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.

12-24 months; Simple baby activities to enhance physical development. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

While I have already done a similar post as this for very young babies, this post is for babies aged 12-24 months.  While every stage of your child’s life is important, with some particular aspects the window of opportunity is not left open for long. This is not to say that you have to be as knowledgeable as a doctor or qualified child care giver, or that you need to be obsessively focused on every stage of your child’s physical development, however playing the role of parent does mean that we need to find ways to keep our kids positively stimulated on some sort of a consistent basis.

 

If you have a baby that is 12 to 24 months old then you may like to consider some of the ideas below as a means to encouraging her physical development.

 

·      When its bath time, try putting a cup in the bath with her. She will be able to scoop the water with the cup and empty it with one hand. This is a great fine motor skill.

·      Play a game of “pick up”.  Put some small toy objects on the floor and encourage her to put them in the toy basket. Doing this will lead her to bend over when picking up the objects. To do this without toppling over is a skill that she needs to practice at this stage.

·      At mealtime give her a spoon and encourage her to feed herself. As well as learning this important self help skill she will also improve her eye-hand co-ordination.

·      Get your baby to connect and stack blocks. This improves co-ordination and fine motor skills.

·      From a standing position support your baby as little as possible and encourage her to walk. Your 13 month old baby will soon be taking a few steps but she will still need support to sit from a standing position at this stage.

·      Get your baby to push a large ball.  This is great for balance, eye-hand co-ordination and will also promote walking.

·        If you have a sand box, or can go to the park or beach, make sand cakes using cups. The constant action of filling and emptying is great practice for little wrists and fingers.

·      Give you child the largest crayon you can buy.  Scribbling is also great exercise for the wrists and fingers.

·      Do you have stairs? Take her up a few steps and then hold her steady as she tries to crawl further. This is good for gross motor and balance. Be sure to close the gate on your stairs when your done.

·      Place two items of heavy furniture close, so that there is a short gap between them. Your baby can use the furniture as support as she takes her first steps between them.

 

 

These are all simple actions which foster both big and small muscle movement. You can come up with an endless variety yourself, of which your baby will decidedly have her favorites. What ever you do, make sure you keep her interested in what is going on around her by switching activities if she shows disinterest or by adding different variations if she is having fun.

 

This period is a very physical time for your baby. Your baby needs to touch , open, close, and explore and manipulate things as much as possible. Give her stimulating things to touch and play with, such as corrugated cardboard, sandpaper, ice or wool. Baby boys can be particularly energetic during this period, so if you don't have much space at home try and get out to the park each day.

 

It is also a time for independence. As she transcends from the security of babyhood to the courageous domain of independence, she will need your encouragement, patience and empathy. Your gentle guidance in this respect will shape her character more than you may expect. The guidance you give her now, in making this transition, will surely affect her for the rest of her life.  What she really does not need is a negative emotional response from you as she attempts to experiment with her will. If you come up against a brick wall so to speak, don't scold her, simply let the moment pass (let her energy expend its self) and then gently try a different approach. A mothers patience is definitely a blessing!

When Your Kids Fight. The 9 Tip Plan for mothers. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

If you are a mother with more than one child in the family its possible that your children have experienced some reoccurring conflict in the past. Some unfortunate mothers may often find themselves in the middle of two fighting children who just don't know how to stop. The frequency of conflict can occur differently for each family depending on a variety of factors such as age, gender and the family situation or circumstances. If you are finding that repeated occurrences are becoming a problem, then it may be a good idea to have some kind of conflict management plan in place.  While this may sound complicated, its really just a systemized way of getting your kids to start looking after themselves. An organized mother (or father) can teach their kids the systemized process of avoiding conflict through good habits. Its far more effective for mothers in the long run to approach this problem at its very root rather than to find themselves constantly frustrated and bewildered as each occurrence unfolds. When it comes to unique learning opportunities this is one that will (quite literally) save you a lot of problems down the road.

 

Conflict resolution is clearly the role of both mothers and fathers. While this plan can be used by both parents, I have most frequently referred to the mother as this parent is more likely to be around their kids more often. This is particularly the case of many young mothers in Japan.

 

In the following several paragraphs I’ve laid out the basic plan. There is no need to try and remember everything at first, as I have then simplified it in point form for you. This is then followed by some further explanation.

 

 

Suppose you're the mother of 2 kids are aged 3 and 6 years old. Regardless of their age, it goes without saying that when you hear your kids fighting you need to then make your presence known to them. This is the first step. Once you are on the scene you can obviously act as a go between by offering some kind of emotional assistance and control over the situation.

 

The second step is to help your kids clearly identify the problem.  Step 3 is to then help each child respond in an appropriate way. Next allow each child in turn to express themselves while encouraging the other to listen.  Then try to teach the older child the difference between assertive and aggressive behavior.

 

Still with me? There are just a few more…

 

The next step is to discuss the choices that your older child makes while steering her in the direction of empathy.

 

 

The 7th step for mothers is to acknowledge your 6 year olds attempts at resolving the conflict. Feed back such as this is great for self esteem and this offers your child the encouragement to try again in the future.

 

Finally, decide on the best option for everyone, and, once you have decided on the best way to meet both the children’s needs, you need to set the option in motion and monitor the results.

 

Did you get all that?

 

Of course, nobody said parenting is easy and this is particularly true for mothers.  This plan may certainly not go as smoothly as I have described it at first, but by having this plan clear in your mind you will have a working structure to steer you in the direction of (wait for it…..) Patience.

 

 

“Patience is bitter but the fruit is sweet”- Jean Jacques Rousseau

 

 

Patience, is indeed a virtue, but this does not mean it has to come naturally. A little scaffolding in the form of a plan such as this can be very supportive and will definitely be greatly more effective than just yelling at your kids.  As you work the plan, each time will become a little easier, until one day you just might notice that the kids are actually doing it for themselves!

 

 

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month, it is created little by little, day by day.”  -Heraclitus

 

 

 

Once again, here are the tips in point form.

 

 

1)   Step in and offer emotional control.

2)   Help them identify the problem.

3)   Suggest ways to respond.

4)   Keep them talking but focus them on listening.

5)   Help them understand the difference between “aggressive and assertive”.

6)   Discuss choices and talk about empathy.

7)   Acknowledge their efforts and offer positive feed back.

8)   Decide on the best option for everyone.

9)   Monitor results and adjust accordingly.

 

 

1)   There is a very good expression that says “Hurt people, hurt people”. This is especially true for kids.  Dropping your mothers calming influence into a volatile mix of emotions will stabilize the situation enough for the next step. Be sure to pay attention to your tone of voice and try to keep it neutral.

 

2)   By helping them identify the problem you are essentially refocusing their line of thought. Switching them from an emotional state to a considerate frame of mind is a habit that can be soon learned through repetition.

 

3)   Suggesting ways to respond supports steps one and two and role models examples to move them further away from their emotional state and further toward solving the problem.

 

4)   A focus on listening rather than talking will open them up to possibilities beyond their current frame of reference. This is particularly relevant for the older child. Gently coax her to listen for an opening, or a way out. Kids are very intuitive and you may be surprised at just how quickly your 6 year old catches on.

