How Studio Ghibli inspired a brand new preschool design. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

We live very close to Studio Ghibli, in fact the new International Preschool we just built is less than two blocks away. Not only are the movies that Studio Ghibli make incredible, the studio itself is remarkably well designed.  Also in the next street is a row of fabulous construction owned by Studio Ghibli which includes a wonderful kindergarten (no, not ours, this one is for the kids of Ghibli staff only) and several classically designed buildings that look like they came straight out of one of their movies.

 

The main Studio Ghibli building spans a corner of two streets and, like our kindergarten, is three stories high. It is a large white building which has been clearly designed to bring in a great deal of natural light, perfect I presume for drawing in pencil. There is a clear glass walkway high up on the outside of the building which connects the second and third levels.  On the eastern side, vines have been allowed to cover the second level, just above the covered entrance where a big black cat can often be seen lying on their doormat. There are round and square windows, many of which jut out in that classic bay window style. As well as allowing in additional light these also provide greater additional interior space and broader outside views.

 

Much of this inspired us to build our own art studio at the top of our kindergarten. On the third floor we built windows all round and put in an additional sky light which provides perfect natural light for drawing, painting, sculpting and project work. The main walls are an inspiring turquoise and light green. It's a very creative space and all the kids love it.

 

I frequently see Miyazaki Hayao, the original founder of Studio Ghibli, when I’m walking my dog or I’m on the bus. My own kids often come home and say that they “saw the old man with the white hair and white beard again today”.  We have taken many friends and relatives out to see the buildings over the years. It's a quiet neighborhood and I guess that's just the way he likes it.

 

Ghibli Museum is also a great inspiration for us. This is situated right next to my daughters school in Mitaka. Here a great deal of wonder and delight can be found for budding artists. Right from the outset you can tell it's a magic place. Huge sculptures from various movies adorn the outside of a multi coloured, very unique building. A roof top garden and wooded area surround the building, which is why I guess, they call it “Ghibli Forrest.” Inside Ghibli Museum, where there is a great deal of open space, photographs are not allowed. There are hundreds of paintings and miniature models of the original scenes from all your favorite movies on the walls and on low lying tables. The realism of this work is truly mind blowing. A life size model of the famous “Cat Bus” is on the second floor for the kids to play in and everywhere are fantastic working models of clocks and bizarre looking machines which look like they were made for time travel. One of my favorite displays is in the dark room where a movie carousel, still characters on a rotating disk, are brought to life as the carousel rotates under lights.  It gives you a real understanding of how the first movies were ever made.

 

Many of Miyazaki Hayao’s movies depict his love of classic houses, both Japanese and Western. His movies are also known for the great empowerment that he gives children. We decided to build a unique preschool which was a hybrid of both Western and Eastern design. The overall feel of our school isa remarkably flexible design with open space and rooms that can be quickly and easily changed into all sorts of various designs, moods and configurations. A high“Power Genkun”  which allows the children to look down upon their parents as they wave good bye in the mornings is also a prominent feature at the front of the building. The overall feel is Classic Western from the outside and a warm home like feel on the inside.

 

 

For many people Ghibli tickets may be hard to come by and you definitely need to book several months ahead. If you live in Musashino and are looking for a preschool, Kindergarten or Daycare for your child you will likewise need to plan several months ahead. As we are an International School, children from all corners of the world are welcome, and once your child is safely inside the door they will, quietly, without noticing it, be gently spirited away. At least until home time that is!

Fever? 8 tips to cool your child down. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

We have all been there. Your child has a fever in the middle of the night. Its frighteningly high, we wonder if we should take them to hospital or risk them getting convulsions.  What should we do?

 

If you live in the Musashino area of Tokyo you will be grateful for the fact that the Musashino Red Cross hospital is a child dedicated and is open twenty four hours. Like many Japanese hospitals, the Musashino Red Cross hospital however is often struggling to cope with many young parents who find themselves in this situation for the first time.

 

As a parent you should always call a doctor if you feel that there is something really wrong. The best thing to do is trust your instincts. As a rule however, if your infant/baby has a temperature of 38c or higher then immediately call a doctor. If your child has a temperature of 40c or more then immediately call a doctor.

 

In my case we did take our infant first born to hospital (Musashino Red Cross hospital), just to be sure. The doctors at Musashino Red Cross hospital reassured us that in most cases the degree of fever or high temperature is not necessarily an indication of the severity of the infection. Its actually the bodies way of building up resistance. In any case,  I’m glad we made that decision, if not only for my own peace of mind.  The Musashino Red Cross hospital and their dedicated staff certainly brought much relief to us that night.

 

Before I go on to the 8 tips about reducing your childs temperature, if your local you may also like to know a few more general points about the Musashino Red Cross hospital. (If you are in a hurry skip the next paragraph).

 

 It is a relatively large hospital. How large? It hosts over two hundred doctors and about one thousand nurses. In some cases the Musashino Red Cross hospital may receive up to twenty ambulance arrivals each day.  The hospital serves more than three hundred and thirty thousand patients per year. It has about six hundred and eleven beds of which thirty are used for emergency use. The Musashino Red Cross hospital also carries out about eight thousand surgeries per year and it delivers about one thousand babies each year. The Musashino Red Cross hospital certainly provides a great community service for people living in Musashisakai, Mitaka, Kichijoji and the Musashino area in general and I am most certainly grateful for its close presence. Most of our parents certainly feel very safe having it located so close to our preschool.  In fact it would most likely take less than ten minutes for an ambulance to arrive at our Sakai location.

