Back to School – Finnish Experience of remote learning by 50,000 schoolchildren

Schools reopened on May 14 2020 in Finland. Over 50,000 children answered questions about THEIR experience of the two months long remote learning. 

The survey was conducted by INVEST Psychology, KiVa Antibullying programme, University of Turku, Finland.

So here comes opinions of tens of thousands of Finnish school kids. All about how was their experience.

Mostly good experience

Learning from home went well for most kids. Actually remote learning sparked some positive effects. Students were happy for more relaxed schedule, calmer environment and almost one fifth even felt they got more support from teachers than in classroom teaching.

No alt text provided for this image

But also some challenges

Most learning difficulties were experienced in math, foreign languages, and science.

No alt text provided for this image

If the respondents hadn’t completed all the assignments, it was because they hadn’t understood the assignment or didn’t know what to do. Equal amount of respondents viewed that not completing their tasks was due to difficulties in getting started and concentration.

No alt text provided for this image

Almost all the respondents had been helped by their parents or guardians (90%), school’s adults (83%) or peers (69%). The amount of time used for schoolwork varied. Lower secondary students (13-16 years of age) reported difficulties more often than primary school children.

No alt text provided for this image

How was the remote learning organised

There seem to be some differences how teachers have actually organised the remote learning experience. Less than half of teachers were providing one-to-one discussions as a teaching method.

No alt text provided for this image

Escape from Bullying

Nearly half thinks that one of the best sides of remote learning is that there is less bullying. That indicates that that, clearly, bullying affects a great portion of pupils. Almost 6% of the respondents reported that they had been bullied before the school closure. Studying remotely has offered a significant break from bullying for thousands of children in Finland.

No alt text provided for this image

Family life

Around third of the kids said they were having more pleasant times at home than normally, either with their parents or other children. The missing relationship with the teacher or peers correlated with other problems to a greater extent than having to spend the days at home without the presence of an adult. Although many reported missing their friends, 28% of lower secondary school pupils reported that they were relieved not having to be in touch with their classmates.

No alt text provided for this image

However: Some pupils need desperately help and support

Difficulties in peer relations and contacting the school’s adults seem to correlate with the problems in learning, increasing concerns and mental health problems. The number of pupils suffering from loneliness and anxiety seem to have increased slightly, especially when comparing the results of lower secondary students’ answers in this survey to the School Health Promotion study conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in 2019.

Moreover, 12% felt that they had had difficulties in contacting the teacher. Especially these students seems to have had more difficulties in remote learning as well as in mental health and peer relations.

The possibility that problems could accumulate especially among those pupils who have not been in contact with their teacher at all, is worrying. Another worrying fact is that some students haven’t received support although they would have needed it. Of those pupils that felt a need for support from school’s adults with their mental health, 29% reported that they did not get it.


Even the sample group was large, it is quite probable that those children who found remote learning very difficult didn’t participate the survey. If they would had participated, the results could be different.

According to these findings, we should focus especially on individual students and those who haven’t been able to contact their teachers or other school’s adults during the school closure.As expressed by many Finnish teachers, it very important to keep on social relationship with children during school closure and provide the feeling of security and being accepted. It is rewarding to be recognised by getting an occasional “how are you doing” call from the teacher.