 

5)   Giving them a feel for the grey boundary between “aggressive” and “assertive “will give them a mental space to aim for.  As you continue to repeat this step for each occasion add more and more examples to concrete your child reference point. Over time they will form a reference solid enough to support real confidence.

 

6)   As mentioned, most of this work needs to be done by the older child. Discussing choices will empower her, but rather than use this against her younger sibling we need to channel this into the right understanding. Talking about empathy will direct her down this path. Remember that this is a great learning opportunity, so don't make her feel like a failure.

 

7)   For a 6 year old this is a lot of hard work. Acknowledging her efforts makes it so much easier for her to keep up the good work and offering positive feedback will encourage her to take the initiative to solve future conflicts without your intervention.

 

8)   The “Best option for everyone” largely revolves around being able to save face for all those involved. Some of what goes on will slip passed a very young child, but from the age of 3 a strong sense of self will have developed. Preserving both your children’s dignity by avoiding humiliation or embarrassment is a very important aspect of maintaining their positive self identity. The older the child, the greater their need becomes.

 

9)   Monitoring the results means keeping aware of the feelings of both children. Younger kids have the ability to let go of emotional states relatively quickly, where as an older child may take longer. Nobody knows your kids like you do, so listen to your intuition and provide more explanation and direction where necessary. Giving your child real life examples from your own childhood will be greatly appreciated by your  children as they move beyond the age of six.

English Daycare/Preschool 7 points to consider when choosing a school (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

If you are just starting out on your first quest to find the right English speaking Daycare/Preschool for your kids, I hope that this post aids you in getting there. Its a basic guide, but it may be seen as a relevant position from which to start. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding on which English Daycare or Preschool to send your kids. The bulk of these can be broken down into seven main points. These are;

 

·      Location of the English Daycare

·      The English Daycare Facilities

·      The English Daycare Fees

·      Distance from home to the English Daycare

·      The English Daycare Teachers

·      Reputation of the English Daycare

·      The English Daycare Program

 

1) Location of the English Daycare; Lets start with the first on the list, location.  This is often the first thing parents will consider and this is often done in regard to safety. What are the safety concerns? Lets have a look. Firstly, is the school located on a busy main road? (a big problem if your child finds their way out the front door!) Is the school located on solid ground? (Stable ground will keep the building upright in the case of an earthquake) Also, how close is the daycare to local emergency and evacuation facilities?

 

2) The English Daycare facility; The facility itself is also another big thing at the top of most parents lists.  A clean, safe facility with plenty of space is what most people are looking for. More often than not this has a lot to do with the buildings age. You also want good heating, ventilation and lighting. Are there smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in each room? Are power points covered? Are toddlers prevented from climbing the stairs? Another important question to consider is whether strangers can walk in off the street.  It is also very important that the children have access to a stimulating outside play area on a daily basis.

 

3) The English Daycare fees; Unfortunately the daycare fees are an area where many young parents come unstuck. Some English Daycare operators are prone to having hidden fees, or overly complicated contracts which lock you in to paying overt amounts should you decide to leave. In many instances unsuspecting parents don't come to fully realize just how much money they will loose until this time. Don't get caught out, make sure you can leave the service anytime with your money still intact.

 

4) The distance from home to the English Daycare; This particular point has its own special relevance because it's the one point that needs to be considered in relation to all the other points. Everyone wants their daycare to be “close to home”.  However, if the Daycare has most of the good qualities that you are looking for in a school, you could certainly consider it to be close, simply because the alternatives aren’t to your liking. Would you take your child to a poor Daycare/ Preschool purely as a matter of convenience? Most parents would not and will happily go the extra mile for their child’s safety and prosperity. 

 

5) The English Daycare teachers;  When it comes to childcare a teacher with a degree in mechanical engineering is not going to do you much good just on their own. They should at least be working alongside a Qualified Child Care teacher for guidance. Childcare is a serious business and it’s certainly not worth the risk to leave your child in the hands of unsupervised amateurs. 

 

There is a very quick and easy way for parents to find out about the teachers at the school. By asking how long each teacher has been at the school, and their qualifications, you can build a rough idea about the culture of the school. School culture is something that is very hard to hide. If the teachers are all leaving after one year on the job, the culture is likely nonexistent with poor working conditions. This is bad, bad, bad, for your child. Good teachers emanate from a good working culture and this in turn will provide staff that have the incentive to continue working in the company. The longer they stay the more the more the teacher learns, resulting in a more stable childcare environment. This is exactly the type of environment your child needs to develop confidence and security.

 

How many qualified staff are there? Are they CPR Trained? Note how the staff interact with the children. Is the atmosphere welcoming and caring? Staff should be of good character, responsible, and enthusiastic.

 

6) The reputation of the English Daycare; If the school has been in business for more than three years then it has passed the first market test. Many poorly run businesses will not make it past this point. If it has been in business for ten years then it likely has a good reputation. Even fewer businesses last past the ten year mark. A business that has been going for fifteen or so years, and is still growing, likely has a very good reputation.  Any business that has been going for this length of time will also have left a trail of reviews (good or bad) somewhere on the internet. Do your homework and see what you can dig up. If you have any concerns mention them at your school interview. It is also a good idea to approach other parents at pick up time to get their opinions.

All professional Schools will have established policies, regulations, and procedures for everything. (e.g. They should have a fairly strict sick child policy, a policy for allergies, hand washing, toileting procedures, etc ) If they refuse to openly show you all of these be cautious. While its not likely that they will provide you with full copies of their entire operation manual, they should at least be able to provide you with selected policies if you ask for them.

 

7) The English Daycare program; There are many different types of programs.

To sort through what’s best you need to have a clear understanding of what you most desire for your child. This may sound a little scary, but when it comes to childcare there is usually some form of unresolved problem that you can see your child facing as they mature. What sort of adult do you want to your child to grow into and what sort of world are they likely to be facing as adults? These are big and far reaching questions that we need to consider now, because while there are many factors that will determine the outcome, we need to remember that a great deal of a child’s personality and thinking is determined by their first eight years of life.

You get from point “A” to point “B” by making a series of decisions that best suit your child’s growing needs along the way. Selecting the childhood program is the very first important step along this path. For example, do you value creativity and a positive can do attitude? or is careful selective thinking your preference? How about a leaning towards mathematics? Daycare, preschools and kindergartens provide solutions towards these  problems through the type of program they provide. As a very basic guide you want a stimulating daily routine, that involves outdoor play, quiet time (reading), and group and individual sessions that are developmentally appropriate.

7 Tips to encourage your child to read and write English at home. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Many educational experts agree that the time to start the introduction of reading and writing is in the early preschool years. This includes the reading and writing of English. Over the last ten years the introduction of International Preschools, Kindergartens and English Schools in large cities such as Tokyo has more than tripled due to rising demand from parents who want to give their child the bilingual experience.

 

Why is reading and writing English so important for the bilingual child? Clearly it is these skills which are at the very foundation of success for future learning in the language. For many non-native children it is the beginning of meaning making in another language besides their own. As their school days progress the reading and writing of English will increasingly come to play a major part of their school curriculum. This is also now a particular educational trend in Tokyo.

