Finnish children get a lot more time to play than ours do—they have more recess (during which they ski, skate or just run around), and their school days are shorter, too—sometimes as few as four hours. In addition, they have plenty of non-academic classes, like woodworking, sewing, cooking, music and art, to help break up the school day. Yet Finnish kids outperform American children (and many others) on international achievement tests, casting doubt on the idea that more is better when it comes to academics.
Christine Gross-Loh is the author of Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us. She is a freelance writer, author and speaker on parenting. Christine received a Ph.D from Harvard University in East Asian history.