Kinder Kids International Preschool opened its doors in 2014 to provide its original Japanese-style curriculum to Canadian children. Kinder Kids operates 24 preschools in Japan, two in Canada and one in Hawaii (as of 2022). All schools educate children in English and are continuing to expand to meet demand.
I visited Kinder Kids’ Mississauga (Clarkson) School. There is everything preschool children could need there.
Why is the Japan-made English curriculum successful in Canada? Let’s find it out!
Who is Kaede?
I am Multilingual Education Writer/Blogger
I raised my two children as advanced trilingual speakers of English, Japanese and French in Canada. I researched bilingual education and applied what I learned to my child rearing. My children can read and write in all the three languages. I advocate multilingual education and support parents who want to raise their children as bilingual/multilingual speakers.
Video of Kinder Kids Graduation Ceremony in Canada
- 1 What is Kinder Kids Canada?
- 2 Success of Japanese Style Education in Canada
- 3 Rich Curriculum Enhances Children’s Curiosity
- 4 Class Visit
- 5 Communication App, Reviews, etc.
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 Staff Recruitment
What is Kinder Kids Canada?
Kinder Kids Mississauga (Clarkson) school became immediately popular after it opened in 2014. The current waiting list is two years. Many mothers register when they become pregnant, or even when they are planning to become pregnant!
Ms. Kobayashi, (on the right) the school director, is a Japanese Canadian who came to Canada when she was nine years old. She speaks both English and Japanese fluently.
Ms. Kobayashi worked as an RECE (Registered Early Child Educator) in Canada, then went to Japan in 2011 along with her husband and two young children. She started working for Kinder Kids in Japan and soon was promoted to Head Office where she worked as part of the Curriculum Department. When Kinder Kids opened the first school in Canada, she returned to Canada as its School Supervisor.
(* I did not receive any compensation from Kinder Kids to write this article.)
Kinder Kids Canada is in close communication with the Head Office in Japan to ensure the same quality of education as its Japanese parent school.
Kinder Kids Canada’s information is as below.
Information of Kinder Kids International Preschool, Mississauga (The table slides horizontally.)
|Address||1575 Clarkson Rd N, Mississauga, ON L5J 2X1|
|No. of Students||141 max. capacity|
|No. of Teachers||~ 25|
|Ages||6 months – 6 years old|
|Hours||Mon – Fri, 7:00 – 18:00|
|Facility||Outdoor playground, Cooking studio, Gym|
|Global Mission||We will nurture ambition, a broad vision, creativity, diversity and excellence|
Features of Kinder Kids
According to the conversation with Ms. Kobayashi, I summarized the reasons for Kinder Kids Canada’s success as below.
- The school adapted the Japanese style ‘Structured’ education to fit to Canadian children.
- Small class sizes and an adequate teacher-student ratio.
- Challenging but achievable goals for children to accomplish. Teachers and parents should not underestimate a child’s ability to learn.
Small Class Size
|Class||No. of Classes||Age||Teacher – Student Ratio|
|Infant||1||6 months – 18 months||1:3（Max. 10 in a class）|
|Toddler||2||18 months – 30 months||1:5（Max. 10 in a class）|
|Jr. Preschool||2||2.5 yr. – 3.5 yr.||1:8（Max. 16 in a class）|
|Sr. Preschool||2||3 yr.- 4 yr.||1:8（Max. 16 in a class）|
|Jr. Kindergarten||1-2||4 yr.- 5 yr.||1:13（Max. 16 in a class）|
|Sr. Kindergarten||1-2||5 yr. – 6 yr.||1:13（Max. 16 in a class）|
(The table slides horizontally.)
A small class size is very important to enable students to learn. Kinder Kids sets the class size smaller than the Ontario regulations, particularly for Jr. and Sr. Kindergarten classes.
When I entered each classroom, I immediately noticed the small class size and how quiet the children were. With the small class size, it is easier for the teachers to manage and engage with all students.
Ontario’s Strict Guidelines
Canada has a culture that children’s safety is the first priority. Day care facilities must follow Ontario’s strict safety guidelines.
The teacher-student ratio has to be kept at 100% at all times. When a teacher needs to leave the room for any reason, one of the Management Team will go to the classroom to maintain the ratio if other staff cannot be scheduled.
