‘Lemminkäinen’ Sunday School

‘Lemminkäinen’ Sunday School

This school, which teaches children Finnish, was founded in 1988 almost immediately after the society of the same name was established. At the time there was a great deal of interest in the language among Ingrian Finns, who wished to relocate to Finland. Language courses were offered each autumn, with groups of up to 26 children taking part. The majority of them now reside in Finland.

In 2002 the school was issued with a permit by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research to operate as a Sunday school. Its name, Lemminkäinen, comes from one of the characters in the Finnish epic Kalevala.

The Sunday school curriculum includes Finnish and Ingrian language classes, national holidays and special days, traditional handicrafts, an introduction to the ancient culture and history of the Ingrian people, traditional fairytales and the epic Kalevala, folklore, songs and dances.

The students at the school range in ages, with the curriculum being adapted to their needs. Children from the ages of 5-7 learn the language by singing and playing games, while those aged 8-12 take on more complex tasks and those aged 13-16 undertake serious studies. At the end of each year they all take language tests that help to measure the results of their studies. What is most important is that the children have a sense of their own culture, take an active approach to learning their language and are willing to share what they know with their peers.

The students take part in events organised by the society and sing and dance together as part of a choir and dance troupe at Estonian Ingrian-Finn Song and Dance Festivals. Midsummer festivities in Ingria and Christmas celebrations in Finland give the students the chance to be in a Finnish-speaking environment. The Estonian Union of Ingrian Finns organises language and culture camps for children.