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The Best Kindergarten You've Never Seen

Takaharu Tezuka gives a wonderful TED Talk about a Kindergarten that he designed and was built in 2007 in Tokyo. The talk is called "The Best Kindergarten You've Ever Seen."

Tezuka is a designer, and he and his wife are a team. Tezuka and his wife built schools centered on trees, play areas created from interwoven wooden beams and hospitals that offer patients the healing gifts of joyous light and space

The school is beautiful, shaped in a circle. As Tezuka says, "Kids love to make circles." He also points out if a kid gets up and starts to wander, the teachers know he will return: it's a circle!

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Beyond the design, the school has philosophies behind it. Tezuka says that kids should not be controlled, we are meant to roam, we came from a jungle and are used to noise. In trying to control so much of our world and our kids, we are doing them a disservice.

When I think about my oldest child's experience in Kindergarten, it could not be more different. It was half day and consisted of one 15-minute recess.

And that short recess? It was hung over the heads of children if they didn't finish their work. Often, it was denied for the kids who needed it the most.

Tezuka's school institutes a strong desire to nurture relationships between the kids—something Tezuka believes is very important and often lost in today's world. In my son's class, there was so much arguing amongst the kid because they had very little time to be social. The teacher was always telling them to be quiet.

But I do understand a beautiful building like this might seem far down the list of what students need. But the philosophy behind why it was the built, the way it was built, should be replicated.

Tezuka says kids need noise, to be noisy.

The outside play area above the classrooms allows the kids to run around, climb trees and fall down.

"My point is: don't control them, don't protect them too much. They need to tumble, sometimes they need to get some injury, that makes them learn how to live in this world."

The classroom blends inside and outside; there is no boundary. He believes kids need to feel connected to the outside. He always incorporates trees into his design.

Each classroom has at least one skylight and lots of wood. They are beautiful.

I understand that the budget for education is not there. I know kids in Los Angeles who can't even get books. I don't understand it. But I do understand a beautiful building like this might seem far down the list of what students need. But the philosophy behind why it was the built, the way it was built, should be replicated.

The children are testing just as well as their peers who don't attend the school.

We are no longer at the school my oldest was at, because I did not want to go through two more years of the Kindergarten with my other children.

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I've found a school that is more nurturing, and has far more recess and room for exploration and questioning.

"I think architecture is capable of changing this world, and this is one attempt to change the life of children," Tezuka says.

Exactly. Exactly!

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Image via Archi-Europe

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