Finland…schools…play

One last thought on play. I was walking my dog and came across two industrious boys in the creek bed. They were busy digging and trenching the stream into channels of their imagination. Obviously having lots of fun.
Finland recognizes that school and play are important areas for their children, with class instruction in blocks of 45 mins and 15 minutes of play. Preschoolers spent 1 1/2 hrs a week playing outside, regardless of the weather and it can get cold there! Every week they go for at least a 2 hr field, with the government recommending at least 3 hrs of physical activity a week. The teachers use physical activity to teach the basics. For example, a first grade class was outside involved in a math scavenger hunt. They were instructed to find a stick as big as their foot; gather 50 rocks and 50 acorns, laying them out in in groups of ten. “The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science.” Why are Finland’s Schools Successful-Smithsonian.com. They are doing something right.

In the United States, recess and PE are eroded away for more class time, sitting at desks, doing work. And so the controversy arises around ADHD, is it neurological or just physical? Personally, I believe it is more physical than neurological. Boys are mostly diagnosed with ADHD, girls and boys need to move around to integrate what they have learned, boys just a little bit more, they are biologically wired for movement; hunters need to scan, sneak and strike, the DNA hasn’t changed much, just the environment. Maybe it’s time to rethink.

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