practitioner chairs in Finland
  • I am a Manager of a chain of English daycare's in Finland. We run the EYFS system and have been battling for years to encourage free flow play in Finnish Daycare. However I was shocked recently when I discovered that in their wisdom the Finnish social office have ordered new chairs for their daycare's. Due to the back problems of staff working with children they have lifted all the chairs and tables to the height of the adult. The children have to climb or be lifted (helping backs?) into the chairs to reach the tables. Once there it is almost impossible to get out without help due to the arms on the side of the chair. So the children are off the floor their little feet resting on a foot bar similar to a baby high chair. These chairs are now in all state daycare in Helsinki and some suburbs. This restricts the freedom to learn even more than before the children cannot even see whats on the tables. Please tell me that this practice has not spread to the UK. I have been in this business for 30 years and was horrified when I saw these chairs in practice, I was told it could become the law for daycare to use these chairs if so then it is time for me to close my doors. I would appreciate and comments and thoughts about this practice.
  • Hello there

    How interesting - no the practice hasn't spread over here, but people are suffering terrible problems as a result of using child sized furniture. Earlier this year we did a big survey about this which may be useful background for you

    I will put a shout out on our bulletin to see if anyone wants to comment


    Hannah Crown
    Nursery World section ed
  • Hi ICEC

    We'd love to know if this is a formal 'ban', i.e. a law, passed by the Government. Are you not able to use child-sized furniture as well? Is the 'social office' part of the Government?

    Our blog on this has been viewed a lot but no comments so far!

  • Hi
    sorry it took a while to reply but this is the information I found out. The chair height is not a law and the social authorities don't think it ever will be. However the social office have made the policy that these chairs will now be in all of the state daycare. She explained this is due to back problems in the industry. The adult sized furniture will be used for all teacher focused activities ( this includes doing puzzles etc ) in the group and for lunch time. Children under 3 will have a safety strap so they do not fall out.
    There are no official guidelines for this so each daycare can have all tables like this or 1 or 2. In the center I visited all tables were adult sized and all the chairs had the children's names on. I see no way this can be done in an EYFS run system or any play and learn philosophy it is a very adult centered world. However I take my staffs health very seriously and we have regular training on personal health and safety within the environment and we provide a work doctor.
    We are looking into an alternate solution to the children being lifted up to the teacher. Has anyone tried out chairs who go down to a child's height. I would love some feedback on this. I feel very strongly that what Finland is doing is wrong. I was excited by the new daycare curriculum that Finland has brought in including that (finally) assessing and observing children is now a legal requirement. But this is a huge set back.
  • Hi
    On the positive front, this may not be the right solution but at least after decades of accepting the seating problem as a given without looking for solutions there is some exploration of possible alternatives. I have been away from full time early years work for fifteen months now and I feel so much more physically healthy. No more back ache and knee problems. I have been working in a forest nursery for some of the time. We sometimes sit on the ground or on logs and spend a lot of time on our feet. Interestingly this for me at least does not seem to bring with it the aches and pains usually associated with working with under fives.
  • Hi
    Is it the sitting that is so much the problem (if using adult chairs that are adjustable) or could it also be the picking up and lifting that's needed in keeping the environment tidy. What we need is a picker upper machine. No matter how much training we give, staff still bend the wrong way to pick stuff up and bending over tables whilst standing is also a problem.

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