Are you ready for Japanese kindergarten? Preparing for Japanese Yochien (kindergarten) is a time consuming task. Every kindergarten requires parents to make a number of handmade bags. Some kindergartens are relaxed and do not require much preparation. My kindergarten is on the extreme end. To prepare I was given a 128 page book listing rules, procedures, items to make, items to purchase, items to label and clothing to wear for different school events – entirely in Japanese.
Preparing for Japanese Yochien (Kindergarten )
The items to make list included precise dimensions for a number of bags that are supposed to be handmade by mothers. I had to make the following for my son`s preschool:
– smock + smock bag
– seat cushion + seat cover
– book bag
– indoor shoe bag
– pianika bag (piano + harmonica combined into one small instrument)
– gym bag
– bag for extra clothes
– bag for a jump rope
– bag for a cup
– marching band uniform bag
– scissors bag
All of the above have to have name tags sewn/ironed onto them with your child`s name and class name in hiragana. I also had to purchase 3 school uniforms (summer, winter, gym) three of which needed the school`s emblem ironed onto it, 3 different types of school hats – one of which needed a 1cm by 1cm cloth patch sewn onto it, indoor shoes, a school bag, an aluminium bento box with a band, chopsticks with a case, spoon, fork, cup, toothbrush and 2 obento napkins – all need to be labeled with my son`s name and class name.
We also have to attend a parent meeting prior to the start of school where we are given additional information and more items to label: a clay case, a box of crayons (every individual crayon in the box has to be labeled – 12 crayons), a notebook, glue and scissors. Note all yochiens are different. Some may require more items and some less. I believe we were accepted into one that requires a lot of work and time from mothers.
Also, mothers are expected to spend their mornings preparing cute and delicious obentos (Japanese box lunch) for their kids. There is a sense of competition among mothers to see who can produce the most cute, appetizing, and healthy lunch. Mothers have till May, when the school schedule extends past the morning, to perfect their morning obento making routine.
Finally, most yochiens start the first month on a half morning schedule so that the children can get used to being away from the parent so expect your child to spend 2.5 hours or less at school for the first month. Good luck!
Preparing for Japanese Yochien (Kindergarten)
Did you enjoy this article? If yes, please sign-up for the Best Living Japan newsletter so you don’t miss any great info. It is easy to sign-up just click here, and enter your email.