Finnish Early Education in Australia

Weeks 35-41

Long time no writing but it feels like yesterday when I got a new job as a Finnish mentor teacher at a company called Finnish Early Childhood Education Australia, FEC for short. I have been busy with reorganising my life and finding a balance between all different projects. Another thing that changed was the Covid-19 restrictions after the disastrous second wave in Melbourne. Catching up with “the life out there” has taken most of the weekends as we can finally live semi-normal life again.

My new employer FEC provides early learning and childcare based on the Finnish education model but localised in the Australian context. They have established several HEI Schools* around Australia: three in Victoria and one New South Wales. More centres will be opened in 2021. Additionally, they have another brand called ILO which also provides a combination of the Australian and Finnish early education frameworks. As HEI means “hello” and ILO means ‘joy” in Finnish, I’m excited for new opportunities these two great concepts bring along.

As a mentor teacher from Finland working in a multicultural company inspired by a Finnish idea, my job is to share my expertise in Finnish education and combine it with the local model. After finishing teacher training provided by HEI Schools Finland, I am now working on the pedagogical planning and implementation of the HEI curriculum together with our educators. We ensure the child-centred approach by promoting learning through play and designing holistic activities and projects.

It has been nearly seven years since I last worked in early education. However, it immediately brought back happy memories of life at kindergarten. Compared to primary school, early education is more holistic in a way that it is not as much divided into academics and free time. In early education, learning is everywhere and happens all the time. 

Coming back to early education from primary and secondary schools and adult education has opened my eyes again to the significance of positive learning experiences, socio-emotional competence, and development of self-awareness during the early years. There are, indeed, many reasons why early childhood education should be seen as an essential base of everything that follows it. Maybe one way to show people that it is more than a place where you leave your child for care could be, for example, introducing the Nordic model where it is called päiväkoti / daghem, “day home”.

I’m still continuing my work as a private teacher which is an excellent way to develop my teaching skills while I support other educators in their work. Having the opportunity to work with students of all ages, literally from babies to adults, I’m grateful for seeing life-long learning happening so concretely through these different projects.

*Read more about HEI Schools in general and HEI Schools in Australia

My new job as a Finnish mentor teacher at HEI Schools Australia is about supporting educators in providing a combination of the Australian and Finnish early education models. Getting a messy hair and sandy jeans is still part of the job though as I won’t be just sitting in the office but also participating the activities “on the floor” as they say.