In Finland, children do not begin elementary school until 7 years of age. From the age of 5, they either stay at home or go to kindergarten (which is play based) until the age of 7. They only go to school for 4.5 hours daily through 2nd grade. Then grades 3-6 go to school for 5.5 hours daily and grades 7-9 go to school 6.5 hours daily. Each of these levels has minimal homework and no standardized testing. See the figures below which depict what school looks like in Finland at different grade levels. These are only examples of a daily snapshot. Each day would look different depending on the coursework emphasized that particular day. The U.S. schools should consider reflecting similar restructuring. U.S. schools for the most part have children in school for up to 7 hours daily starting at 5 years of age. This is too many hours for young children to be in school learning content in a desk. Play should be the focus of young children as their learning environment which is not the case in American schools at this point.
The chart below hows the number of hours Finland requires to be taught per week at each grade level. Grades 3-6 and 7-9 have to be split to reflect number of hours per week per grade level. Example: Grades 3 -6 would emphasize 3.75 hours of math per week per grade level. Remember each hour of content requires 15 minutes of recess or break time.
|Content Area||Grade 1||Grade 2||Grades 3-6||Grades 7-9||Total|
|Biology, Physics, Chem||17||17|
|Total hours per week||20.5||20.5||21.5||25|