A Conversation About Transitions, Adaptability, New Friends & Squirrels with Finnish Preschoolers
As summer starts here in Finland, I wanted to know how kindergarten students were feeling about the transition from kindergarten to grade 1. I decided to go on an exciting and in-depth interview mission to Helsinki’s Susanna kindergarten. We had quite the conversation! They seemed happy and ready to enter grade 1 in the coming months. They expressed excitement and confidence about graduating and attending “big school”. This is certainly influenced by the fact that the kindergarten and school collaborate on numerous occasions and the students are familiar with the facilities and teachers. They had already visited their new classrooms, met their teachers and know they have friends in their class. I talked to 6-7-year-old Siiri, Hulda, Vihtori, Luka and Erkki. The interview was recorded in Finnish and translated to English. Enjoy!
How do you feel about school starting in the autumn?
-Scary, says Siiri.
Why is it scary?
-Because everything is new, Hulda answers.
-Boring, Luka says.
Why is it boring?
-There is math. Math exams! I don’t like exams, Luka answers.
Will you have exams the first year?
-No! No way. Math is practiced there! But I don’t like math, Luka says.
-But the plusses (additions) are nice! 100 + 100 = 200, 300 + 300 = 600 and 600 + 600 = 1200 Luka states.
Are you nervous?
-I don’t know, Vihtori says.
-I would say I am nervous, Erkki admits.
How is school different than kindergarten?
-You have to do homework, both girls answer.
-There is a difference, the girls answer together.
-Then recesses, Hulda talks about.
-We have way shorter recesses, Siiri explains.
-Then we come to have lunch after preschoolers, Hulda continues.
-Well, you practice there. You learn to read, Vihtori expresses.
-There are no slides at school, and you cannot slide nor climb up a tree, Luka says.
-Luka! Vihtori yells.
-And you can't play floorball inside, Erkki says sadly.
-Yeah but there is a football court! Vihtori answers.
-And then there is a floorball court. It has been built, Erkki exclaims!
-Seriously? Vihtori asks.
-Yeah! Erkki yells.
-I hadn’t heard! Vihtori answers excitedly.
What is taught at school?
-Everything like math, Siiri answers.
-Different languages for example English, Hulda answers.
-Boring. Luka answers.
-To read and the teaching is fun. Except I can already read, Vihtori explains.
-Sports, Erkki answers.
Sports is fun.
-Yeah, Erkki agrees.
-For real, I think it is fun that you get to pull leaves of trees and catch squirrels! Luka jokes.
-Hey! No way! There is no way to catch them! Vihtori yells and the boys laugh.
Have you already visited the school? Do you know who will be your teacher?
-Marco! Marco and Natalia! Luka answers.
-Natalia is not a teacher she is an assistant, Vihtori corrects.
-We have seen the teacher but not our class, Siiri answers.
-We have seen the class! Hulda corrects.
-Oh yeah! Siiri remembers.
-I am going to sit next to that boy, Hulda points at a boy on the playground.
Do you know anyone who will be in your class?
-Yeah everyone knows. All preschoolers go there but there will be some new ones too, Hulda answers.
-Yeah, a couple, Vihtori answers.
Do you have any questions for me about school?
-I have one for you! Is it allowed to kick lamps in a school? Erkki asks.
-No! Vihtori answers for me.
-Are the pupils a little wild? Erkki continues.
I admit that some can be occasionally but explain that just like in the kindergarten there are rules that every pupil has to follow. Vihtori tells me how he has heard about a student swearing and no adult said anything! Luka tells me a story about a student in primary school who once stepped on his foot. The kindergarteners of Susanna are a very well-behaved group and as a teacher I know that the hallway can get very energetic sometimes.
That concludes the interview! It is wonderful to hear about education from the perspective of our younger students. The excitement and nerves bring me back to my childhood. It is a testament to the wonderful kindergarten teachers at the school how well prepared the students are for change and their ability to adapt to new environments and articulate their feelings about them. Thanks for the awesome conversation Siiri, Hulda, Vihtori, Luka and Erkki! Good luck in grade 1!
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