 

While your child’s educational facility, be it Daycare, Kindergarten, Preschool English school or Elementary school, will (or should be) introducing English to your child in some form, it is important to provide extra support and added consistency at home. Parent involvement is crucial in this respect.

 

Following are 7 tips to get you prepared for support in terms of reading and writing English at home.

 

·      Be a good English role model: The best way to do this is to simply take an active approach. The role model parent doesn't necessarily need to be fluent in English. Just collect a range of simple English books to read at bed time. Point out the letters in the print. “Look here is an H for Harito” (Your child’s name).  Answer their questions as best you can. Your child will be interested by the very fact that you are interested too.

 

·      Try and learn one new English word every night. Habit is what makes us all. A child’s mind is like a sponge and over time this can open up to some amazing results, particularly in your child’s attitude and desire to learn more.

 

·      Don't be put off by scribbles. Scribbling is the first stage of writing taking place. If a child does a whole page of scribble and then reads it to you this is a momentous moment! Its their way of telling you that they understand that print has meaning.

 

·      Encourage older kids to write (English) rather than draw. While they have pen in hand this is your opportunity to redirect them. If this is unsuccessful get them to write their name and address in English on each picture they do. Explore and experiment with English print by using upper and lower case letters.

 

·      Create an English reading area for your child.  Make sure you have at least one bookshelf in your house with a special, lower, accessible section, for your child’s English books. Collect a wide range of different English books that you, yourself are able to understand. (If English is not your native language) Set up a reading corner for your child. This may include a nice mat, bean bag or cushions by the window. Magnetic boards with ABC’s and numbers are a worthwhile addition to your preschoolers reading space.

 

·      Label everything at home in English. It's a great activity to sit down with your child and create English labels together. How about a pin up board of photographs with English Labels? Or a family album? When young children see their parents writing in English (Even if they have to check the spelling on their smartphone) they then become interested and get a shared sense of enjoyment.

 

·      Don't be afraid to allow supervised tablet use for English. Tablet use can also improve the development of your child’s English. In this day and age parents now need to shift their focus from “screen time” to “screen quality.” Used in conjunction with ideas such as those outlined above, supervised tablet use can enhance conversation, reading and writing. In general its best to carefully select apps and check that they are developmentally appropriate. In Australia, introduction before the age of 3 is now regarded as ok.  A 1 hour time limit is recommended for children aged between 18 months and five years. Parental time guidance is recommended for children aged 6 years to 18 years. Consult with your teacher at Daycare, Kindergarten/Preschool or English school to get app recommendations for your child’s English level. Take an interest in playing apps with your child. Getting involved is a great way to bond and it will help you make decisions about the quality of the app. Encourage your child to then apply the English that they have learnt on the tablet to an outside situation. For example write new words on a notepad or verbally practice them in daily situations.  

Why does my child behave negatively? (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Occasional negative behavior is obviously normal for most young children, however when negative behavior becomes consistent in children this is their way of communicating an unmet need.

 

One important area of focus in this regard then is the child’s daily routine. This could be a Daycare, Kindergarten or Preschool routine or it could be a home routine. This article focuses on the home routine.

The “Home Routine” is the general order of routine activities that your child goes through as their day progresses. It includes activities both inside and outside the home. There may be main activities such as lunch and naptime, which rarely change, plus other events, such as toileting for example, which change over time. This routine is one of the main ways that your child’s daily needs are met.

 

If you think that your child’s home routine may be linked to  a negative behavioral problem its worth a quick analysis to see what’s missing. Are there any long periods of time where your child has to wait, entertain themselves or have nothing to do? If they are left completely to themselves this is where negative activities can be chosen over boredom. Your child’s home routine needs to flow, not stall. Kids like to be engaged in a balanced way. Restless and frustrated kids need to use up their energy somehow and if they are not directed they will use their creativity to entertain themselves. Negative behavior can be the end result.

 

Following then are some tips about your child’s home routine that may be the cause of negative behavior.

 

·      Are parts of the your child’s home routine too short? Do they allow your child to fully immerse themselves in any one activity? Our Joy of doing something comes from the experience of concentration. If you take this away too soon, by repeatedly redirecting them to another activity or event before they have had time for a sense of completion, then this is going to have a detrimental effect.

 

·      Are there too many or not enough toys? Too many toys can lead to indecision and dissatisfaction. (Try rotating them in boxes) Not enough toys can lead to wanting. Either way negative behavior in your child can be the result.

 

·      Are toys, materials or equipment enhancing creativity? Kids need to be constantly challenged and stimulated. Preferably choose toys that allow maximum creativity during their play period. Building construction blocks, modeling or paper clay, paints and a variety of stimulating craft materials such as corrugated cardboard, coloured beads, and natural items from the park all help to challenge a young mind in various ways. Older children may be super keen to use the computer tablet in your house. Regulate their time and stick to apps that require their input or better still games that require problem solving and design /development skills (Minecraft for example, if your child is in elementary school)

 

·      Is there a lack of daily outdoor activities? If your child repeatedly spends time indoors all day this can lead to negative behavior. You need to make part of your child’s daily routine outdoors for at least an hour each day. (Minus the occasional rainy day) It's a proven fact that lack of outdoor experience leads to negative behavioral problems in children.  Its been shown that outdoor experience lowers anxiety and boosts self confidence. It even leads to improved language retention.

 

·      Are you flexible with your child’s routine? As the supervising parent you need to be flexible with your child’s home routine. Cut a routine activity short if your child looses interest, extend it if they are having fun.

 

·      Is your child’s environment consistently messy? Perhaps its your house (heaven forbid) or in particular your child’s bedroom. (I know I have this problem!) Mess can cause confusion and frustration and lead to dissatisfaction and negative behavior. Assist your child in cleaning up regularly, it keeps everyone happier.

 

·      Does you child’s home routine change much? While I’m not suggesting that you be a “Super Mum” by micromanaging every single minute of your child’s home routine, your child will appreciate a certain amount of variety throughout her week. This may mean that as the supervising parent you should put in some degree of forward planning and organization. Take a balanced approach in the number of activities and be consistent. Leave some time for free play to as too many activities may stress your child and also lead to negative behavior.

 

·      Watch the transitions. A transition is the period of time it takes to switch between activities. If your child is trying to communicate an unmet need it is often during a transition that negative behavior will occur. Moody children often dislike transitions therefore transitions usually require that you have a few tricks up your sleeve. Modern mums will always be tempted to use their smartphones during transitions but here are a few other ideas to fill this gap. 1) On the train? Have a little book ready to read to them rather than have them jump all over the seats. 2) Waiting at the doctors? Tell them a family story that your parents told you when you were a kid. 3) Is your child too tired to walk? Pep them up with a sweet or two. 4) Having a few hand games at the ready can also redirect a moody child. While these ideas aren’t exactly breaking news they do highlight that the more prepared you are the easier the transition will be.

 

Of course it goes without saying that as your child grows their routine will need to be adjusted gradually to suit their developmental milestones.