I was astonished to hear that the bleach solution used in the facility must keep a certain concentration and the temperature of the water from the faucet must maintain a certain temperature.
Each classroom needs at least one teacher with an RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator) . Some teachers may have an OCT (Ontario Certificated Teacher) qualification. Staff without qualifications are paired with an RECE staff in every room.
It was impressive that Ms. Kobayashi said, “An educator must understand children well. At what age, what kind of ability they have, what kind of interests they have, and in what direction they want to expand their curiosity.”
Kinder Kids supports the teachers by providing training days throughout the year, as well as case by case meetings and observations.
Tuition and CWELCC
Tuition is comparable to other preschools in Mississauga. Uniforms, study materials and field trips are not included in the tuition.
In recent years, Canada is putting more significance on early childhood education, and the federal government is starting the ‘Canada-Wide Early Learning & Child Care (CWELCC) System’ which subsidizes childcare fees.
The subsidy rate is going to grow incrementally. By 2025, parents will pay only $10-$12 per day to send their children to daycare in Canada. Kinder Kids Clarkson location has now successfully been approved for the funding, and has started the process of reducing their tuition.
Link to Government of Canada CWELCC
Oakville School and Further Expansion
Kinder Kids opened a new school in Oakville in September 2022. Oakville location can enroll up to 190 children with 11 classrooms!
Kinder Kids is also planning to open more new schools in Ontario in order to provide good early childhood education to Canadian families.
Success of Japanese Style Education in Canada
How Kinder Kids is Different from Other Schools
The theory of ‘Free Play’ has been adopted in Canadian preschools for a long time, especially in Ontario. The idea of ‘Children learn through play’ has been believed to be a good childcare method in Canada.
It seems to be a good philosophy to respect children’s freedom; however, the classrooms tend to be noisy, and teachers have difficulty controlling the children in the ‘Free Play’ method. These loud and unstructured environments may limit the development of each child’s potential ability to learn.
Kinder Kids introduced the Japanese style structured and teacher-led early age education to Canada. In this system, teachers introduce concepts to the students about society, the universe, nature, the human body and so forth. The students then can extend their curiosity and explore the world around them.
Kinder Kids’ Way
Children thrive through consistency. They feel safe and protected when they live in a structured environment with everyday routines.
At Kinder Kids, children acquire important social life skills by having structured daily routines with other students such as ‘studying’, ‘singing’, ‘playing’, ‘sitting’, ‘waiting’, ‘greeting’, or ‘eating’ together. Developing a life skill such as listening to the teacher carefully also enhances children’s safety.
Kinder Kids students develop compassion to care about others in their school life. Kinder Kids students often surprise other parents by their well-mannered behaviours at birthday parties or other public functions.
Expectation of Kinder Kids
Kinder Kids considers literacy and numeracy as part of life skills for the students. The teachers lead the students to an advanced level in reading, writing and mathematics by the time they graduate from Sr. Kindergarten. The children can start their elementary school life both academically and emotionally prepared.
The students give a research presentation in the Sr. Kindergarten year. As examples, they give presentations on the organs, the universe or cosmic gas.
Rich Curriculum Enhances Children’s Curiosity
Kinder Kids creates a rich curriculum based on the Japanese style structured early childhood education. The children can start their 1st grade at an elementary school confidently.
Literacy and Numeracy as the Core of the Curriculum
Circle Time and Workbook Time
Literacy and numeracy skills are nurtured during ‘Circle Time (Pre-teaching)’ and ‘Workbook time’.
During Circle Time, the class teachers pre-teach various academic concepts through engaging games and dances. In Workbook Time, the students review their knowledge on the same topics. The teacher understands each student’s depth of understanding in the Workbook time and gives proper tutoring.
Target of 150 Sight Words and Journal Writing
The students start Phonics, Cooking, and Yoga lessons in the Toddler class (18 months) for the first time, then they start sight-words in the Jr. Preschool (30 months) level. The students are exposed to 150 words by the time they graduate from Sr. Kindergarten. With the knowledge of 150 words, the students can read 85% of any children’s book.
