Hi Readers — The Wall Street Journal was wondering that very question. Especially since Finnish school doesn’t start till age 7 (no pre-k! no k!) and there isn’t a lot of homework. The resulting article, by Ellen Gamerman, is pretty fascinating — and envy-provoking — but here’s the nicest Free-Range paragraph:
Once school starts, the Finns are more self-reliant. While some U.S. parents fuss over accompanying their children to and from school, and arrange every play date and outing, young Finns do much more on their own. At the Ymmersta School in a nearby Helsinki suburb, some first-grade students trudge to school through a stand of evergreens in near darkness. At lunch, they pick out their own meals, which all schools give free, and carry the trays to lunch tables. There is no Internet filter in the school library. They can walk in their socks during class, but at home even the very young are expected to lace up their own skates or put on their own skis.
Knowing our penchant for quick fixes, schools from Fargo to Florida will probably start requiring kids to lace up their own skates. But wouldn’t it be amazing if parents started letting their kids walk to school again? If only because it’s good for their kids’ SAT scores? — Lenore