Moomin International Kindergarten is a preschool that nurtures the natural creativity, curiosity, determination, ambition and sociability of children 0-6 years old. We emphasize informal learning, mind broadening, personal enrichment and enticing children to enjoy all activities. Our children are stimulated through a variety of experiences that marry proven methods such as Reggio Emilia and Montessori, with the play and movement their young minds and bodies crave.
We marry the literature which supports play at the center of learning with inquiry based learning to emphasize every day skill gaining and natural development. In the future the most resilient individuals will be curious, creative and world-minded. They will be mobile and flexible. Children naturally possess these qualities and our kindergarten embraces them and supports the children to enhance them. When they are treated respectfully as individuals, asked their own views and presented with fun learning opportunities through doing, moving, acting, and interacting, their learning process is accelerated and they thrive. At Moomin Kindergarten we nurture children to keep these natural qualities and grow a positive mindset that allows them to continue to always want to do, make, explore, inquire and reflect, connect with others, take risks and be resilient. And did we mention, they learn about sisu too? Come join us!
Do you wish your child to keep its natural sense of wonder, explore, create and flourish into a curious learning individual? Join a free morning class, and come experience what a day would be for your child learning with us.
Moomin International Kindergarten provides world class early childhood education and care (ECEC) to families in Tokyo based on the Finnish early education and care principles, Scandinavian learning traditions, creative thinking and a global mindset.
Our Akasaka center is a home away from home for children who have the right to play, the right to be listened to and are given the time to explore their multiple intelligences. Your children are given time to be creative and to have the right to develop at their own pace. They partner with highly qualified child development educators who provide warm, playful and affectionate interactions to fill them with a sense of being valued and accepted. They also are challenged with a series of activities designed to learn about themselves and the world and most importantly to always be curious and think on their own.
The Kindergarten provides:
- Full day Early Stimulation Development Nursery Program for babies from 6mos old from 8:30am-4:30pm + extended hours for dual career families
- Part- day Early Stimulation Development Nursery Program for babies from 6mos old from 9am-12pm, or 1pm-4pm, JPY6,000/day +2,000/hour. Ask about different hours.
- Early Childhood Education and Care Program for toddlers 1-3yrs, 3-5 days, 9am-2pm, see Fee page
Pre-school Program for kids 3-6 yrs old, 5days/week regular day 9am-2pm and full day 9am-4pm, see Fee page
Afternoon Creative Club in English or Spanish offered everyday from 2:15pm-3:00pm and 3:15-4:00pm for kids 2-10 years old, JPY3,000/session
Saturday Creative mornings with Moomin in English or Spanish offered every Saturday from 9am-12pm for kids 2-10years old, JPY6,000/day
Fun Fun Fun Baby & Me class with music, story telling, exercise and dance! Fridays at 2:15-3:00pm. JPY3,000/class
Creative Fun Summer Program, fold children of all ages offered during during the warmer months. 8 weeks from July 3-August 25. JPY10,000/day.
To guide and foster strong, joyful children to become fearless individuals, curious explorers, extraordinary thinkers who enjoy their everyday as they discover the world and how it works while encouraging them to develop a lifelong love for learning and always work hard to reach their utmost potential as individuals and conscious contributors to a globalized changing world.
- Provide personalized excellent quality early childhood learning opportunities with highly qualified educators and specialists partnering with parents to actively involve children in their own learning.
- Encourage and support each child’s full set of developmental and educational abilities building a solid foundation to succeed in life and continue learning in any international education system and all their lives.
- Challenge children with opportunities to think, discover and to realize that everything we do matters and every activity offers learning opportunities and adventure so that children become lifelong learners, innovative problem solvers, team players and positive contributors to society.
- Prepare children to embrace change, be adaptable and gain character strengths and virtues such as hard work, determination, positive thinking and grit -zest for life.
- Promote equality and the joy of childhood, play, languages, doing and making while encouraging children’s natural curiosity and to become confident by letting them make decisions, find solutions to problems, find opportunities to help others and fantasize about the future.
