Practicing Safety During Free Play

Practicing Safety During Free Play

January and February are the coldest months of the year here in Japan. Our bodies can feel very stiff and we may not feel as flexible or energetic as the rest of the year.

That being said, International Language House is a school full of young kids with lots of energy! We are all moving around most of the time despite the weather. Because of this, we make sure to stretch and warm up our bodies every morning with radio taiso and by running a few laps around the school.

In January, we completed our Winter Sports Day a.k.a. Marathon of 2022, and ran with all our might!

L-R: Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter class’ first place trophies from the marathon

Despite the many ways we stay active at school, it is still very important to keep safety in the front of our minds at all times–teachers and kids alike.

Recently, we updated some of our rules of free time to help further guarantee the safety of each student. Our teachers have mapped out stations so as to have eyes on every part of the school while the children play. To refresh everyone’s memory, we also did a short tour of the playground with each class to make sure they still have a clear understanding of safe and dangerous ways to play.

Wintertime is also a season of dry air. This can create dry skin and sometimes cracks that can become bloody if not treated with vaseline or other moisturizing creams. These days with the ongoing pandemic, using hand sanitizer further dries out hands, so it is very important to keep our skin fresh and moist in between washes.

Wearing gloves in karate class to protect ourselves

Two very important stages of development are key in order to ensure safe play:

  • Spatial awareness
  • Social awareness

Spatial awareness can otherwise be described as understanding your own personal space. It is knowing how far your arms or legs stretch out, how tall you are, and how close objects or other people are to you. As kids get bigger, this personal space area grows with them and they are constantly adapting to it.

Social awareness can otherwise be described as understanding other people’s personal space. This can be something as simple as apologizing to friends to if they bump into each other. When older and younger age groups play together, this is bound to happen. The conversations that happen right after are the most important. We encourage our kids to say phrases like “Are you okay?” or “I’m sorry” to each other whenever there is a problem.

Until the weather gets warmer again, ILH teachers and kids will keep doing our best to stay warm, flexible, considerate, and above all, SAFE and HAPPY!

Emergency Drills

Emergency Drills

Every month, we practice emergency drills at International Language House to prepare us for any potential natural disasters that may occur during the school day.

Types of emergencies we have drills for are fires, earthquakes, and intruder drills. Everyone acts out the situation as if it were really happening. We allow the kids to feel fear or surprise in the moment since they may feel the same way during an actual disaster, but also encourage them to use courage despite what they may be feeling.

After going through with the simulation, we make sure every one knows the incident is over and have a talk with everyone. Teachers make comments about what went well and what we need to work on for future drills with the kids. We also review some important steps to emergency reactions:

No running!

No screaming or panicking!

Don’t go back inside the school after you’ve left!

If it’s a fire, don’t breathe in the smoke. If it’s an earthquake, put on your shoes and cover your head!

Once we review the rules, we are ready to return to our normal school day.

Every year in September, we conduct a simulation of a large earthquake similar to Kobe 1995 or Fukushima in 2011.

On this day, we display a video of what those earthquakes looked like, talk about it, and hold a simulation.

When it’s time to go home, all parents must come to pick up their kids on foot. This is because if an actually big earthquake comes, the roads and train tracks will not be safe enough to ride on.

waiting to get picked up after our large earthquake drill

The more we practice for an emergency, the more prepared we will be in the future. Here’s to everyone’s safety moving forward!