At graduation from Sr. Kindergarten, the students generally reach the average literacy level of Grade 2 or 3 in Canada. Kinder Kids students also start journal writing in the Sr. Preschool class, as well as handwriting and numeracy workbooks.
Fun and Rich Curriculum
Of course, there is plenty of curriculum beside literacy and numeracy at Kinder Kids.
‘Kumitaiso’, Coding, etc.
Kinder Kids Curriculum includes music, yoga, PE, art and craft, cooking, Japanese and French. They added coding classes to Sr. Kindergarten from 2022.
PE includes Japanese gymnastics called ‘Kumitaiso’ which requires speedy body movement and mutual physical cooperation. Their current music teacher is a professional pianist. The Sr. Kindergarten students practice the pianica (or melodica) and play it at the summer concert in front of their parents.
Their curriculum has Japanese and French language classes. The students understand that there are many different languages in the world. As an afterschool program, students can join a taekwondo twice a week at a nearby dojo.
Parents do not need to send their children to different afterschool programs because they already learn various skills at Kinder Kids.
Children prepare their own food in the beautiful cooking studio, and that gives children the opportunity to enjoy food they used to dislike.
Cooking class starts from Toddler class. They make their own playdough and slime they use!
Gym with Bouldering Wall
In addition to the large outdoor playground where the students can play in the fresh air every day, there is a spacious indoor gym! Kids can have a PE class even on a hot or severely cold day.
The gym has a bouldering wall, and it helps the children increase their physical strength. Wayne Kim, the owner of the school, brought the stones from Japan. The children aim to climb up to hi-five with the Green Giant hand at the top.
Abundant Events All Year Around
The students enjoy a lot of seasonal events all year around.
Not to mention the Canadian Halloween and Christmas parties, the students experience Sports Day and Summer Concert. They also have a monthly field trip.
Sr. Kindergarten students practice ‘Kumitaiso’ for months before they show their performance to their parents on Sport Day. They can even do a backbend bridge!
I asked Ms. Kobayashi if ‘Kumitaiso’ may look like military training to the parents. But she said, “No, they love it!”
I visited each classroom. I’ll share with you what I observed the students do at each age group.
Infant Class (6 months – 1.5 yr.)
When I entered the infant class, a smiling girl ran to me. I was allowed to pick her up and had a very nice moment of holding a baby since my children have already grown-up!
When Kinder Kids Canada opened in 2014, they did not have an infant class. However, the teachers needed a place where their own babies could go while they were working, so to support their employees, the school created it.
The Circle Time of Infant Class includes singing songs, dancing and reading books. They teach colours and shapes. When the teachers started singing with gestures, the babies showed their interest and cheerfully engaged with the adults.
The teachers give a massage to the babies. Baby massage is good for bowel movements and sleep. Ms. Kobayashi has a license to teach baby massage to the teachers.
Toddler Class (1.5 yr. – 2.5 yr.)
Entering the Toddler Class, some students greeted me with a cheerful “Hi!” They were so cute! There wasn’t a single student who screamed or made loud noise. All children were very calm, but also alert and engaged.
In the Circle Time, the toddlers were crafting a paper turkey. The teacher would introduce the names of colours while showing the paper feathers.
Cooking, yoga and phonics are introduced to students from the Toddler Class.
Many of the children speak different languages other than English at home, and their background cultures are varied. From the infant level, the children are exposed to English as well as participate in Canadian and other cultural activities.
Meals and Snacks
Lunch and snacks are supplied by a catering company. They can prepare meals for children with special dietary requirements such as food allergies. The school provides 2 snacks (3 snacks to the students who stay until 6 pm.) Lunch is served around 11:30 am.
I saw toddlers sitting on chairs and eating food quietly with spoons. No one was playing with food. Even if some children may be picky about food at home, they eat well at school.
The toddlers cut fruits and vegetables in the cooking class. By doing so, they are introduced to nutritious food that they may have not liked or experienced before. Kids learn to enjoy what they make!
Jr. Preschool Class (2.5 yr. – 3.5 yr.)
From this age, they wear a uniform top and a hat.
In the Jr. Preschool class at Kinder Kids, 12 sight-words are introduced to the students.
