Looking for a curriculum similar to Japan, Canada, or Finland - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 34 Old 12-31-2011, 11:19 AM
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Ok, Ladies, I am going to try to be gentle....

Originally Posted by briansmama View Post

The clip interviews instructors in Fnalnd schools, who are highly respected in their community. Each classroom comes equipped with 2 assistants to help students who need more help and those who are ready to move on.
This is absolutely false. The only way you will get aides in a classroom is if there is a kid there with a difficult enough diagnosis. Even then it is a fight and the aide is supposed to be there for only that particular kid, not the whole classroom.
The classroom style was relaxed and mentor-ship in style, as opposed to the lecture-style we're accustomed to in the US. Children were in socked feet and gathered around together working on projects.
The working style totally depends on the school. Relaxed, yes, also meaning the teacher has almost no methods of dealing with kids who disturb, other than asking them to step out. Socks are correct. Otherwise the classrooms would be extremely dirty (think mud or snow). Also, Finns don't wear shoes inside, so the idea of wearing them all day long at school would be pretty crazy. High schools absolutely do have teachers who lecture, though also teachers who want group work, etc. One big things is that by high school about half of the kids have chosen "vocational training," instead (e.g. becoming a plumber, instead of taking general studies that prepare for universities). If you take only the top 50% of your students and test them, it changes the results. (Although I think normally we are talking about the younger kids when it comes to the great test results.)
Kids typically do not begin formal instruction until age 7. Mid-day the children cross country ski together for an hour. I don't believe the children were sent home with homework.
Umm... Ha ha. Where is this information coming from? Many kids have ONE HOUR (actually 45 mins) of P.E. per week, not per day. Many parts of Finland don't get enough snow to even cross country ski every winter. In addition, lots of kids absolutely hate cross country skiing and only do it in school when they must. Meanwhile the parents complain because it is very expensive to buy ski boots and skis that get used very little.
There is home work just about every day, starting the first days of first grade, although some school use "weekly tasks" which would allow a kid to finish everything at school, alone, if someone was that fast. Even then almost all kids end up with plenty of home work. 
Yes, kids start school the year they turn 7, so those born after the beginning of August are actually 6. However, almost all kids go to kindergarten for a year, so it might be more honest to say that school starts the year a kid turns 6. 

I agree with the pp that the academic success Finalnd enjoys has less to do with a curriculum and more to do with the value placed on childhood and exploration, movement, play, and respect.
Nice thoughts, but really rather idealistic to me. Most Finnish kids attend daycare for 8 or more hours each day. The only difference is that this is not called preschool like it would be in the USA. Finnish kids in the cities are among the least respectful I have met in any country. (Or is it that the kids are respected... I don't really see that being the case, either, comparatively.)


Originally Posted by briansmama View Post

Also want to mention another point that struck me from the video: Finnish teachers typically stay with the same group of children throughout. 

This is absolutely not true. Many teachers prefer teaching grades 1-2, only, and do that. Some always teach 3rd, etc.  Some teach 1-6. They are not qualified to go any higher than that. 7th-12th grades the teachers are all specialized in their fields, so there is no one teacher who really gets to know the kids. 


I do think that the Finnish system has less "fluff" than the US system. When I see some of the things the little kids (4-8 or whatever) are taught in the US, I am amazed. Why do they need those little details. "Finnish homeschooling" the early grades would mean, in my opinion, doing a bit of reading, writing and math every day. Add sports, crafts and arts, about once a week, each. Then, if you must, add something about the nature around you. (You know, study what a squirrel eats and how many young they have... as if the kid will remember that later on...) Add English around age 9 (ok, ok, a foreign language). That's about it for grades 1-3.


The big difference, as has been mentioned, is that kindergarten takes 3-4 hours a day and 1st and 2nd grades have the kids in school 4-5 hours a day. The hours get longer as the kids age, being 5-7 hours by 5th grade. (I am trying to remember the exact hours per week but can't. It is something like that.) HOWEVER, lots of the younger kids go right to "afternoon club" after school, as the parents are working and there is no one home. Thus, in the end, their days are not short, and they are very tired by the time they get home.


The two biggest reasons for Finland's "fame," in my opinion:

1. The differences between the backgrounds of the students are very small, compared to the US. There are more kids of e.g. refugees in the schools these days, but the amount is tiny compared to e.g. Sweden. Also, while not everyone makes the same amount of money, the differences between having a low or high income and nowhere near at the level of the USA.

