What is the 'Integrated Child Education Study Group' ?
What is the 'Integrated Child Education Study Group' ?
The Integrated Child Education Study Group (ICES) is an autonomous study group with over 220 kindergartens and nursery schools participating and about 30,000 children being reared on the program throughout Japan. The region, size and religion of the kindergartens and nursery schools are varied.
ICES was founded in 1983. It promotes 'Integrated Child Education (ICE)', based on the traditional education system by adopting the latest brain science.
Significance and value of early childhood education
The OECD report says that, each government should set the standard and objectives for the quality of child and infantile education in order to improve their learning and development.
Also, according to James J. Heckman, Ph.D., the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, efficiency and effectiveness of education after elementary school is largely determined by the quality of pre-primary education, especially the development of non-cognitive abilities; willpower, resilience, grit, etc.
ICES greatly contributes to improving the quality of early childhood education.
Purpose of this website
This website was made to introduce the overview and current practice of ‘ICES’, which is a leading child education study group in Japan.
It is hoped that this website will also provide an opportunity to share the Japanese perspective on education people have cherished since olden times and to see its value in a new light.
Education of ICES is based on brain science. According to the science, development of the human brain is almost complete in infancy and forms a solid foundation on which the child’s personality develops.
Therefore, its aim is to improve the brain capacity, which is the basis for child development, and to form the foundation to be a whole person, which helps to foster intellect, emotion and volition in children.
Our theory is based on the principle that human beings are born with the desire for 'Motion, Language and Rhythm'.
Based on that theory, physical exercise, language and music are not taught as an independent subject but are cultivated in the mind of children through various activities conducted throughout the day at each institution.
Therefore, it’s important that children can enjoy doing these activities repeatedly as their favorite play instead of learning them through explanation or understanding.
With discipline and good habit, children grow up to learn for themselves. With ICES education, children voluntarily learn without being taught.
History of ICE and ICES
The philosophy, theory and educational method is based on half a century of hands-on practice at Padoma Kindergarten, conducted by the late Mr. Mitsushige Akita, the former principal of Padoma Kindergarten.
Integrated Child Education Study Group was established in 1984, in association with other kindergartens and organizations, as a place to learn the educational practice of Padoma Kindergarten.
Though it’s a grass-roots and civilian organization as it stands, it has a history of over 30 years, being supported by the belief and conviction of Mr. Akita.
Child education in Japan originated from 'Terakoya, private elementary schools in the Edo period.
They prevailed in Japan in the 19th century and laid the educational foundation for the commons, where learning was ingrained in their body through repeated daily routines.
Discipline and norms were ingrained in the minds of children not by teachers trying to teach their students but by experiences shared between the teachers and students. Education in this manner has always been valued in Japan.
That was the original idea of our Integrated Child Education.
Realizing their philosophy
Children are born with the ‘desire to learn’. Their learnings should not be to gain knowledge or techniques, but to enhance sensitivity to perceive fun and happy feelings.
The above mentioned 'Motion, Language and Rhythm' are like their esthesia sensor, with which children can perceive all of life’s events as ‘pleasant’.
The ‘pleasant’ feeling is nurtured by the infantile group activities. The individual resonates with a group and shares the happy feelings by repeatedly following the routine with their peers.
Flow of the day － General flow and the purpose of each activity
Cooperation is very important in a group of children.
Sharing the same goal and devoting themselves to the activity, cooperating with each other, promotes the foundation of a cooperative attitude.
Gymnastic Rotation and Daily Activity, which are the typical activities of ICES, develop the spirit of empathy and resonance in children, and increase the peer consciousness. These activities have been devised to cherish cooperation in children by combining stillness and movement, relaxation and intensification.
Gymnastic Rotation is a gymnastic activity done to music which children do as a group at the start of the day.
It is a combination of various gymnastics, using many kinds of equipment. Its purpose, however, is not to enable the children to be able to do the respective activity but to enhance the mental vitality, feeling the flow of circular rotation, enjoying the activities and strengthening the bond with their fellow classmates.
By burning their vital energy to the fullest, children become more mentally stable, and they are able to proceed to the next activity more smoothly.
Flow of the day (1)
Gymnastic Rotation to stretch the body to get ready for the day
Morning activities start with ‘meditation’. In Japan, meditation shows the sense of awe and respect to nature and our ancestors and at the same time, it has a spiritual aspect to calm the mind.
At the start of the day, the children concentrate and get ready for the day of learning and acceptance.
Flow of the day (2)
Morning starts with ‘meditation’
After meditation, daily activities start, which are typical of Integrated Child Education Program.
The daily activities, done at all ages, help to train the brain and it’s important for them to be done every single day.
Integrated in them are Japanese traditional literature including kanji words ; Chinese ideographic words, poems and kanbun ; classical Chinese literature.
Its purpose, however, is not for children to ‘make sense of or understand the meanings of those writings’ but to stimulate and develop the potential of their brains for learning, by doing these activities repeatedly, rhythmically, and at a quick tempo.
Flow of the day (3)
Integrated Child Education Activities create a ‘pleasant state’ in children.
In order to prove that children feel ‘pleasant’ when those aspects are developed, ICES has conducted an experiment on children during the group activities, using fMRI to measure the inner brain activities.
It was a very unique experiment, which contributed to prove our theory. An autonomic nervous system survey was also conducted and proved that an animated state of children could be assessed by the balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves.
Integrated Child Education is an education program which helps to produce the ‘pleasant state’ in children.
Flow of the day (4)
After daily activities
Integrated Child Education is one of Japan’s leading child education systems, and it goes beyond the national border. Padoma kindergarten, where ICE originated, has been visited by many international guests from Asia and European countries and has received high recognition. Their philosophy and practice will continue to draw global attention.
Active exchanges of philosophy and mutual learning between institutions from different countries will be advantageous for child education in the 21st century. We will actively interact with people and kindergartens abroad, wishing for the happiness and well-being of all children.