English by
Akiko Hicks
Stephen Hicks

By courtesy of
Hiroshi Fukuzawa (Kobato kindergarten)
Ryouko Fukuzawa (Kobato kindergarten)
Mikiya Fukuzawa (Kobato kindergarten)
All Japan Private Kindergartens Assosiation

Kindergarten Education Guidelines

March, 1989
Ministry of Education

Chapter 1 Principles

1. Basic ideal of kindergarten education

The basic ideal of kindergarten education is to understand the nature of children, and to educate them through their environment. For this purpose, teachers must build a trusting relationship with their pupils, and create a good educational environment together with their pupils. Also the following points should be emphasized.

  1. Children experience things important to their development by demonstrating their abilities in an emotionally secure environment. Therefore teachers have to create an environment to encourage children's subjective behavior.
  2. Children learn through play. Play is their voluntary activity, and such voluntary activity creates the foundation for the balanced development of the mind and body. Achieve the goals in chapter two through education based on play.
  3. The development of a child's body and mind is interrelated. The child's mind and body develops in various different ways. Also each child has had a different experience of life. Teach a child according to his special characteristics and his stage of development

2. The goals of kindergarten education

The early childhood is the period children develop their foundation of life.
Provide a kindergarten life based on the ideals above and achieving the following goals.

  1. Teach basic habits and attitudes necessary for developing a healthy, safe, and happy life. Develop the foundation for a healthy body and mind.
  2. Help children learn to love and trust people. Also develop their independence, cooperation, and good morals.
  3. Develop their interest in the things around them, such as nature. Develop their feelings, and their ability to contemplate.
  4. Develop their interest in daily verbal expression. Develop their listening and speaking skills, and their understanding of the language.
  5. Cultivate sensitivity and creativity through various experiences.

3. Curriculum

Each kindergarten should develop a curriculum suitable for the stage of the children's development, the specific kindergarten, and its local community. The curriculum should follow the legal requirements, and this guideline.

  1. The goals and content of the curriculum must collectively reflect goals described in the previous chapter, and should be designed considering the children's past experience and their course of development. It should be designed with the long term view, from the children's entry to graduation, such that the children will have a satisfactory kindergarten life.
  2. The minimum number of weeks per year is thirty nine unless under special circumstances.
  3. The standard number of hours per day is four. But consideration should be made to the state of the children's mental and physical development, and to the season.

Chapter 2 Goals and details

The goals in this chapter describe the feelings, desire, and attitudes that are expected to be developed by the time the children graduate from kindergarten. The details are the specific material to be taught to achieve these goals. These goals and details are divided in to five categories from the point of view of the children's development. The first category, "Health", relates to the health of the body and mind. The second category, "Relationships", involves relationships with other human beings. "Environment" relates to the connection with the environment around the children. "Language" relates to the development of oral communication. Finally, "Expression" relates to feelings and expression. The goals in each category interact with the others and should be achieved through the children's experiences in the kindergarten. The details should be taught comprehensively through well defined activities. Details not described here can be added, but they must abide by the basic principles of kindergarten education.

This category describes the fostering of physical and mental health, and the cultivation of the ability to create a healthy and safe living environment.

1 Goals

  1. Do things cheerfully and freely, and experience satisfaction.
  2. Exercise willingly.
  3. Acquire the habits and attitudes necessary for a healthy and safe life.

2 Details

  1. Interact with teachers and friends. Act secure.
  2. Exercise sufficiently in various play.
  3. Willingly play outside.
  4. Get used to, and enjoy various activities.
  5. Acquire a healthy daily schedule.
  6. Keep oneself neat and tidy. Take care of basic activities, such as putting on and off ones cloths, eating, and going to the bathroom.
  7. Learn about kindergarten life, and to tidy up one's living environment.
  8. Be interested in their own health. Voluntarily do activities to prevent sickness.
  9. Learn about dangerous places, about dangerous behavior, and what to do in case of an emergency. Learn to be careful..

3 Notes
The above matters should be approached considering following points.

  1. There is a close link between physical and mental health. Sound physical and mental development is based on a foundation, such as the recognition and satisfaction gained from warm relationship between a child and a teacher, or other children.
  2. Encourage the children to enjoy exercising and to take good care of their body through various activities, suited to their interest and abilities. Be careful not to over emphasize specific sports in a manner inappropriate for children..

