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Photo 1: 6th graders lead the multi-age group
In today's Japanese society, more and more children are facing challenges in terms of social skills and human relationship formation due to various social changes such as the shift to nuclear family, urbanization, and declining birth rate, etc. In the past, children naturally acquired these skills through play, that involves interaction with other children in the neighborhood and with their own siblings at home. In a small society of children, the elder children would protect and take care of the younger children, and the younger ones would appreciate and admire the elder ones, and so on. However, nowadays, children are always heavily protected by adults, and they have less opportunities to interact with elder or younger children who are close to their ages. This tends to reduce the chances for learning social skills and human relations by following the example of elder ones in children's group.
School is a place where children of different ages gathers. This activity is designed to foster vertical connections between different grades by creating a mixed-age group often called "Tate-wari-han (vertical group)" in Japanese. The group includes children from all grades that should be engaged in various activities. Grade 6 students usually take a leadership role in it.
Student council activities, Mixed-age group activities (Cross-age group activities)
About an hour per month
- Fostering students to understand the importance of cooperation and to develop a sense of caring for each other.
- Making lower grade students learn how to interact with others by seeing upper grade students' considerate behaviors and hearing their kind words.
Teaching materials prepared and required equipment
At one of the elementary schools in Tokyo, the mixed-age group is called "Nakayoshikko group," whuich means close friend group. The term is used in the above material.
See "draft plan for the mixed-age group activities" above.
Photo 2: Briefing about the event by 6th graders to lower graders
Photo 3: Charades
Photo 4: Rock-scissors-paper game
Research conductedby Ministry of Education, 2001-2003 Development of a student guidance program to foster social skills among studentsExchange Activities and Experiential Activities to Nurture the Foundation of Social Skills: For Students to Have the Joy of Interacting with Others (Japanese)
NationalInstitute for Educational Policy ResearchInteractions between children of different ages" to foster children's social skills -from the concept of implementing activities to activity plans for teachers - (Japanese)
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