Family – Life in Finland: School

There are tons of articles out there (scroll all the way down for some of the articles) stating how great the Finnish school system is, how successful it is and so on. Having never experienced it first hand (unless going to Finnish class counts, no matter) it’s hard to compare. My first and only child (I’ve shut the factory down, well for now, never say never, the hubster’s gonna freak out…) went to school today. IT WAS HER FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! *freaks out!* on top of that the school is brand spankin’ new. Our daughter had the privilege of experiencing a lot of the changes which included compulsory pre-school, in which the kids the year before didn’t have to face. So, what’s the big deal? Well, it’s not too big a deal it just makes planning holidays more difficult and you’ll have to fill an official form if you’re taking your child out of class for longer than a certain period of time. Vantaa, the city we live in, appointed my daughter’s new school’s first graders (class, group, whatever the term is these days) to be taught using the new educational framework (See article from Huffington Post). As I do not have anything to compare with and my hubby has only vague memories of his time in school, it remains to be seen.

I had the privilege to to visit (be nosey around) her school today and I have to say I was blown away by the facility. If my school looked like this, I’d probably never think of an excuse to run away from it ;). I’m going to share some images I manage to capture from inside the school. Let’s start from the school yard.

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Teachers waiting to receive new students.

As it’s the first day of school for many first graders, many parents came along to send their little ones off to class.

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The no outdoor shoes policy. It’s great because it keeps the environment clean. Kids are requested to bring indoor shoes.

In Finland we don’t wear shoes indoors, same as in Malaysia. It’s considered rude if you prance around with shoes on in someone’s home. This concept has spread to some offices as well. Supercell and Playraven practice no outdoor shoes policy, I think it’s awesome, just remember to wear a clean pair of socks ;). Now back to the topic, where were we, ah yes, school. Just as you go inside you’ll have a place to hang your outdoor wear, why because in Finland the weather can be unpredictable, hence you need to be prepared.

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Children hang their own coats and place their shoes ‘neatly’ under their chosen spots. (Yes, I did notice that random shoe’s pair in a distance.)

Now we visit the ‘classrooms’, or ‘grouprooms’. Terminology, pfft.

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You may notice that kids are not seated on individual tables anymore, they are placed in a small group and work together. The chest of drawers have the children’s names so they can put in their personal things for safekeeping.

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Drawers for the children to keep their personal belongings.

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Even the toilets are neat and well thought off, and most importantly, close to the ‘grouproom’. So what else is there? Books are provided by the school up until they reach highschool.

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Schools provide lunch to all the students as I happen to be there after most of them ate, I manage to capture what was offered before it was taken away.

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Don’t think anybody can just waltz in, they do have a security station to keep the kids and staff safe.

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Serious guard is serious. Visitors must sign in.

I hope this gives you an idea how the Finnish school is like. There are many schools that still do the traditional one table per child placed in a row style teaching. I’m guessing they aim to introduce this new educational framework to all the schools but they can’t just do it without retraining all the teachers and making sure the school is equipped to run classes in this format. Update: I was informed that even older students moving to the new school will be taught with the new educational framework, some schools find innovative ways to ditch the desk and chair, such as placing large beanbags or cushions on the floor to form a study group. So it’s moving forward, but with any change comes cost, so depending on how much money the government can inject to the change it will take time before everyone is caught up.

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Aurinkokiven koulu, picture taken in summer.

So there you have it! Finnish school in a very tiny nutshell.

Articles in no particular order.

Smithsonian Mag – Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?

Business Insider – 4 things Finland’s schools do better than America

The Guardian – Highly trained, respected and free: why Finland’s teachers are different

The Guardian – Finnish School System

Note: I’ve updated this 18.08.2016 as I received comments and discussions with parents with older children going to different schools. Plus I added images of the stationary supplies and textbooks provided to kids up until they reach high school as part of the educational system. This is important, because growing up I remembered the struggle for many parents to buy text books for their kids because it cost quite a lot of money. My husband mentioned that the books will be reused hence parents need to neatly wrapped in a plastic book cover and the children need to take good care of the books.

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2 Comments Add yours

    1. jaceyvahiz says:

      Thank you! I’m curious to see how it all unfolds :).

      Liked by 1 person

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