寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

child protection

Training for Gakudo Staff: Approaches to children with developmental difficulties (October 25, 2013)

Among the children who go to after-school programs (gakudos) there are those who spend more time at gakudo than they do at school. Some children spend over 290 days a year at gakudo, including Saturdays and long holidays such as summer vacation, in addition to the weekdays after school. From this alone we can see how important gakudos are for some children.

 

Gakudos play a significant support role in the daily life of working parents, and provides a place where children can feel peace of mind after school. This is especially true in the regions where people are still striving to rebuild their lives since the disasters of 2011. We feel that it is very important to support staff that look after children every day at their gakudos.

 

From September 18 to 20, Save the Children Japan (SCJ) held training workshops for gakudo staff in five locations in Iwate Prefecture: Ofunato City, Rikuzentakata City, Kamaishi City, Yamada Town and Otsuchi Town. The theme was “Approaches to the children with developmental difficulties ,” which was requested by many gakudo staff in their responses to questionnaires at the beginning of this year. We invited Mrs. Keiko Katayama, previously the chairperson and vice chairperson of “National Gakudo Association,” to present the workshops. A total of 65 staff took part in these three days of training.

 

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A SCJ staff member and a gakudo staff member co-chaired the workshops.

 

Mrs. Katayama has worked in gakudos for 36 years. In the workshop she shared with us many stories about the children and parents that she had worked with daily. She told us about the significance of gakudos:

“Gakudos were born out of a wish of working parents. By ensuring a safe and secure after-school life (or throughout the day during long vacations) for children, gakudos support working parents and their family life.”

 

Furthermore, she insisted, “To realize this wish of the parents, our senior gakudo staff kept working on training and communicating with other staff to build horizontal relationships among themselves. In order to spread understanding of the job of gakudo staff within society, it is important for each of us to be conscious about our own job, and be able to explain in our own words what we do.”

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Gakudo staff eagerly taking notes.

 

Mrs. Katayama gave us an example of why working at gakudos is an attractive job:

“Our job may not look ‘cool’ at all. It is not easy or spectacular to work with these unique children. Yet, in the course of our daily work, there are moments when we suddenly notice how one of the children has grown in one way or another. This is always a moving moment that makes us feel good that we continue doing this job, and that it is a wonderful job to do.”

 

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A staff member asks Mrs. Katayama a question. The staff talked about specific work problems, such as, “What should we do with a particular child who creates disorder in the group of children?”

 

Mrs. Katayama talked passionately about her practical experiences of working in gakudos. While listening to her talk, participating gakudo staff nodded silently, burst into laughter, took notes and even shed tears.

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After the talk, some staff expressed their various concerns and asked for advice. Mrs. Katayama listened carefully to each staff member, and responded:

“I feel really happy to hear and see that you are taking the job of looking after the children so seriously every day, and that you continue to learn through trial and error. I expect a lot from you! However, by only listening to your stories, I obviously am not able to give you some prescription that will immediately solve all your problems. You know better than anyone else about your gakudo’s children. The important thing is to keep working with your gakudo children, even if you occasionally fail or things don’t go well. Working at a gakudo is a wonderful job, although it may not appear cool to others.”

 

The following are comments from staff that participated in Mrs. Katayama’s training and workshop program:

“This talk from an experienced gakudo staff member motivated me so much.”

“It was a very nice and suitable talk for us working at gakudos. I didn’t want her to stop talking.”

“It may take time, but I want to gradually develop myself to become more like Mrs. Katayama.”

“It was an excellent talk that shared with us a number of useful practical cases. I was moved. I want her to come again.”

 

This time we took a new approach to preparing for this gakudo staff training. Previously, the main programs were lectures that SCJ staff and the invited lecturers had prepared. However this time, in some locations, the gakudo staff took the initiative in preparing the training program, and proposed to include workshops for staff in the program. They talked with other local staff to reach agreement, and through these efforts for the first time we were able to include workshops in the training sessions. This became a great opportunity for local gakudo staff to exchange their opinions with each other.

 

Staff exchanged their opinions within each group. They discussed how they should warn mischievous children, how to build relationships of trust with parents and many other things.

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In the workshop, they first engaged in some group work. The participants shared cases of “problems and solutions in daily childcare,” and exchanged their opinions. Then, representatives from each group presented the content of their discussions, and received feedback from Mrs. Katayama.

 

Gakudo staff support working parents every day through caring for their children. SCJ will continue to support these hard-working gakudo staff.