Behind Childcare with an Open Curriculum
From “Kazenoko Letter” No.400 - May 2011

 I went to observe a class at an elementary school in Frankfurt, Germany, 10 years ago. I was surprised that early elementary school children didn’t use text books. Each teacher planned the day’s lessons, made printouts and taught the class.

 When I visited, I observed a math class, but some children were drawing in a different room. It was very strange, but in addition to that, the teacher probably judged that the children were not going to be motivated to learn math that day, so all children were switched to drawing during math class.

 I felt only admiration for running a class so freely depending on the children’s situation in this way. While on the other hand, in Japanese elementary school we have a timetable and text books, and we need to stay patiently until the end of class even if we are suffering. There is a big difference between Germany and Japan.

 Childcare in European countries is founded on providing an open curriculum. Germany, the birthplace of childcare made it thoroughly about childcare with an open curriculum, and it made a lot of sense to see a class as before.

 Our country’s childcare uses an elementary school’s lesson format. At first, 5-year-old children were mainly provided activities to prepare them for elementary school. And that’s primarily kindergarten as a starting point. Therefore, Japanese kindergarten do not have an open curriculum. The base is a setup curriculum in which everyone tries to do the same task all together. This format was handed down to 4-year-old, then 3-year-old children.

 After WWII, daycare centers adopted the same method, so the content is basically the same as a kindergarten’s. Kazenoko Hoikuen has featured an open curriculum for more than 40 years. However, we are in the minority compared to other Japanese daycare centers and kindergarten. I believe we are in a respected minority.

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