Finland, which ranks fifth overall in the latest Unicef report card, scores particularly high in two of the three categories – number one in ‘Child’s World’ (which examines the direct impact of environment on children, such as air quality), and number two for “the world around the child” (which examines the elements of the environment with which a child interacts, such as schools, hazards traffic and green spaces).
It is one of the best performing countries in the world in terms of children’s literacy and math skills, and parents are particularly likely to rate their relationship with their children’s staff at school highly. . Its mortality rate for children aged 5 to 14 is one of the lowest in the world, less than half that of the United States. And the country offers generous parental leave, including eight weeks of paid maternity leave, an additional 14 months of paid parental leave to be split between parents, and additional parental leave that can be applied until a child turns three. . (Legal residents of Finland who have been covered by health insurance for at least 180 days prior to childbirth in Finland, or any Nordic, EU or EEA country, are eligible .)
Hadley Dean is a British father of five who has lived with his family in Poland, the Czech Republic and Finland. His family’s current stay is their second time in Finland, he said, and they are loving it. One advantage is the amount of green space, even in the capital Helsinki (Finland has the most urban green space per person of any wealthy country). But it’s not just the availability of parks that her family appreciates. “What’s different in Helsinki, or in Finland, is that the parks are actually very raw, very natural. They look like a natural forest that goes straight into the city center,” Dean said. “There’s a well-known link between being in nature and not suffering from anxiety and depression, so that’s a real positive.”
What about the dark and cold Finnish winters? They are a price to pay, Dean said. “You get used to it – you dress accordingly, you have spikes on your shoes when you go out – and you make the most of it. And the summers are absolutely amazing, because you have 22 hours of sunshine.”