Growing up, I have been drilled with the idea that it is vital to excel in my studies. Like many others, I went to kindergarten at the age of 5. At that age, I learned about science, mathematics, and languages. I was also involved in sport activities such as gymnastics and netball. At the end of every academic year, I was tested with subjects materials that I learned throughout the year.
Looking back, it is fair to say that my early childhood education was subject oriented. This piqued my curiosity to know more about the credibility of my country’s education system. It took me by surprise that my country’s education system is outperformed by a country that instills playtime in their early childhood education.
In fact, Finland is known for 1 of the best education systems in the world!
This achievement has brought attention of many parents that wonder to how it is better than their children’s current education system.
Despite having a shorter school days, Finland’s education system surpasses United States in reading, science and mathematics for Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). If you are wondering how Finland managed to achieve this incredible achievement, continue reading this article to find out what makes 93% of Finnish students ‘fin-nished’ their academic or vocational courses.
Initiative 1: Encouraging reading and learning from a young age
To foster a culture of reading, newborn babies are given a picture book, which is one of the items included in a maternity package provided by Finland government agency to expecting mothers. This book acts as the child’s first book. Parents are encouraged to read this book to their child. During the reading activity, parents are able to interactively storytelling to their children.
Picture books offers an abundance of benefits to children’s literacy development, such as:
Encouraging visual thinking – Pictures/illustrations in a book acts as a visual aid to explain complex concepts.
Building language skills – Pictures encourage readers in specifically young children to understand the story and hence prompting them to repeat the same story over and over again. This will lead them to learn and understand words quickly.
Strengthening children’s engagement with others – By looking at pictures or illustrations, children are able to explain and discuss about the story scenes with their parents, teachers or friends. This discussion helps the children to practice voicing out their opinion as well as looking at one thing from different perspective.
In Finland, the government values and supports children’s development. They have taken the initiative of offering early childhood education to children before they reach school age. The early childhood education is provided in day care centres and family day care. The children are also entitled to twenty hours of learning per week. For children with parents who are currently working or studying, they are eligible to receive more learning hours.
Initiative 2: Free education from 7 to 16 years old, formal education starts at 7
Education is free in Finland. It starts from daycare or pre-school programmes to ten years of comprehensive education. During these academic years, each student is provided with free meals. This shows the government really takes importance of the children’s education by making it accessible for all.
Finland government regards education as a fundamental right and hence, offering free comprehensive education to emphasise equalities for all. This initiative has proven to be beneficial as 93% of Finnish students graduate from high school, making the country as one of the top five countries with high school completion rate.
"Finland is one of the top 5 countries with high school completion rate" - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Finnish students are entitled to undertaking their comprehensive education at the age of seven. This comprehensive education consists of nine grades, and it ends when a child has completed the entire education syllabus.
Initiative 3: Finnish Early Childhood Education System focuses on playtime
Finland’s early childhood education is designed around the concepts of learning through play. First years of a child’s life is focused on playing (role-play) and parent-child bonding. In contrast to kindergartens in other country, kindergartens in Finland do not have any fixed daily schedule. Instead, they rely on weekly schedule comprises of various activities such as field trips, ball games as well as a communal time for songs and chants. This schedule shows the importance of playtime in Finland early education as explained by a counsellor of Finnish National Board of Education, “children are able to learn in a fun way during their playtime”.Interestingly, the playtime in Finland comprises of two different ways. One focuses more on free form while the other is more guided. These two types of play are fostered to provide opportunities for children to gain different play experiences.
Furthermore, during the first four years of early education, teachers are expected to create a supportive environment for children to learn in. Also, advanced students are encouraged to help their other friends. Through this supportive learning environment, children feel included and empowered, which lead them to engage during the learning sessions.
These are the reasons why Finland outperforms other countries in providing the best education for children. And while not everyone or every child is able to enjoy the benefits of Finnish education seeing that we are from different parts of the world, one may capture the essence of the system such as role playing and storytelling through exploring options like Me Books Plus app that enables interactive storytelling between parent-children.
For more information of our app click on this link to download our Me Books Plus App: https://apple.co/2S3iKzk (iOS) or http://bit.ly/2S7TFmY (Android). Ultimately, as a parent, it is only right for you to apply what you have read to ensure your children, too, excel in their studies!