Here we go….again! Zachary is starting a new school–this time in Japan! We’ve been prepping him on first day jitters and how things will be different just like how Mauka Lani Elementary is different from Spiritridge Elementary. He’s excited, yet very nervous to start. There were so many procedures to get him enrolled. Back at home, you show up to the school, bring some proof of residency, fill out some papers and you’re done! Here, I had to first register us with the local ward office. Then, they referred us to the neighborhood school, but first they had to make an introductory phone call, after which I was given a form for the school to fill out. We went to the school and met the Principal – kouchou sensei(校長先生), the Assistant Principal – kyoutou sensei(教頭先生) and the 2nd grade teachers – tannin no sensei (担任の先生). While they asked about what brought us here and our family life, kouchou sensei picked up the phone and made a call. He then asked if Monday would be a good day for an interview with someone from the Board of Education. Huh? Interview?
The interview was really an assessment of Zachary’s ability in Japanese. He showed Zachary a page from the Japanese textbook and asked him to read. He read it with no problem and the “assessor” was pleasantly surprised at Zachary’s ability. He then had to read some kanji and do solve a few math problems. The recommendation: 2nd grade with a tutor twice a week to get his language up to speed. The tutor is provided free of charge, but here is what the family is responsible for:
- Four uniforms: a school uniform for summer and winter, a P.E. uniform and a school lunch server uniform (an apron, chef’s hat and mask to wear when serving school lunch.)
- Indoor shoes for school use only.
- Different sized cloth bags to hold each item in #1 and #2.
- A special leather backpack (randoseeru)
- A standard issue art set with watercolor and acrylic paint, brushes and paper.
- A mouthpiece for a small keyboard/harmonica thing = pianica?
- In addition to typical school supplies: math geometry triangles, hat for recess time, and a drawer for his desk.
- Required participation in school lunch and the PTA, which are charged monthly.
We had planned for Zachary to start on Wednesday, but the principal persuaded us to start the next day since there was a school-wide assembly already planned and it would be good to introduce him then. He had to stand on the riser and speak in Japanese!
Then off to tour the classroom and meet his classmates. They stand at attention while Zachary introduces himself.
Then they played “sencho san” (Simon Says) and “janken” (rock, paper, scissors)
Jack found the noise level to be overwhelming. To be fair, I did too!
I was a little nervous about how his day would go because he was mortified to learn that Jack and I would only stay for an hour. When we picked him up, I asked Zachary how his 1st day went, and he replied, “exciting and joyous!” Music to my ears. I’m hoping he has that reply everyday.