A Learning Environment by Design
Our children are not just influenced by their teachers and friends; we strive to ensure that they grow up influenced by their environment. They speak in two languages, Japanese and English. They are full of curiosity. They develop creative thinking and self-expression. It is necessary to have a designed space, a learning environment, within which these aims can be realized in order to raise them as individuals who can independently and actively get things done.
While listening plays a very important role in learning about different cultures and languages, vision is also key. The visual cues that fill the environment must support the language acquisition goals. It is difficult to perfectly switch between the two languages if a child is learning English within an environment dominated visually by Japanese language. For this reason, once children are 3 years old, English is taught in an area dedicated to presentations in written English, and Japanese is taught in an area with full emphasis on written Japanese.
Each class has a maximum of 15 students. The small class size ensures that each student has ample opportunity to participate both individually and in groups. The open space has been specially designed for flexibly, to encourage dialogue, and to promote exchange between students. In this way, the school environment itself becomes a participant in the education of the students, helping to expand their imaginations and ideas.
Our flexible open space concept at AJB, Mitaka, offers children the ability to have free play time in the same spaces where morning classes happen. wherever they may be, children can engage in activities that satisfy their curiosities and preferences. When children want to relax, or perhaps to read books alone, they can move to spaces that suit their needs.
Both during the morning sessions and in free time, there is Play Zone time. These environments, described in more detail below, are divided by age group. The children can choose the zones in which they wish to engage, depending on their preferences. While they may appear to simply be playing, they are in fact engaging in meaningful skills acquisition: autonomy, concentration, self-affirmation, and the pursuit of meaning and satisfaction in their actions. The different zones have been set up according to the learning aims of the school and the teachers.
|The Arts and Crafts Zone||At AJB we are very conscious of helping to sustain our environment, and as a result we encourage reusing and recycling. This zone is full of materials that accomplish this, while at the same time expand children’s imaginations: milk packs, boxes, cloth, empty paper rolls, egg cartons, and plastic bottles. We also stock natural objects such as pine cones, sticks, and stones. The space of course has a full set of creative tools including paints, brushes, clay, scissors, glue, and more.|
|The Science Zone||Our goal is to draw out children’s interests in science. To this end we prepare mirrors, plants, shells, bright objects, a full-scale human doll, microscopes, and more.|
|The Thinking Zone||Here, children can discover games related to numbers and puzzles, and through number blocks they can learn the fundamental skills for mathematical problem solving and logical thinking.|
|The Literacy Zone||In this space children can calmly read books on tablets or pop-up books and picture books according to their own interests. In addition, they can read with friends. Here they can improve their reading comprehension and language abilities.|
|The Drama Zone||In this zone children can play within different environments, such as in a kitchen, at a table, on a chair, with a phone, with clothes, and in other situations of their choosing. This fosters creativity and communication skills.|
|The Block Zone||Children play with building blocks, Lego, and other “builder” toys. Block play enhances spatial recognition abilities and also co-operation.|
|The Writing Zone||Here we have prepared paper, a white board, and various pens and writing media so that children can exercise their interests and improve their writing skills. .|
The child has a hundred languages a hundred hands a hundred thoughts a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking.
Loris Malaguzzi (Educator)
At AJB Mitaka, we hold various events throughout the year.
|Enjoying Self-Expression||Winter Concert, Show and Tell,, Sports Day, Halloween, and more.|
|Understanding Cultures and Traditions||Tanabata, Valentine’s Day, New Year, Setsubun, Hinamatsuri, Easter, and Christmas|
|Growing International Perspectives||International Day, Earth Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, International Mother Language Day, World Wildlife Day, World Water Day, International Peace Day, etc.|
|Class Learning Trips||Field trips to learn about work, society, safety, art, sports, and more, including, for example experiencing picking vegetable at a farm, or visiting a zoo.|
|Play with Nature||A day in the forest trip – for a half day children experience a natural park and enjoy activities designed to bring them closer to nature.|
In addition, we plan various events throughout the year such as overnight stays and plant cultivation.
Please check the annual calendar.
