During week five of my study abroad, for five days we visited Helsinki Finland to gain an insight into Finnish daycare pedagogy by experiencing a Finnish preschool setting. Each class member was assign a topic to research and discuss with group members. My group and I decided to research the Finnish welfare state.
While doing research on the Finnish welfare state, I was so shocked by how much the Finnish government support families and take care of individuals that cannot worked at all due to physical and mental illness. Since Finland is a part of the Nordics, its welfare state is a distinctive combination of free market capitalism and social benefits that impacts a society that enjoys numerous of perks including free education, free health care, and guaranteed pension payments for retirees.
The results of this tax structure is Finland treats all their citizens equally and strongly encourages workforce participation. Also, from listening to other team’s presentations, I learned a lot about early childhood education and care in Finland, as well about the Finnish approach to special need children’s.
On Wednesday, our class visit a kindergarten and play park outside of Helsinki and learned some valuable information about the role play parks play on a young child development. One thing I found interesting is preschools in Finland put children into small groups and the children do numerous of activities such as music, arts, and crafts.
During the morning, Finnish preschools are less structure and the children participate in free play (similar to Denmark). Differences between U.S teachers and Finland is the role of the Finnish teacher is to not play with the children but watch the children from a distance as they play and socialize with peers. In the U.S., I noticed that teacher are more likely to be near the children watching their every step, so the child will not hurt themselves.
Also, Finnish teachers are more passive and depending on the weather, the children are outside for at least four hours a day. In the U.S., children are only outside for an hour or less and if the youngster do something bad, then they are discipline. In Finland it is not necessary to discipline the children because you don’t want them to fear you.
Throughout our five-day journey in Finland, I learned so much about the Finnish education system and welfare state. Finland guarantees that all children will have equal educational opportunity don’t matter if your rich, middle class, or poor. In the U.S not everyone has the same educational opportunities due to income inequality. Also, the U.S. seems to over diagnose students with learning disability, while in Finland kids are not over-diagnosis and they are labeled as having learning difficult rather than having a learning disability.
In conclusion, Finland constantly performs high in numerous worldwide ranking, including education, quality of life, and human development because the Finnish welfare system cares about all it citizens despite their social economic status. If the U.S government put their minds to it and tries to see a different perspective on welfare, then we could learn something from Finnish values about families and children and make our country great for everybody.