There’s a new school in town! TOKYO CREATORS KIDS

By on June 9, 2014

Tokyo resident Isaac Schulz recently opened a special space in Shibuya where aspiring little Van Gogh or Steve Jobs can leave reality behind and discover infinite ways of thinking and playing. TF catches up with Isaac to find out more.


When did Tokyo Creators Kids start?
Tokyo Creators Kids formally opened in September 2013 after fine-tuning our mission and goals and teaching philosophy. We created the school over the course of five years.

What is TC Kids’ learning focus?
Our hope is that every child who attends TC Kids will leave with the confidence to live imaginatively and empathically. So through the arts – like storytelling, painting, puppetry, music, movement and more – we foster creative thinking, self-expression and cooperation or collaboration. We focus on
imagination and empathy. We think learning should be a daring adventure!

What would you say is unique about Tokyo Creators Kids Preschool?
We’re unique because we believe that the student is the curriculum. It’s not only about the lesson plan or setting specific goals and making sure the kids meet them. It’s about creating a place where kids can uncover what they already know –like how to make things, how to explore and discover, how to play, how to think. And they want to be heard. They want to tell their stories, and they want someone to listen to them. Our teachers spend much more time listening than “instructing”.

Why Shibuya?
We’re in Sakuragaoka, in between Shibuya and Daikanyama, and we’re here because we love everything about the area. It’s the perfect place for this kind of pursuit.

What’s the child-teacher ratio at the school?
The child-teacher ratio varies depending on how many kids sign up for a class, of course. But there are always several teachers involved in any one activity. So the ratio might be 2 or 3 kids per teacher. But it’s hard to measure it that way. To provide an environment that really encourages creativity and expression, you need many teachers involved. All our teachers are enormously creative and dedicated to our philosophy. All of our foreign teachers have many years experience teaching in Japan.

jake and flowersChild experts say exposing children to creative play helps develop divergent thinking, a necessary life skill. What programs are offered at TC Kids that aim to develop that?
Here again, it’s all about creativity. We don’t teach kids what to think, how to solve a problem or what the “answer” to a problem is. We encourage independent thinking. We let them figure it out. And there is no one way or single answer. We observe. We’re hands-on involved in every child’s development process. We are here to provide the tools, the materials and the guidance to help each child discover and explore many possible outcomes. So you can see how this method builds in every child a sense of empathy, cooperation, tolerance, accomplishment….and joy! Now those are amazing life skills; they’ll work anywhere!
Also, we believe that learning is an open process—here, it’s generous, colorful and fun! If you look at our photographs, you can see that the children are free to experiment unencumbered. Someone else might look at a child’s project and think he’s “failed” or “succeeded”. Lots of businesses look at life that way. Does it work? Or does it fail? At TC Kids we believe that all outcomes are valid and valued…because all creative adventures are expressions of one’s self and one’s story. We all have a story to tell. At this school, kids learn to tell their stories and listen to others’ stories. That’s our definition of success.
What do you think prevents a kid from being creative and how do you think that should be addressed?
First of all, I think we’re all creative beings. But along the way some of us get discouraged and our creative voices get quieter or they get dampened by bigger personalities or happenings. At TC Kids, we realize that this world needs all the innovative thinkers we can get, so we build a kind, inclusive and friendly atmosphere that brings ALL the creative voices to the table. Building this kind of welcoming space works in the classroom and the Board Room…and all through life.

Rin as a Bee smallerHow do we not shut that voice down? One, we model creativity and freedom. Two, we encourage all forms of expression—all flavors, hues and expressions. Three, we never tell children that they’re “messing up” or “doing it wrong”. And we give them plenty of time to finish their art and/or try new things. We believe that no creative act should ever be discredited. There’s plenty of room for many truths. And again, we surround these children with other innovative thinkers. The kids never have to “do it all alone”. That kind of confidence and that feeling of security are absolutely essential in building a career (and a life) that’s meaningful and purposeful.

What’s the medium of communication at the school? How does that work with Japanese and foreign children?
All of our teachers speak both languages. We use English to teach our main programs, but we enjoy communicating in Japanese and we definitely respect and promote the Japanese culture. Communication becomes an art form in itself! That’s why we welcome children of all backgrounds. We thrive on this diversity!

A native of Asheville, North Carolina (USA) , Isaac Schulz attended San Francisco Art Institute and graduated at the University of Hawaii. He has been an active artist and educator for nine years since moving to Tokyo in 2006. He loves working with children, exploring nature and tackling new challenges. Always in close touch with his family, friends and community, Isaac is not afraid to push the limits of his own creative pursuits. Keenly intelligent, witty, playful and passionate, Isaac is a “risk taker” in every good sense of the word. For more information, visit –
You can join a class at TC Kids for free before the Summer Creativity Camp when you mention their advert in Tokyo families magazine.


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