- Michael Stuparyk/ Getty
- Kindergarten looks different in countries all over the world.
- In Japan, there is a school that is circular-shaped and allows children to climb a tree to get to class.
- In Germany and Canada, there are schools that use parks and forests as the classroom.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Of course, kindergarten is a worldwide tradition. Children in many countries attend kindergarten to begin their education and to better transition into primary school. The curriculum and classrooms, however, look different from country to country. Some attend a school that uses parks as the classroom, while others focus primarily on singing and dancing.
Keep reading to learn how kindergarten is different for children all over the globe.
Kindergarten in China is for children under six years old.
- VCG/ Getty
Like in the US, kindergarten in China is a mixture of child care and education. Students learn to read and write Chinese. They’re also introduced to basic numbers and the beginnings of mathematics. Singing and dancing is an important part of the curriculum, which allows children to put on public performances. Physical education is also valued in the curriculum, so time on the playground is ample.
Kindergarten in France is called école maternelle and is for children between three and five years old.
- Xavier TESTELIN/ Getty
At école maternelle, students are taught reading and writing, while also beginning lessons on numbers. One of the kindergarten’s main goals is to help children start socializing. While the younger ones are also treated to an afternoon nap, all children participate in arts and crafts, games, and singing.
One of the most famous kindergartens in France is the Crèche de la Girafe, which has a giant giraffe poking through the entire school.
Over 80% of children go to kindergarten in Germany, as parents receive monetary benefits.
- Alexandra Beier/ Getty
In Germany, parents receive about $200 per month for every child they have, which is called kindergeld. Many parents choose to use this money to buy school supplies and help their child get started in kindergarten. In this country, getting your child into kindergarten is quite competitive, leaving many on waitlists. Among the most popular schools are those which teach both German and English.
Another notable fact about Germany’s kindergartens is that a lot of the schools offer special outdoor programs. For example, Robin Hood Waldkindergarten is a well known “forest kindergarten” which uses parks and forests as the classroom – no matter the weather.
Like in Germany, some of Canada’s kindergarten teachers prioritize outdoor activities.
- Richard Lautens/ Getty
Although there are traditional kindergartens throughout Canada that resemble the curriculum in the US, there is a growing movement within the country. Many believe the traditional 20-to-30 minutes of structured recess isn’t enough. Instead, some Canadian schools are allowing children to spend the entire day outside.
The Equinox Holistic Alternative School in Toronto allows students to interact with nature on a daily basis. Through storytelling and nature learning, children learn the basics of kindergarten in a different way.
Although kindergarten is not mandatory in Japan, the country is home to a famous school: Fuji Kindergarten.
- View Pictures/ Getty
Despite the fact that kindergarten is not mandatory, Japan has fascinating schools for younger children. Fuji Kindergarten in Tokyo, for example, is known for its unique design. The roof of the circular building acts as a track for kids to run on. From the roof, students can take a slide down to the ground floor where there’s an open area to play. If that isn’t enough, children can even climb trees to get to the classrooms.
Another kindergarten that has made headlines in Japan is Buddy Sports Kindergarten in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, which is almost run like a boot camp. Because the school prioritizes physical education above all else, students start the day by running almost two miles. The school’s motto is “try your best,” but when a student cries during the physical exercises, they are reportedly told to stop.
In the United Kingdom, kindergartens are called “playgroups.”
- BSIP/ Getty
Playgroups in the UK are typically locally run and funded, but they must meet the Health and Social Services Trust’s standards. For example, there should be one teacher for every eight students and each day should last around four hours.
One playgroup in London called Sunshine Playgroup offers students classes in a variety of subjects including cooking, drama, French, and even yoga.
Many children in Africa do not have access to good education. The organization SOS Children’s Villages includes kindergarten in its programming.
- Anadolu Agency/ Getty
SOS Children’s Villages is an organization that provides housing for orphaned or abandoned children, especially in Africa. In some countries, the company has built free kindergartens where children can learn and play with their peers, crucial when so many kids on the continent don’t have access to good education.
The school employs highly trained teachers who use the Montessori method, which allows students the freedom to explore their creativity and physical development in any way they choose. This usually means children are able to play with toys and have daily activities that will keep them engaged.
- Read more:
- 12 of the most beautiful kindergartens around the world
- The most beautiful school in every state
- THEN AND NOW: 6 classes US public schools rarely offer anymore – and what they’ve been replaced with
- 8 colleges were named in the massive college-admissions scandal. Here’s how they’re responding.