- Create secure, flexible, well designed environments that complement the home and have versatile learning materials that motivate and inspire children to discover and develop their creativity and learning.
Children learn best through play
The kindergarten offers personalized early childhood learning that prioritizes the socio-emotional wellbeing of each child and incorporates play as the medium to explore ideas, make sense of the world, make friendships and learn the intellectual aspect of things. The kindergarten offers an early development program for babies from 6mos-2yrs and a program for children 3.5-5 years old. The programs are designed to nourish, support and engage the whole active learning child. Our inquiry based, exploratory and holistic learning approach provide children with a solid foundation to become critical thinkers and enjoy learning throughout their lives.
At Moomin International Kindergarten the children come first. We nurture character and a sense of independence early on and the skills for acquiring, utilizing, creating and spreading knowledge. Professional multilingual educators provide opportunities for challenge, discovery and adventure where children learn the basic skills of how to think, how to communicate, how to adapt to any situation and how to collaborate. Together they do hands on activities that benefit healthy brain development, strong bodies, and useful habits to last a lifetime.
multilingual Children become confident learners
All children have the ability to learn more than one language and the process of doing so increases their ability to think creatively, be flexible thinkers and develop great interpersonal and communication skills.
The kindergarten’s main language of instruction is English and we also offer instruction in Spanish and soon also in Japanese. Our early stimulation development program (for babies 6mos-1.5 years) is offered in Spanish.
Some children come to us to strengthen their language skills in Spanish, Finnish and Japanese in our creative after school and summer programs when children can fully immerse in another language. Children learn to be multilingual and to be confident ambassadors of their own culture and background and proud to show their parents how to say things in another lnaguage.
WHY PERSONALIZED LEARNING
We firmly believe that every child is unique, brilliant and hungry for learning. This kindergarten aims to be a place where children develop at their own pace and learn without the pressures of a curriculum designed to fit all. Our children partner with an educator to discover how they and the world work. We adhere to a set of early childhood education principles and expose children to a balance of early experiences and a wide variety of materials to support their individual learning. Significant encouragement, support and care based on each child's individual needs make this a special place for children.
Children are our most important resource for the future. Personalized learning enhances the potential of each child, stimulates creativity, passion, energy and talents. Our future is full of challenges that require new solutions and those will depend on the creativity, vitality, diversity and happiness of our people. To be happy, it is necessary that we discover, develop and cultivate that which motivates us and makes us feel great.
Finland has been recognized as having one of the best performing education systems in the world. This is evident in many international rankings, including the PISA rankings, which ranks the academic abilities of 15 year old children across 68 countries.
The system has developed some of the best educational practices available, guided by research and evidence and deriving critical lessons from abroad. The Finnish system focuses on:
- Whole child development of every child in a small group, with rich interactive activities for their multiple intelligences and their character
- Giving every education and care center the freedom to design their own curriculum based on the diverse needs of each child while enhancing the teaching and learning using socio-constructivist learning concepts emphasizing the impact of collaboration and negotiation on thinking and learning
- Constructively assessing young children without tests while evaluating the processes used to teach
- Attracting the best and brightest students to become educators and providing them with high-quality training and trusting them to teach to their highest potential
- Providing confidential peer coaching to educators and believing that teachers are also always learning
Finland’s concept of education starts in the early years fully integrating care, education and learning. In the early years learning through play is essential. Kindergartens must adhere to the Finnish National Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Curriculum Guidelines and provide activities that address all the developmental needs of the whole child. Academic teaching starts at 6 years old with the goal of preparing children to enter primary school.
Class Size and Daily Schedule
Our groups of maximum of 4 & 7 children per educator are multi-age and multilingual, enabling children to gain confidence in their abilities, experiment together and also learn from each other. We celebrate diversity of people, abilities, activities and responsibilities. Advanced students are given additional responsibilities.
