International School and Day Care in Vantaa
The International School of Vantaa is located in the idyllic garden district of Kartanonkoski next to the busy Aviapolis centre. The school building also includes the English speaking Y.E.S. Day Care Centre. Both aim to provide children with a safe and multicultural learning environment that gives them an opportunity to build on their own strengths and learning styles.
Constructive learning methods
The International School of Vantaa is for children and youngsters in grades 1–9 whose level of English is sufficient to study in English. The school has approximately 560 students with over 30 different nationalities. French, Spanish, Swedish and German are offered as electives starting from grade 4.
One of the aims of the school is to educate competent, motivated students who can function in an international environment. “Our main focus is in constructive and conversational teaching. But primarily, the school needs to be a safe place where students can make friends and thus be able to learn,” Heikki Hirvonen, the principal of the school, describes.
Digital emphasis in teaching
Another main focus of the school is in digitality. All the students were granted a tablet few years back, which now have been changed into Chromebooks. Most of the learning material is digital, and the devices are simple to use yet have a diverse set of applications. According to Hirvonen, this has been a great step forward in digitalization and helps to prepare the students in transition to work later in life.
Two other schools in Vantaa offer the possible to study in English. Kaivoksela and Rekolanmäki schools (for grades 1-6) both have one class dedicated to English-speaking only. Their aim is functional bilingualism by the end of grade 6. There are also Swedish-language schools in Vantaa, which are Dickursby, Kyrkoby, Mårtensdals and Västersundoms schools (for grades 1-6) and Helsinge school (for grades 7-9).
English Day Care Centre
The Y.E.S. Day Care Centre is the only municipal kindergarten in Finland that operates predominantly in English-language. Many attending the day care speak English as their native tongue, although Y.E.S. has children from various nationalities that altogether speak over 35 different languages. Y.E.S. aims to provide them a creative, safe, social and multicultural learning environment. They also aspire to help children to be individuals through playful and holistic learning experiences.
Diverse early childhood education
Vantaa has both municipal and private day care centres, and day care is available in Finnish, Swedish, Russian and English. The city financially supports families if needed with a service voucher that one can apply for. The privately-owned Pilke Pohjantähti, which is bilingual in Finnish and English, accepts these vouchers as a form of payment. Four Swedish speaking municipal day cares are available (Timotej, Dickursby, Håkansböle and Trolleby) and one private one in Russian-language (Matrjoshka), which also accepts service vouchers.
Vantaa invests in the versatile use of learning environments both indoors and outdoors, the latter often including forest trips and other outings. Attention has been paid to increasing physical activity and the pedagogical use of digital tools in day cares. For instance, Y.E.S. also uses tablets in order to bring new possibilities to learning by playing.