Wakayama, Japan. 
Private school, 
Founded in 1992, 
Number of students: 200 
Age: 6-18 

Unique project work designed children to acquire wide range of knowledge and skills
A co-educational boarding school, which is the first alternative school authorized by Japanese ministry. The school was started in 1992 by founder inspired by the works of John Dewey and A.S.Neill (the founder of Summerhill School).
The school emphasizes their philosophy of “self-determination”, “respect individuality” and “experience learning”. Children are grouped not according to their age but their interests of activities and acquire knowledge and skills through their unique project work. Children’s learning by experiences through living together with others.



Kinokuni Children’s Village is the first authorized alternative school in Japan. Following philosophy and school model of “Summerhill School”, they develop unique education for foster children with freedom.

“Children with freedom” in every aspect of emotional, intellect and human relations
Freedom of emotion: be free from anxiety and lively, child living with confidence and self-affirmation.
Freedom of intelligence: extend attitude and skills of exploration by tackling problems
– Freedom of human relations: enjoy human interacting and learn relationship skills

Project-based experience learning with respect of individuality
Choose project group according to their own interests of activities
Experience learning
Freedom and thoughtfully designed curriculum to be authorized school

The school’s philosophy is principal of “self-determination”, “respect individuality” and “experience learning”. Those are harmoniously developed mainly though their unique educational practice called “Project”.

Age mixed group according to interests of activities
At the beginning of every year, children are grouped not according to their age but their interests of activities. The classes of mixed age are called “Project”
In the Project, each class has a unique activity theme. 2018 project groups are:

– Expedition
– Construction shop (woodworking, gardening)
– Funny food shop (Food research)
– Farm (Agriculture)
– Craft Hall (Ceramics, Woodworking)

Children see the contents of the project and the members and choose a class yearly.

Experience learning through group project
The timetable consists of project (14 hours a week), basic learning (7 hours), and free-choice to go beyond class boundaries (6 hours a week), and a whole school meeting.
Project activity occupies 50% of the timetable in primary school (30% in junior high school). Children and teachers set theme beyond subject boundaries and related to real life such as clothing, food and housing. Group member set concrete tasks and work together.
Through group project activities, they acquire attitudes and abilities to think, and also develop a wide range of knowledge and skills.

Freedom and thoughtfully designed curriculum
Their curriculum is carefully designed so that children can acquire the necessary competencies in basic education while guaranteeing the freedom of children.
In addition to learning through project work, children acquire basic skills in 3R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) in basic learning, linking with their own projects and real life. Learning of their own pace is also taken up, such as each child has different teaching materials. In free choice, children do activities related to physical education, arts, music in groups.
The school covers competencies by integrating whole learning activities, and they realize free school which is approved as a formal education school.

Globally acting graduates
Graduates work with their individual vision
Expanding experience learning schools follow Kinokuni as their model

School graduates have opened up their own paths with self-determination and individuality. Some are acting globally. Through activities at the school, children acquired skills to build something from the beginning and live autonomously while coordinating with others with diverse values.

Deepening own education and disseminate the achievements
Deepening of educational activities through teacher training, collaborate practices, cooperation.
Disseminate achievement and enlightenment Japanese education
-Covering short of facilities and finance

*Source: Self-school-evaluation report of one of the group schools (Minami-Alps children’s village)

Deepening of educational activities
There is no goal to improve education. The school needs to continue even more experimental attempts including teacher training, collaborate practices, enlightenment to parents, and external exchange.

Disseminate achievement and enlightenment Japanese education
To disseminate the fact that alternative education which is different from conventional way can exist in Japan and the style is achieving good outcome.

Facilities and Finance
As the number of children increases, there are lack of places to do activities such as woodworking and cooking. However, some inconvenience is inevitable. Effectively and creatively utilize facilities can improve educational outcomes.