One thing that struck me as my kids entered preschool here in Japan, was that the teacher-to-child ratio was quite generous. Also, the cost is quite manageable compared to the USA. The children by all accounts love where they are and enjoy themselves, looking forward to school just as kids should. In short, I’ve been mostly happy with it.
Side note: Their Japanese Hoikuen 保育園 preschool is really more about socialization and play than it is about studying. If I had wanted them pushed in education more early-on, I would have put them into a Youchien 幼稚園 type of preschool, however I figured the relocation from the US was stressful enough.
Now after 2 years of their adjusting and making friends, we may be imparting another shock upon them which concerns me. As we consider building a home in a nearby area, we must also consider changing their preschool. If we do not – then they will be faced with entering an elementary school later down the road with no friends/acquaintances. If we move them now, they have a solid year to adjust and make new friends.
This in itself is not insurmountable. But I then consider the other issues:
- They are the youngest in their classes: Children in Japan are placed into classes strictly by birth date, and the maturity difference between oldest to youngest can be striking. The US seems to be much more flexible in this regard. Studies have shown, the older kids in the classes perform better.
- They are the only “hafu’s” ハーフ: In their current school, and likely in their new school they will likely be the only non-full-Japanese kids. Isn’t fife is hard enough without being regarded as different, especially as a kid?
- My kids are small: Being the youngest, and having parents who are relatively short means my kids are relatively small in stature. Sure, being bigger and stronger isn’t everything. But, this effects their sports and athletics ability (rather important in the countryside schools), and likewise their confidence.
I should also say – these are my concerns, my own demons. Not my kids’ worries. They simply take one day at a time. They are happy, well-adjusted children. But I know that childhood is far from simple. For now I must consider how I can ease them into this new possibility. I plan to:
- Visit the new school often, even if to just play
- Start meeting member of the new school
- Let the children know, a move will put us closer to grandparents
Do you have children as you live in a foreign country? How have they adjusted? Any tips you can provide for changing schools? I would love to hear the thoughts of others. Comment below.
2 thoughts on “Raising Kids in Japan – Changing Schools”
Have exactly same worries 😀 Our girl is doing fine at the current preschool (hoikuen), so we’re generally very happy. She is the oldest there, which is good, but she is sometimes overwhelmed with the role of “older sister” for other kids 🙂
She’ll be finishing this preschool this year, so we’re a bit anxious about challenges waiting ahead.
Hope the preschool change goes well for your family 🙂 All the best!
Thank you. You make an interesting point; I’ve only considered the downsides of being the youngest, but I guess being the oldest comes with its own set of pressures too. All the best to you.