During the morning, children proactively participate in activities; it is a time for the child to be the main actor. Individuality, creativity, and co-operation are nurtured by strengthening children’s sense of curiosity and creating opportunities for them to join various activities.
In the afternoon, specialist teachers are a core addition in our Aoba-Japan Extension which incorporates languages, numbers, intellectual activities, music eurhythmics, sports, and more. In early childhood, learning assessments are obtained from children’s feeling enjoyment and satisfaction rather than from formal and informal demonstrations of learning and acquisition.
Being encouraged to participate more, and more actively, they become inspired to learn more. As they grow they discover that learning, itself, is endlessly rewarding.
Morning Activities (8:10-11:30)
|Arrive at School||Please ensure your child arrives between 8:15-8:30. The bus arrives at 8:25.|
|Zone Play||The different zones are used to stimulate the children’s curiosity. Children can choose to spend this time in the learning zone of their preference. The teachers encourage them to be curious. During this time, children also have the opportunity to learn from other children of different ages.|
|Morning Meeting||Each morning, children 3 years and older can choose how they wish to participate: greetings, daily schedules, songs, phonics, a weather report, show & tell, or any other presentational activity.|
|Outside Play||1 to 2 years olds go to a neighboring park, 2-5 year olds go on a 5-minute bus journey to Inokashira Park according to their class. The timing of play outside changes according to the class (every day the round trip takes about one hour).|
|Project Time||This is the time for the International Baccalaureate Programme’s inquiry-based learning. Together with the children we discuss and decide upon a theme. We then work together towards a deeper understanding of that particular theme.|
Lunch Time (11:30-12:30)
|Lunch||From about 11am 3-5 year olds eat a warm meal according to their different ages. The older children are encouraged to help their younger peers during this time.|
|Naptime||1-2 year olds have a nap until about 13:30 (1 year old infants sleep for around 90 minutes while 2 year old infants sleep for 60 minutes). 3 year olds don’t have a naptime, but do have a quiet time for about 30 minutes during which they can engage in a quiet activity of their choosing, including napping.|
Afternoon Activities (12:30-14:30)
|Special Program||Our group of specialist teachers deliver classes in language, numeracy, art, music, eurhythmics, and within our variety of zone play areas. Specialty classes vary month to month according to theme and emphasis.
Some special classes are also offered in the mornings before regular classes begin (see schedule).
|Reflection Time||“Looking back” is an important process. Each morning all students participate in this process.|
|End of Day||14:15-14:30 is the designated end-of-day for the regular program. The bus leaves at approximately 14:20.
During this time, all children participating in the After School Program will have rest and snack time.
After School Program / Extended Day Care (14:30-18:30)
We will publish information about the after school program soon on our website.
School Lunch and Snacks
The school provides a daily hot and nutritious buffet style lunch.
The school uses the services of a licensed and qualified external food catering service that is highly experienced in the preparation of food for children and for schools. Together with them, we ensure that all meals are preservative free, handmade, nutritiously balanced, and healthy.
The cuisine is mainly Japanese, with foreign foods served on occasion. We are acutely aware of the potential of food allergies, and when we screen our students we require parents to provide all health and allergy information. Our catering service uses allergen-free ingredients whenever necessary allowing children with allergies to eat together with their classmates. Domestic and seasonal ingredients are used to the greatest extent possible. Information regarding the food we use and its origins is readily available for all parents wishing to see it. For infants yet in the weaning stage, we ensure that it is prepared and served appropriately.
The 1 and 2 year old classes receive a school lunch and a morning snack. During the regular school day, older children are provided with lunch as well as an afternoon snack. Children attending after school programs, including the extended childcare, also receive a late afternoon snack.
East Route: Suginami area
North Route: Musashino area
South Route: Mitaka, Chofu area
In the morning, our school buses run along the above three routes from 7:20 to 8:25. In the afternoon, school buses depart school at 14:20 (when the regular program finishes) and 16:10 (when the after school programs finish). The east route bus goes clockwise and the north and south route buses go counter clockwise.
For more information, please contact the school office.