Research has shown that starting off with play is very beneficial to a child's learning throughout the day. It creates a mood and atmosphere for children to be engaged in the various fun activities that will help them develop foundational skills. This also gives children time to speak in English in a natural way. Studies show that children learn through play. They can explore concepts independently, which creates a more concrete understanding of a language. They are relating English to their personal lives. This method of learning immerses children in the English language. The play is somewhat guided. This means some of the toys put out, songs that are sung, and games that are played are related to the theme for the month. It also gives them opportunity to talk naturally about the topics and vocabulary being taught during the month.
Bible time is about learning many well known stories from the Bible. This class is done in English. The teacher reads stories from the Bible and asks the students questions. Through studying bible stories, students not only gain vocabulary and have spontaneous conversations, they also learn valuable lessons about good character traits. The same story is explored throughout the month and matches the theme being taught for the month. Each month students memorize and recite a memory verse from the Bible. There is a corresponding song to help them remember the verse. Singing songs, dancing, and playing instruments are activities students participate in each morning during Bible Time.
Each month the Kindergarten class studies a theme. Some of our themes include: Farm Life, Transportation, Camping, Nursery Rhymes, Cooking, the Rain Forest, A Bug’s Life, to name a few. As we study these themes, new vocabulary is introduced and repeated daily throughout the month. Students hear the vocabulary through various activities, such as art projects, science projects, worksheets, field trips, and organized play. Each month new toys, puzzles, and books are brought into the classroom that connect with the monthly theme. Every morning we begin with circle time. During English circle time, students sing songs, review flash cards and posters, and play games centered around the monthly theme. This gives students the opportunity to answer questions, express their thoughts and opinions, and have conversations with the teachers in English. Throughout the year the calendar, weather, days of the week and months of the year will be daily reviewed in circle time.
After circle time students are divided into smaller groups to do various hands-on activities associated with the monthly theme. These activities may include games, puzzles, and discovery bins. These activities teach students science, math, phonics, and English concepts, as well as, help them develop fine motor skills. This fun way of learning gives students the opportunity to experience many things in a concrete way. Not only is this style of learning engaging, but it helps students in the future to better understand abstract concepts. In order to make learning interesting and exciting, several learning centers are made available and changed on a daily basis.
Students eat lunch in their classroom. They learn about nutrition and good hygiene habits. Students brush their teeth each day after lunch. We ask students to bring a prepared lunch from home. We also ask for lunches to be nutritious. We often have students from different nations, and lunches can vary. We do not have strict rules regarding lunches, however, lunches need to be more than just a sweet bread.
After lunch, students play in the play area on the veranda of our school. Outdoor play on the veranda may change according to the season and may include additional learning centers. For example, during warm months, water play is added. Throughout the year there are various kinds of learning centers available that focus on cooking, transportation, and sand play. Outdoor toys are included as well.
In our Kindergarten program our focus is on English. However, we feel it is also important for children living in Japan to study Japanese. So we give 45 minutes of the day to studying Japanese. Throughout the week during Japanese class students participate in various lessons. These lessons include singing Japanese songs. Students also use the Kumon curriculum to learn reading and writing in Hiragana. They study basic math concepts and counting groups. There is a story time in Japanese as well.