Sam seems to be adjusting well to the school culture, classroom culture and is making friends. She said he is not afraid to speak up in class. In fact, he's quite vocal about being the "new kid" and has even asked kids to make sure they include him. (Wow! That's bold for a new kid.)
She also said he's still in "American" mode. According to Sam's teacher (and my observations 3 weeks in would support this), Finnish schools put much less pressure on kids. And for those who don't already know this and may think that the Finnish school system is failing, the whole reason we're here is so that Rob can learn why Finnish schoolchildren outperform almost every other country in the world in math and science. Apparently, this low-pressure system works for kids.
There are no standarized tests until grade 9. Did you hear that parents of children in school in Chicago?
NO STANDARIZED TESTS UNTIL GRADE 9.
Assessments given during school are used by the teacher to help her determine how well SHE is teaching the subject and if kids are getting it. Wow, that's refreshing.
Teachers are well-respected here. A masters degree is required. It is a competitive profession--it's not easy to get a job as a teacher. They are allowed to do their job without much interference from mayors and other non-educators.
Surprisingly, Ms. Megan's biggest concern for Sam is how he will adjust to the American system again. While there is no test to determine what Sam will have learned in math, science, reading and spelling second semester in Finland, he will eventually return to a system that will require him to take a test and if he hasn't learned here what he was supposed to learn at home, she fears he will suffer.
I'm not worried about it. He's in second grade. What's he's learning through this experience can't be tested or assessed. And to me, it's much more important to his future than learning what 9 X 9 is! That's what calculators are for. (This coming from the person who still has to figure out the 24 hour clock in her house by using her fingers!)