When an instructional day is relatively short (about 5 hours per day), after-school activities are very important. In Finland, there is a specific national strategy to address out-of-school time.
For after-school care, there is a mosaic of services.The Finnish Sport Organization is a nongovernmental sport organization that supports the Finnish Olympic Committee, the Young Finland Association (for schools and day cares), and the Finnish Sport for Adults. The Young Finland Association, Nuori Suomi, began in 1987 to enhance sports club activities for children and youth. The association is funded by the government at about 5 million euros per year to promote these beliefs:
- All 7 to 18 year olds should be physically active 1-2 hours daily.
- Continued periods of sitting for over two hours at a time should be avoided.
- Screen time should be limited to two hours per day.
Considerable training and support are provided to schools and day cares for activities that encourage physical activity and sport.
Parents pay for after-school activities and clubs on a sliding scale, depending upon income. With dozens of member organizations, Nuori Suomi supports sport and physical activities in multiple venues such as schools, parks, and community sport centers.
So, how does this look to an individual child? At the end of the instructional day, we saw little children don their snow bibs and boots and head off to after-school programs with their cross-country skis over their shoulders!
Post submitted by Valerie Truesdale, superintendent of Beaufort County School District in Beaufort, S.C., and ASCD Past-President.