 

Its important to remember that repeated negative behavior is your child telling you that they need something. Try to find out what that something is. Perhaps they need to feel more in control or perhaps its more attention that they need. It maybe that they need more certainty or affection or to feel safe. Its up to you to find out what their need is and aim to fulfill it so that their negative behavior will cease. 

6 Tips to boost your child’s learning through play (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

I’ve said it before in previous posts. Play is the very best way for a child to learn anything. A child will absorb more information effortlessly if it is done through their own playful interests and in their own time. As play is the key to learning, lets take a look at what you can do at home to assist your child to learn more from play.

 

Firstly children can, and do, learn a great deal from solitary (independent) play, particularly in the early years before the age of 2. Its around this age however that young children also get great social benefit from playing with others. If your child is this age it’s certainly time to try and connect with other mothers in your community. This is obviously a great way to share your knowledge and let your kids play together at the same time.

 

Once your child reaches the age of 3 the benefits of play between young children become increasingly obvious. The children feed off each other’s energy and learning becomes enhanced. As great deal of play knowledge is realized through some form of imitation it can be useful to know how to extract the best out of each play activity as it arises. Here then are 6 tips to boost your child’s learning even further as they play together with friends.

 

·      Reflect what is happening as they play; Make a verbal statement that summarizes what the children are doing together. (or at least what your child is doing) “Kaito, those camera’s you are making with Lego blocks look great, can I take a picture?” While kids may understand the basics of what they are doing, a verbal summary from an adult confirms and validates their actions. An affirming statement says “Yes, I approve of what you are doing.” As well as providing an important frame of reference from which to build, this form of emotional support and encouragement promotes confidence, which brings new energy into the situation.

 

·      Ask open ended questions as they play; This will help you to discover more about what your child is doing and thinking. As open ended questions encourage a longer and more detailed answer it opens you up to full and meaningful insights that will come direct from your child’s feelings and knowledge. With these details you will then be able to move on to tip #3.

 

·      Provide more information as they play; In order to build on the play (and therefore the knowledge) that the children are experiencing you can provide more information.  “Kaito, If you make your camera bigger you could use it to take movies for T.V.” Kaito and his play buddy then learn something specific and this also prompts tip #4.

 

·      Introduce a change of focus at the right time; Your new information (bigger cameras are used for T.V.) is then added to the past experience (making cameras) to make the play move in a new direction and thus extending its energy. For example, perhaps the children will then start filming a T.V. show. This step is helped by good timing. The time to introduce a change of focus by introducing new information is when the old topic (making Cameras) has reached its peak level of interest.

 

·      Offer direction with encouragement and support; Ideally you should just uncover the new information and leave it for the kids to pick up. However if the kids don't pick it themselves you can then make a suggestion. “If you use the larger bricks in the box over there you can make it bigger and be a T.V. cameraman.” Again, its ideal if the kids choose their own play activity, so that they can feel that they “Own it” but suggesting the direction of new play is certainly also beneficial because adding support and encouragement in this way will also greatly boost your child’s self esteem.

 

·      Help your child move beyond current understanding; As your child’s play progresses various opportunities will arise. For example if the children then started to pretend to “make a movie” you could help them by organizing additional props that they could use. Dads shirt and tie? A cardboard box car? Or perhaps a broom stick microphone? The beauty of play is that it can end up anywhere.

 

The above simple steps can be routinely used to enhance your child’s play experience and boost their learning to higher levels. Some of these will come naturally to you as you watch your child play however making a conscious habit with those that don't can make a tremendous difference to your child’s learning over the long term. Its also important to let the kids feel in control of what they are doing and the key here is to make sure that safety and fun are always the dominant aspects of any play activity.

Routine, the key to your child’s self confidence. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

If your child got upset today there is a very good chance that his or her routine was clearly challenged. Its true, all of us have expectations and when these are not met even adults can be left feeling low.  Routine is so important for young children. In fact it could be argued, its responsible for holding their whole world together. Routine is indeed the key to your child’s self confidence.

 

 

Principle 27 of the National (Australian) Childcare Accreditation Councils document “Putting Children First” says;

 

“Routine activities such as eating, toileting and resting/sleeping provide security for children who do not yet understand the abstract concept of time. Routine activities divide the day into blocks of time and form a reference point for other activities that occur during the day, and this is important for a child who is developing self confidence and trust.”

 

I can do it

 

Ok, so now you should be asking;

 

“If its true then that routine is indeed the key to my child’s self confidence, then what is the most important thing to understand about their routine?”

 

I’m glad you asked.

 

Assuming then that your child’s home routine is age appropriate, here is the most important point about routine.

 

The more that your child is able to self-manage their routine the better.

 

It used to be that adults made all the decisions for young children. While some parents still do, most accept that some level of autonomy is good for a child’s self confidence. While most of us agree these daysthat kids need to make choices for themselves, a certain degree of balance will always be needed however. On the occasions when disharmony occurs from these choices, be sure to give your child another choice that will bring the situation back into balance. In other words, if your child’s choice is not appropriate be sure to discuss it further in such a way as to not erode your child’s self confidence.

 

 Steps that lead to a child’s self confidence

 

Part of the reason routine is so important is because

it encourages your child’s self help skills and this in turn leads to greater things. Self help skills are the skills that your child performs that are related to their own care. This then forms the beginning of self reliance. The constant repetition of a task or event will allow self reliance to build and as your child is able to better herself both physically and emotionally, without your help, the transformation of independence then takes place. This then forms the very foundation of your child’s self confidence.

 

 

As suggested above, routines enable children’s physical and emotional needs to be met. If you have two or more children you will notice that due to their age difference and individuality their routine needs are clearly different. It therefore does not make sense to have the same home routine for both your kids- unless of course they are twins!

 

Explain its purpose

 

Here is how to start your child off when introducing any new aspect of a routine. Always explain its purpose. “We cant play at the park after kindergarten on Wednesdays because daddy gets home from work early.” If kids (or adults) know why they can or cant do something they will be more motivated to accept it. Even if your child is still too young to understand your words they will still understand your tone of voice and experience the emotion behind them, so its never too early to start this practice. Keep in mind that your child’s self confidence is a subconscious process that begins quite early in life.

 

 

There is no need to explain every routine all the time, just do it as the opportunity arises. The opportunity for this is when your child is most interested. They may ask questions such as “Why are you doing that?” You need to be ready for such questions. Try and give your child full answers as to why this new aspect of the routine needs to be done.

 

Another way to boost your child’s self confidence is through inclusion. As we all like to be involved in things, give your child choices and then include their preference into the new aspect of the routine.

 

As a final point most parents instinctively know that their child’s routine should be orientated to the rhythms and times of their offspring but sometimes things don't work out that way. Where ever possible be sure to time your child’s routine to match sleepiness, hunger and age.