Our daily schedule is designed by the educator based on the Finnish National Early Childhood Education and Care curriculum guidelines and the children in the class. We offer a variety of exploratory learning activities, a chance for children to experiment on their own, play and also relax. We provide a hands on, interactive environment rich in materials and resources for children to experiment, to build things and to break things apart to learn how things work. In addition to the main educators, we invite international specialists to enhance the children’s opportunities to learn by doing.
Each child is different and learns differently. Our premise is that each child has immeasurable potential and we are here to help them realize it. Our educators communicate and partner with parents to get to know each child. After a period of observation and interaction with the children educators are able to assess the ways of being, talents and development opportunities of individual children. Educators are then able to develop an individual learning plan for each child. This plan serves as a guideline to design their own curricula in a way that enhances the teaching and learning and caters to the development of all children. Educators monitor each child’s progress and adjust the curriculum accordingly. They promote active participation, social interaction and reflection among the children.
Our educators are highly qualified and committed to the children. Their mission is to build relationships with each child and support their holistic individual educational and care needs at every stage of development. They expose children to dynamic, creative and multi sensory experiences that promotes healthy neurological growth and the children learn valuable life skills. Educators work as a collaborative team in order to plan and support their teaching, expand and improve their skills, receive constructive feedback and ensure the children’s well being at all times.
We build a base in language development through play so that learning to read and write is natural and fun for children. We read together everyday, we tell stories, we play math games. In short, all of the learning is done through games and fun activities so that children are excited and don't even notice they are learning.
All of our educators receive Finnish style training which complements their education and previous experience. It encourages educators to personalize their teaching to a diverse group of children and provide exploratory opportunities for each child in the group. Educators receive constructive feedback and are coached about the opportunities and challenges of working with multilingual or monolingual children living in Japan.
Through their own innovation, pedagogical methods and a variety of activities educators motivate and encourage children to take risks, become strong, independent, open minded individuals, able to adapt to any environment, and learn to enjoy the love of learning.
Parents are our active partners and supporters of all aspects of the children’s learning and embrace our philosophy of praising and encouraging and in practicing discipline and respect. We support you in the educational aspects and care of your children while at kindergarten and welcome you to actively communicate and share with us any concerns or development achievements of your child.
Our learning environments plays an important part in the children’s learning. They are flexible, safe and comfortable spaces designed to inspire, engage and invite children to learn. After each learning workshop, children have an opportunity to practice self management, move their bodies and play to feel good and learn better.
child centered approach
Our inquiry based, exploratory and holistic learning approach provides children with a solid foundation to enjoy learning and continue learning throughout their lives. Monthly themes for different age groups through an integrated learning continuum give children exposure to different subjects, celebrations and the world at large.
Our learning approach is child centered, integrated and exploratory. Our educators are trained in areas such as: Early years pedagogy, development and learning; childhood, growth environments and well-being; and the development and assessment of early childhood education. After a period of observation, an individual development plan is prepared and agreed on with parents. This plan is revisited with parents reviewing progress.
FINNISH ECEC CURRICULUM
We trust our educators to develop a quality curriculum of activities to build a foundation for future learning. It combines the Finnish National Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Curriculum guidelines with Scandinavian learning traditions, integrating the educator's experiences, creative thinking, languages, individual children teaching methods and a distinct set of values and goals. The Finnish ECEC Curriculum guidelines.
The educator's teaching approach integrates creative skills, self expression and making every subject matter fun and interesting. Educators are skilled and experienced to partner with children to explore their interests and the world around them. On a typical day, the children move with their educator from the play area to the creative arts studio, to the gym area, to the quiet reading nook. They go outside and also practice movement in our gym area everyday to ensure they are physically active. Physical activity impacts the children's overall development and provides opportunities to put mathematical skills into a physical context, helps them to concentrate for longer, be more alert and ready to learn. Educators integrate subjects and plan activities to give children the tools to understand and gain knowledge and an awareness that every situation is a learning opportunity.
With a mix of play, experimentation, interpersonal relations and oral expression, the children spend their days enjoying being children while learning and developing new skills.
