Aoba-Japan’s Expansion (AJE) program is well known for its seasonal camps, where kids get to learn while immersing themselves in culturally rich activities (see below for details on the upcoming Winter 2018 camp). In April this year, the program expanded to include continuing programs, featuring classes that take place on Saturdays and weekday evenings, and are open to the public. Their popularity has skyrocketed over the past few months as AJE is working to meet demand.

AJE’s first continuing program, “Action Saturdays,” began at the school’s Waseda campus this past April. Their plan is to open in two or more new locations in central Tokyo by April 2018. AJE Director Greg Culos explains further, “Our Saturday and evening programs are based on the same philosophies and approaches as our camp programs. They have proven so successful that we’re expanding rapidly. We realized there are many people who may not necessarily want their kids to go to an international school, but do want them to grow up in an international environment.”

“We realized there are many people who may not necessarily want their kids to go to an international school, but do want them to grow up in an international environment”

When asked about the differing English levels of students in one class, Culos emphasizes that successful learning is a factor of encouragement and inclusivity. Though kids with similar abilities are generally grouped together, AJE does sometimes mix it up a little. The reason for this, in part, is that the children can teach and learn from each other. There is no “English only” policy since Culos believes restrictions are counterproductive to learning. Instead, he believes children learn more when allowed to process new information naturally. “Usually kids who switch to their native language are asking for confirmation and making sure they understand. They’re not talking about unrelated things,” Culos says.

The Mommy and Me Saturday class has proven especially popular and gives parents a chance to learn, too. Greg Culos says, “The parents get right into it. It’s a lot of fun and effective too. When these toddlers move up to higher level classes, the transitions become easier since they have begun to develop the mindsets key to independent learning and collaboration.”

The goal for both camps and continuing programs alike is to create an environment where children can feel excited about learning and confident to use their new skills to help them grow.

Sign Up for AJE’s Winter Discovery Camp 2018

AJE’s next Winter Discovery Camp will be held in Iwate, over five days from January 2 to January 6, 2018

Participants will get the chance to immerse themselves in Tohoku’s rich culture of old and new, as well as rediscover winter through a number of unique activities, including staying overnight in a Mongolian Ger, learning curling from Olympians, bathing in a barrel onsen, and riding a kotatsu train along the coast. Other activities include skiing, and making mochi and soba with locals from Iwate.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people to communicate with people from all over the world and to become part of a community of diversity. On a more serious note, children will also learn about the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake directly from the people most affected by the disaster.

For more information and to sign up for AJE’s Winter Discovery Camp 2018, visit 

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