One of the world's top Finnish kindergarten programs is coming to Bangkok. Here are 4 things parents should know
If one of your little kiddos is ready for their first steps into a classroom, this is worth a read.
International schools are nothing new in Bangkok, and a lot of you reading very well could be products of the international school system. While many international schools in Bangkok tend to lean on the British or American school systems as a base, there is now a new (arguably better) international school for little kiddos (years 1.5-6): Helsinki International Schools (HEI Schools Bangkok).
The school, opening on Sukhumvit Soi 36 this September, comes by way of Finland and is part of the globe-spanning HEI Schools network — an award-winning educational facility consistently ranked among the top preschools in the world. What’s interesting about HEI is how it actually brushes aside many aspects of education that other countries enforce strictly (things like testing and ranking) in favor of a more participatory style of education that mimics the Finnish Early Childhood Education model.
Since not everyone is familiar with Finnish-style education, here are four things to get you started.
HEI’s approach is guided by five pillars of education. You can think of these as guiding principles, or the foundation, by which the curriculum is based. The first is curiosity and creativity, and the school is quick to point out that children aged 1.5-to-6 are in their most critical period of development and their most curious one. The next is active participation, which encourages children to give their opinions, make decisions and create their own play. The school also works hard to build a culture of trust and make students feel safe and respected when they are learning. Sustainability is a big part of the approach, too. While this pillar does focus extensively on sustainability in the environment, it also applies to cultural sustainability. The curriculum also encourages students to learn everywhere and all the time — reinforcing the idea that education doesn't stop just because you leave the classroom. You can read more about these individual parts here.
This part might sound counterintuitive at first, but a large part of the HEI approach is downplaying less important parts of education and replacing them with, as they argue, more productive ways for children to learn about the world around them. Some examples of this are less testing and more learning about a child’s perspective, less competition and more creative play, less performance scrutiny and more focus on exploration, less rankings and more encouragement, less schooling and more work on building socio-emotional skills.
The curriculum further breaks down into four learning frameworks and 10 modules underneath those. There’s “Learning Forms of Expression” (music, craft, visual, verbal and physical expression), “Exploring and Interacting With the World” (where subjects like linguistics, math, science and the environment come into play), “Understanding the World We Live In” (a focus on cultural competence and ethics), and finally “Practicing a Healthy Way of Living” (lessons about socio-emotional competence and ways to live a healthy life).
This is a really cool one. The insides of HEI schools are designed very specifically for children to learn and play. There aren’t rows upon rows of school desks all facing an omniscient teacher. The idea here is that the learning environment itself is vital for a good education. HEI Schools Bangkok leans heavily on Nordic design elements (simplicity, minimalism and high functionality), so you notice things like elegantly designed play cubbies with push-to-open storage containers and small elevations for climbing, wide-open spaces to provide the opportunity for exploration, tables designed at the proper heights for the children, and a lot of other design quirks that were specifically put in place to help children learn in a safe, productive and comfortable way.
For more information about HEI Schools Bangkok, check out the links below: