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[Research on Home Education from Early Childhood to First Grade of Elementary School] Chapter 3. Essential Factors to Cultivate Learning

Research on Home Education from Early Childhood to First Grade of Elementary School
Preparing for Schooling

Regarding K3 children, the results showed that the more well-established daily habits children had, the higher was their attitudes learning to learn, and hiragana/numeracy/logical thinking skills.

Daily habits and attitudes learning to learn

♦ Can take on challenges without giving up easily (K3)

Figure 3-1
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♦ Can quietly listen until the end to what others say (K3)

Figure 3-2
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Daily habits and Hiragana/Numeracy/Logical Thinking

♦ Can add and subtract numbers using fingers or ohajiki marbles (K3)

Figure 3-3
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♦ Can use their own words to describe things in a logical manner, so others can understand (K3)

Figure 3-4:
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* "Well-established daily habits": Weighted scores were assigned to responses to the following seven items based on four points for those who answered "very true," three points for "somewhat true," two for "not so true" and one point for "not true":

- Can go to bed at the same time every night
- Can stay seated until the end of the meal
- Can fold his/her clothes after taking them off
- Has no picky eating habits
- Can go to the bathroom and wipe him/herself alone
- Can greet and thank others
- Can put away toys after playing at home

After calculating the mean of families who responded to all items, they were classified into three groups.


How do the three pillars of preparation for schooling relate to each other? Figures 3-1 to 3-4 show how the "daily habits" at K3 relate to the "attitudes of learning to learn" and "hiragana/numeracy/logical thinking." Figure 3-1 shows how the percentage of children who "can take on challenges without giving up easily" was higher for those with well-established daily habits (very well-established 83.5%, somewhat established 69.1%, not so well-established 53.3%). Figure 3-3 shows that the percentage of children who could "add and subtract numbers" was high among those who had well-established daily habits (very well-established 92.0%, somewhat established 87.2%, not so well-established 81.7%). These results indicate that self-sufficiency in carrying out daily habits lays down the basis for attitudes of learning to learn and the hiragana/numeracy/logical thinking skills.

Home Study of First Graders

The research showed that first graders who focused on play, accumulated a lot of experience in it, and have become familiar with hiragana/numbers in their early childhood showed a tendency to study more at home.

Experience of focusing/having interest/asking questions during early childhood, and its connection with first grade home study

♦ Can immediately start studying after sitting down at the desk (first grade)

Figure 3-5
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♦ Can stay focused until the end of the day's study (first grade)

Figure 3-6
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Habits to familiarize with hiragana/numbers during early childhood, and its connection with first grade home study

♦ Can immediately start studying after sitting down at the desk (first grade)

Figure 3-7
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♦ Can stay focused until the end of the day's study (first grade)

Figure 3-8
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* Focusing/having interest/asking questions during early childhood: Weighted scores were assigned to the responses to the following three items looking back at preparing for schooling during early childhood based on four points for those who answered "very true," three points for "somewhat true," two for "not so true" and one for "not true.":

- Could focus on and play with things they liked
- Had interest in animals and plants
- Asked questions to others about things they did not know

After calculating the mean of those who responded to all items, they were classified into three groups.

* Habits to familiarize with hiragana/numeracy during early childhood: Weighted scores were assigned to responses to the following six items looking back at preparing for schooling during early childhood based on four points for those who answered "very true," three points for "somewhat true," two for "not so true" and one point for "not true".

- Could count numbers accurately up to twenty
- Could add and subtract numbers using fingers or ohajiki marbles
- Could read his/her own name
- Could read the Japanese hiragana syllabary
- Could write his/her name in hiragana
- Could read picture books or visual dictionaries unaided

After calculating the mean of those who responded to all items, they were classified into three groups.


Among first grade children, 65.2% of those who had focused on playing with what interested them in their early childhood, or had interest in animals and plants, or tended to ask questions, tended to be able to stay focused until they finished studying. On the other hand, 44.4% of those who had not done so as much in their early childhood could stay focused. In addition, among children who had habits to familiarize with hiragana/numbers during early childhood, 72.0% were able to stay focused until they finished studying, while 48.7% of those who did not familiarize so much with hiragana/numbers could stay focused. The abundant experience in playing or familiarizing with hiragana and numbers during early childhood seems relevant to establishing their studying attitudes in first grade.

Preparing for Schooling in Early Childhood and Parental Involvement

Parents of K3 children who have established attitudes of learning to learn such as the attitude to "take on challenges without giving up easily" or "quietly listen until the end to what others say," tend to encourage children to think for themselves. The same tendency could be seen in the parents' attitude whose children had hiragana/numeracy/logical thinking skills.

Attitudes of learning to learn in early childhood, and parental involvement

♦ Can take on challenges without giving up easily (K3)

Figure 3-9
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♦ Can quietly listen until the end to what others say (K3)

Figure 3-10
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Habits to familiarize with hiragana/numbers in early childhood, and parental involvement

♦ Can add and subtract numbers using fingers or ohajiki marbles (K3)

Figure 3-11
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♦ Can use their own words to describe things in a logical manner, so others can understand (K3)

Figure 3-12
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Parental Involvement and the Surrounding Community

Regarding parental involvement, in what situations do parents tend to encourage children to think for themselves? The research shows that parents with high involvement with the kindergartens or day-care centers were prone to encourage children to think for themselves or to help them discover how there are different ways to play.

Consulting kindergarten/day-care center, and parental involvement

♦ Encourage children to try to think for themselves when asking parents questions (K1 to K3)

Figure 3-13
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♦ Help children discover how a single play can be played in different ways (K1 to K3)

Figure 3-14
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* Consulting kindergarten/day-care center: "Consult or talk about children with teachers at kindergarten/day-care center" was shortened. Children not attending kindergartens/day-care centers were omitted from the analysis.


How does parental involvement affect building the child's attitudes of learning to learn? Figure 3-9 shows that 80.5% of the K3 children whose parents actively "encourage children to think for themselves," can "take on challenges without giving up easily," while 53.8% of those whose parents seldom "encourage children to think for themselves" can "take on challenges without giving up easily." Likewise, figure 3-10 shows that 81.4% of K3 children whose parents actively encourage them "can quietly listen until the end to what others say," while 71.9% of those whose parents seldom encourage them "can quietly listen until the end to what others say." As in Figure 3-11, 90.7% of K3 children whose parents actively encourage them can "add or subtract numbers" while 73.8% of those whose parents seldom encourage them can "add or subtract numbers." These results indicate that the children's attitudes of learning to learn and encouraging them to think for themselves seem relevant.

Then, what motivates parents to interact with their children? Figures 3-13 and 3-14 show that parents "consulting kindergarten/day-care center teachers" have a higher tendency to encourage children to think for themselves.

Comments from the Research Group--Encouraging Children to Think for Themselves

In order to "encourage children to think for themselves," parents must start by "listening and responding to children, and accepting them." When considering parental involvement with children, we tend to think of parents "talking to" children, but it is more important to be a good listener. It may be helpful for the children to be motivated to think in detail for themselves if you can paraphrase the children's words and say "what you were trying to say was..." or, "did you mean that ...?" and fill in on what they have to say, or ask them to tell you more about it. What is important is to take interest in what children show interest in, and display empathy with them to increase children's vocabulary, and help children think for themselves.

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