09 March, 2009

More peculiarities of Japanese kindergartens Part 2

If you were already exhausted, you haven't stayed the course. There's more to being a mum in a Japanese kindergarten.

7. Class meetings. These are meetings between all the mums of one class and the teacher. They happen about two or three times a year. No children are present and everyone sits around on kindy-sized chairs. Announcements are made. At the first meeting of the year everyone introduces themselves. At the last meeting of the year everyone offers some kind of thanks and memory of the year.

 8. “Volunteering” takes on a new meaning in Japan. At our kindergarten it was compulsory to volunteer for one task in the year. It was a big deal to figure it all out too. At the first class meeting of the year each class had a list of jobs required by that class to do during the year (matched to the number of mums in the class). They ranged from set-up at the sports day to childcare during graduation or announcer at the sports day.

9. Class representatives. Each class had two representatives to the PTA (or Mothers Association, as it is called). These class reps met regularly together and were responsible for organising various class events for the mums during the year. This included a variety of ‘friendship’ meals and pub outings. They also coordinated things like end-of-year gifts for the teacher from the families, end-of-year parties and class contributions to the PTA fete. A big job. This class representative system also continues through into primary school.

 10. Lunches. Japanese school lunches have become an art form. Some mums get very anxious about them. No basic sandwiches. This has become an artistic event, in some cases. You can see some examples at this website. I personally didn’t enter into this and just gave our son basic lunches. Sandwiches and salad during the summer. In our son’s second winter, he suddenly decided he wanted Japanese-style lunches. Especially because they got them warmed up during winter. I had to learn a little bit about Japanese-style lunches at this point, but didn’t get carried away. Some kindergartens provide lunch and this is a big deal in deciding what kindergarten to send your child to.

 11. Times. Our kindergarten (and most, it seems) runs on a 4 ½ day system. All days except Wednesday are 9 till 2.20. Wednesday finishes at 11.50. This is another thing which varied. For the first month all days are half days (April is a long month). Also for a couple of days before any holiday break, the days are half days (no one has been able to tell my why). During two weeks in February they had parent-teacher interviews in the afternoons. This whole fortnight was half-days.

 I have four more points still to come! However I don't like reading long posts myself so I'll keep them back until tomorrow. You might be wondering why we bothered to do all this. We could have found a less 'involved' kindy. There IS a reason behind sticking with it, though. I'll tell ya later alligator.


Melissa said...

I was exhausted just looking at those Japanese lunches. I have enough trouble coming up with something Caitlyn will happily eat each day let alone taking photos of how good it looks.

Wendy said...

Yeah, I haven't really gone there. Some mothers have made it their hobbies, though. You can buy books with ideas too! It is a bit of a competition between mums too.