They learn to use a pair of scissors, a workbook for pre-writing and an activity book. Jr. Preschoolers start to learn many different life skills.
Groups of four children sit around a table with the teacher and read the “Little Learners” readers. The group of four is a good size for the teacher to be able to engage with each child.
Sr. Preschool (3 yr. – 4 yr.)
Sr. Preschoolers wear a full uniform, and they look very cute!
They have a weekly PE gym class. They start using a toolbox and a workbook. Journal writing starts from this age at Kinder Kids.
The students learn new things in Circle Time together, then they work on the workbook individually in Workbook Time. The teachers support each child by observing what kind of help the child needs.
Jr. Kindergarten (4 yr. – 5 yr.)
Jr. or Sr. Kindergarten starts at the local elementary school in Canada. However, it is often difficult for working parents to pick up their children at 3 pm or to prepare lunches and snacks every day.
Many children stay at Kinder Kids until they enter the first grade of elementary school because they can learn more than the local kindergarten teaches.
From Sr. Preschool, the children begin journal writing. The lines of the journal are initially wide and the pencil leads they use are soft so that it is easy for them to write.
Gradually the lines become narrower, and the pencil lead becomes harder as the child’s skill develops. Ms. Kobayashi says they pay attention to these kinds of small details, and that’s the Kinder Kids way.
Sr. Kindergarten (5 yr. – 6 yr.)
The Sr. Kindergarten students can read words quickly at Kinder Kids. They can write several paragraphs in their journals. Even computer coding is taught in this class.
Jr. and Sr. Kindergarten classes have a weekly spelling test. They are tested for the same words over two weeks. In that way, the children have the opportunity to practice and get a better score, which in turn raises their confidence. Kinder Kids consistently supports the children to succeed.
Children love to compete. Some students compete to write more paragraphs than others. It’s a good way to use their competitive nature creatively.
Jr. and Sr. Kindergarten classes have no nap time, but since they still need a downtime during the day, they read books or choose what they like to do quietly in the Mindfulness Time.
Communication App, Reviews, etc.
Communication with Parents
The school, teachers and parents communicate through HiMama App.
The teachers frequently post pictures of the children on the HiMama app. All families will receive updates on things like toileting, meals, and activities throughout the day. The parents may casually ask questions though the app.
Review by Parents
In the video link below, a couple express their love for Kinder Kids Canada. They say “If you find a spot, go for Kinder Kids! Don’t look at the other schools, just go to Kinder Kids!”
Insider Review by Kinder Kids Parents (Vimeo)
There is no entrance exam at Kinder Kids, Mississauga School. The only thing you need to do is sign up on the waiting list. The teachers and Management team work together to ensure all children are able to adapt to the new school life smoothly, according to Ms. Kobayashi.
However, if parents want their child to start from Jr. or Sr. Kindergarten, the child may need to receive an assessment by the director to see if he/she can catch up after the entrance.
Students with hearing problems or autism spectrum disorders also come to Kinder Kids, Mississauga School. The regional government sends a specialist to support the child and consult with the teachers regarding what kind of care is necessary.
Study at Kinder Kids in Other Countries
Kinder Kids has a free transfer system between Japan, Canada, and Hawaii locations. Whenever spaces are available, families enrolled in Kinder Kids in other countries can send their child/ren to school in other countries for free.
It is quite an experience for the Japanese Kinder Kids students to experience the real English-speaking environment and practice their English.
Some people may say “Literacy and numeracy are too early for preschoolers. They just need to play.”
However, after visiting Kinder Kids, I understand that children want to know things and explore the world around them. They have a strong sense of curiosity.
Ms. Kobayashi says Kinder Kids wants to educate children to be able to change society. If the children have self-confidence, problem-solving skills and a challenging mind, they can change society when they go out into the world. This school visit taught me that we should not underestimate the children’s potential and abilities.
Kinder Kids International Preschool is hiring teachers. If you are an RECE, have a plan to study ECE, a working holiday maker, or just have an interest in working with children, why don’t you contact Kinder Kids? (Proper visa to work in Canada is necessary.) https://www.kinderkids.ca/
If you are interested in studying ECE, the Ontario Government may provide grants to subside the entire tuition for your ECE courses. Please check https://ecegrants.on.ca/