There is so much to admire about daycare/preschool facilities and caregivers in every country. They provide a safe, educational and social setting for infants and toddlers to explore at their own pace. The caregivers have endless diapers to change, noses and tears to wipe not to mention a huge responsibility in caring for our little ones. I admire these individuals that are committed to caring and playing with our kids with boundless amounts of patience and energy. A shout out to my mother-in-law, Linda–kudos!
Jack’s daycare is no different in that regard, but it differs quite a bit compared to the States. In April, Jack began his last year of “kindergarten” in the true German (and Japanese) sense of the word–for Americans, it means his last year of “preschool”. These last 6 months of kindergarten have been a whirlwind of mishaps, misunderstandings and surprises. I tell Jack’s teacher current teacher that come December, I should have a handle on how things are run since he started last December, so the endless pestering should taper off. Should being the operative word. For now, she accepts that I ask the same questions in a slightly different way and she has to repeat herself multiple times before I get it. Bless her heart.
About 3 months ago, Jack came home and said he was “ton ton gakari”. Knowing that gakari means he was given a role of some sort, and ton ton is the sound of someone knocking, I had to confess I had no idea what responsibility he was given. He explained that he went to the 2 year old classroom during nap time and was in charge of tapping a group of kids on the back to help them fall asleep. My heart was so full hearing that. But then I wondered how that actually works knowing how rambunctious Jack is. I asked the teacher who explained he did really well and that the group he was in charge of eventually fell asleep. What a neat way to
pass the teacher’s responsibility off to the kids teach the older kids about looking out for the younger kids.
There have been many occasions where Jack has come home to inform me of something and I tell him he must have misheard his teacher. Like when he said he was in charge of making lunch for the school — yeah, right, I thought. But sure enough, I asked his teacher and she said he’s in the rice-making group and to please practice washing the rice at home. It’s one thing cooking at home, it’s another thing for 5 year olds to cook for the school. 😲 Hello, OSHA?
And another time when he said his class would be going on a field trip to Itami Sky Park to watch the airplanes take off and land. I reminded Jack that Itami Airport is close to an hour away with lots of walking and train transfers. I asked him if he perhaps was recalling how we flew out of Itami Airport in January, but he was insistent that his class was going. There are thirty kids in his class with 1 teacher and another teacher that floats between 4 classes. I can barely get one 8 year old and one 5 year old down the street to the store safely there and back. It’s impossible that a teacher, maybe 2 could walk 30 kids to the train station, transfer trains, take a bus and walk a lengthy distance to the park. No. Way. The following week I received a notice in his backpack about the upcoming field trip to ITAMI SKY PARK! Jack:2, Mommy:0
Last week Jack exclaimed, “Next month we’re going to have “tomari hoiku”. Tomari=staying overnight; hoiku=preschool/daycare/kindergarten. Umm, sorry Jack, you may have misheard your teacher. Perhaps she said “tonari hoiku”, “next door preschool” since the school is attached to a nursing home and maybe they were planning to visit the old folks for the day? I mean really, thirty 5 year olds sleeping overnight at the kindergarten? That would be insane and impossible, right? It’s too much of a responsibility with liabilities and besides, what teacher would want to stay overnight at the place they work? Not to mention they are only 5 years old. Well, ok, a few have turned 6, but still. Now Jack’s track record of informing us of events at his school are solid, so perhaps it is a sleepover, but surely the parent that draws the short stick will have to attend as well. That must be the case. I ask his teacher the next day and she explains clearly that it’s a tradition for the kids to stay overnight. Without their parents. Jack:3, Mommy:0
Yesterday Jack told me, “Sensei says we’re going to walk to Okinawa.” Now that HAS to be something he made up, right?? Although with the incredible staff at his school, I’ve learned, I shouldn’t hold my breath.