Six Child Care Car Tips that may save your child’s life (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Lets start with the most obvious first. The most consistently important rule to driving in any situation is always going to be to put on your seat belt. Adults understand this but young children often don't. Child care must involve reinforcing this basic message.  Its so important to tell your kids from the earliest age. The wise will keep reinforcing the message day after day.  Obvious? Yes, but its also the most vital. Its so important in fact that I’m going to rephrase it. As a parent this really could be your most important Child Care responsibility ever, and one that you can not afford to neglect. Of all the children who die each year due to car accidents around the world, around half of these young lives could have been saved by wearing a seat belt. Always periodically check that your child has not undone their belt or that an older brother or sister has not undone it for them.

 

Also; Do not put two kids in the same seatbelt. Do not put and adult and child together in the same seatbelt. Do not carry a child on your lap. Any of these actions could result in serious injury or death in the event of an accident. Child Care does not mean doing what is convenient.

 

 

Another big killer of children is driver fatigue. Perhaps you have had a weekend of fun in the snow and are about to return to your home in the city?  Or perhaps its summer on a very hot day and you have been driving for hours to your favorite camping spot?  What ever the reason, don't take unnecessary risks. As the driver of a vehicle Child Care extends to your own well being. Take frequent rest stops to freshen up or switch drivers and if its hot by all means make sure your family drinks plenty of fluids.

 

By the way, if you are on a weekend camping trip its likely that you have your car piled up with all sorts of gear. Its important in this case that you are able to clearly see out the back window. This type of situation can also be particularly dangerous if you don't have a cargo barrier. If an accident occurs many flying objects can become lethal missiles, putting your child in real danger. Even light objects can cause terrible injuries. If you want go camping and your car does not have a cargo barrier it may be best to hire a car that does. In general it’s also wise to always remove unsecured items from the rear of your vehicle.

 

Parents on camping trips are generally inclined to keep their kids occupied while in the car. They talk to them, sing songs and play eye-spy games. But how about in general day to day situations as we drive about with the kids? Habitual Child Care, especially that related to vehicle use, creates useful momentum, so during these times be mindful of keeping the kids occupied. Kids can other wise be very distracting if left to their own devices. Arguments or boisterous playing around can make driver concentration very difficult at the best of times.  Having family games like “Spotto”  (I see a yellow car) and similar games help direct kids attention when they are together. Car time can also be a great opportunity for family discussion that may other wise not take place. Why not make a note of some thing nice to focus on each time you go out?

 

We have all heard of the unfortunate deaths of young children who have been left in vehicles on a hot day. It doesn't take long for a vehicle to heat up, even if the window is half down. Where ever possible bring your kids with you when the weather is hot and never leave young children alone in a vehicle as many accidents have occurred where young children have set a vehicle in motion.

 

The time for autonomous vehicles is almost upon us. When that occurs putting the kids in the car will take on a new, and ideally safer scenario. Until then however we must always be vigilant in our on road care, for our children’s sake. 

Learning through Block Play (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Block play creates wonderful opportunity for learning in so many ways. When children place blocks in various arrangements both fine and gross motor skills are developed, muscles are exercised and creativity is utilized. Your child’s imagination is given free reign as he/she makes towers, houses, roads and towns.

 

Thus, with block play a whole variety of other learning opportunities take place.  The building of towns may be seen as the beginning of social studies. Children can even replicate their own neighborhood and as they represent each structure their problem solving skills come into play. How to make a bridge? A tunnel? Are long blocks better than short blocks?

 

Stay close to your child as they play. Ask them “How many red blocks are there?” “How many blue?” Sort out the shapes and colours. Thus the beginnings of mathematics can also be understood. Besides counting you can also weigh and measure.

 

How about language skills? As your child plays, shoot a short movie of them as you entice them to talk about their creation. What is this? Why is it there? Use open ended questions which will require expanded answers. Talk about block shapes, sizes, colours and patterns, straight lines and towers. Encourage descriptions of all type.

 

A boy or girl, almost all kids love block play. You don't have to buy expensive blocks for your children to play with either. Why not make them at home with your kids? You can clean out and dry used milk cartons then paper mache and paint them. Try folding the ends flat first and then use woodworking glue and news paper strips to cover each carton. Give them a day to dry and then help your child paint them. You can even draw windows to create individual buildings too. Add different sized boxes to the mix and you can do all sorts of things.

 

The quickest way to make your own block set however is to buy scrap wood from your local timbre yard or DIY store. Cut them to size (in most cases the store will do it for you) and then clean them up and paint them.

 

Encourage your child to build in a creative space where they can return to play with it day after day. Block play results in a sense of completion. It encourages many skills and it is great for building hand-eye co-ordination, self esteem and self confidence. 

Koganei Park BBQ (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Family time for most of us is precious, and the best of these times are when we are all at our most relaxed. In my experience one of the very best ways to do this is to take the spouse and kids for a BBQ in a really great park.

 

The best time to have a Koganei Park BBQ is generally between April and September. However as the years are warming up this period is also now creeping into late October.

 

For many years the Koganei Park BBQ facilities were very limited, but since around 2014 the park has upgraded the area with a shop and specially marked BBQ zones. These are located among shady trees not far from the South entrance.

 

It used to be that anyone could arrive and pitch a place, but these days you have to make a booking. If you have a large group its possible to book several areas side by side.  You can book weekdays and weekends but be warned that, due to its popularity in peak season, it’s wise to book your weekend BBQ early.

 

The shop stocks frozen meat and all the BBQ equipment that you may need to hire, including BBQ’s, tables, chairs, tent shelters and boxed charcoal. Alcohol is also available. If you are on a budget or particular about your choice of meat, its recommended that you go to your local supermarket first. Also the actual BBQ area is laid out on dirt so you will need to bring your own groundsheet.

 

 We have a Koganei Park BBQ every year in early summer. The parents and kids always end up having a great time and it's a great opportunity for staff to share and catch up on family events and news while the kids run about and climb trees. Due to the nearby location of the local Asia university there are often many young people also having a good time. Everyone gets on well and we always come away with the feeling that it was really great to get together again in such a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

 

After our BBQ some parents also take their kids off to a super location within the park which has jumping hills, flying fox and adventure playground.  There is also a basket ball court and a large grassed field is in front of the BBQ area which is great for ball games, badminton, or any event you care to organize.

 

 

The best time to have a Koganei Park BBQ may coincide with the hay fever period. If you suffer from hay fever, it's a good idea to take medication before you go. Tokyo can be bad for sufferers at the best of times but the extra pollen from grass and trees in the early summer months can leave you feeling a little uncomfortable.

 

If you are coming by car, there is a car park area by the south entrance. If you are lucky enough to be within bike riding distance Koganei Park is also a great place to cycle. You can also hire bikes for your little ones if you are teaching them to ride. There is a special track here for this, but you may want to just let them loose on the inner grass field, were they will be less likely to hurt themselves if they fall off.

 

At the end of the day there is special BBQ pit to put your hot coals in alongside a facility to wash your equipment.

 

Koganei Park BBQ’s are awesome and a great part of local city life.  It’s always a great day and it’s Tokyo’s second biggest park! Our Preschool/Kindergarten is located just around the corner, see you there!

Raising half/half children; Sharing information between home and school. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Are you raising half/half children? This is the Japanese term for kids who are half Japanese and half non Japanese, usually with a parent from each culture. Presuming you are looking to place them in an international school, here are a few things worth noting in regards to school/home communication.

