The Kindergarten


3. The Kindergarten In Japan

A. Its Development and Present Status

In my own country the first kindergarten was opened November 14th, 1876, in connection with the Girls' Higher Normal School in Tokyo. It was just 36 years after the opening of Froebel's kindergarten in Blankenburg. The kindergarten was attended by children between three and six years of age. The first enrollment was 158 children. In most other countries the first kindergarten was private, but in Japan the first one was a government kindergarten. In a few years, there were many public and private kindergartens.

In 1881, kindergartens increased to 17 in number with 1116 children; in 1890 there were 138 kindergartens; in 1900, 241. In 1889 a Kindergarten and Training Shool were organized in Kobe Girls' College, under the leadership of Miss Annie L. Howe. This institution has been one of the important centers for the training of kindergarten teachers. In 1910 there were 443 kindergartens, 1,253 teachers and 37,298 children, while there were 6,795,809 elementary school pupils. Thus, in 1910 about 6% of the elementary school pupils were receiving kindergarten training.

B. The Object of the First Kindergarten in Tokyo

We find the object of the first Kindergarten in the following sentence : " It receives children three to six years of age, exercises their natural senses, develops the waking mind, strengthens their bodies, cultivates their emotion and trains to politeness in language and conduct (1876)."

C. The Training of Kindergarteners in Japan

There have been two centers for the training of kindergarten teachers. One is the government institution in Tokyo ; the other, which is in Kobe, is supervised by the American Missionary. These training schools are not sufficient for the need of the kindergarten teachers. So, even now, it is common to find only one trained teacher and two or three untrained teachers in the Kindergarten.

In general, we have adopted the training methods of American Kindergartens. The Tokyo kindergarten is trying to modify the method, so as to fit it for the country's children, considering the customs and manners.

D. The Laws Concerning the Kindergartens

In 1899, a regulation limited the number of infants per teacher to forty and the total number of the kindergarten children in each school to one hundred, though under special conditions there may bo enrolled one hundred and fifty children.

In 1911 the regulation was changed so that a kindergarten would enroll 120, and under special conditions 200 children.

The following rules were fixed in 1899 for the equipment of the kindergarten.

I. The building must have one story and must be equipped with nursing room, play-room, teacher's room and the other necessary rooms.

II. The area of the nursing room must be more than one tsuho (about 4 sq. yards) for four cliildren.

III. It must be equipped with gifts, pictures, playmaterials, musical instruments, blackboard, desks, benches, chairs, clock, thermometer, stoves and other necessary things.

IV. It is customary to make the area of the playground 1 tsubo per child.

V. The school site, drinking water and lighting must follow the rules for the elementary school.

For a time there was a tendency to think of the kindergarten as a preparatory school for the elementary school. Teachers taught the same materials as were taught in the elementary school in their attempt to carry out this idea. Observing this tendency, the government warned the teachers. In Act 196 of the Imperial Ordinance on Elementary Schools we find the following rules :

I. Infant training should supplement home education by cultivating a sound mind and good habits.

II. Infant training must be in harmony with the degree of the development of the child's mind and body. It is prohibited to teach him material which is hard to understand or to do.

III. In education teachers must pay attention to the child's individuality and always try to get him to imitate the teacher's good manners.

E. The Old Curriculum The curriculum in 1899 was as follows :

I. Play.

a. Voluntary play.
b. Co-operative play.

In the play children practice the various activities with music to make them cheerful and to develop sound bodies.

II. Music.

This serves to train the auditory, vocal and respiratory organs and to make children cheerful.

III. Stories.

The stories must be useful and interesting. The materials are allegories, fables and stories about natural and manufactured objects. The stories ought to train the child in the use of accurate language, to cultivate the virtues and to train the capacity for observation and attention.

IV. Occupations.

These will attempt to train the pupil's hands and eyes and to cultivate his mind by the use of the kindergarten ''gifts."

F. Present Principles in the Kindergarten Training

I. Observation.

Observation is to train the senses, to increase the child's ideas of objects and to cultivate his ability to observe things and to be attentive.

II. Conversation.

a. Listening,

The teacher tells useful and interesting stories for the pupils to hear. Thus, the auditory sense is trained and also the mind.

b. Dialogue.

The teacher and children talk with each other and train their speech organs.

