Nature’s role in Finnish schools amazes Chinese mother

Daughter and mother, Livi and Cici, like to be out in the Finnish nature.

This autumn, 36-year-old Liu Xi made a bold move. She came to Finland from South China with her 11-year-old daughter, Livi. 

While Liu Xi – or CiCi as she is called in English – studies a Master’s program in Teaching, Learning and Media Education at Tampere University, her daughter attends sixth grade at the local school. 

As an experienced educator, CiCi looks forward to getting to know the world’s happiest nation and its famous education system. 

“I am interested in seeing how happiness could be related to education,” she points out as her personal reason for coming to Finland.  

“The other reason is my daughter, who is turning 12 soon.” 

Valuable international experience 

Livi attended her first years of school in an English-language school in the Philippines.  

“My parents live there for their retirement, so she could stay with them,” CiCi explains.  

She could not join her daughter in the Philippines, since she had to stay in Beijing, where she worked for a musical ensemble that she was also the co-founder of.  

Nevertheless, CiCi wanted – and still wants – her daughter to see as much of the world as possible.  

“In China, learning can be painful for many kids, so I’d like my daughter to experience more of the world.” 

After her first school years in the Philippines, Livi moved with her mother to Guangzhou in South China, where she continued her schooling. Now, at the age of 11, she gets to try out another school system. 

“Perfect” Finnish education 

When choosing a Finnish school for her daughter, CiCi opted for the local, public school. 

“I think the basic education here is as close to perfect, as you can come,” she says. “I trust the Finnish education system.” 

Livi attends a preparatory class, so she can learn Finnish, before continuing to a regular Finnish school class – a process that typically takes about one school year.  

After her years in Chinese and Philippine schools, subjects such as math and English cause no problems. She enjoys most classes but has a special love for physical exercise and crafts. 

“I don’t know how well she speaks Finnish, but she knows more than I do and teaches me Finnish,” laughs CiCi.

Relationship between human and nature 

Watching Livi and her friends, CiCi has noticed that kids in Finland are different compared to what she is used to from Guangzhou.  

”In China, boys and girls are more mature. They tell dirty jokes already, which I don’t appreciate! I don’t experience much of that here.” 

Another thing that CiCi appreciates is that her daughter has plenty of time to be with her classmates and to be out in nature, instead of sitting in the classroom.  

“The teacher takes the whole class out. Today, for example, they spent the whole day out in nature,” she said when interviewed in October. 

“We are human. We should be in nature,” says CiCi. This is something that is overlooked in China, she notes. ”Kids raised in urban China are not likely to experience much nature.”

“The relationship between humans and nature is very important, and is something that cannot be taught in a classroom.” 

CiCi has promised to help Sumino alongside her studies, so you will hear from her again!

Also, read more about CiCi’s background and thoughts about Finland here.