Schools are starting all over Finland this week. If you are planning on you or your kid having a hobby this fall, you should look for hobby opportunities right now. This is the time of year parents all over the country are doing that so places fill up quickly.
A couple of years ago, we wrote about how Finland offers really great art and music education. So, art and music schools are a great option. For adults, we suggested checking out what your local työväenopisto or kansalaisopisto, adult education centers, have to offer.
In this blog post, we give further suggestions for those of you looking to have a hobby in Finland.
In Finland, there are several different types of entities providing hobby opportunities both to children and adults. As you will see below, clubs, associations, and societies of various kinds play an important role in this. So do municipalities, parishes, and commercial enterprises.
Tip #1 Sports for kids
If your child is interested in sports, sports clubs are an obvious choice to look for a team or a lesson to join. In fact, about 50 % of Finnish kids participate in sporting activities offered by sports clubs at least once a week.
Depending on the sport, joining a regular sport activity can be really expensive. Usually, however, you do not need to sign your child up for an entire year right away. Sports clubs often offer a trial period. That allows your kid to try the sport and club out before making a longer commitment.
To expand access to after-school activities of all kinds, some municipalities now offer after-school clubs for free. Often municipalities have commissioned local sports clubs to hold these clubs. Schools give information about such clubs directly to parents.
In some areas, parishes also offer sports clubs for kids. These are often completely free. They also do not require parish membership. So, even if you are not a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland your child is most likely welcome to join.
The main difference between these different organizers is that in sports clubs doing sports is more goal-directed than elsewhere. Sports clubs often do, however, also offer opportunities to enjoy sports without the pressure of continuous training.
In Finland, the most popular sports among kids are football, dance, gymnastics, floorball, horseback riding, and ice hockey. No matter where you are in Finland, there’s a strong probability that you’ll find at least these offered in your local area.
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Tip #2 Music and art for kids
As we already mentioned, we covered music and art education in Finland in a previous blog. In that blog, we mostly discussed art and music schools. Like doing sports in a club, these schools and their lessons can be expensive.
Art and music institutions, however, are not the only way to have those as a hobby in Finland. Similar to sports, municipalities and parishes in some areas offer art and music clubs.
Adult education centers also offer music and art lessons. While those classes are most often meant for adults, they are often suitable also for teens.
Tip #3 Science clubs for kids
Science clubs are a rather new addition to the range of possibilities. Some universities offer these clubs. Here, for example, is information about the University of Helsinki science clubs. LUMA Centre of the University of Turku has also offered science clubs for kids but they don’t have info on upcoming clubs yet.
Tip #4 Group activities
There are various organizations in Finland that offer different types of group activities for kids and adults. Here are some examples.
4H in Finland also offers leisure activities for kids and young adults. Often these activities focus on Finnish nature and food but not exclusively. They are about hands-on activities and learning new skills. You can search for the nearest club here.
The Martha Organization also arranges activities for kids and families. These are clubs of lessons focusing most often on cooking. Local chapters are responsible for organizing these so availability depends on where you live.
Tip #5 Don’t let language be a barrier to finding a hobby in Finland
Most of the activities we’ve mentioned here rely on the work of volunteers or employees of small private companies. Hence many local clubs, associations, or even businesses do not have information about their services online in English.
Don’t let that stop you. Find out what the Finnish word is for the hobby you are interested in (eg. football – jalkapallo, horseback riding – ratsastus, gymnastics – voimistelu, science club – tiedekerho, and so forth). Use that to google clubs, associations, and services in your area. When you find a contact email address, just email the organization in English and ask for more information.
You can also just walk into a sports facility and look for more information there. Depending on the facility there’s at least a notice board if not a front desk. Both of those have information on classes offered at the facility. For example, ice hockey rinks often offer ice skating lessons. In swimming halls, one can sign up for swimming lessons.
Commercial leisure facilities, such as trampoline parks, may also offer regular classes.
Most likely the organizers will tell you that they don’t officially offer groups or lessons in English. That’s not necessarily a problem since they might be willing to offer occasional guidance or instructions in English to your child during the activity. If the activity is something your child has done before, separate instructions in English might not be necessary after a while anyway.
Hobbies are a great way to find local Finnish friends and acquaintances. This applies to you as well to your child. Either you can join an activity or hobby yourself, join in as a volunteer to engage with your child’s hobby, or contact an organization to offer to teach the skills you have to others.
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