CURRICULUM

We want to help children grow into their very best selves by supporting them
to develop confidence, curiosity, and independence, in a nurturing environment.

  • Although our light, open space could easily accommodate sixty children, our maximum intake at any one time is eighteen. 
  • We have adopted a multi-teacher approach so our five teachers care for all eighteen students in our learning area at the same time.  
  • Our individualized curriculum means that children develop deeper interests in topics that they care about, and can grow according to their needs.

 

Teaching Style

Multi-age

We believe that, in the early years, growth takes place at each child’s own pace, so our large suite of flexible indoor and outdoor space is shared by all our students. Children learn from other age groups, as occurs naturally in a family, while also spending time in smaller sets appropriate to each child’s personal abilities. We adopt a flexible system to maximize each child’s potential.

Each child is supported to develop healthy, positive interactions with his or her peers. 

 

Bilingual

At Tokyo Children’s Garden, we keep abreast of the latest research in bilingualism so that our students can acquire language skills in the most effective way. Our bilingual environment is a place where children gain language skills in a stress-free, natural way. Alongside verbal directions, we use body language, gestures, facial expressions, signs, and pictures to help understanding.

Research shows proven benefits of being bilingual: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.html

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160811-the-amazing-benefits-of-being-bilingual

http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/cultural-linguistic/fcp/docs/benefits-of-being-bilingual.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322418/

https://www.eb.org/bilingualism/why-bilingualism

 

Inquiry-based

We have created a child-centered curriculum, inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. Our teachers follow flexible learning methods that are responsive to each child’s needs while encouraging them to develop social skills and respect for their surroundings. 

We strive to create a learning community in which children feel motivated and inspired to find knowledge. We encourage the development of critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills: attributes that will be in demand and inspire lifelong learning no matter what our students’ futures may hold. We celebrate individuality and support children to express their ideas with confidence as they explore the world. We equip them with the ability to succeed through practice, by showing them how to learn from their mistakes and improve. This is a method that they will be able to apply to any frustrating situation for the rest of their lives.  

Teachers facilitate learning by providing materials and activities where children can explore and discover through hands-on experiences. Teachers also initiate dialogs with children individually and in groups to stimulate thinking and inspire them to ask questions and share their thoughts. Our students are supported to spend time at learning centers (literacy, science and sensory, math, and art), each with a range of activities to pique different interests—and be enjoyable.

  • Alphabet puzzles and shape stencils promote the development of fine motor skills
  • Foam painting and kinetic sand encourage learning through touch
  • Number activities introduce sorting and patterning
  • Collage-making and Japanese crafts stimulate creativity. 

Our teachers observe students at the learning centers and create projects based on their interests. Through then carrying out these projects at the learning centers, teachers are able to deepen children’s existing interests while supporting them to develop skills in areas such as math, literacy, and creativity. 

Other features of our activity room include a dramatic play area, construction area, and book corner, which is home to a wide selection of English and Japanese children’s books.

 

Multiple-teacher setting

Our teachers work as a team of five, not in isolation. Teacher interaction is a very important part of our curriculum. We provide ample time each day for teachers to engage in conversation with fellow teachers to discuss what they saw and experienced during the day. The reason is that interactions between child and teacher are individual, in the same way that interactions between adults are. For example, a child may be shy with one teacher but it does not necessarily mean the child is shy. By hearing different perspectives and ideas, our teachers can understand each child better and decide how best to support and further his or her interests and learning.

Teacher training is also paramount; teachers receive ongoing professional development in the form of group consultations, workshops, and one-on-one support. 

Our teachers are supported to use positive discipline, which involves encouraging children to try and praising them for their efforts. This supports good behavior through positive reinforcement. By working as a team, our teachers constantly reframe their thoughts about challenging behavior by understanding things from a child’s perspective and seeing the best in each student. 

 

Creativity

We focus on creativity to nurture not only children’s social and artistic skills but also their problem-solving capabilities. As technology and artificial intelligence have started to reduce the demand for formulaic or technical jobs, these skills will become increasingly important for today’s children. We work to inspire students to tap into their imagination and have confidence to express their originality. Through planned play in art, music, movement, outdoor exploration, and reading, we spark and develop children’s creativity, critical thinking, and strong sense of self.


 

Inspiration

We are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, which the organization Reggio Children describes as “an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights, who learns and grows in the relationships with others.” We believe in the inherent potential in each child to learn and grow through his or her experiences and relationships with others. 

In accordance with education expert Howard Gardner’s theory that each person has multiple intelligences, we teach in a number of different ways, thereby tailoring to each child’s personal learning style. Whether strong in visual, verbal, or active skills, children can learn, show that they have understood, and apply their new abilities in other contexts. We believe that if a young child feels valued for his or her individual character, instead of being taught in a one-size-fits-all system, we plant a seed of confidence and happiness that will grow and flourish.  

Tokyo Children’s Garden is also influenced by the principles and ethos of the Japanese education system. We instill our students with a sense of responsibility for themselves and others, a respect for their environment, and an appreciation of beauty. As well as the aesthetics of our school and nearby green spaces we want students to appreciate the inner beauty of Japanese customs. By playing a part in preparing for and eating lunch together, students learn participation, teamwork, patience, and sharing. Moreover, by cleaning up afterwards, they experience joy and pride in taking care of their school.


 

Assessment

Reflection

We email a daily journal to each parent at the end of the school day. By documenting the children’s learning and having it available and visible to them, children can reflect on what they have experienced and learned, allowing them to solidify their understanding by communicating their thoughts and ideas to their family. Looking, revisiting, and reworking are all an important part of the learning process. 

 

Balanced development

By providing many different learning opportunities, our children can explore and discover the world around them, which supports their development socially, cognitively, emotionally, physically, and creatively. Our teachers provide a variety of activities for children to learn. By providing opportunities for imagination, critical thinking, and expression, we hope to give children a solid foundation that will last a lifetime.  

Our school environment encourages children's development through play and gives them a strong base for emergent literacy and numeracy as well as a solid foundation in social, emotional, and physical development. We work with our older children to ensure they are ready for the next stage in their education.

 

Milestones

Our teachers use developmental milestones relating to numerical, linguistic, and social skills, supporting and monitoring each child as they learn while keeping parents up to date with their development.

In our daily journal email to parents, our teachers detail each child’s experiences in text and photos, which is then posted in school for students to reflect on the following day. By explaining how each child develops together, we hope to promote harmony in the school: each child is part of a large and extended family in which children of all ages help each other to grow in a natural way.