The length of a school day for a elementary school children must have been designed by someone from the era of vocal schools.

That would be the only way to explain the eight-year-olds wandering to their empty homes at noon, or at 2 pm at the latest. First-graders had after school programs, great. At second grade there was no more of that, since the city ran out of funds, but then we got in as a slot opened by cancellation. Great. But at third grade the children are suddenly all grown to citizens big enough to be sent, without any worries, to their empty homes to wait for their families, alone.

In our case this means that the child either goes to their friends house, having to cross the busiest street in Helsinki, or they jump on a subway and then catch a bus to get to home. When all this is happening, there has been many gut-wrenching moments worrying about if the child is reachable on their cell phone today, and if not, is it because the phone is off, or because the child has been knocked out.

When at home, finally, the child needs to call mom every fifteen minutes. Regardless of whether mom is in a meeting, or having a bathroom break, because that is what was agreed upon. After about an hour of being alone, the child is tired of aloneness and the responsibility of it, and clearly wants adult presence. For an adult to be there and in control. No wonder, since it’s only natural to feel unsafe at home alone in Helsinki. Cat is not a big comfort in this, although warm and fluffy.

This could be done differently. There could be hobbies build in with the school system. Arts, crafts, sports, and music. Any fun little pastime to fill up a child’s empty afternoon. This would also free up evenings for families, from driving the kids around from hobbies to another. Two birds one stone. Everyone wins, and especially the latchkey kids. The little persons that are in no way ready for all the responsibilities that come from just moving up a grade from second to third.

By this change in school planning, there would also be a significant change in work performance. When parents no longer have to think about what is happening at home, and whether or not they need to leave early to go check, there is more time for actual work. Maybe we should ask some national corporation to take this up to the government, could go through just by appealing to means of improving work performance.

Photo by Varshesh Joshi.

— Editors

The writer of this story is a member of the Mom of Finland community.

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