09/06/2016 04:10 EDT | Updated 09/06/2016 04:22 EDT

First Day Of School In Finland Looks Way Different

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Back to school means jumping back into classes, homework and studying. But in Finland, it’s a whole other story. Instead of following rigid lesson plans, Finnish teachers like to ease their students back into the school year with games, exercise and discussions about summer vacations.

Some teachers even go as far as giving their students a half-day off on the first day of school, The Atlantic reports.

“I think it's important to have a ‘soft start’ in order to let the school routines and procedures gently grow into the kids,” said Johanna Hopia, a teacher at Kuopio’s Martti Ahtisaari Elementary School.

Fellow educator Jere Linnanen, of Helsinki’s Maunula Comprehensive School, agreed. “I want to start the school with as little stress as possible, both for myself and my students,” he said.

This relaxed approach to teaching is very different from North American schools, where teachers are often required to follow a strict curriculum and plan their lessons well in advance.

And that’s not the only thing that’s different. In Finland, kids don’t start formal school until the age of seven. There are no standardized tests, school days are short and kids are given very little homework. And to top that all off, the Finnish education system strongly believes in learning through play and gives students a 15-minute break every 45 minutes of class.

While these teaching methods might seem unconventional, they have proven to be very effective. So effective, in fact, that Finland has one of the top education systems in the world and ranks number one in literacy.

By comparison, Canada ranks 11th in literacy.

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