Suzy Small spoke to Yuko Muir, director of Yoyogi International School, about the school’s philosophy, facilities and programs
WEEKENDER: How long has Yoyogi International School been established?
YUKO MUIR: The school was founded in 1999. We started out with the aim of creating an environment where children can really enjoy learning.
How many children attend the school?
The age of the children ranges from 18 months to six years old. Currently we have 120 students.
What is the balance of nationalities like?
Fifty percent of the children at the school are native English speakers, about 20 percent are children from European or Asian countries who speak English as a second language, and 30 percent are Japanese. The majority of children go on to International elementary schools.
What subjects do the children study?
It varies depending on the age of the child, but the curriculum includes language, art, mathematics, science, creative arts, social studies and physical science. We also incorporate Japanese studies into the daily schedule — children are introduced to Japanese culture, songs, words and expressions. Last week, for example, the children were learning how to use chopsticks and how to order food in a restaurant. To conclude the lessons, we went to Japanese Soba restaurant and had lunch. Of course, the children ordered by themselves in Japanese!
What facilities does the school have?
The school is in a modern building in front of Yoyogi Park. The classrooms overlook the park and are very bright and spacious. We have a library, with over 1,000 books, computer terminals, an outdoor play area, a large indoor gym with basketball hoops, balancing beams and lots of other equipment. The children are also able to play in the park. So rain or shine the children have ample opportunity to enjoy many physical activities.
What makes Yoyogi International School different?
As I mentioned earlier, it is vital that the children’s introduction to school life be very positive one, so first and foremost we have an excellent teaching staff all of whom have first class teaching credentials. Coupled with our comprehensive facilities we have a range of extra programs for the children including ballet, karate and music classes. This year, we offer a summer school thoughout summer and for children aged between 18 months and nine years old (elementary 3rd graders). The program is very flexible — parents can choose which weeks they wish their children to attend, and how many days per week, so it fits well around plans for family holidays and other commitments. The summer school has the same balance of education and playtime as our regular classes, providing a really enjoyable experience for the children who attend.
What does the future hold for the school?
In only five years Yoyogi International School has grown into one of the largest international Preschool-Kindergartens in Tokyo. We will continue to focus on the best interests of the children and parents.