This category describes the development of a child's independence and relations with others, which is an important foundation for living with, helping, and loving other people.

1 Goals

  1. Enjoy kindergarten life. Learn the satisfaction of doing things by themselves.
  2. Willingly interact with the people around them. Develop feelings of love and trust.
  3. Learn good manners.

2 Details

  1. Enjoy going to kindergarten and making friends with teachers and other children.
  2. Think and act independently.
  3. Do the things they can do by themselves without help.
  4. Share feelings of joy and sadness with friends.
  5. Tell what one thinks to others, notice what others are thinking.
  6. Enjoy working or playing with friends.
  7. Learn the difference between polite and impolite behavior, by relating with friends.
  8. Learn the importance of rules by playing with friends.
  9. Take good care of toys and tools shared and share those items.
  10. Learn about and relate to the people around them.

3 Notes
The above matters should be approached considering following points.

  1. For children, establishing their own life with the support of a good relationship with their teachers is the foundation for building good human relationships. Observe the children's activities and give them an appropriate support, so that the children experience various feelings by acting on things around them, and can feel the satisfaction of doing things by themselves by trial and error.
  2. Teach the joy and importance of relationships with others by the experiences the children gain in group life, in interacting with other children or people, and in sharing joy by expressing feelings and will. Teach them to appreciate their parent's love, and to cherish their parents.

This category describes the development of the ability to actively interact with the surrounding environment, such as nature and social phenomena, and the development of an attitude to include those things into their lives.

1 Goals

  1. Be acquainted with the environment around them. Be interested in various phenomena by coming in contact with nature.
  2. Voluntarily relate to the environment around them. Include aspects of the environment in their daily lives, and cherish them.
  3. Develop the sense of nature and quantity of things through observing, thinking about, and handling the phenomena around them.

2 Details

  1. Notice the size, beauty, and wonder of nature by getting in touch with it as an ordinary part of their life.
  2. Notice the changes in the nature and the people's lives according to the season.
  3. Be interested in the phenomena around them such as nature, and include them in their play.
  4. Love and cherish the animals and plants around them.
  5. Take care of the things around them.
  6. Play by discovering the uses for, and by trying to use the things around them.
  7. Be interested in how the toys and tools work.
  8. Be interested in the quantities and the shape of things in the daily lives.
  9. Be interested in the information and the facilities related to their lives.
  10. Be familiar with the national flag through the functions inside and outside the kindergarten.

3 Notes
The above matters should be approached considering following points.

  1. Develop the motivation to relate to the phenomena and plants or animals around them by sharing feelings toward those things. Also develop an acquaintance and respect toward those things, and towards the importance of life, public spirit, and curiosity.
  2. Develop the interest in a sense of quantity through the experience of the necessity of quantities in their own lives.

This category describes the development of language by teaching how to express experience and ideas using words, and by teaching them the willingness and attitude to listen to others.

1 Goals

  1. Enjoy communicating feelings using words.
  2. Listen to others and stories, and willingly express their experience and ideas.
  3. Learn the language necessary for their every day lives, and be familiar with the picture books and stories which leads to the development of their imagination.

2 Details

  1. Be interested in what teachers or friends talk about, listen to them, and talk to them in a friendly manner.
  2. Express the things they did, saw, heard, and felt using their own words.
  3. Say things they want others to do for them, or ask questions.
  4. Listen to others carefully and talk to others so that others can understand.
  5. Learn and use the words necessary in daily lives.
  6. Do daily greetings in a friendly manner.
  7. Notice the joy and the beauty of language.
  8. Increase the imagination and vocabulary through various experiences.
  9. Be acquainted with picture books and stories. Experience the joy of listening to them with interest and imagination.
  10. Be interested in easy signs and characters necessary in their every day lives.

3 Notes
The above matters should be approached considering the following points.

  1. Experience the joy of communicating feelings and ideas through interaction with teachers and other children. Develop imagination by exposing them to various things happening around them and by introducing them to picture books and stories. Pay attention to the language used in the class since it can affect the children's language.
  2. The systematic learning of (Japanese) characters starts in elementary school so try not to teach just characters in kindergarten. In kindergarten, the interest in and sense of characters should be developed.