1. The materials of the conversation must be the common stories of Japan.

2. In the stories it is better to use pictures, wherever possible.

3. Repeat the same story many times.

4. The teacher's pronunciation must be plain and clear.

5. It is wise to let the children talk when they know something of the subject.

6. Let them listen to the teacher's whispering and so train their auditory senses.

III. Music.

a. Songs must be simple and easy to understand.

b. The content of the song must be the common daily phenomena of children 's experiences which will interest them.

c. Music must range between D and d. The time may be 4/4 or 2/4.

d. It is preferable to teach them music which is cheerful and suitable for marching.

e. In order to stimulate understanding and interest let them accompany songs with gestures.

f. The teacher's voice serves better as a guide to the child than do instruments.

IV. Occupation.

Occupation by use of toys trains the hands and eyes, and develops the mind and body.

a. Arrangement.
b. Blocks (the fifth gift).
c. Ball.
d. Top, (wooden top plays on the desk).
e. Otetama, (small bean bags).
f. Ohajiki, etc. (a sort of carom).

V. Manual Training.

Through simple productions the Kindergarten trains the hands and eyes", cultivates the mental abilities of originality, imagination, and aesthetic feeling and trains directly for sustained effort in work.

a. Bean work (constructive work with soaked beans and small bamboo sticks).

b. Modeling.

c. Paper folding.

d. Needle work or embroidery.

e. Other gifts, etc.

VI. Drawing.

Teachers ought to develop well the pupil's ability to express his ideas in pictures and at the same time train his hands and eyes, and cultivate aesthetic feelings. Teachers must be aware of the following points :

a. The teacher ought to show some simple pictures drawn in order to interest them.

b. Let children practice accurate arm movement.

VII. Play and Method of Guiding It.

A. Their classification of play is thus: Social or Co-operative Play.

1. March.

2. Simple Games.

3. Imitative Exercises. Individual or Special Play.

1. Imitative Plays.

2. Gardening.

3. Collecting (plants, insects, pebbles, etc.).

4. Kikai play (play of swing, wagon, rope, etc.).

B. Leading principles of play for the teachers*

a. Do not force children to participate in so-called kindergarten play from the very beginning. Guide their play instincts naturally.

b. Teachers ought to study the development of the play instincts.

1. Play must be intuitive at first.

2. The imitative stage comes next.

3. Then comes the expressive stage.

c. Kindergarten play should consist of real play, amusement, a little art and work, but no labor or drudgery.

d. The real value of play is in concentration or forgetting everything outside. Harm may be done if the teacher disturbs this concentration by seeking to adhere too much to the rules for the sake of formal appearances.

e. The teacher should be a kind supervisor, not a meddler.

f . The teacher ought to take advantage of the good opportunities to observe the individualities of the children during their play. It will help her to control them.

g. The teacher should herself take part in the play and she must not break the children's rules, even though she is their supervisor.

VIII. Discipline.

In Japan the government, as well as the school teachers, put much emphasis on moral instruction. Character building occupies the first place and receives first consideration in all training and education of the young. Physical training and book-learning take second and third place. Act I of the Imperial Ordinance on elementary schools shows the Japanese educator's attitude toward the training of the physical, mental, and moral traits :

''Elementary schools are designed to give children the rudiments of moral education and of civic education, together with such general knowledge and skill as are necessary for life, while due attention is paid to their bodily development."

There is in Japan much conscious dependence upon the school as the moulder of character. On this account kindergarten teachers are paying due attention to the discipline of the children. Of course, as to discipline, the teacher cannot teach by words alone but should teach as well by her own good manners and example. We cannot expect to train moral judgment directly, yet by careful supervision teachers can develop good habits and manners. They are, in fact, trying to teach the following manners:

a. Greeting each acquaintance on the way to kindergarten.

b. Wiping shoes at the entrance of the school and rooms.

c. Good posture.

d. Listening attitude.

e. Not to run in the classroom.

f. Keeping the schoolroom clean.

g. Taking care of toys and equipments,

h. Manners in the classroom.

i. Manners on the playground.

j. Table manners.

k. Cleaning finger nails.

l. Habit of helping themselves.

m. Salutation of parent on leaving and returning home. (This is the custom in Japan) .

n. Obedience to parents.

0. Friendliness among brothers, sisters and playmates.

p. Honesty.

q. Courage, etc.