About this school
Overview, mission and educational objective
The Special Needs Education School for Children with Autism was established as one of laboratory schools of the University of Tsukuba in 2004 to provide preschool and elementary school education to children with intellectual disability and autism. The mission of the school is to teach those children the necessary knowledges and skills found through practices while being as the National Kurihama School for Children with Disabilities.
Approximately 50 children learn at the school and each of them has different conditions of disability, developmental stage, and characteristics. With the educational goal of "nurturing the merits and potential of each child and cultivating the foundation for independence and social participation，we appropriately guide each child to maximize his/her possibilities.
Educational activities and features
Education at Kindergarten
Our kindergarten program is designed to nurture the potential of each child and make their very first educational experiences a precious time for them.
Children in our program learn in a safe environment in order to feel secure to develop relationships with others, explore their environment, build communication skills and basic daily life skills. This propels a willingness and motivation to live as independent individuals with joy and contentment.
We have about 18 children aged 3-5 who learn primarily in a classroom divided by age. Each classroom has a unique daily program depending on classroom needs as a group. We aim for each child to be an independent learner in the classroom with teachers and classmates, and match curriculum details such as time, place, personnel to each child’s unique needs. At the Morning Play, each child chooses from variety of enriching activities such as picture books, drawing, art works, jumping on a trampoline, ball playing, seasonal playing and so on. We believe that it is important for our children to engage in favorite play not only by themselves but with teachers as well. Children learn in a different group other than the classroom for The Play Activity (material, music, and exercise), the Nakayoshi Time (social skills), and the Nobi Nobi Time (life skills). These groups are divided by individual children’s interests and strengths. We provide individual instruction to each child too. The Kobetsuno Kadai Gakusyu and the Jiritsu Kadai are individually planned to enhance each child’s individual needs in communication, and cognitive skills. We have big group gatherings with the kindergarten as a whole at morning, lunch, and dismissal time. Through participating in large activities, children learn how to play, cooperate, and share experiences with friends and teachers. This big group usually gatheres for seasonal celebrations and cultural events too.
Elementary school education
In the elementary school, we are providing educational activities that meet the conditions and characteristics of each pupil with the following four goals
①Cultivate healthy and regular habits to help harmonize the development of the mind and body
②Expand relations with familiar adults and friends and cultivate appropriate communication skills
③Help pupils acquire basic knowledge and skills through various experiential learning activities, and cultivate abilities to value thinking and feeling and to express their thoughts and feelings, and
④ Cultivate attitudes to help children find favorite things and strong points and to positively take part in things.
The curriculum consists of instruction about life, social and leisure activities, subjects for school for mentally challenged and independent activities. Especially, we teach children Japanese language, math and independent activity as "individual project learning.” We have free time to encourage children to do individual activities in a group which is composed of younger and older students considering their abilities and problems.
Athletic meet at elementary school "Dancing with flags"
Education at the dormitory
Six children live at school dormitory as their homes are too far from school. By keeping in close contact with classroom teachers and parents, instruction is also provided at the dormitory aiming to establish basic life habits and cultivate good human relationships in order to help their home and community life after leaving the dormitory. Birthday parties, Christmas parties, etc., are also held to help the children enjoy their life in the dormitory.
Christmas party at the dormitory "Santa Claus is coming"
Approach to the three centers of future education
As a leading education center for autism
Since being assigned as the Research Development School by the Ministry of Education. Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2004, we have been working on research and development of the “educational curriculum for autism. ”Every February, we present the research results of integrated primary and secondary educational curriculum at the Research Conference of Practical Educational for Autism.
Since 2011, all faculty members have been engaged in research activities and lesson improvements under the theme of Education of independent activities for children with intellectual disability and autism - lessons to nurture children who feel, think, and act.”The results acquired so far on teaching methods and materials for children with autism are summarized in a book entitled "Important Points about Autism Education You Can Use from Tomorrow.”
In 2012, we invited the director of Wilmington TEACCH Center (North Carolina, USA) and two specialists to give us a four-day training program, which was an arrangement of TEACCH’s training program “Ready, set, go.” All faculty members attended the program to improve their teaching skills. We are also engaged in activities to deepen people’s understanding of children and adults with autism, such as holding “World Autism Awareness Day in Yokosuka” jointly with the National Institute of Special Needs Education.
As a teacher education center
Every year about 600 teachers from all parts of Japan attend our open school, open seminars, and study meetings. In addition, roughly 800 in­service and other teachers visit our school every year to observe our classes. In 2012, we hosted approximately 80 teachers, administrators, and university researchers from 8 countries including Cambodia, Bolivia, Indonesia, and Germany.
We also collaboratively work with the University of Tsukuba for the Teaching Certificate Renewal Courses and the open courses for teachers seeking for a superior teaching licensure. Those courses are open for incumbent teachers throughout Japan in order for them to improve the teaching quality.
We also accept students from the University of Tsukuba and national universities in Kanagawa Prefecture to do their practicum for teaching, and to experience of communication with children with disabilities.
Since 2013, we have been also accepting teachers from oversea universities, special support classes of regular schools, and other laboratory schools of national universities.
As an international education center
In 2009, we started an exchange program with Ningbo Damin School (special needs education school for the mentally challenged), Zhejiang, China and had Ningbo Damin teachers for their training on autism education. In 2011 our school members visited them in exchange and sign off the sister school agreement.
Having actively worked with East China Normal University and its autism research center, Ningbo Damin School is expected to develop into a center of autism education in China under close liaison with our school. In 2013, we visited Ningbo Damin School, Ren ai School in Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou, China, and the Special Education School and autism research center of East China Normal University. We are planning to webcast videos of lessons in our school, hold study meetings on educational methods with Ningbo Damin School using the video conference system, and hold joint conferences.
Commemorative photo taken at East China Normal University