How to Implement the HEI Schools Toolkit in Your School
The Finnish approach to early childhood education is well-known for a reason! Its progressive pedagogy places the child’s needs and interests at the center with a focus on holistic growth and transversal competencies rather than specific skill sets. Children also have the space to exercise their agency and participation.
You may be wondering how to bring this type of education to your school without changing everything. The HEI Schools Toolkit is the answer! We’ve combined the best of Finnish education with the latest early education research from our academic partner, University of Helsinki, so that Finnish pedagogy can be a part of daycares around the world. You can implement as much of the material as you like, and you don't need to change the name or interior of your school.
Our Toolkit has four parts:
The Educational Framework
The Monthly Program
The Teacher's Corner
Remote Learning Materials
Together, these four sections offer many resources for preexisting kindergartens and preschools to expand their early education curricula. In this article, we explain how you can put these materials into practice!
The Educational Framework
The Educational Framework is an overview of Finland’s progressive pedagogy. Covering subjects ranging from cooperation with parents to children’s active participation in daily activities, it gives both theoretical explanations and practical examples of these concepts. You are able to learn, among other things, how to resolve conflicts or comfort a lonely child just like a Finnish teacher would do it.
Since it might be different from your usual approach to teaching, it would take a bit of time to adjust to this new way of thinking and apply it in the classroom, but we promise it’s worth it!
What we recommend:
1. Look at the Educational Framework as a whole.
Take some time to skim through the content - even reading the section titles is helpful - just to get a general sense of Finland’s preschool curriculum.
2. Deep dive into specific subjects.
Once you’ve gotten a general sense of the Framework, choose a place to start, and dig in! For example, you could take a few weeks to focus on the learning environment and how to improve the space with your team.
3. Arrange a way to process and learn together.
Your pedagogical team is your best asset and it’s important you’re all on the same page in the process! You could set up time in teacher meetings to discuss a chapter, or even a subchapter, at a time, with everyone reading it beforehand or one person becoming an expert and leading the discussion.
Whatever way you approach the Framework, remember that education is a team effort, and it’s important to give yourselves time and space to think of ways to implement Finnish pedagogy in your existing practices and methods.
The Monthly Program
This brings us to the Monthly Program, which is the starting point for practicing the principles of the framework in the classroom. We provide two preschool lesson plans each day for three age groups with guidelines and tips on how to arrange the classroom schedule and environment to best accommodate them.
Monthly themes and projects
You can use these to guide your whole curriculum or just tie them into your existing themes and projects!
Monthly, weekly and daily routines
You can adopt, add or accommodate our routines with what you already have! One weekly routine is the Star of the Week (pictured above!), which is pedagogically explained in the Framework and then instructions are in the Program!
Learning outcomes matrix and learning objectives
The matrix helps you localize our curriculum to suit your national standards, while the learning objectives are for both teachers and students because you’re learning too!
Weekly and monthly calendars and recommendations
To save you time, we give short overviews of each lesson of the month and weekly recommendations for songs, books, field trips and more!
Activity materials, preparations, step-by-step instructions and extra tips/extensions
Our play-based lesson plans incorporate multiple learning areas to teach transversal skills alongside academic abilities.
Keep in mind that these kindergarten lesson plans are meant to inspire. While we recommend following the sequence we provide, you are free to make changes and adaptations to fit your schedule and learning objectives. It can save hours of time in planning so you and your teachers can have more time to spend with the children and their families!
The Teacher’s Corner
Then, there is the Teacher’s Corner, which is a professional development tool that supports your teachers’ growth in Finnish pedagogy and helps them stay motivated.
What’s in it and how to use it:
A monthly rotating theme with videos, articles and more
These materials help you further your teachers’ professional development and apply the Finnish-style approach in everyday teaching.
Read the materials at the beginning (or before!) the month starts
We recommend that teachers read the materials as early as possible to better understand our insights and think of ways to integrate them into teaching.
Think of ways to apply our insights.
For example, one month’s theme is about how to conduct pedagogical observation and documentation. One can go through that month’s activities, which provide many opportunities for observation, and think of when to observe and document children’s growth and development.
Remote Learning Materials
Finally, there are remote early learning materials for families, which are available through our online platform, HEI Schools Home. These resources can be used as part of a hybrid solution for kindergartens and preschools that have some learning at home, or they can simply be provided as extra support for families.
Daily, creative activities
With weekly themes and easy-to-follow instructions, these easy plans require simple materials and include learning objectives. Video tutorials, sing-along songs and printable resources are also part of these lessons.
A schedule with daily routines
We offer detailed explanations about how the routines support children’s growth and development with suggestions for morning, afternoon and evening routines. We also include tips and recommendations for nap time, screen time and more.
Beyond our activities, HEI Schools Home offers ways
to apply the weekly theme throughout the day and advice for challenging but common parent situations.
So why choose the Toolkit?
The Benefits of Our Program
Expand your curriculum.
It’s specifically designed to be and allow your preschool to implement Finnish-style play-based pedagogy.
With two ready-made lesson plans per day, creative ideas and printable materials, you could save up to 300 hours per year of one teacher’s planning time!*
Develop pedagogical practices.
We constantly update our materials based on the latest early education research and ideas in the field thanks to our partnership with University of Helsinki, so you’ll always be in touch with the most current practices in ECEC.
Be part of an international community.
The Toolkit is already being used by kindergartens and daycares around the world, and by choosing the Toolkit, you are also joining a community of international educators.
Gain an edge in your market!
Finland’s educational approach is well-known and highly acclaimed throughout the world. By bringing it to your school, you will attract families looking for an alternative, progressive educational approach that has been proven to work.
* Savings are calculated from time spent by a lead teacher preparing 40 lesson plans per month, monthly project themes and drawing up reports for parents.
Reasons you might hesitate (and how we can put your mind at rest)
It takes some time to learn.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Finnish system is first and foremost about how to learn and only then, what to learn. This might be a new mindset for many teachers, which is why we provide supportive teacher training materials in the Educational Framework and Teacher’s Corner.
Educational requirements vary around the world, and we built our curriculum based on Finnish guidelines. However, we intentionally made our Toolkit for an international audience (that’s where the learning outcomes matrix comes in handy) and kept it as flexible and culturally neutral as possible so any country can adapt it.
By using the HEI Schools Toolkit, teachers are trained to think and plan holistically and creatively. They have the opportunity to grow professionally, and learn how to teach in a new way. Our aim is to help you take a progressive approach to learning, and with these methods, teachers and childcare centers around the world can provide the type of joyful, playful and effective learning that makes Finland famous.