They start first grade in the year in which they turn 7. So, if their birthday is in August-December they are only 6 when they start school. Prior to that, there is a kind of pre-1st grade year (esikoulu) which is sometimes attached to the municipal daycare establishments or sometimes arranged at the same school where they will do 1st grade.
Most Finnish kids go to daycare (päiväkoti) from age 3-6.
The Finnish language is very simple orthographically speaking, so children generally learn to read and write very quickly (certainly less than one year to acquire basic reading skills) whereas for native English speakers that apprenticeship can last for 2-3 years.
Finnish students stay in comprehensive schooling until they are 16 and then spend, on average, three years in high schools/technical college. Therefore, they are 19 yrs of age when they complete their basic education.
As far as I know, it has been like this since comprehensive education was introduced (in the 60s?) and there are no plans to make any major modifications.
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Re: Children start school at 8 in Finland!!
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