Educators are attentive to children’s challenges and individual needs, including special needs. They support the development of cognitive, intellectual, social, emotional, language and physical skills, as well as global competences, managing daily activities safely, and being responsible. In addition, educators actively encourage, praise and support children to learn the value of hard work, to focus, to learn how to become good at something, to value their own ideas, to serve others, to become persistent and to be passionate.
Our children will experience kindergarten in a similar way as if they were living in Scandinavia while being exposed to the rich international culture available in Tokyo. We embrace going outside and/or to the park every day, play and learn in nature regardless of the weather. Outdoor natural stimulation and hands-on learning experiences help children to thrive. Children will also be able to experience design, culture, community and innovation through our Scandinavian Center located in the same building.
Children will be exposed to Scandinavian and world literature and to the delightful world of Moomin, with the marvelous characters and magical stories which have inspired children and adults alike since the 1940s. Our kindergarten incorporates numerous Moomin details including our very own Moomin walk in playhouse, Moomin furniture, kangaroo balls, floor puzzles, kitchen utensils, books and more. Our well crafted wooden toys, Lego building blocks, trampoline, wooden stomps, climbing wall etc., will keep our children active and engaged.
Children at our kindergarten do not wear uniforms. They wear comfortable and easy to put on and off clothes and shoes. They wear soft shoes indoors and wear all-weather outdoor clothing to go outside and to the park. They when they also wear our fluorescent jackets.
Nourishment and nature
Our children nap every day to nourish their body and their mind. When children lack sleep, they have poor memory, increased impulsiveness, and poor creativity. Similarly, we make sure that children eat proper natural meals to nourish all aspects of their growth and are able to concentrate and learn. We support a balanced natural lunch and snacks. In their activities children may participate in our open kitchen, where they learn about food and good eating habits.
Nature and natural materials play an important role at our center, where our children grow some of the food in our premises and learn sustainable environmental practices.
We want to inspire children to learn about where products come from, care about their choices and teach them to care for all the things they use so they last long into the future. Research shows that design matters and when children feel safe and comfortable in their physical surroundings, they become interested and venture to explore their environment and events around them.
Parks and places of interest
We are located within walking distance to several parks, museums, embassies, a music hall, restaurants and numerous small businesses. Our close proximity to these places of interest allow us to partner with many of these places so that our children have opportunities to visit them, appreciate how the real world works and complement their experience in our center. Hikawa Shrine is only 4 minutes walk and its grounds offer an opportunity to explore nature, experience history and culture as well as play in a large open area. We are 2 minutes walk to a public large gymnasium which expands our ability to play ball games and more.
At Moomin International Kindergarten children don’t receive homework in the early years, are not traditionally tested or compared. We evaluate our processes rather than the children while encouraging the children's own desire to learn. Each educator knows each child well and is able to assess each child's development while enhancing their learning experience and at the same time always improving their teaching. Assessment is shared with parents as follows:
- Daily dialogue at drop off/pick up time
- Weekly overview of activities and photos in our secure website
- Child-parent-educator start and end of year interview
- Development of early childhood education plan (December)
- Individual child evaluation and portfolio of work (May)
We encourage daily communication between educator and parents during pick up and drop off times. We are an extension of your child's life away from home and we are committed to partnering with you to ensure your child is thriving all the time.
Our facilities provide a safe environment, with flexible areas set out in many different ways aiming to provoke curiosity and surprise, presenting children with the challenge and wonder of many different experiences.
Our center aims to foster a child’s natural delight of exploring and discovering which results in children asking questions, gaining knowledge and understanding. With an adult’s guidance and support, children build on knowledge and can reach their full potential and become independent life long learners.
Our interior and outdoor environments have been designed specially to meet the needs of playful children and to maximize their wellbeing and opportunities for learning. Danish Architect Jens Martin Suzuki-Højrup, creative director of Hokuou - Architecture & Design, led the Scandinavian interior design and renovation of the entire premises with a welcoming nature theme. His previous experience designing schools with firms such as Kjaer & Richter and 3XN in Denmark helped us design flexible spaces that inspire, motivate and encourage exploration and creativity as well as aid educators to accommodate group activities.
