At the age of six, children in Finland start attending “preschool.” Two of the instances that Walker gives include teachers setting up a fictitious ice cream business and encouraging their students to build makeshift forts.
According to Arja-Sisko Holappa, who works for the Finnish National Board of Education, “Play is a highly effective means of learning for youngsters.” Walker was told this information. “And we can utilize it in a manner that youngsters will learn while they are having a good time.”
It does not seem that children’s eventual reading development is hindered when recreation is prioritized throughout the early years of life. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, Finland is one of the countries with the highest literacy rates in the world. This is because 94 percent of those who attend upper secondary school (a three- to four-year curriculum that students join in on at the age of 16 or 17) successfully complete it. According on the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the percentage of students who graduate from high school, this country’s educational system is widely regarded as one of the top five in all of the globe.
This does not imply that children who attend preschools in Finland are forbidden from reading. Reading may be taught to students by instructors if they determine that such instruction is appropriate after a meeting with the parents of each student to build a tailored learning plan.
Although Walker acknowledges that Finland has significant advantages, such as having one of the lowest child poverty rates in the world, that might make it difficult to duplicate its early education success abroad, he also cites research papers arguing that teaching kindergarteners to read so early has no long-term benefits. This is despite the fact that Walker acknowledges that it might be difficult to duplicate Finland’s early education success abroad.
Walker has spent the past two years contrasting the educational systems of Finland and the United States, both of which he has taught in, in his writing for The Atlantic and on his blog titled Taught by Finland. In January, Walker provided a report on an encouraging initiative for promoting physical fitness in Finland. In a second piece that was published the same year, he dug into the Finnish practice of granting both students and instructors a 15-minute break every hour for the purpose of engaging in social activities and recreational pursuits.