Finnish Students: Happiest, High Scorers who Play!

by | Nov 13, 2015 | The Power of Play

After consistently scoring high on international education tests, all eyes have been on Finland. But that’s not the only thing they have been scoring high on. Finland has a high overall happiness rating amongst its students, and they also provide ample time for play. As important as academics may be, it is equally important to set time aside for child-led play. In his Atlantic article, “The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland,” Tim Walker took a closer look at the Finnish elementary school system.

Children are Smart

With play, learning becomes fun. In Finland schools, there is no push for reading unless the child shows interest. After talking with Finnish teachers, they remarked that a child will simply not learn if there isn’t a “joy” factor. Children will get excited about learning and be more apt to pick up the skills if it’s something that they enjoy doing. Children are smart: they invest their energy in what interests them. This is where play steps in.

Unlike their Finnish counterpart, a typical day for an American kindergartner includes little time for play. This also includes the arts, music, and other child-led activities, while time spent completing worksheets and assessments has dramatically increased in American schools. While this may appear to be a good thing, this time increase in academics has led to a decrease in active play time. We learned from our research study, “The Power of Play,” that child-facilitated play is important, encouraging the usage of language, social, and problem-solving skills. Play truly assists in the development of the whole self.

Sparking Children’s Learning Through Play

Here at Minnesota Children’s Museum, play-based learning is our specialty. Our exhibits prompt a learning experience that your child will love. We want you to find the joy in playing again during every visit.

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