School is free in Finland but we still pay for the afternoon care of both, now at separate places (=no sibling discount). The afternoon care of the school child cost us 120e and of the preschool child 189e (Low income / single parents get it cheaper). Both include a snack, they get read to, free play outdoors and indoors. The amounts are very affordable in my opinion but still it will be weird when there is no more need to pay for any care in only a few years time!
Our preschool hours are 9am-1pm but kids have care there 7am-5.15pm, which makes the dropping off and picking up pretty easy to fit into normal working hours. Breakfast is served at 8am for the ones present and that and lunch are included in the price of the care.
Our first grader starts school at 8.15am or 9.15am. On the mornings that lessons start at 9 there is free morning care from 8am, which means I can just make it to work till 8.30am. Kids need to be picked up from afternoon care by 5pm.
Our trilingual children naturally get taught Swedish as they go to a Swedish school. As most Swedish speakers in the capital region are bilingual, the schools offer the mandatory subject of Finnish either as a mother tongue or a foreign language. But on top of that kids speaking English (and other common languages) at home also have the right to 2 hrs of English per week (for free)!
However, “English as a home language” is not offered at all schools, and of course not in ours. So we hade to chose a school and sign our child up separately. But it is also up to us to see that the child transfers in the afternoon to the other school and gets home. We got lucky though, the closest Finnish speaking school has English. Also, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders have English together, so we parents collaborate in taking the kids from one school to another until they soon(ish) can do it themselves.
Hobbies and other costs:
Care fees may have dropped but now with older kids (aged 6 nd 7) we have more hobbies that cost (dance, swim jump, and a parkour course) than before. On top of that many things that used to be free starts to cost at the magical age of 7, things such as public transport and swimming pools. Lucky there are still many low cost activities that we all like, our skateboards and scooters are well used, bikes, walks in the nature, rock climbing in the forest, swimming in the lakes or the sea, crafts, board games… soon it will be time for ice skating and cross country skiing as well!
The most scary part for a mum is the wish of the 7 yo school girl to be more independent. She gets around on her own now, agrees on play dates with her friends on her own (naturally with our permission and still in the vicinity of our home). She and her classmate have already been going on their own to school by scooter. Or I’ve been vetting her from school and while I thenget her little brother from preschool she goes ahead home.
There is now real need for her to go on her own as we still drop off or pick up her little brother from the preschool next to the school, but she wants to and seems responsible, so we’ve allowed it. But still, it is a huge change.
My babies are growing up.