The Finnish education system differs a lot from the American education system.
School in Finland starts at age six when you go to preschool. Preschool is technically a kindergarten and it lasts for one year until you go to elementary school. Elementary school is from grade one to six and children go there from age seven to 12.
We learn all the basic subjects that children in the U.S do but also start learning English in second grade and Swedish in fifth grade.
English and Swedish are mandatory languages that you need to take every year from the starting year until you graduate from high school. Swedish is our second official language, which is why we need to learn it in school.
We also start taking either wood tech or textile sloyd and you take the subject of your choice until eight grade.
Environmental science is also a subject that we have to start taking from grade five until at least grade 9. Environmental science is learning about sustainability like recycling and also about issues like global warming.
Middle school is from grades seven to nine and people go there from ages 13-16. In middle school you have to take all of the similar classes that you would in a school here in the U.S. but also you have to take two or three years of home economics which is essentially cooking and learning how to do different household tasks the right way.
At grade nine you need to apply to a high school or a vocational school depending on what kind of career you’re interested in. Generally, if you’re not sure yet you go to a high school and if you’re interested in a singular profession like a cook, an electrician, plumber, or auto mechanic you can go to vocational school.
High school is from grades 10 to 12.
You have to apply to a high school that takes people with your GPA so basically it’s like applying to a college here in the U.S. Some high schools in Finland are bigger or more popular so they only take people with higher GPAs to them. Overall, the quality of teaching still remains the same no matter what high school you go into so it doesn’t really matter. Bigger and more popular schools offer more classes like arts and club sports.
Schools in Finland don’t have school sports, the only option is PE. If you want to do a singular sport you need to go through a private club.
Recess is 15 minutes in between every class where you have to go outside and do some sport or play around with your friends from first grade to 9th. School lunch is always 45 minutes and lunch is free for everyone. School lunch is a lot healthier and more nutritious than in the U.S. and we don’t use disposable platters and cutlery.
Finnish people normally walk or take a bike to school. We don’t have school busses but also Finnish cities and towns are a lot more compact so schools are closer to you, like my school is only a mile away. Families usually have 1-2 cars in Finland because we don’t need them all the time because of our public transportation system.
Also, Finnish schools don’t practice any prayers or expressions like the pledge of allegiance.
You do have to take either religion or ethics for a few years in middle school and you can decide which one you want. Most people in Finland are evangelical lutheran which is a branch of christianity but usually people are not very religious in Finland.
Finnish high school differs the most out of all of the other Finnish schools compared to American schools.
Finnish high school is a lot more like college in terms of the courses and what you want to pick. We have five semesters in a school year and in every semester you have to pick between two to seven classes of your choice. The school year is pretty much the same length as here, from August to June. In the course of the three years that we have of high school, you need to take 75 courses all together. First year of high school you take 30 courses, second year you take 30 courses and third year you take 15 courses.
School hours depend on what classes you take for your semester but the hours that the classes are are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For example, if you pick seven classes for your semester you’ll have school every day from eight to four but you usually have four to six classes each semester so in that case your school will start or end at different times.
The exams are also very different. At the end of every semester, you take an end exam from all of the classes that you have taken during that semester. We have an exam week which lasts for seven days so that everyone has time to take their exams. So, if you have seven classes each day you’ll come to school on the exam week and take a test on one of the subjects. The exams are a lot harder than the exams here in the U.S. and each exam from each subject takes about three hours to get an average grade. The exam week test will determine your grade for the class so you have to study for it a lot and it takes a lot of effort and time. The level of education is a lot higher which also means that it is harder. The grades are from 4 to 10, 4 being F and 10 being A. You usually don’t get A’s (10’s) or it is really hard.
We don’t have private schools, only public.