Support of teachers with the uketomeru (all-embracing) approach, which is beyond the practice of the mimamoru approach
As the results of our studies at the Akita University-affiliated kindergarten suggest, in general, Japanese teachers do not actively intervene in children's quarrels as long as they are safe. According to Nakatsubo (2016), this practice of mimamoru (watching children without intervention) is a Japan-specific ECEC approach based on a high level of teaching expertise. Takashima (2013) also pointed out that the mimamoru approach is mainly used when teachers cannot immediately change children's behavior and need to take time to oversee them and interact with them warmly. The practice of mimamoru does not mean that teachers are simply watching children or doing nothing about children's problematic behavior and just waiting until children change their behavior. Takashima argues in her article (p.181) that teachers should be prepared to watch children over time and assume responsibility for their development. In doing so, teachers need to understand children's thoughts and feelings and the environment surrounding them. In this way, teachers can support children's development. Therefore, Takashima raises the issue that the practice of mimamoru should never be deemed equivalent to the practice of "just watching" or "just waiting," and the term mimamoru (watching children without intervention) should not be used without careful consideration.
Therefore, it can be said that mimamoru a Japan-specific ECEC practice, represents teachers' active and professional involvement with children and their preparedness to watch and support children over time. With such support, children are encouraged to develop the ability to solve problems autonomously.
However, when children autonomously solve a problem alone, they sometimes need to compromise or accept unreasonable requests. It would not be rare for them to feel upset, stirred, or stressed when they quarrel. I observed such occasions at the Akita University-affiliated kindergarten as well as other Japanese kindergartens and daycare centers. On all such occasions, teachers would stay with the children after a quarrel, give them a warm look, gently touch or caress them, or hug them tightly in their arms. In this way, they support children by embracing their feelings and behavior. When children face difficult situations in kindergarten and feel upset or hurt, teachers help children pull themselves together by embracing their feelings and behavior. In this way, children can enhance their resilience and adaptability and start thinking positively about their peers and begin playing with them again. Moreover, such support from teachers, a Japan-specific ECEC practice, would contribute to developing the children's ability to handle difficult situations and problems. Kujiraoka (2010) differentiates the act of accepting children's behavior from the act of embracing children's feelings and thoughts. However, this does not mean we can accept any type of behavior. Sometimes, children's behavior might be harmful and unacceptable, and we adults should stop it immediately. On such occasions, teachers have to tell children, "I understand what you think, but I don't want you to do that." However, this response does not mean that teachers can reject children's behavior because they cannot handle them. Kujiraoka pointed out that teachers need to reject and prevent children's negative behavior but should make it clear that teachers understand children's personalities and embrace their thoughts.
Kujiraoka also argues that teachers can embrace children's feelings and thoughts as part of their personalities, regardless of their behavior. Once teachers embrace children's thoughts, they can accept, understand, or otherwise reject and prevent children's behavior based on their own thoughts and expectations.
Therefore, it can be said that the support of teachers by embracing children's feelings and behavior is also a Japan-specific ECEC practice like "watching children without intervention." This approach is based on teachers' active and professional involvement and preparedness to embrace children's feelings over time.
In conclusion, I would like to introduce the words of Professor Yuichiro Anzai, published as the prefatory note of the Kindergarten Jiho (2014). His note was about children's childhood memories and the origin of education, which was very inspiring. I will quote some of his words as follows: "I will tell you one important thing about children's memories. That is, children should have warm and pleasant memories. Their friendly peers, teachers, kindergarten events, facilities where they played a lot (although they might have been small), the pathways to and from kindergarten, and so on. These memories should never be upsetting or cold so that they break your heart but should always be warm and happy memories."
I believe that the support of teachers by embracing children's feelings and behavior and overseeing children (mimamoru) to nurture their ability to solve problems autonomously will remain in children as warm and pleasant memories. Based on such pleasant memories, they will hopefully nurture emotional resilience and adaptability, leading to their future success.
- Yuichiro Anzai. (2014). Prefatory Note: Memories at Kindergarten and the Origin of Education. Kindergarten Jiho, 42, 2-3.
- Takashi Kujiraoka. (2010). Childcare to Develop the Self-identity of Children. Minerva Shobo.
- Keiko Takashima. (2013). Research Institute of Children and Childcare (ed.). Minerva Shobo.
- Fuminori Nakatsubo. (2016). Nursery Teachers' Expertise in Assisting Children's Autonomous Problem-Solving: Practical Significance and Depth of Childcare with Watching and Waiting. Kokugakuin University Faculty of Human Development Research, 7, 2-11.
|| 1 | 2 | 3 ||