 

Raising half/half children is a unique family situation. While all schools should accept families regardless of their circumstances, situation or culture, International Schools are going to be particularly geared for this. A good school will consider not just your child but your whole family unit when it comes to support. The home/school relationship should be a close one so that all of your child’s unique needs can be met.

 

As half/half children need constant stimulation from both sides of their cultural divide your school should definitely support your family with clear and concise, relevant, communication. In return most schools will also expect you to provide relevant cultural information that will help them in their duty of care.

 

So what kind of special information should you exchange? Here are six cultural tips to consider.

 

·      Holiday dates and policies; In many cases families of half/half children like or need to take extended family holidays back to the overseas country. Your school should be flexible in this regard, and have some policies on tuition and re-entry payments.

 

·      Interests; As they get older its likely that your half/half child may view themselves as different from their peers. Its important at an early age therefore to provide cultural information that can help the school encompass the special interests that come from two cultures. Promoting the wonderful benefits of coming from a mixed culture is very important for your child’s future self esteem and confidence. Its also worth noting here that this will be of particular importance to the parent from the “Over seas” country, particularly if your plan is to stay mainly in Japan.

 

·      Language proficiency; A common reason to put half/half children into an international school is to aid in the development of their English ability. As with the above point, the parent from the overseas country may be particularly keen to see their child become proficient if they themselves can not speak fluent Japanese. In any case the school will clearly need to know the child’s English level.

 

·      School Cultural Celebrations; In most cases the school will provide this information at your first interview. Its likely that quite a few half/half children will come from the same country so the calendar should be full of special events that is relevant to your child’s cultural needs.

 

·      Developmental Milestones; The school will require that you generally inform them of these. In many cases these may be earlier or later than average Japanese kids. If your child is half Western for example their physical milestones may differ.  (Children learning two languages will also generally be a bit slower at learning both, due to the extra learning demand).

 

·      Food; In the case of the school this will be food that is not allowed (assuming you are providing lunch on a daily basis from home) Such foods often include sweets or confectionary. In the case of “information from home” you may like to include preferred foods if the school is providing snacks. In both cases this may be determined by cultural choices.

 

Of course there is a great deal of other information that will need to be exchanged before you start and much of this will be done at your initial school interview.  Still more will need to be filled out on your schools enrolment form. Collecting and exchanging information about your half/half children should be an ongoing process and definitely not one that just stops after enrollment day.

Children’s Development; Some tips about the first days at Kindergarten, Daycare and Preschool. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Perhaps you live in Tokyo and your thinking of joining an English speaking Kindergarten, Daycare or Preschool. You may even be considering an English School or a service that is combination of all four. In any case you want your kid to speak English but you also know that the social interaction at these places would be super stimulating for your child’s social development. Here is the first step to get your child started on that adventure.

Forming a bond between child and teacher

Yes, your child’s development, particularly her cognitive development is strongly associated with a healthy social life. 

To start her social development off on a strong footing , it’s ideal if your child can form some kind of emotional attachment or bond with the teacher or another staff member. This will allow your child to feel secure and confident, knowing that a safe base is always close at hand. Its known that toddlers and young children who have developed secure attachments are able to explore their environment and interact with it with increased confidence. Having this bond and enhanced confidence also encourages them to form other relationships and social skills. 

Professional childcare operators, particularly the midsized businesses which tend to operate at the deepest level of care, will always make bonding a priority. 

It needs to be said however that, while bonding is desirable, it is not imperative. Attachment or bonding can be whimsical, sometimes it forms and sometimes it doesn't. There are a variety of reasons why bonding may not take place, especially in the early days. 

For example if a young child does not respond to an adult in a commonly accepted way then the adult may find it difficult to get emotionally closer to the child. Also some children may not really respond to the staff member at all or some children may become strained in circumstances of physical contact. Often too, it's a case of timing. In these situations its obvious that the adult should not continue for the time being because continuation at this point would be detrimental and  the child’s rights must also always be upheld. 

Of course you as the parent will always have the strongest emotional tie with your child. In the early days being consistent in the timing your school drop off or pickup will be important for your child’s security and confidence. If you are going to be super early or late, it's always a good idea to explain this to your child.


Initial Separation

While many children separate without incident, some children may have difficulty. Separation anxiety differs for every child. However in the early days of joining a Kindergarten, Daycare and Preschool, or Even English School, this could continue for as long as two weeks in some cases. This is generally the amount of time a child needs to settle into any new environment.

If your child is having difficulty in separating, depending on the severity and how prolonged the situation is, there may then be a particular urgency for the need to bond. Pick the staff member who you think would be a good match then make sure the director of the school is aware of the situation and request that the same teacher/staff member greet and farewell your child much of the time. 

Giving the staff member a list of your child’s current interests is also a good way to help smooth things over. The staff member and your child should then have a mini routine of at least ten minutes of interaction during which time your child can be made to feel extra special. Its trust they need at this point and once this is obtained your child should be able to confidently move on to the stimulating social environment that is “a fantastic school.”

How creativity can help your kids to resolve conflicts. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Did you know that creativity plays a big part in resolving conflict? Whenever your kids are together there is the possibility that conflict will arise. Lets face it, kids don't always see “eye to eye” because their desires, aims and goals don't always match in the moment. Conflict may not only occur between your kids, however but other kids may be involved as well. As parents we need to show our kids that creativity can be used to resolve conflict.

 

 

For most of us the concept of conflict is negative. In the same way that “mistakes” are seen as negative, conflict is also seen in this way.  It is right at this point of understanding however that breakthroughs can be made, after all, life, for all of us is about learning, and just as we can absolutely learn from our mistakes, we can also learn through our experience of conflict.

 

Be a creative mediator

 

As a parent it’s up to you to be the mediator. This is definitely a creative position. This requires that you listen. What important point has not been mentioned? Be present. Because your kids will have closed minds when in conflict you need to have an open mind. This means not taking sides and imagining as many different perspectives on the situation as you can. You need to show your kids first that the perfect outcome to their conflict can initially be reached through their imagination.

 

How do you teach kids to organize their desires, aims and goals if they don't match in the moment? Just keep them talking. Watch over them and keep their emotion in check, then teach them how to negotiate creatively.

 

By understanding that dealing with strong emotions can be frightening for young children we can be more supportive as a parent. There is also the opportunity to display empathy towards the other.  Children can be made aware that everything we say and do is a choice.  We need to be ready and conscious of taking the opportunity to be creative when conflict between our kids arises.  When parents view conflict in this way they can then direct their children towards the art of creative negotiation.

 

Creative conflict resolution should engage us, and our children, to continually use our problem solving skills, with each opportunity helping us to negotiate a little better than last time.

 

Teach them the art of creative negotiation.

 

Negotiation is an incredibly useful skill in adult life, so not only will you be resolving this conflict you will be solving future conflicts and setting your children up to be successful and competent adults. Building your children’s negotiating skills one conflict at a time is worth the effort and patience it takes.

