English and early childhood education: turning your love into your calling

英語と幼児教育 好きを極めて天職に

Hitomi Ikeda started her own business by leveraging her knowledge of languages, which she had loved and excelled at since childhood, and her knowledge of education, which she became interested in after giving birth. We spoke mainly about ``Asobu Manabiya,'' an early childhood classroom that incorporates everything she has learned, including childcare, language studies, art history, and working experience.

About current activities

-Mr. Ikeda, what kind of activities are you currently involved in?
Mainly in Ebina City and Zama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, I run ``Ai Gakusha,'' an art and English preschool class, sometimes using online services.

We hold "Play Messy in English," where you can get familiar with English without worrying about getting dirty with paint or powder, "English Rhythmics," which combines English and rhythmics, and "Asobi STEAM Online," where you can naturally learn STEAM education while having fun. doing.

-What kind of content is it?
Messy play is a form of play that was developed by Natsuho Aida of the Japan Infant Play Education Association, which incorporates elements from Montessori education, the Reggio Emilia approach, and Waldorf education.

There are many artistic elements to messy play. Touching, painting, mixing, tearing, and making a mess with various materials such as paint, powder, and paper...it's a type of play that's hard to do at home. At ``Aoi Gakusha,'' we offer an original lesson called ``Play Mecha in English,'' which is a combination of English and Megumi Play.

At ``English Rhythmics,'' we offer a lesson called ``AMUSE Play,'' which combines three elements: art, music, and English. In addition to myself, we have a rhythmic piano instructor, and the event is held with two instructors.

When I was an office worker, I found it difficult to balance childcare and childcare.

- Messy play is gaining recognition in early childhood education, but Mr. Ikeda also incorporates English into it. Have you always liked languages?
I was sent to an English conversation class when I was little, and when I entered junior high school, I went to Australia for a two-week homestay. I have always found it fun to learn and speak foreign languages.
At the recommendation of my cram school teacher, I decided to take a course in a department other than English for my university entrance exam. I had always loved art, so I majored in French at university. I was happy to be able to read a language I didn't know.

-Would you like to improve your language skills at university and get a job?
At university, the first two years are spent learning the basics of language, and the second two years are spent preparing for a graduation thesis in a specialized field. When I thought about finding a job, I set my sights on becoming a museum curator, which is the art job I've loved since childhood. It was difficult to become a curator with a four-year bachelor's degree, so I went on to graduate school.

However, the reality is that there are only a few museums and there are no openings for curators, and even if a slot becomes available, it may not necessarily be a museum that handles the field in which you specialize.

-There aren't many museum curator positions.
It seems that there are many people who wait for a curatorial position to open up while becoming a doctor or a fixed-term researcher (postdoctoral fellow), but I thought it might be a good idea to keep waiting for someday... I got a job at a general company.

The company has weekly drinking parties, early mornings and late nights, and crowded trains. I couldn't envision my future working while pregnant and raising children, so I changed jobs after working for about three years. While married, I worked for two companies.

Learn about educational skills and look forward to difficult childcare

-What made you interested in educational education?
For me, childcare was an unknown world. At the government's mother's class, I learned how to bathe a baby and change diapers. However, just when I thought that the government taught me only a small part of how to raise children, I discovered intellectual education.

During my pregnancy with my first child, I learned multiple educational skills such as home nursery school and Montessori education, so I was looking forward to raising my child after giving birth. Of course, taking care of a baby is difficult, and even if you have ideals for things like your child's sleeping hours and toilet training, it's hard to follow the childcare books.

Of course, not everything in educational education can be done according to theory, but if you do it, there are some things that will respond to your needs, so you will be saved.

-It's nice to be able to look forward to it. Wasn't it difficult to study intellectually and take courses from certified instructors while having children?
I think the difficulty of raising children will vary depending on the child's personality, but my eldest son doesn't sleep much. Since it was my first time raising a child, there were many things I didn't understand, so I started learning about intellectual education in order to raise my child.

Then, our second son was born two years apart. This time, my child slept well, so I felt a little more at ease, and I started thinking about whether I could pursue educational pursuits as a career.

Looking for a way to work while taking care of your family

-Do you want to work even after becoming a mother?
I had always wanted to work as a translator, so I took a course while I was pregnant to become a translator. However, I learned that it is difficult to get a job without practical experience.
While I was raising my eldest son, I didn't have much free time to go out, so I started to feel more and more alone at home. I've always wanted to be recognized as a member of society and find a job.

―I heard that you started studying to become a certified instructor three months after giving birth to your second child.
That's right. As I worked out what I wanted to work for, what I was currently interested in, and what I had loved since I was little, I ended up with languages, art, and intellectual education. At just the right time, I came across ``messy play,'' which combines elements of art, early childhood education, and play.

Immediately after giving birth to my second son, I applied to become a 4th generation Certified Messy Play Instructor. The content is so immersive that I forget to eat or sleep, and I can relate to the philosophy, and I am still working hard with my fellow instructors.

Learning English using textbooks is good, but some children may end up hating English. It's easier to learn if you naturally incorporate it into play from a young age. I have created a class that is unique to me by incorporating English elements into messy games that parents and children can play together.

Since Zama Classroom is close to a US military base, we also hold "All English Messy Play" where you can play with friends from all over the world.

Furthermore, ``Asobi STEAM Online'' provides online STEAM education that combines science and art for ages 3 to 8, and I am in charge of the English class.

English is the most spoken language in the world. The advantage of learning English from an early age is that there is a wide variety of English content to choose from, such as anime and science content. If you learn to speak English at a young age, you will be able to enjoy content from all over the world and see a wider world.

Mr. Ikeda's future

-How do you feel about actually starting your own business?
I feel that mom entrepreneurs have a strong desire to ``for the children'' and ``for the mothers'' that arose from their own lives. Our strength is that we can respond in detail to niche demands that are difficult for large companies to achieve.

My current job is my life's work that I want to cherish in my life.

You can contribute to society while caring for your children and your family. It's something I like to do, so I enjoy thinking about what I can do to help children grow outside of work.

-Finally, please tell us about your dreams for the future.
I love English and I want to continue teaching it. In the future, I would like to expand the range of age groups I teach by enriching content such as ``English and Science'' and ``English and Art.''

《Hitomi Ikeda》
Graduated from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, majoring in French, and completed graduate school at the University of Tokyo, majoring in art history.
While raising two children in Ebina City, Kanagawa Prefecture, she runs an early childhood classroom called ``Ai Gakusha.''

《Playful learning building》

Official website here
Ameblo here
InstagramClick here
facebook here
Email asobumanabiya@gmail.com
Official LINE ( Click here for inquiries, recruitment, applications, and applications on LINE )

《Contact information regarding classes》
For inquiries about the classroom, please use the "Inquiry Form" on the official website or the "Official LINE".
"AsobiSTEAM Online", a science and art STEAM education, is currently recruiting students to start in April 2024.

*"Mushy play" and "AsobiSTEAM" are trademarks of the Japan Infant Play Education Association.

Related articles