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A Program Showcase: St. Mary’s Kindergarten

by Michael Kalinowski
May/June 2009
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/a-program-showcase-st.-marys-kindergarten/5018770/

Kyoto was Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence for over 1,000 years. The seventh largest city, with a population of 1.4 million people, Kyoto is frequently referred to as ‘Japan’s
Heartland,‘ with 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Most Japanese follow Shintōism and Buddhism, incorporating both into their lives.

Kindergartens (yochien) were introduced into Japan in 1876, after the Meiji restoration. While the kindergarten idea came from Western society, it was adapted to Japanese society by the Ministry of Education as well as by Christian missionaries. Kindergartens serve children three to six years of age; enrollment is not compulsory. Private kindergartens in Japan generally have the same curriculum as public programs, although private schools may include religious education in their curriculum. Teachers are addressed by their first name " followed by sensei. In Japan the school year is from April 1 to March 31. There is also a separate system of child care centers (hoikuen) for children aged 6 months to 6 years, which are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. There are even some preschool correspondence courses available for children at home.

“The majority of pre-compulsory kindergarten education is provided by the private sector. There is a national ...

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