The facilities have been carefully designed to invite children to participate in diverse activities, to be engaged and to express themselves. Seven different environments allow children to be either physically active, concentrated, or relaxed depending on where they are. The flexible environments include:
- An open play area with high quality toys and diverse materials
- A gym area equipped with trampoline, gymnastics quality mats, jumping balls etc
- An art atelier with a variety of creative materials
- A large open activity area with a full kitchen
- A quiet room that serves as a resting room, sensory activity and theatre
- A class room with a library and learning materials
- An outdoor area with natural sand box, tree stomps, climbing wall and tree world
- An outdoor area to plant a variety of vegetables and fruits
- An outdoor area to keep each child's own plant
We are located within 5-10 mins walk to several parks, outdoor areas and places of interest. Parks include Hikawa Park, Roppongi Sakaue Park, Akasaka Hikawa Shrine which have playgrounds, extensive forest etc. We are also located 5 mins walk from a large gymnasium. Additionally we are less than 5 minutes walk to the seven ARK Gardens Ecosystem. Places of interest within a 2-3 mins short walk include vegetable and fruit shop, flower shops, restaurants, etc.
A careful selection of the highest quality, sustainable and beautifully designed products from Scandinavia and the world furnish our facilities. Educators incorporate design and environmental teachings that raise questions such as Who makes things? How are things made? How the environment is affected by our choices, among other subjects. Children learn from an early age, how design and careful selection affects our everyday lives and the environment.
We also use natural materials as much as possible and emphasize the opportunity to create and reuse where possible.
All of our educators have degrees in early childhood education, diverse backgrounds and experience in multi age and multilingual environments:
- Minna, Kindergarten Teacher - Graduate - Lahti University, Lahti Finland
- Hitoko, Kindergarten Teacher - Graduate - Tamagawa University, Tokyo
- Dennys, Nursery Teacher - Graduate University Minuto de Dios, Colombia
Moomin International Kindergarten was founded by Zava Holdings Inc. a company established by Barbara Zamora Väätäjä. Barbara graduated from New York University, Stern School of Business and has a background in Finance before coming to Japan in 2009. Barbara had little experience in child development when her son was born and wished her family could have access to an early education center where the focus was on the entire child development, and not just on learning specific facts. Thus she spent the next two years researching how children learn, how and when the brain develops, learned about the sensitive periods and the most effective teaching methods for early learning. Her research led her to Finland, the country her partner grew up in, and a country who’s early education philosophy is now admired around the world.
It also led her to education and creativity experts such as Ken Robinson who proposes changing the education paradigm through individualized learning, high quality teachers and awakening creativity through alternative methods. She also researched early language learning and a growing body of evidence on brain development including the work of Carole Dweck on the Growth Mindset, which believes that intelligence can be developed, Angela Duckworth's research on Grit and Jack Shonkoff and the sensitive periods in early brain development.
Guided by research, her son’s curiosity and thirst for learning she partnered with Finnish educators and other professionals to start the development of the kindergarten, while adapting it to the rich Japanese environment.
The result is a center that hires highly qualified educators with experience in Finland's early education Universities and kindergartens, adheres to the Finnish early childhood education and care curriculum guidelines and incorporates movement as one of the most important ways of learning, provides children with the opportunity to enjoy the process of learning, to discover their own talents and capabilities and to nurture their natural creativity, curiosity and desire for learning.
The location was important too to ensure children have access to rich experiences inside and outside the premises and was easy to access. The kindergarten is located in Akasaka 2 on a quiet street at the Scandinavian Center- where leaders in design, education, culture, entrepreneurship and innovation come together. This is a short stroll to 5 parks, 4 museums, numerous embassies and a variety of businesses and construction sites to learn from! It is also within 5 mins walking distance to 4 metro stops and metro lines.
The kindergarten adheres to Finland and Scandinavia's way of thinking about children: Children are the most important resource and we must give them every opportunity to enjoy life and support them so they gain all the skills they need to be successful and happy individuals in the future.
Welcome to Moomin International Kindergarten.