Iceland Children and School
How is school in Iceland?
In Iceland, the children go to school together for ten years. It’s called Grunnskóli here. The students are not divided into different schools. The children start school at the age of six. Many children go to kindergarten, the Leikskóli, beforehand. That means play school. Anyone who would like to go to school after ten years of primary school can attend high school (Menntaskóli) for another four years.
The first foreign language is English in the 5th grade, and Danish in the 7th grade. However, teaching Icelandic itself is particularly important. There are other subjects such as cooking, handicrafts and sewing. Even chess is a subject. And they are also taught on the computer. By the way, they also learn a lot about their ancestors, the Vikings. For example, they also make Viking ships.
Grades are given from 0 to 10. 10 is the best grade, with a 5 you have just passed. The summer vacation lasts for ten weeks! So the Icelandic children can enjoy the long days before it gets dark again early in winter.
When the students arrive in the morning, they take off their jackets and also their shoes. Each child has its own subject for it. You then walk on socks. They meet first in the meeting corner. Then it goes to class. Often two classes study together.
During the break, all students play outside. At lunchtime you can eat in the school canteen. School ends at 2:30 p.m. There is no homework, only sometimes the students have to study something at home. They are given a plan of what to learn in a week. When you do that, you can decide quite freely.
Many schools have their own library. An Icelandic proverb says: Better barefoot than without a book. So reading is very important. Just like singing, by the way. Almost every Icelander sings in a choir.
What are the names of children in Iceland?
In Iceland there is a special form of naming which you can read more about under Names in Iceland. Children in Iceland who are currently being born are particularly often given the first names Katrín, Emilía, Sara, Elísabet, Eva, Emma, Rakel, Viktoría, Birta and Embla as girls. Boys are particularly often named Aron, Alexander, Viktor, Jón, Guðmundur, Kári, Kristján, Kristófer, Jóhann and Róbert. Which names do you particularly like?
How do children live in Iceland?
Most Icelandic children go to kindergarten before school. This is called Leikskóli: play school. Many children go to the Leikskóli at the age of 2. Check localcollegeexplorer to see schooling information in other European countries.
By the way, Saturday is Candy Day in Iceland. Do-it-yourself sweets are then offered at half price. Icelandic children like ice cream too, after all, they live in “Eisland”! Soft ice cream with a chocolate coating is particularly popular. It is eaten all year round.
Since there are only 346,000 people in all of Iceland, many of them know each other. Family life is very important. Children are actually welcome everywhere. How a child lives in Iceland naturally also depends on whether they live in the city or in the country. There are also lonely farms in the country where playmates are far away.
But the weather is the same all over Iceland: cold and windy. But the children are used to that too. In winter they put on thick snowsuits and they won’t get cold. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are also quite normal for them. You grow up with it.
And that goes for trolls and elves too. For Icelanders there is no question that they live close by. Elves look like humans, only much smaller. They live in rocks. Trolls, on the other hand, are huge. You should be careful of them. Incidentally, you can see trolls or their faces in many rocks on Iceland. Many a landscape was named after trolls.
Naming in Iceland
The Icelanders maintain a tradition that was abolished in other Scandinavian countries such as Sweden more than a hundred years ago: the patronymic. It is used instead of a family name. The family name is hereditary.
But the patronymic depends on the father: Gunnar Jonsson is Jon’s son. His son would then be named Gunnarsson again. Another special feature is that girls are also named after their father, but have the addition -dottir: daughter. Jon’s daughter would then be called Anna Jonsdottir, for example. The choice of the mother’s name is less common, but it also occurs. For example, a former Icelandic football player is called Heidar Helguson: Helga’s son Heidar.
The choice of first names is also traditional. There is a list of first and last names that you can give your children in Iceland. An English name like Harriet is not one of them. It cannot be provided with the endings of genitive or accusative, as is common in Icelandic. In documents such as the passport, such children are labeled Stúlka or Drengur – that means girls and boys in Icelandic. By the way, in Iceland people generally use their first names and not “Mr.” or “Ms.” and use their names.
And what are the most common first names in Iceland? For men, these are: Jón, Sigurdur, Gudmundur, Gunnar, Ólafur, Einar, Kristján, Magnús, Stefán and Jóhann. The most common among women are: Gudrun, Anna, Sigridur, Kristín, Margrét, Helga, Sigrún, Ingibjörg, Jóhanna and Maria. All first names were evaluated here in 2012. If you want to know what the most common names for children in Iceland today, have a look at Children in Iceland.
Middle names are also common. So there is a middle name. Then someone is called Jon Arnar Kristjánsson, for example.