How Kipinä differs from Finland
While Kipinä is the closest preschool curriculum to the approved national core curriculum for early childhood education in Finland, there are some practical adjustments and improvements that we've made.
The Finnish education system is largely publicly funded and many teachers hold post graduate degrees specialising in Early Childhood Education. It's difficult to replicate this in the private education sphere in the rest of the world without passing those costs onto parents.
The approved Finnish Curriculum is largely a guide or road map. Finnish teachers have a lot of autonomy in how to bring the curriculum to life, and how to manage their classes.
This can work well with teachers educated to post-graduate level, working with smaller groups of children who come from very similar cultural and spoken-language backgrounds but it does not offer the same benefit to diverse, larger, multi-cultural classrooms which are far more typical in the rest of the world.
We’ve done a lot of work to help teachers focus on in-classroom teaching, by creating hundreds of weekly lesson plans that the teachers can bring to life, keeping in mind children's interests, different ways children learn and the different rates at which they learn.
Children in Finland don't start formal education until they are six or seven years old, and there are no exams in schools. This means there is no urgency about developing numeracy or literacy skills early in life.
However, in most countries children start formal education at age 4 or 5, and some even have to undertake assessments or tests to transition into K-12 schools.
Therefore Kipinä has an "Intentional Play-Based" approach. Where learning through play is the guiding principle in Finland, Kipinä brings more structure to the play to ensure children gain the literacy and numeracy skills they will need in the regular school system.
There are also two elements that Kipinä has been teaching since we started. They are: Technology and Cultural Awareness. These were not part of the original Finnish Curriculum. Perhaps we inspire each other, because they have now been included in the latest official Finnish Curriculum.
Crucially of course, the Kipinä program is delivered in ENGLISH with support for other languages.
We also have more tools to help teachers. Our teachers use a time-saving app to track children's academic progress, daily activities, skillset development, and to communicate with parents, giving them more time to focus on teaching instead of administration.
We've also added a particular way of teaching called "Focused Instruction" this researched methodology guides children through the intentional learning program and results in a gradual release of responsibility, where children apply the knowledge or skill on their own with confidence.
This is why we call our globalised curriculum the ENHANCED FINLAND curriculum.