This category describes the development of sensitivities, willingness to express feelings or ideas, and creativity.

1 Goals

  1. Obtain a sensitivity towards the beauty of various things.
  2. Willingly express feelings and ideas in various ways.
  3. Obtain a rich imagination in their lives, and enjoy a variety of expression.

2 Details

  1. Notice and enjoy various sounds, colors, shapes, textures, and motions.
  2. Develop imagination by experiencing beautiful things and moving incidents.
  3. Experience the joy of communicating what they are inspired by.
  4. Express feelings and ideas by sounds, gestures, drawings, or creation.
  5. Be acquainted with various material and think of ways to play with them.
  6. Be acquainted with music. Enjoy singing and using the simple rhythmic instruments.
  7. Enjoy drawing pictures and creating things. Use them for play or decorations.
  8. Express imagination using body or language. Experience the joy of performing.

3 Notes
The above matters should be approached considering following points.

  1. Develop sensitivities by sharing feelings of beauty, excellence, and special happenings.
  2. Prepare the materials and tools appropriate for children's experience and level of development so that they can enjoy expressing themselves in various ways.
  3. It is important for children to learn to express their feelings and ideas in a simple way. Do not try to teach them certain skills apart from their lives.

Chapter 3 Important things to consider when making curriculum

The goals of kindergarten education should be achieved through activities which involve children voluntarily relating to their environment. Considering this point, each kindergarten should make their curriculum well balanced, organized, and expansive so that a suitable education and a life suitable for childhood is provided.

1 General notes

  1. The curriculum should be made to develop a suitable life for each child based on his level of development. It should also provide the experiences necessary for a normal childhood.
  2. When making the curriculum, set clear goals and details. Activities are chosen and developed by preparing the right environment. The following should be considered when the goals and environment are chosen.
    1. Set concrete goals and detail considering the long term development of children. Consider the children's development in the kindergarten, the children's lives, the change of season, and finally the children's level of interest and stage of development.
    2. Design the environment appropriate for achieving goals, for children to relate, and to gain the experience necessary for their development. Consider the children's life and imagination, and make sure the environment is suitable for them.
    3. The children's activity is affected by the way they live. Guide the children's changes for the better.
  3. Most children get used to the kindergarten life by playing with other children and teachers when they first enter the kindergarten. Then they learn to enjoy kindergarten education with friends. Make the curriculum so that the activities planned suit each step of the child's development.
  4. Whether each activity includes the individual, group, or the whole class, make sure each activity can satisfy the interest and needs of each child.
  5. Children's lives are developed first in their homes and then in their communities. Communicate with the children's families so that their activities in the kindergarten relate to the their families and communities.
  6. Make the long term curriculum for the year, semester, or month, and the curriculum for week or day which corresponds to the long term curriculum. When making the short term curriculum for the week or for the day, consider if the activities planned have some sort of natural flow, and if their will be a continuity of thought and interest on the part of the children.
  7. Review and adjust the curriculum as children's condition and their environment changes.
2 Special notes
  1. In forming their basic attitudes, help the children to develop independence, and to learn to relate to other children.
  2. When teaching morals help the children acquire their basic life habits, help them to notice and respect others when relating to other children, and help them develop a rich sensitivity by getting familiar with nature, and animals or plants around.
  3. In developing cognitive abilities, foster their intellectual interest through direct experience, such as observing and experimenting during play, and also teach them to acquire the desire and attitude to look, listen, and think carefully.
  4. In teaching safety, teach emotional stability, improve their reflexes through various games, teach them about dangerous places and things, and help them to understand safety. Also teach them about traffic safety, and do safety drills so that they can take appropriate action in an emergency.
  5. When teaching disabled children, communicate well with their families and the special institutions. Help their overall development through group activities, taking the type and the level of their disabilities into account.
  6. Events should be planned to give a change in regular kindergarten life, and so that the children are eager to enjoy and participate. Consider the educational value of each special activity and choose suitable ones. Also make sure any special event will not be a burden for the children.