2. The Finnish language: Every letter makes only one specific sound, unlike in English. Once you know how to read, you can basically read or write any word. This means that Finnish kids learn to read anything early and well and, on the other hand, even those who struggle, will learn well enough sooner or later. You will not meet a Finn who does not know how to read and white, unless the person is VERY special needs. This, IMO, really makes it impossible to compare countries like Finland with, e.g., the English speaking countries.


Interestingly, while Finns are proud of the test results, many find the whole thing rather funny. It feels more like "how bad can the systems in the other countries be to be that much worse?" There is plenty that needs to be changed... Finns are very much like the Japanese in that they are very good at hard sciences but there is not very much emphasis on creativity.


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#32 of 34 Old 12-31-2011, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by LessTraveledBy View Post

 biggest reasons for Finland's "fame," in my opinion:

1. The differences between the backgrounds of the students are very small, compared to the US. There are more kids of e.g. refugees in the schools these days, but the amount is tiny compared to e.g. Sweden. Also, while not everyone makes the same amount of money, the differences between having a low or high income and nowhere near at the level of the USA.

I think this is the biggest one. I mentioned it in my post too. Compared to other developed nations, in the US there's a fair amount of poverty and financial insecurity, and unlike in developing countries this poverty exists in a cultural belief system ("honest hard work will allow anyone to succeed") that tends to blame the poor for their own situations. By extension this mentality also blames poor schools for their poor performance, rewards affluent schools for their good performance, and thus the disparities continue to grow.



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#33 of 34 Old 12-31-2011, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by momof4peppers View Post

I just came upon this thread. Dear Nancy Plent, who is mentioned earlier up thread, recently passed away.

How terrible. Thank you for saying so. I had the impression she wasn't that old (I'd been in email contact with her about her learning guides and she'd assured me she would keep publishing them forever. I'm glad I bought the whole set, "Just in case.") Do you have more details?


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing and living as gluten, dairy, and cane sugar free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.
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#34 of 34 Old 01-06-2012, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MissBright View Post


2/3 of the struggling readers who come to me for reading help are failures for precisely this reason. LOTS of girls, too.


By the end of first grade, they already view themselves as failures. So during 2nd grade, when the schools tell parents that it's too early to test them, let's wait and see—the child falls further and further behind. Why? She's not receiving the beginning reading instruction that she's now developmentally ready for, but is only getting instruction that is geared to the successful 2nd grade readers. Throughout grade school, there is never again an opportunity to learn to read with beginning strategies other than as brief asides for the "slow kids,", so they are reluctant readers, failing readers, or recalcitrant trouble-making students—all stemming from the early feelings of failure. 


Had the first teaching of reading happened a year or two later, they'd be in fine shape and would be caught up with peers who learned earlier in almost no time. Learning at 4 or 7 has no correlation to grades or abilities in college.  But the damaged readers? They rarely make it to college, unless the parents invest in someone like me, who specifically works with troubled readers and actually takes them out of the hellhole toward happy reading.


It's criminal, it's a nightmare, and it's why the United States calculates 40% of our fourth graders are reading below grade level. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, the government continues to ADD to the reading tasks the young child is to complete before getting out of kindergarten! It's insanity!! :/   Ooops. Got on the old hobby horse again. My bad! ;)

This alone is reason enough for me to homeschool next year.  I have a 4.5 yo boy (born in April) and I just do NOT see him doing well with the academics of American kg.  He's a bright kid, but sitting in a chair all morning doing worksheets is not going to suit him.  I believe he'll read and write when he's ready, but it may not be at the age of 5.  Thanks for this comment, Miss Bright!


Also thanks to everyone else for their insight.  I have been too busy to get back to this thread, but I am excited to see the depth and breadth of the comments.  There's a lot to chew on here.  'Mothering' moms rock!


We are still in the process of making our homeschool decision.  Will I or won't I?  I still have a lot of fear around the isse.  Will I succeed?  Will I have the patience?  Will the neighbors think I am crazy?  I am leaning towards doing it though, b/c I think my son will grow to hate school if I send him to Kg and also b/c my daughter is on the cusp - she's still a mama's girl and she actually wants to be homeschooled, but how much longer will that last?


Again, many thanks.  Please continue to chime in if you like!

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