It’s easier to think that the solution lies in the external rather than realise that you create your environment. Many people think that if they move house, move neighbourhood or move country, they will be happier. I have known people who complain about their houses, their neighbourhoods and their countries of residence, who then move and find out that the land-of-milk-and-honey is not what it is all cracked out to be. The streets of London are not paved with gold. Happiness and contentment starts with YOU.
The news and articles that had been making its rounds in recent times is how Finland tops the Global Education Ranking (as the US declines) by its daring and innovative education policies. Oh, the number of parents who tag their partners with the comment, “Let’s move to Finland.”
Uhm, can you stand the long hours of dark in the winter or the high cost of living? I strongly believe that we do not have to move to Finland to give our children the benefits. After all, school is only half the story. What you create in the home is every bit as important, if not more. A teacher once said, “A child who gets his education only from school is not educated.”
So, what’s so special about Finland’s education system that gets so many parents dream of packing their bags and relocating?
No homework. Shortest school day (20 hours a week for younger children including lunch hour) and shortest school year. You learn more by going to school less because your brain has to relax to be more effective.
OK, you cannot dictate the school hour and the school year. But aren’t you adding on to your child’s burden by tuition?Our policy in our house is, no more than 1 hour a day during the week for homework, project work and studying. 2 hours maximum at the weekend. She has to learn to work efficiently. And here she is on a Sunday morning, making use of her 2 hours. You know what is the surprising thing? She has an exam on Monday and here she is, working on something else not related to her exam.
“Shouldn’t you be studying?” I asked, playing the devil’s advocate.
“Finished,” she said. So yes, 9 hours a week is plenty.
Another thing about the success of Finland’s education system: children are given a voice (yes, they learn respect too). The children help to design the school playgrounds with the architects who consult them. Wow, great! But your child’s school is not progressive, right? Well, neither is my child’s. But hey, you know what? You can foster that same accountability and creativity by allowing your child to choose his/her own wardrobe and bedroom design. Allow some freedom of choice, relax parental control-freak tendencies – your child goes a long way.
Most of all, the implementors of Finland’s successful education system talked about happy, happy, happy. The Principal of my child’s school talks about happy, happy, happy, too. He said he told his staff to make sure that they have a good relationship with the students; learning comes second because a happy child learns more. So what does it take to make a child happy? I would say, it starts with happy parents and happy household. It’s not about moving but about you and what you create.
First published in www.raisinghappystrongkids.com