 

If the conflict can be resolved at a later time tell your kids that you will set time aside to do it. Just doing this can calm kids down. When you are ready take them to a pleasant environment to talk about it. (Think family restaurant/ice cream etc) Use your intuition to move forward and get your kids to share as much information as they can.

  

 Just remember that you want talking , not shouting. The difference is subtle but the result is hugely different. By giving your children the negotiation scaffolding or structure to build a different outcome you are giving your kids the power of choice. 

 

Without this choice conflict is bound to keep re occurring again and again until someone ends up getting repeatedly hurt.

14 Tips to promote the physical development of your new baby. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

Congratulations!  Your new baby is now between eight to twelve months old. She will be able to do many physical things that once seemed out of reach. Sitting up without assistance, crawling and exploring objects, to name a few. While its never too early to start thinking about your babies physical development, now is the right time to take action.

 

Just as your body needs exercise, and your mind needs stimulation, young babies need such an environment too.

 

There are countless ideas you can use, but here are fourteen of them to get you started in the right direction.

 

·      Sit your baby on her bottom. Show her a toy and then place it behind her. This will encourage the new movement of turning to pick up the toy from behind. It requires a complex movement of muscles and co-ordination from a sitting position. Fine motor skills are also required to pick up the toy.

 

·      Scatter cushions and pillows on your living room floor and encourage your baby to crawl through this soft obstacle course. With each change of course she will be utilizing and strengthening different sets of muscles as she turns. (Gross motor development)

 

·      Prepare cold and warm moist hand towels for her. As the physical also involves the senses, giving your baby a wider experience of sensations is also a positive idea.

 

·      Introduce push button toys. A toy with knobs, buttons and sliders are great way to encourage fine motor development.

 

·      When ever your baby is on the other side of the room, get down on your hands and knees and encourage her to come to you. Getting her to crawl longer distances will encourage crawling skills and build little muscles.

 

·      To support your babies standing skills, let her stand beside a stable piece of furniture. Its great to let her do this regularly, but never be tempted to leave her alone in this position.

 

·      Set out a large cardboard box for her to crawl in and through. Again, one of many stimulating ways to encourage gross motor skills.

 

·      Set down a toy to one side of your baby. By encouraging her to pick up or grab the toy with one hand, she will be using hand /eye co-ordination.

 

·      Frequently play her nursery rhymes and songs. If you have your favorite, singing is a great way to bond and it will develop her sense of rhythm. 

 

·      Lay on your back in the middle of the living room floor and place her favorite toys and objects on your tummy. She will love crawling all over you to get to them. She will use both fine motor skills (to grasp objects) and gross motor skills to get about.

 

·      Give your baby two cardboard tubes (one for each hand) and encourage her to beat them together. This will allow self expression, hand eye co-ordination, as well as develop muscles in the hand and wrists.

 

·      Encourage ball play from a sitting position. Roll a soft ball to your baby and try to get her to acquire it. This will develop fine motor skills and help her to develop a sense of balance.

 

·      Support your baby from a standing position and gently manipulate her hips and knees until she sits down. This will show her the movements needed to sit down on her own, and it will help her acquire balance.

 

·      The next time you are in a playground place your baby on a swing or rocking horse and carefully support her while you gently move it. This will also aid in developing her sense of balance.

 

As I mentioned the opportunities are endless. The point is to remember these three main areas: Gross motor skills (Skills involving large muscle movement such as arms and legs) Fine motor skills (Think fingers and toes) and stimulation of the physical senses.

 

There is one more point that I would like to add. Adults tend to take great pleasure in “Walking” a baby by holding on to her hands and moving along with her. For some infants this can be uncomfortable and unnerving as the whole experience is somewhat unstable for them. It may not be unwise in some circumstances to instead provide greater security for your baby by allowing her to stand upright while holding on to furniture or to an adult who is sitting on the floor. 

Sixteen simple mathematical concepts you can teach your kids at home (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

With the following mathematical concepts you can start teaching your child math’s as early as the tender age of three. Of course I’m not talking about symbolic math’s, but rather simple, real life examples. In a really fun way, you can teach and encourage your child to explore, sort, represent and classify in a few simple steps. Giving them repeated opportunities at home will reinforce what they are learning at Kindergarten and preschool. Private kindergartens such as those found in Musashisakai and local private daycare will also teach these concepts.

 

A word about mathematics and local private kindergartens.

 

Every private kindergarten will have its own particular slant towards or away from mathematics. While some local private kindergartens in our area may place a heavy emphasis on mathematics, (due mainly to the culture of the owners), our private kindergarten takes a more balanced approach. We would state here that in terms of the future of education, creativity should be given at least equal weight to subjects such as mathematics. We do not believe that symbolic math’s should be taught at the kindergarten level. However we understand that forming basic mathematical concepts in the early years is very important for cognitive development. Therefor, in order to prepare young children for symbolic mathematics at primary school, we recommend parents reinforce the following concepts at home to give a solid grounding from which to start the mathematical journey.

  

The following sixteen concepts are taken from the book “Learning in Early Childhood “by J. Hoghen & D. Wasley]

 

(The examples given are mine, some of which we use at our private kindergarten based in Musashino, Tokyo).

 

  • ORDER: Collect or buy an assortment of beads. Work together to string the beads as you make a hanging mobile for your child’s room. Repeat the same bead pattern for each length of string. Let your child select the repeated bead order as you go.

 

  • LENGTH: How many steps does it take to go from the front of your house to the back?  How about up the stairs?

 

  • COMPARISON: The next time you go shopping buy different sized fruit. (A large and small apple for example) Then point out the difference to your child. Alternatively point out the differences between your child and their sibling.

 

  • SHAPES: Get your child to trace shapes on paper or buy a few simple jigsaw puzzles.

 

  • CAPACITY: Fill a big and little cup with water. Pour the little cup into a bottle and mark its level.  Tip the water out and then pour in the big cup and mark that too. Try this with different sized bottles and talk about the differences.  Alternatively take a bucket outside and ask your child if all the leaves will fit inside.

 

  • MASS: Put three big rocks into a jar and take a picture on your smart phone. Then put three small rocks in the same jar and take another picture.  Flick the pictures back and forth and ask your child to look at how much jar space is filled up in each picture.

 

  • ESTIMATION: Guess how many grapes in a small bunch?  How many seeds in an apple?

 

  • EQUALITY: Get a glass of water.  Get another glass of the same size and ask your child to fill it up to the same level. Get your child to place the two glasses side by side then add or subtract to get the two levels equal. Alternatively cut a piece of string in half and show your child how each length is the same.

 

  • SUBTRACTION: Give your child 4 apples and pretend they are the shop keeper.  If he/she sells you 2 how many apples are left? Put three cream biscuits on a plate and let your child eat 1, how many are left? (Usually none by the end of this lesson!)

 

  • MULTIPLICATION: Put 2 bananas and 2 oranges in a box. How much fruit is in the box? Alternatively whip up an extra batch of cookie mix and ask your child to pour them out. Ask how many more biscuits we can make?

 

  • GROUPING: Get out the coloured blocks and get your child to put them in groups according to colour. After dinner get your child to help you wash up by placing all the cutlery in respective groups by the sink.