 

 

How to bring down your child’s temperature

 

While I’m not a doctor, I’ve since learnt a few more things about kids fever since that night of worry. Bringing the temperature down then obviously needs to be your initial focus.

 

You can try some of the following ideas, but do be mindful of the general rule not to bring your child’s temperature down too much, or too quickly.

 

·      One obvious option that first comes to most peoples mind is to use a wet towel on their child’s forehead or feet. 

 

·      Another, not so well known, is to get them to wear damp cotton socks covered with wool socks.

 

 

·      A most important thing to do if your child or infant is running a temperature is to make sure she is not wearing too many clothes. With the aim of letting the heat out, remove some of her layers. If she is a baby, she should retain her diaper and a light top (preferably cotton). 

 

·      Wrapping your child up may also cause her to overheat, so go easy in this regard. An older child should wear the same amount of clothing as when they are not ill, but if they complain of feeling cold, cover them a little.

 

·      Putting your baby or child in a lukewarm bath will also reduce their temperature. Do not use cold water as this will only lead to shivering which will actually increase your child’s temperature. Sponge the lukewarm water over your child’s forehead and try and keep her in the bath as long as she is interested. Never leave your child alone in the bath. 

 

·      Using a fan in your child’s bedroom is also a good way of reducing her temperature.

 

·      Keeping your child hydrated is also important. We often use sports drink for our older children, but anything your child wants to drink is OK.  Water,  juice, yogurt or milk are some good examples and even a flavored ice block will bring your child’s temperature down.  You can also use vitamin C drinks as well.

 

·      If your child does not want to eat don't make her. However a light meal that is easy to digest may agree with her. As such, its probably best to keep away from spicy food. Also, if your child does not want to lie in bed all day you don't have to make them unless your doctor has recommended it. In most cases regarding fever its better to let your child make some decisions on what they want to do, eat or drink.

 

 

There are also other ways of bringing your child’s temperature down. Some types of medicines for example, but my recommendation is to keep the process as natural as possible, unless otherwise recommended by a doctor.

English Classes for kids? Your too Late! (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

If you are reading this it’s very likely that you are looking for English classes for your eldest child. As we all know, English in Japan is really taking off for kids, particularly now that the Japanese government is pushing schools to start teaching it earlier.  For many of you who are looking this will also likely be the very first time you expose your first child to the English language. After all you want to do your best for your kids and giving them a head start in English classes will give them an advantage in the workforce as adults.

 

Before we take this further lets take a very interesting look at the nature of parenting. Researchers have recently discovered that first born children receive special mental stimulation and care from their parents that second and third siblings do not. The excitement and enthusiasm and the quality of care that first borns receive then drops off with each extra child born after this. This extra care and attention actually goes a long way to making your first born smarter which then results in higher level of education and better paying jobs.

 

Feeling guilty? If this is the case with your family don't panic yet, because there is a way that you can balance things out and make it up to your second child.

 

What I’m about to tell you may be surprising for some readers. If your looking for English classes for your 6 year old first born Japanese child, its already too late. The golden years for learning any language is between the ages of 2 and 6 . Your first born will still be able to learn from English classes of course, but the results will be very different than if they had started at age 2 years old.

 

So while your first born has already received the benefits of your great parenting, they have most likely now missed the opportunity for the best possible start in learning English. Now then, may be the best time to make it up to your second child by enrolling them in an International Daycare, Kindergarten or Preschool. If they become bilingual from the age of 6 years old they will then be on a par with their older brother or sister.

 

While time may prove me wrong, I would even go so far as predict that the Japanese government will eventually begin to push English Classes for children closer and closer to these golden years until it is mandatory for all preschoolers to learn it. At that time, and only then, are we likely to see some really positive results in English at the national level. 

 

So how then does an International Daycare, Kindergarten, or Preschool make your child bilingual by the age of 6? Actually it's a very natural process and one that involves a minimum amount of effort from your child. In fact your child will hardly even notice the process.  Depending on the school, your child may be exposed to 100% English all day, everyday from teachers and fellow students as they study various interesting subjects in depth. Of course there are also formal English classes, involving reading, writing and conversation.  If your child starts learning English from the age of 2 they will then able to study English more deeply at the age of 5 or 6. It is this early learning that may set them up for a life of equal opportunity.

 

Apart from English Schools, formal English classes at Daycare, Kindergarten and Preschool are also used and may involve the following:

 

·      English Classes for children aged 1-2yrs old; The preschool teacher will use a great variety of flashcards to build your child’s vocabulary. Singing will also play a large part.  At this stage listening is what is most important. Phonics are also introduced.

 

·      English Classes for children aged 2 to 3yrs old; They will be exposed to writing through the act of tracing the letters of their name or that of 3 letter words such as “cat” or “Hat.”  Children may be able to sing English songs by memory at this stage.  Words that involve self help skills are also practiced.

 

·      English Classes for children aged 3-4yrs old; The children may have their own writing book for developing 5 word sentences. Craft making may be used to explore various subjects, particularly those that involve self identity.

 

 

·      English Classes for children aged 4-5yrs old; Exploration of various subjects through construction may begin at this level. 10 word sentences.

 

 

·      English Classes for children aged 5-6yrs old; Theatre, design, construction and the use of various disciplines such as Architecture and map making all converge to engage your child’s English abilities.

 

 

·      English Classes for children aged 6 years old; The child will be able to read and write a short story in English on their own. They will be able to talk fluently in English about a large variety of subjects therefore conversation about various topics are frequent. Students are encouraged to do their own research on topics of interest to them.