Monday, March 03, 2008

So What do the Finns know about Brain Boosters?

Finnish teens waste time online in chat rooms and downloading music. They rebel by dying their hair black. No different than the teens I know.

So why do Finnish kids score higher in science and math than U.S. kids do? Way higher. The US isn't even in the top ten!

Now it certainly isn't because our kids are dumb! They're just as smart as Finnish kids. Or any other kids who are scoring higher in math and science.

Fanny Salo, whose picture here appeared in the "Wall Street Journal," attends Norsii School in Jyvaskyla. She loves to shop for clothes, read "Gossip Girl" books, and watch "Desparate Housewives" on TV. Nothing out of sync here.

They don't do more homework. They don't start reading at 3. In fact, they don't start school till age 7--a year later than most U.S. kids. TV and video games aren't banned.

But kids play more. And kids read more. When a baby is born, her parents get a gift pack that includes a child's picture book. Libraries are in shopping malls. If you can't get to the mall, a book bus will come to your remote area.

And kids become independent at an earlier age. The Finns don't hover over their children. Kids walk to school in near darkness. Pick their own lunch. No internet filter in the school library.

And kids are taught at the youngest age possible to put on their own skates and skiis. Obviously this indicates that kids are outdoors playing and moving, even in cold winter weather.

What's the message for us? Kids need more playing, reading, and moving. And we need to foster more independence.

Tomorrow: Find out what the Finnish schools are like and how teachers teach.


P.S. Of course, Brain Gym involves playing and moving and certainly helps with making reading easier. Learn a couple of Brain Gym exercises that you can use immediately. Be sure to download the 17-page handout first.

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