Get to Know Mirai no Mori Series #5 – Mirai no Mori Program – Fundamental Concepts
Through this series, we deliver insights into the institutional care system in Japan, children in it, and Mirai no Mori’s mission. We will shift our focus now to our programs and share with you our fundamental concepts as well us a few facts that makes us unique for the children and the care homes. We hope you find it interesting and informative.
Series #5: Mirai no Mori Program – Fundamental Concepts
For children growing up in the institutional care system, having the “Life Skills” is essential to overcome obstacles and simply sustain their lives after leaving the system, and they must gain these skills by the age of 18. These children, therefore, need more learning opportunities during their adolescent years than children in a traditional family environment. At Mirai no Mori, we strive to create such learning opportunities for the children in fun environment while minimizing the additional workload for the homes and care workers.
The most important concepts for our programs are “Experiential Learning” and “Continuous.” Firsthand experiences teach children to pay attention to their surroundings and use all their senses to gather information. Communicating and working together with other children and adults helps them learn more about their emotions and how to manage them, allowing children to gain understanding and ways of thinking that cannot be conveyed in words or theories. Repeating similar experiences solidifies their learning and leads them to further exploration. The same activity can provide a different experience with a different takeaway for the children depending on other participants and the stage of development. Experiences of achieving something they couldn’t in previous program, or the past years, is only possible by continuously participating in the programs.
We value experience of failures as much as successes in our programs. “Failures” help children gain a deeper understanding and often teach them more than a success. Care workers who support children’s day-to-day lives often tell us: “because we don’t want children to fail at things, us adults go ahead to make sure they succeed, so children don’t usually experience failures.” These “successful” experiences will not stand up against reality, and it also takes away the opportunity for the children to learn how to succeed on their own. In our programs, we always aim to provide an environment that it is ok for them to fail and chances to try again. Having broad experiences in such an environment allows children to work through their actions and consequences, gain new knowledge and understanding, establish their ways of thinking, and gain true confidence.
One of Mirai no Mori’s strengths is that we are an organization independent from care homes or government and plan and run programs exclusively to serve children in care homes. Being specialized in this way allows us to develop curriculums specifically catered to the children and their needs. We can also create a safe and secure learning environment due to our expertise and experience in outdoor safety. While care workers understand the effectiveness of experiential learning, creating and running programs of their own on top of providing everyday care for children is not easy. Moreover, because we are fully funded through donations from our supporters, the financial burden on care homes is kept minimal. The care homes do not need to set aside a budget or find a separate source of income in order to join our programs. Our goal is to provide diverse experiential learning opportunities to as many children as possible while lowering the hurdle for the care home to send children and where care workers feel comfortable joining with the children. This unique Mirai no Mori program is made possible by the tireless effort from care homes and care workers to make children’s lives better and generous support from our supporters.
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