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Oct 18, 2016 10:29 AM EDT

Playing is the Secret to Finland's Education System


When it comes to education and studying, the first things that come to mind are homework and exams. If a student has to succeed, he or she has to focus on studying and not on playing. However, the Finnish school system works the opposite. Put premium on play first to produce successful students and it appears like they are succeeding in doing that.

In Finland, children do not go to school until they are seven years old. Children below that age are given a lot of opportunity to play and enjoy just being kids. A typical day for children who are six years old and below often spend their day at a day care while their parents work. There, children play, eat their meals, and engage in various activities, such as nature trips every week for at least two hours.

"We think children under seven are not ready to do academic work. They need time to play and be active – it’s a time for imagination and creativity," said Tiina Marjoniemi, head of a day care center in Helsinki.

Finland has provided subsidized full-time daycare until they are seven since 1996. Parents have the option to avail of it or not. The Finnish government does not require families to pay more than €290 every month for daycare while those who belong to low-income families pay less as well. Finnish parents contribute only 14 percent of the total cost for early childhood education.

When children turn seven, they then go to a basic or primary comprehensive school until they are 16 years old. After that students choose whether they will go to university or a vocational college. However, almost half of the students decide to get higher secondary education while most of the rest go to vocational upper school and proceed to a polytechnic college.

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