning snack of cookies and milk, lunch, and for those who stay all day, an afternoon snack. Children are expected to be toilet trained prior to enrollment. Activities and teaching styles vary from school to school and even from class to class, so it is a good idea to visit as many schools as you can and talk to parents of children already attending a preschool. Common activities include music and movement classes, outings to the children’s theater, libraries, museums and language workshops. Children in their final year of preschool often have English and/or computer classes and get the skills they need for a successful transition to elementary school. In general, playtime outside is dependent on good weather. Playgrounds and equipment can vary considerably from school to school.

Italian preschool also entails a weekly Catholic religion component. It is not obligatory; you can choose that your child not participate when you register for preschool and can also opt out (or in) at any point during the school year. Children who do not participate generally do some other activity with their regular teacher.