Sunday, 3 June 2012


Back in April, K started full-time Japanese kindergarten (yochien in Japanese). Typically children attend for 3 years, starting the April following their 3rd birthday, although classes for 2 year-olds are increasing now too. K started going to an international pre-school 2 days a week when he was about 2 and a half, and after turning 4 in March, joined the 2nd year of kindergarten.

By British standards, there was a lot to prepare. Compared to a lot of other Japanese kindergartens, I got off pretty lightly. Here's what he needed in the clothing line...

The checked shorts, navy jacket, yellow beret and white polo shirt with coloured buttons comprise the uniform, which he wears to go to and from school each day (with navy knee-high socks on special occasions). However, once he gets there, he changes into his PE kit; the turquoise shorts and white T-shirt at the top of the picture. Then there's the spotty blue smock for art, a collection of little hand towels (bottom right) and a draw-string bag for the PE kit. I made the bag and bought the towels at a shop, but the other things were all ordered via the kindergarten.

Next, K's 'daily goods'...

Each day K carries the little brown backpack (kindergarten issue) containing a hand towel, a little folder and notebook for parent/teacher communication and the green drawstring bag pictured above, containing his chopsticks (in a case), a cup and a toothbrush. There is school lunch every day except Thursday, when he also has to take his packed lunch (the pink and blue box), water flask and plastic sheet to sit on (underneath everything else in the photo). On Fridays he brings home his indoor shoes (the white plimsolls, customised with planets by me and a couple of felt-tip pens) in the yellow planet bag at the bottom right. The larger yellow bag also comes home on Fridays, with his PE kit, a book borrowed from the school library, maybe some artwork and anything else that needs bringing home. On Mondays we mustn't forget to send all those things back again! Mums are supposed to make all the bags, although some buy them or persuade a friend to make them instead. I was pleased to have a definite need that I could fill with something I'd made myself, and K was pleased to have planet and vehicle themed bags!

Finally, the things that stay at school all the time...

The yellow box at the back has K's name on it and contains (going clockwise) a pair of scissors, a pot of glue, a box of marker pens, a box of crayons, a board for play-dough, a sketch book and play-dough in its case. We only had these things at home so that we could label them all with K's name (and when I say 'we', I mean 'H'). Everything, each individual crayon, is named, as is everything in the other photos, as well as all K's underpants, socks and anything else he may ever take to kindergarten. Since term started, K has also acquired a bright orange 'French Legionnaire' hat for playing outside, a straw boater for summer instead of the beret and a couple of name badges to attach to his uniform.

Finally today, I'll just show you a couple of pictures from the entrance ceremony that was held for new students at the beginning of April. Here's K just inside the main entrance of the kindergarten, under an arch that says 'Congratulations on starting kindergarten'. This kindergarten first opened about 40 years ago (H and his brothers all went there!) but it was renovated a few years ago and is really lovely now.

After meeting with K's teacher and getting lots of bits of paper, we joined all the other parents and students in the hall for various speeches and songs. Here, all the staff are being introduced (K's teacher is the woman in the cream suit...):

OK, she's the woman in the cream suit standing next to the woman in the dark suit, pretty much in the middle. Is that better?

After all the ceremonies, photography and information-sharing, there was just enough time for a little play in the playground before heading home again for lunch. By local standards, this kindergarten has quite a large outdoor area, with a grassed area as well as a sandy area with swings, slides, climbing frames and so on. The most popular things though are the 2 water pumps. Around here you only have to dig down a couple of metres to hit water and the kids love pumping out water, digging channels for the water, and generally coming home as muddy as possible.

In the last 2 months K has already had a great range of adventures and experiences at kindergarten and he's settled in really well. There's lots more to tell you but I think that that is quite enough for today...

1 comment:

  1. I love the uniform your yochien has. Especially the yellow beret.

    Otsukaresama deshita on name labelling everything also. : )