Mr. 12 heads to upper primary school next autumn. * Yesterday the guide-book for the Helsinki school district came home, along with a second guide-book for grade 6 students. Now we have to work out from the myriad of options, which school?!
First some language background. Mr. 12 is bi-lingual. We operate the one parent one language model at home. The Engineer speaks Finnish, I speak English. The common language is mostly English, although maybe Finnglish is a good description. Finland also has two official languages: Finnish & Swedish. Depending on your mother tongue, instruction in the 2nd ‘domestic’ language starts anytime between 3rd and 7th grade. Our Mr. 12 started in 4th grade, and although it hasn’t been an easy experience for him, his pronunciation is quite good as is his comprehension.
Anyway, back to the decision! Do we stay with the bi-lingual schooling? Along with the rest of his friends? The upper school actually offers 100% Finnish, bi-lingual and then 100% English. The catch: aptitude and skills test to be admitted. The 2nd catch: there are not enough spots for all the students who want to do the bi-lingual line. The third catch: Mr. 12 doesn’t do tests well. Now I hear you say ‘no one does tests well’! Unfortunately Mr. 12 does them REALLY BADLY. Luckily we’ve had a lot of support from his teachers working with this. Still there is no getting around the test.
The Finnish system is such that in urban areas the local school should be within walking distance. Here in Helsinki, the city covers the trip to & from school on public transport **. We have a really efficient network, so Mr. 12 gets lifts to school very rarely. So, we could of course, just go to the school that is our closest or local school. This school offers extra tuition in art, which is something that Mr. 12 enjoys. The catch: there’s a test 🙂
This one is a really tough decision: stay bi-lingual? Do we go 100% Finnish? Do we go to the local school without taking the art test? With the art test? Right now all we can do is mark a heap of dates in the calendar for the first three weeks of January in order to attend the information sessions for prospective students and families. We mark the last day of submitting paper work. We discuss with Mr. 12 (he’s stated his preference is the upper school), we look at the schools and read up on anything we can get our hand on.
What other criteria should we examine?
* Grades 7, 8 & 9.
** if your school is outside your local area and the door-to-door journey is more than 2 km.