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S/O Swedish School FYI

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My sil lives in Sweden and has 2 kids in the public system. This is what she wrote about their school....


I can't say that every school will be financially capable of introducing these changes (school linked in the previous thread), but most of them, at least from my very limited experience, are trying. With my kids' school as a case-in-point, I can tell you that:


1. Classrooms and play areas (exceptions: cafeteria and gym) are shoe-free. All kids and parents remove their outdoor shoes at the door and leave them on racks. Kids can wear slippers or indoor shoes if they want; my two like socks.


2. Classrooms have multiple sitting areas - open floor space, desks in groups (4 kids facing each other) to facilitate group work and conversation, and a couple of large sofas. Also equipped with kitchenette with running water (teacher may make coffee or kids can grab a drink). Now that ds (8) is in grade 3 they have desks in rows facing forward.


3. Younger grades in our school - kids have IPads. Idea is that each child can steer learning to his/her individual level. Kids also write individual learning plans (last year dd (7) wanted to learn cursive, ds addition of large numbers). From grade 3, they have laptops and computers. Note: they don't have them all the time, just when needed. But each has his/her own.


4. Kids get lots of breaks and outdoor time. Gym 2x per week for 1hour plus 30 min change time, Ds gets only 20 min break (dd 30 min) in the AM and one hour for lunch, but the school day is over at 1:30 to 1:45. After that it's 'free-time' where the kids sign up for activities like crafts, baking, LEGO, ping-pong, basketball and gym, or simply play outside (they have a small forest as a playground). Ds and dd get free English classes on Tuesday afternoons (Sweden promises mother-tongue classes to all school-aged children). Music, however, is not part of the curriculum, so parents must fund this themselves. That said, schools make classrooms free for music teachers.


5. Breakfast (for early students), hot lunch, afternoon snack is included. A pleasant eating environment is encouraged ( flowers on tables) and teachers eat with students. Kids help to wipe tables between seatings.


6. Homework happens, we get reading, writing, math assignments - but approx. 30 min per week at this stage. Teachers want kids to be excited by learning, not burdened and stressed.


7. No grades under grade 8. We have reviews which include the kids, but no written report cards. Kids write standard tests in år 3 to valdidate both their and the school's progress. Good and bad.


Personally, I love it right now. My kids are happy, they can read, write, think, express themselves and are curious. The system starts to fail, though, as the kids get older - they need more resources and 'fire under their butts' in the later grades. System also tends to breed familiarity with one's elders rather than respect - dangerous with some teens/Tweens. Teens also need to decide career path earlier since high-school choice and admissions are competitive. We'll see how we address that.


But today? kids happy and tired after a 10km hike with the entire school, incl staff (and parents). Picnic lunch in the sun and lots of laughter. They do it twice a year.


Oh! Another thing? At our school, talent contests, plays, etc are parent-free. By kids, for kids.




Schools here are very competitive. We have both 'public' (state-run) and private schools; all schools that satisfy state criteria receive funding based per enrolled student. Private schools may have an additional tuition fee (or requirement for parent funding, time, etc).


All schools must satisfy the state's curriculum requirements, public schools do it by following a standard learning methodology. Private have their own (ie Montessori, music or dance-centred, or the 'Vitra' school you saw).


School attendance is mandatory from age 7. Parents may select from any school within a district (ie all of Stockholm) and must submit an application ranking by preference their child's top 3 choices. School performance is regularly evaluated and made public; performance is based on outcome from standardized tests, parent and student feedback via questionnaire, and independent professional evaluation. Schools that do better have higher enrollment thus more money. Capitalism in a socialist style.


Using a complicated algorithm based on location of applicants, and including any feedback from the additional application process of some private schools (ie music or language) the district determines which school your kid gets. It has happened that kids from the same family get assigned to different schools.


Our school goes only to grade 6 but we are on a wait list for a private (no-fee) International school near the city from grade 3. Otherwise, the kids submit applications again in grade 6, but then they start to choose from specialized curriculums.





We get an info letter from each teacher every week, outlines the week that passed and describes the coming week.



Here it describes today's walk, work on math (addition and subtraction with larger numbers; kids are finding it difficult, so they are taking it slow and working in groups so that everyone gets a chance to figure it out) Math homework this coming week. Work started on a 'tree book', kids chose to start with a birch and will need to find, measure circumference of a birch tree at home & track change over winter & spring. Also worked on class art project (made with sand collected by kids during summer vacations).


DS (8) next week look likes this:

Monday - school starts 9:10am (same every Monday). Other days 8:20am. Math homework handed out.

Tuesday- gym

Wednesday - his class goes to the nearby forest with grade 4 so they can get to know each other better. Grill hamburgers and play. Bring a snack.

Thursday - school's yearly jog. Every class gets a start time. Ds and his class will run 2.5 km. Dd (7) 1.2.

Friday - Word of the week, spelling (10 words) and finish any remaining work. Math lesson and tree results (bring in string used to measure circumference.) due.


I know it sounds like a lot of play and free time, but that is also valuable learning time. and he's only 8....



I hope some people found that interesting.

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Very interesting. It actually sounds a lot like the Montessori schools I'm familiar with.


My dd goes to a Montessori school and it does sound very similar. There is a difference though, because they have Montessori schools there. I'd love to compare them.


I'll have to ask my sil if she knows anyone who goes to a Montessori school to see what the differences are...

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Very interesting. I always find the way that other countries "do" school to be very intriguing and I think we could learn a lot. I like the amount of time to be outdoors and I see great value, even educational value, in allowing children to just be children.

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Thanks for sharing.


I saw a clip of a Swedish preschool in the video Families of Sweden from the Families of the World series (from the library).

It looked very nice -- in a home with only a few other kids, doing all sorts of activities, and even napping outside in winter. Wow! And tons of dairy -- breakfast was milk, yogurt, cheese, sliced meat, museli, and rye bread or something.

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I love points 6 and 7. And I just find the no shoes/slippers item fascinating for some reason. I could see myself being happy with it and I know the monkeys would be fine by it. I find it interesting that she finds high schoolers need more motivation. I could see apathy being an issue with teen-led learning. Oh, and teachers eating with the students? Brilliant!

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I love points 6 and 7. And I just find the no shoes/slippers item fascinating for some reason. I could see myself being happy with it and I know the monkeys would be fine by it. I find it interesting that she finds high schoolers need more motivation. I could see apathy being an issue with teen-led learning. Oh, and teachers eating with the students? Brilliant!


My dd Montessori School allows the kids to wear slippers inside if they want to, and they must change their shoes if they got muddy outside - only makes sense, right?


As for the motivation, those are just her personal opinions and anecdotal evidence from friends. No studies or anything behind it. I think it would depend a lot on the teachers and students.


I, too, love that the teachers eat with their students. I think it fosters a closer relationship. When I was in teacher training, there were some teachers who did that and they seemed to have the best relationships with their students.

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I went to a private high school where the teachers ate with us, and I think it was really nice. It let us see them as people, with interests beyond whatever it was that they taught. Obviously they were still professionals and adults: it wasn't like they were trying to be buddy-buddy with the kids at lunch, but they'd be involved in the conversations we were having.


I think it definitely raised the quality of conversation, because having a teacher there meant that you weren't going to say bad things about other students or teachers, or have a "who can belch the loudest" contest, or plan on how you and your friends were going to skip class or pull a prank... I'm not saying all unsupervised-at-lunch kids do this, but I certainly remember plenty of these sorts of conversations from middle school! It really meant that you had to keep your conversation suitable for adult ears, and IMO that is a good thing.

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