1) Taught or imposed gender roles: The most obvious, and honestly in Japan the most founded, worry I have is that my daughter and her peers will be taught that different things are allowed or not based on their sex. The children in preschool wear blue jackets and hats for boys and pink for girls. I'm worried that if they are already separating their clothing color, what other gender based education is going on?
2) Bodily integrity/autonomy, body rights or whatever the term is for having control over your own body and when it is touched and exposed: Another mom told me that the children change into pajamas for nap time. This seems silly to me, we don't do this at home. I imagine worst case my kid being forced to change clothes or her diaper. So I will have to ask how they handle kids who say no.
3) "shyness": I guess my kid is the first they have ever met who acts shy. Most people respect her space when I say that she takes her time to get used to things. But the rare bird will try even harder to get close to her and touch her saying things like ' you can't be shy. It's not good to be shy. If your shy I'll tickle you". One of these latter people being the actual administrator of the preschool. (Such public jobs are rotated every few years without regard for a person's qualifications). So that needs addressed.
Which brings me to 4) protecting kids from visitors: the teachers are trained in early education, but visitors come round sometimes, like the administrator, who aren't trained and I need to be sure the teachers will make sure visitors abide by the same rules as the teachers do.
Which brings me to 5) what are the rules anyway? What happens when they are broken? This one's pretty straightforward.
Are these concerns totally valid and the bare minimum standard of care where you are?
Are you happy to leave it to the professionals? What other concerns have you had about your child's preschool/school or even with other caregivers?
Nicole Alderman wrote:
I'd be worried first and foremost about how strict and stressful of an environment they're making the school. ...The best indicator, I think, of a quality school is probably it's teacher to student ratio. If they value the kids enough to keep that lower, the teachers will be lessed stressed and teaching will be more individualized and less reactive or super-strict.
What are they expecting the kids to learn?
How are they teaching the kids?
How long of a day is it? In my experience, most of the learning happens in the first 2-3 hours...then it's lunch and nap time and time for kids to leave. Nothing gets learned after lunch. If you're weirded out about the pajama thing, you could see if you could do "half-day"
Do they have scheduled recess? Ask if you can see the class schedule.
I didn't put either of my kids in preschool. A lot of the parents I worked for, asked if I'd be coming back to work and putting my kids in the program. Nope! I didn't have the funds for it. And, even though I love and trust my coworkers, why would I have them raise my kid while I raised other people's kids, instead of just raising my own?
This is really weird to me. I'm wondering who in their right mind has time to get however-many toddlers/preschoolers to change into jammies. It's hard enough to get a class to put on all their coats! This seems like insanity. And weird. Are they changing in front of each other?
I personally would be a bit worried about the segregated clothing. Not knowing anything about japanese education, I wouldn't know HOW worried to be.
Nicole Alderman wrote:It's hard. Some kids do really well in school...and some do not. And some teachers work well with certain students and don't with others. ...
Chances are, your child will do well. But, keep an eye out for things going wonky.
Travis Johnson wrote:
But the one great thing about worry, that you can just about take to the bank is: whatever you worry about, almost never comes to fruition.
The teachers came around before she was enrolled, which was at our home, where we got to meet them. Throughout the year they had a few more visits which was at home for each child.
...Incidentally, our preschool experience was so good, to this day Katie and I are still friends with our daughter's preschool teacher.
Here Preschool has its own teacher/parent board that helps shape what is taught and why. If a parent does not get involved, that is there own fault because there are tons of ways to step in and help craft a better preschool.
Safety is pretty important and at our school there are police officers, locked doors and everyone one who works there, from the janitor to the school administrator has to have an extensive background check. Stopping to buy gas is probably wrought with more peril.
Tereza Okava wrote:
A lot of the advice may not be applicable, because not only is it a different system that pretty much can't be changed (you know the saying there: the nail that sticks up gets hammered down), but you going in as a foreigner means they are already having a different kind of interaction with you. Their hackles will already be up, maybe if you're lucky they will understand there might be cultural differences, but worst case they will think you are incapable of understanding civilized behavior and not even try to talk to you.
(Warning: said as a jaded person who has been a serial foreigner with children in various countries, including Japan.)
The changing into jammies thing is pretty normal Japan, I think. It is par for the course, because there will be changing into uniforms, gym uniforms, etc later.
Some things, like school uniforms, are going to be gendered no matter what you do. I won't even get into the language-based gendering, but you can go there yourself.
You didn't mention this, but I think it is worth asking about the burden the daycare is going to put on you. Some Japanese daycares are known for having these insane hourly diaries where you take the kid's temperature, record the tiniest amounts of food, etc. It is practically a full time job. Ask about those things, and what is expected of you. Don't worry about putting strain on the system, it can figure that out more easily than you as one person can figure out everything else.
My point is that eventually as a multi-cultural child there is going to be additional education and perhaps re-education in your child's home after school.
Jan White wrote:
One thing I wanted to add is that the most important thing is probably to communicate with your daughter about her day. Not grill her on every detail, but talk enough that you have a good idea of what's going on and who's in contact with her. If anything comes up that makes her uncomfortable you can help her get used to it, help her figure out how to deal with it another way, or talk to the staff if it seems like a big enough issue.
Kids can also have really different personalities when their families aren't around. ...Maybe your daughter's not as shy as you think.
Heather Staas wrote:
Well, we had a terrible preschool experience.
Often forced to choose between popularity and remaining true to themselves, many gifted girls downplay their intelligence, avoid competition, and "dumb themselves down" to gain acceptance. At the very least, they don't want to alienate other girls or intimidate the boys. And some school environments are so hostile that masking their abilities may seem the only option to prevent bullying and isolation.
Amy Arnett wrote:
I speak Japanese like a gruff old man...... "you won't be able to get married if you keep talking like that".
Jen Fan wrote:
Question 3: Shyness. If an administrator threatened a child with a form of torment for not being more social I personally would walk away and not think twice. I was tickled for "fun" as a kid and as an adult my body feels tickling as pain and it triggers a panic reaction in me. My grandmother had deep tickling trauma, having been held down and tickled by her peers in a girls home repeatedly. I know many people, actually, who HATE tickling as adults and will respond with defensive violence if they get tickled, because as kids, adults forcefully subjected them to it again and again. If I saw an adult openly admit they would force unwanted physical touch- not just touch but sensational torment- on a child, I can only expect that that's not the only thing they're willing to do to a child who doesn't conform or disobeys. That's a bullying behavior and can become abusive very quickly.
But the gendered clothing and the forced social conformation, I would personally consider red flags for the concerns you have.
Lorinne Anderson wrote:This is one of many thousands steps on the road to independence your child will take. She needs to see you be excited, hopeful and positive about new experiences. She needs to know you "have her back" if she encounters difficulty, and she needs to learn there are a myriad of different ideas, beliefs and lifestyles out there.
elle sagenev wrote:
I guess open conversation with your kids is the biggest thing. Other than that being SUPER nice to the people caring for them.
Julie Harris wrote:Just remember not to judge a Japanese school by American standards. The culture is not comparable.
Also, regarding the jammies. Japanese culture is again, very different. When we used to go to the huge park with the fountain, mine were the only ones running through the water with shorts and shirts on. The rest, some as old as 6 or 7, were absolutely naked.
Is pre-school now compulsory? Or is there another reason to separate so early?