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teaching methods in tokyo compared

Teaching Methods Compared

2020-09-02
This school year may have already started, but that's no reason not to have an eye on the future! We've talked in the past about the difference between international and public schools in Japan for children with mixed heritage. Now we want to compare and contrast some educational methods and where you can find the schools that use them in and around Tokyo.
 
All children learn differently and every family has different priorities and needs. We've outlined three common methods - Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf/Steiner - and provided a quick overview of each, to help your family think about which, if any, may be a fit for you!
 
Montessori
What is it?
Developed by an Italian physician in the early 1900s, Montessori prioritizes a "child-centered" education. Classrooms are usually mixed in ages, with a span of a few years represented. Children are given the freedom to explore tactile activities from a list of options. For instance, those learning to read will use sandpaper blocks to familiarize themselves with the shapes and sounds of letters. Teaching isn't formalized instruction, but rather a very personalized assessment of each child's strengths, needs and interests.
 
Which children may benefit?
While all children benefit by "learning from play," a Montessori education might be especially helpful for younger children who are still developing a sense of independence. Montessori can nurture this mindset in a low-stress (letter and number grades and tests are not common) environment that encourages them to learn from mistakes.
 
Montessori in Tokyo
Children's House Montessori in Motoazabu has classes for children from one to six years old. After-school art and dance programs are also offered. The Montessori School of Tokyo was the first accredited Montessori school in Asia. It's located in Minami Azabu and offers courses for children from two to 15 years old.
 
Reggio Emilia
What is it?
This method is similar to Montessori in that it emphasizes a child-led education. The Reggio Emilia method, though, considers interaction with other children and teachers - rather than self-sufficiency - to be an important tenet of learning. Mistakes are not only encouraged but often purposefully elicited so that young students persevere through confusion. Parents are also expected to play a much greater role than in Montessori. They are considered children's "first teacher."
 
Which children may benefit?
Reggio Emilio schools are usually only geared toward younger children. Most have programs for infants and toddlers, and for preschool- and kindergarten-aged children. If your child is particularly interested in arts and other creative activities, this method of learning might be right up their alley.
 
Reggio in Tokyo
Tokyo Children's Garden is in Nishi Azabu and offers classes for children up to six years old. The curriculum is in English and Japanese and purposefully includes aspects of Japanese culture. Kodomo Edu is in Nakameguro and puts an emphasis on art, with several artists on staff. Classes are offered for 2 to 4-year-olds and there is also a course developed for parents of infants and toddlers.
 
Waldorf/Steiner
What is it?
Based on its founder's belief that humans have seven-year development cycles, each stage of Waldorf education is geared toward children in seven-year intervals. Younger children ( 0 - 6 years old) are expected to learn in environments resembling their homes and through the example. Children seven and older begin more formal education (reading, writing, math) while still maintaining a focus on creativity. As students get older, more emphasis is put on traditional academics.
 
Which children may benefit?
If you want your child to spend their entire education in one system of learning, Waldorf schools may be your best choice, as there is an established curriculum for older children.
 
Waldorf in Tokyo
Tokyo Kenji Steiner School in Tachikawa offers classes through twelfth grade. Instruction is in Japanese and the curriculum incorporates Japanese culture and traditions. Yokohama Steiner school is surrounded by nature in Kirigaoka. Classes are conducted in Japanese and offered through ninth grade.
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