Pillars of Early Childhood Education

Play and learning at Ohana International School in Tokyo are inseparable. In the early years, children are learning more and at a faster rate than at any other time in their lives. It is through their active engagement in shared play and learning experiences that they develop a sense of individual identity, awareness of others and the skills needed to participate effectively in their social worlds.

The focus in the Early Childhood Curriculum at our Tokyo preschool includes both teacher-led learning experiences and emergent curriculum. Emergent curriculum describes the kind of curriculum that develops when exploring what is “socially relevant, intellectually engaging, and personally meaningful to children.” Emergent curriculum draws on the interests of the children, educators, and families and is visible in children’s play, projects, and other learning experiences.

Our curriculum and philosophy is designed through integrating a number of educational philosophies as well as contemporary approaches within early childhood education. The staff at this Tokyo preschool bring a range of experience and philosophical approaches to their work with the children. Together they explore an eclectic range of philosophical perspectives in leading Early Childhood Practice around the world, with constant questioning of how some of these principles can be integrated into our school, taking into consideration our families, our environment, our resources, and the community that we live in, which includes both the global and Japanese community.

Loris Malaguzzi and the early childhood experience in Reggio Emilia, Italy have been at the forefront of Early Childhood education for many years. The Reggio Emilia philosophy gives weight to our embracing of the image of the young child as strong and capable, making learning visible, the environment as the third teacher, and emergent curriculum.

Maria Montessori endorses the idea that children move through different sensitive periods and interests in learning and that we, as educators need to support this in each child. It is from her that we come to know that young children should be encouraged to be self-directed learners as they explore their environments and become independent learners with our Tokyo Montessori methods.

We also value the ideas of Rudolf Steiner and the high regard for children as spiritual beings; the promotion of learning through creative and dramatic play in environments that reflect the love and respect of nature. We place importance on integrated learning experiences, where numeracy and literacy skills are gained through incidental rather than structured experiences.

The child is:

  • the social child
  • the feeling child
  • the creative child
  • the communicating child
  • the sense of self
  • the spiritual and moral child
  • the healthy, active and physical child
  • the thinking, investigating, exploring and problem-solving child
(The NSW Dept of Community Services Curriculum Framework)