Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools


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When children lead full lives, they should have a warm heart and kokoro-mochi. This also enhances respect for individuality. Children have the potentiality of self-fulfillment innately and develop it in free and spontaneous play activities. His theory was widely accepted by kindergarten teachers and researchers and has become the basic principle of early childhood education.

Following complete destruction during World War II, the new educational system was mandated in Kindergartens were included in the educational system operated under the Law of School Education.

New guidelines of care and education both for kindergartens and day-care centers were enacted in that year. Since then, the guidelines have walked along a winding path to the current version. The first revision of guidelines National Curriculum Standards for Kindergartens in established six domains of educational content; health, social competence, nature, language, music and rhythm, and drawing. In the Ministry of Welfare created the guidelines for day-care centers, in which the kindergarten guidelines were applied for children older than 3 years old.

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Kindergartens appeared that were explicit in giving young children an intellectual education and preparation for success in school. These trends raised various controversies. In , a third revision of the guidelines validated child-centered education as the essence of preschool education.

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The educational contents were revised to five domains; health, human relations, environment, language, and expression. The pedagogy of preschool education since World War II has often been challenged by those who proclaim the importance of the early instruction of intellectual abilities such as numeracy and science. They look at children as future technocrats or eminent experts who will contribute to our economic growth. When children through their challenges discover themselves in interaction with teachers, they can make their way forward with self-confidence.

The major concern of teachers should be whether children behave according to their own will: that is, whether they bring up themselves. Further Readings: Holloway, S. Contested childhood: Diversity and change in Japanese preschools. New York: Routledge; Ishigaki, E. The historical stream of early childhood pedagogic concepts in Japan. The preparation of early childhood teachers in Japan Part 1 : What is the goal of early childhood care and education in Japan?

Education and care of young children in Japan. National Curriculum Standards for Kindergartens.

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Learning to go to school in Japan: The transition from home to preschool life. Hoiku-sha no Chihei Horizons of early childhood professionals. Education and care for children with special needs. International Journal ofEarly Childhood, 30 1 , Curriculum in Japanese Early Childhood Education.

Play is highly valued, because it is an autonomous activity of children. The Japanese concept of curriculum is not one that has children acquire knowledge and skills by systematic teaching programs. We call it experience-based curriculum. The teacher could ask the child to draw a picture of an insect, and also to prepare picture books such as the life of insects or how to keep insects.

It is likely that the child would be fascinated with such activities. We consider this concept of curriculum desirable for early childhood education for it builds the basis for development over the lifespan. Early childhood is the period of life where children enrich their sensibilities, acquire positive attitudes toward various matters, and become aware of concepts of objects and events, through concrete and immediate experiences.

Education in kindergartens and day-care centers sets out to fulfill these aspects of development, and play is a process central to accomplishing this goal. An experience-based curriculum is more difficult for teachers than a goal- oriented curriculum in which achievement goals are set, planned to be attained, and put into practice. However, this demands more competence of planning and a deeper understanding in children than is required in goal-oriented instruction. For these reasons, it is not always successful in practice. The concept of this type of curriculum has a basis in law.

Early Childhood Education

Japanese kindergarten is one of the school institutions that operates under the Law of School Education. The curriculum for children from 3 to 6 years of age in kindergartens as well as day-care centers is based on these guidelines. Here the discussion will be limited to the application of the guidelines to kindergarten education. First, the guidelines regulate the time conditions of kindergartens. In principle, kindergartens should be open no more than thirty-nine weeks a year and four hours per day.

In fact, due to recent flexibility in the application of this regulation, more and more kindergartens accept children for a longer time. In keeping the whole kindergarten life appropriate to developmental stages of early childhood, teachers foster the development of children mainly through play. The principles of education contained in the Guidelines, curricular aims and contents, and the multiplicity of developmental aims with each activity are discussed in more detail below. There are the three principles of kindergarten education: that the lived experience be suitable for early childhood, that a comprehensive education be provided through play, and that education be carried out in accordance with the specific developmental traits of the individual child.

Young children can develop and widen their world when feeling that they are affirmed and loved by adults. In constructive kindergarten life, built on the feeling of trust with teachers, children have interest voluntarily in various things and engage themselves in play, in which they have positive relations to others and events. Teachers have to provide curriculum experiences that assure these aspects of development. In each kindergarten curriculum is developed according to age level. Although one curriculum is applied to all children of the same age level, individual difference is also taken into consideration.

Teachers have to prepare different paths and means according to the developmental stages of each child. What should be nurtured in play, the central process in Japanese early childhood education?

There are five areas of developmental orientation: health, human relationships, expression, environment, and language. The concepts in these areas should not be confounded with those of subjects in school learning. The orientations of these five areas are as follows:. The curriculum should be developed so that children have comprehensive experiences of these five aims in one activity.

A day in the life of a Special Education teacher

An example follows:. Some 5-year-old children are going to organize a relay race.


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They make a course by tracing it with line-marker on the ground. In planning the race, the children find that they need more runners. The children invite their friends to join them.

Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools - Susan D. Holloway - كتب Google

Then they make two teams and begin the race. This sequence of behavior is totally self-governing, and contains many elements. This is the process of making and practicing curriculum in a kindergarten. Evaluation of curriculum examines what aims were realized in their activities and what aims could not be activated. Further planning will be carried out on the basis of the evaluation. Teachers make two sets of curricular programs. The first of these is shortterm, including daily and weekly plans and activities.

The second is the long-term program, containing monthly, semester, and annual plans and activities. What is most important for teachers is to understand children both in the long term and in the short term. It is not easy for a novice to make a short-term program in the perspective of a long-term program. What is the best kindergarten life for development of a young child? It may be one in which, under human conditions that affirm all his or her existence, time, space, and other physical conditions allow the child to do try-and-error as he or she wishes.

The competence acquired through play is a kind of basic living force. It is implicit, and its effect is hard to see immediately.

Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools
Contested Childhood: Diversity and Change in Japanese Preschools

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