Kidschool International ...developing colorful minds



directorAs an educator and a parent of two children growing up in Japan, I was faced with many challenges. How could I help my children, who are bicultural, and the children in my school, who are monolingual, become bilingual? Also, how could I help them to have a life-long love of learning? To become, what I call the self-learner.

Finland, No.1 in the world in education, is showing us that traditional education methods, lecture-style classrooms and learning by rote and memorization, do not prepare people for the knowledge and services industries of modern economies. Advances in technology allow knowledge to be shared worldwide and this knowledge base is doubling every two years. This means that what we know today may be obsolete, 5 years from now. Our children will not only be expected to speak more than one language, but they must be innovative thinkers, able to problem solve. On top of that, they will be expected to have a life-long interest in learning.

Language immersion, which is common in my home country, Canada, is effective for helping children to become bilingual. In Canada, English-speaking families have long since put their children in French immersion schools, even though they lived in English communities. As a result, many of Canada’s youth such as my nieces and nephews, speak, read and write both English and French, fluently.

It is well known, in Japan, that the traditional once-a-week English class does not work and the recent closing of major ‘eikaiwa’ schools is a telling sign that English education in Japan, especially for children, is undergoing a massive change. English immersion schools, where children study in English, all day or ½ days, five days a week, are opening up all over, and becoming almost as common as they are in Canada.

So, our home became an ‘English oasis’ within the Japanese community. I home-schooled the children in English studies every day, while they went out into the community to study at Japanese schools.

Next, to help them become life-long self-learners, I used Western early childhood education (ECE) methods that focused on learning through play. As an artist, I was more inclined to use art activities to encourage creative thinking and broader communication. I enjoyed developing experiential art and food projects to stimulate their brains and expand their horizons. My motto was, ‘the more experiences, the better’. More opportunities for them to problem solve. As children will do, they took over their own learning. In fact, I could barely keep up. I often wonder (still)— ‘where did they learn that?’ Through play, not textbooks, they learned their ABCs, math and science. At the age of three, they loved to write the alphabet and were reading happily by the age of four. Eventually, they learned to love reading both English and Japanese books.They are now well on their way to becoming bilingual adults, but helping our children achieve that was and still is not easy. It's a life-long process that requires dedication and consistency.

Through my personal experience with my own children, I have seen how immersion in a language every day can help children become bilingual. Also, how a project-based, creative curriculum works with their natural curiosity and helps them develop a love of learning. From this experience, Kidschool, with a mission ‘to develop colorful minds’, was born. An English immersion school that is an ‘English oasis’ for children to learn to think, read, write and speak naturally in English while becoming life-long self-learners. At Kidschool, we know that parents are the important first teachers of very young children. We believe that a partnership between parent and school is essential. Together we can ‘develop colorful minds’ of the future.

Anne Bergasse
Director of Kidschool International.




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 Kidschool International ...developing colorful minds

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