The importance of kindergarten classes can’t be emphasised enough: children’s experiences at this stage of school can shape the rest of their educational careers. A leader in early education, Aoba-Japan International School (A-JIS) offers learning opportunities that help young minds blossom.
Explaining A-JIS’s kindergarten curriculum, kindergarten three (K3) teacher Teresa Velez said that children are encouraged to learn in a natural way, motivated by their own curiosity. “We carry four themes throughout the entire year. These are: who we are; how we express ourselves; where we are in place and time; and how the world works. We teach children to enquire and to ask questions. It’s not spoon-feeding; it’s more experience-based. I think Aoba is a good place for them to learn because of this”. Learning goals at the school are achieved using a variety of approaches, with literacy, numeracy and other skills being introduced at learning centres located within classrooms.
Kindergarten classes are grounded in enquiry-based lessons, where the teacher encourages the students to learn through questions. Talking about some recent lessons, Velez explained how play-based learning was used to develop understanding. “The children discovered how to make toys out of recycled materials. Another example was when we were playing rock-paper-scissors. Instead of using their hands, the children used their bodies, so they were jumping around. That was really fun”.
The kindergarten children at A-JIS spend plenty of time outside, and sessions to develop motor skills take place every morning. The children go outside to play, so they feel alert and awake before they enter the classroom. “Even if it rains, even if it’s snowing, we still go outside,” Velez said.
In addition to providing ample opportunities for kindergarten-aged children to explore, gain knowledge and express themselves, A-JIS prides itself on offering services that give parents peace of mind. “One of the unique things we offer is our afterschool programme,” Velez explained. The afterschool programme gives children whose parents are working, or who are unable to pick them up, a place to stay and enjoy themselves.
Velez also spoke about an app called Seesaw, which the kindergarten teachers can use to keep parents informed about their child’s activities throughout the day. “Whatever activity we have at school, we update it on Seesaw so parents will know what we are doing. It’s really easy for them to access as well, because they can use it on their phones. We can send videos, pictures and updates on what we are doing. It is very effective”.
The kindergarten teachers at A-JIS form strong bonds with their classes every year. As A-JIS teaches children from kindergarten to high school, teachers are able to watch children grow into globally minded learners. Velez explained that the most important part of kindergarten is setting the stage for children’s development. “I think children should be enjoying their stay in kindergarten, so they can feel confident pursuing their studies in grade school. We prepare the children with life skills that they will need wherever they go—how to be independent and how to be global citizens”.
Aoba-Japan International School
Hikarigaoka campus: (Age: 3–18 years old)
7-5-1 Hikarigaoka , Nerima-ku, Tokyo 179-0072 | 03-4578-8832
Meguro campus: (Age: 1.5–6 years old)
2-11-5 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042 | 03-5428-4488