| Elina Xu |
HELSINKI (Xinhua) – Physical exercises for pre-school children will generate positive effects on their learning ability and social interaction skills, a leading Finnish researcher said.
In a research conducted by the University of Helsinki, Dr Jyrki Reunamo’s team found that children’s motor competence is connected with positive learning skills.
Physical activity is related in many ways to children’s cognitive, emotional and social competence, Reunamo told Xinhua in a recent interview.
A total of 823 Finnish one to seven-year-old children from 50 day care centres and pre-schools participated in the research, and 18, 366 observations were collected.
The children’s physical activities together with their skills, orientations and learning environment qualities were systematically observed and evaluated, said Reunamo, leader of the research at the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences of the University of Helsinki.
Reunamo speculated that physical activity might be the key to Finnish students’ excellent PISA results.
“Joy and well-being experienced in childhood will produce excellent academic results,” he said.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been evaluating the knowledge and skills of the world’s 15-year-olds every three years through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) since 2000.
Finland achieved top ranking conti-nuously in mean scores of PISA tests in 2000, 2003 and 2006. Because of the country’s steady performance in the PISA assessments, Finland had been lauded as an educational leader in the world for more than a decade.
While remaining above the average, Finland was topped by Asian cities in more recent tests. In PISA 2012, Finland ranked the 12th in mathematics, and was placed the 6th in reading and 5th in science. Shanghai, China took the first place.
The drop set off a heated discussion in the Nordic country, and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture launched a reform programme on basic education aimed to improve students’ learning initiatives.
However, Reunamo was optimistic toward Finnish students’ performance.
Although children in East Asia have achieved great PISA results, if they “want to be even better in Pisa tests, they need to consider children as a whole”, said Reunamo.
The researcher believed children’s learning progress needs a solid basis. “If the children’s well-being and physical activity is not considered, children’s learning skills can not develop fully,” he said.
“Based on our extensive research results we know that Finnish children are more physically active” in kindergarten and pre-school than in East Asia, explained Reunamo. “The fundamental learning skills are tightly connected with a balanced physical activity and personal well-being,” he said.