Jul 27, 2018
This past year I have been volunteering at the city houikuen, daycare centers, once a month teaching English. It has been a great eye-opener into how Japanese children are raised and the values they are taught. Apparently, the three houikuen where I teach, the values are based in nature and freedom. They aren't meant to be taught there but rather learn from experience. It is great because this means that all the activities are based on having fun and they try to involve the kids in as many activities as possible with the kids learning as they go. I don't think this is too far off from what I've observed at other daycares or kindergartens in other towns I have been to. it is also similar to the younger years in elementary school, but for the other places and elementary school having a bit more structure to their days. The kids go on hikes, they plant vegetables and harvest them on their own, they cook outdoors. When it isn't dangerously hot out, they spend nearly half of their day in the dirt. It is fantastic. They are “taught” to love nature and how to embrace it. The elementary school is also on the same track. Every year the younger grades grow something like morning glories or tomato plants. They care for rabbits or classroom animals. My daughter’s science homework always surprises me just how much more they learn about the natural world compared to what I was taught in school. It all seems more hands-on, testing out things you can see and observe. When my girls studied about electricity, they actually played with currents and batteries. They use mirrors to show how light refracts. In fourth grade, they learned to study the stars and chart them. Until I was in high school in the states, science class never brought me outside of the classroom. It was all from a book. This is one aspect of Japanese education that I love. Keeping the mind curious about the world around us and getting out in it to explore. Because I don't work, I won't be able to have my son go to one of these houikuen, however, I am confident that whatever kindergarten he does go to will still have him dig his toes in the dirt and explore the animals in the rice paddies all around town. It makes me glad he will go to school here in Japan.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too