|Two developed countries, Japan and the United States, have similar economic levels and family structures. The female labor force participation rates in both countries have increased greatly over recent decades. At the same time, the number of children who attend child care increased, and the demands of long hours of care at an early age increased gradually in both countries. Many young children are now given non-maternal care for extended time.
This thesis compares early childhood education systems in both Japan and the United States and discusses their similarities and differences. Six questions arose. How is each country’s government involved in the child care system? Is child care affordable to the families? How is child care financed? How is child care regulated? What kind of quality issues exist? What are their curricula?
Two schools in each country were visited for observations. Short interviews with the Japanese school’s principals and questionnaires for teachers at the American child care centers were conducted. In order to gain enough information for Japanese and American early childhood education systems, many research articles and documents were collected and used.
Results of the research indicate that even though Japan and the United States have similar economic levels and family structures, the main core of each country’s early childhood education system is different. The difference is the degree of governmental support. The Japanese government is more involved in the early childhood education system than the American government. It is suggested that increased government involvement, especially financially, improves child care quality.