 

  • WEIGHT: Present your child with a AAA and AA battery and ask them which is lighter or easier to hold. (Caution: Never give a button battery to your child as these can be fatal if swallowed).

 

  • COUNTING: Look up some counting songs on Google or place similar objects out in a line to count.

 

  • DIVISION: Give your child an apple and get them put it on a plate. Help them to cut it in half. Point out the two halves now on the plate. Alternatively this is an opportunity to share. Place 2 treats on a plate in an accessible location. Ask your child to bring them to you. Ask, how many? Take 1 each and ask how many have you got now? How many have I got now? Eat them together.

 

  • NUMERALS: Cut out cardboard numbers and get your child to put them in order. Alternatively practice writing numbers or tracing them.

 

  • ADDITION: Get your child to draw all the members of your Immediate family. Then ask them count them. Now add Grandparents and family friends and ask “How many now?” To extend this further add any pets you may have.

 

These are just some mathematical concepts that you can very easily start teaching your kids at home. It's a great way to introduce this important subject to your child and it canreally stimulate cognitive development.  Remember to repeat these concepts at least a few times and be sure to revisit the ideas in different ways at later occasions. When these concepts are reinforced at Kindergarten your child will then be well on the way to begin their discovery of symbolic mathematics at primary school.

Parenting Support; The five benefits of adding responsibility to your child’s day. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

The importance of parenting support for young preschoolers can never be underestimated, and so as a caring parent, fostering the development of your child should always be your main aim. With so much technology attracting our child’s attention, particularly in the later years, now may be the very best time to get creative with the way in which you support your child.

 

Children who develop creative imaginations through a positive environment often become valuable problem solvers as adults. So before the smart phone, tablet or gaming console takes over the life of your child, try giving them a little parenting support by way of responsibility in the arrangement of a newly enhanced home environment.

 

 

Get your child to help you structure your home environment

 

When considering parent support in this way, there are many fixed calendar dates that we can use to creatively change the way the interior of our house looks. There is Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Tanabata, Children’s Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Grandparent’s Day, to name just a few. All of these dates can be used as a reason to change your main living area (or your child’s bedroom) in a fun and creative way.  Young kids love getting involved in special projects!

 

Get creative

 

Why not paint egg shells for Easter decorations? How about a scary Halloween collage? ….or bamboo wishes in the living room for Tanabata Day?

 

Parenting support naturally means using your instincts. As you work together you can encourage your youngster with positive comments on their work and get them further involved by asking their advice on where to place the decorations, gently guiding them to make appropriate choices.

 

Of course there are many other ways you can restructure your home environment and get your child involved. On any given day you can discuss how to rearrange the furniture together. Why not move the couch around and reposition the dinning room table? A fun way to involve your child in this is to spread a blanket over the moved items to create a cozy kid cave. Get your child to add pillows and cushions inside to make it extra inviting.

 

How about hanging bed sheets from the ceiling of your child’s room? You could buy beads from a craft shop and work together to string them up as a hanging screen above your child’s bedroom door. You could buy a simple lamp shade and decorate it. Anything is possible.

 

Find the time to get involved. If you cant find the time, create it. Of course this kind of parenting support can, and should, come from dads too. Weekends can become really creative days!

 

 

So what are the hidden benefits of this seemingly simple parenting support? For one thing you will be…

 

  • Strengthening the Parent/Child bond.  (This may be particularly important for busy dads).

 

The following benefits will aid the cause of this bond which will also be of great benefit to your child.

 

 By creatively giving your child responsibility in the changing of their environment over time…….

 

  • Your child’s Self Confidence will improve.
  • Your child’s Life Skills will improve.
  •  Your child’s Independence will improve.
  •  Your child Self Esteem will improve.

 

With Self Confidence your child will learn to trust in their own abilities and judgments. With new Life Skills your child will be able to more fully participate in daily life. With greater Independence your child will have more self –determination and with greater Self Esteem your child will have improved self respect.

 

All of these areas are enhanced just by adding a little responsibility to your child’s day, one day at a time.

 

Parenting support is not only the right thing to do, its also a lot of fun to watch your child grow and develop.

 

Its fun for big kids too!

Bilingual Kids English School Mitaka area: What to expect. (Bilingual Kids Co., Ltd インターナショナル幼稚園)

If you have a child going to Bilingual Kids English school near the Mitaka area, or are interested in joining, here is a little on what to expect. Before we talk about English learning at our school (Commonly known as BKI) lets talk about distance. Bilingual Kids English School is currently in the process of building a brand new school only a block away from its old location at Sakai 5. The English School is really close to Mitaka, so close in fact that many of our customers bike to BKI from Mitaka, a trip that only takes about ten to fifteen minutes, depending on where you live.  If you are able to convince yourself that its worth the ride for a really great English School, then you certainly wouldn't be the only one.

 

Regarding English learning at our school; We accept toddlers at our school from around 18 months. This is a good age to join any English School as it allows time for a young toddler to get settled.  At this time however English conversation and development is relatively slow. Its not until around the age of 2 years old that language development (and therefore English Learning) picks up.  At this age, word order and imagination, both improve and vocabulary also increases.

 

While most children learning a second language are going to be behind when compared to a native speaker, they can still learn relatively quickly in the right environment. Much of this is going to be learnt through social play. For example, we have several young Japanese students in our present class (as of writing 14/10/16) who are at the following level after having joined us at 18 months of age (Toddler level) and have now been with us for a year and a half. They are both now 3 years old.

 

Here is a brief description of their English level:

 

  • When making English sentences, both students talk about known objects, events and people not present.  “My mummy is at work.”
  • Both students talk about the actions of others. “Lisa is drawing a picture.”
  • Both students can appropriately answer simple questions. “Yes, I can.”
  • Increasingly, both students are asking more and more questions about people, places and what things are.
  • These students always join in on opportunities to say “Hi”, “Bye” or “Please.”
  • When making English sentences, they always comment about objects (real or imaginary) within sight. “This is my camera.”
  • They frequently comment about ongoing events. “We are in the train.”
  • Both students can remember and sing along to many nursery rhymes and songs.
  • English speaking staff can understand what the students are saying at least 80% of the time.
  • When making English sentences, both students can expand their phrases with nouns“…..this little brown Teddy Bear.”
  • Both students use verbs with “ing” endings. “We are going now.”
  • Both students use the preposition “in”  “Kai is in the box”
  • Both students indicate a negative by putting the word “No” or “Not” before a noun or verb that is simple. “Not Dolly”

 

From this we can determine that they are not so far behind a native English speaker, and in fact are really doing quite well. These children are more than capable of expressing themselves well as far as English conversation is concerned. As their Japanese at this point is obviously native, these kids are well on their way to being fully bilingual. While all students develop at their own pace, this typical example from our school should give you some idea of what to expect at the toddler level. Please continue to read this blog for further examples of our other students at the ages of 4, 5 and 6 years of age.

 

Our English school,  (Kindergarten and Preschool ) could also be described as an English Daycare or Childcare center. Whatever you wish to call it, it is the perfect environment to foster Children’s English Conversation. Why not contact us to book your interview today?