Thinking about applying for Japanese Kindergarten? If so, now is the time to attend kindergarten open schools and apply! It is now application and interview season for private yochien (Japanese Kindergarten) for April 2021 entry. Please note that most kindergartens release their application forms and relevant school information the first half of October, and start accepting
application forms from mid to late October. Most interviews take place the first few days of November. * Please check with your local kindergartens as the date & process may vary.
Japanese Kindergarten (Yochien) Application and Interview
What you need to know:
Most kindergartens have `open school` where parents, along with their kids, can visit the school to look at the facilities and observe the classes. Keep a look out for the `open school` dates as this may also be combined with their setsumeikai (explanation day). Your local ward office should have a document listing all the local kindergartens and their setsumeikais.
Early to Mid-October:
Kindergartens release their application forms (a small fee may be charged per form).
Important: Some popular kindergartens release only a certain number of application forms. Securing a copy of the limited application forms is the only way of ensuring a place for your child into those kindergartens. Some parents wait in line at 5:00am or earlier on the morning of the release date in order to get one. I met a mother who paid someone to wait in line from 10:00pm the night before to get an application form for her kindergarten of choice. Luckily, this wasn`t the case for my area. Note to pick up application forms from two Kindergartens as you may not get accepted into your first choice kindergarten. Also some schools will allow you to pay for multiple copies of the application form which is helpful if you do not trust your Japanese writing to be perfect.
Yochien Application Submission and Interview Day
Important: Your place in line to submit the application form also determines your interview time.
Line up at your first choice Kindergarten a couple hours in advance of their application acceptance time. Doing so will give you an early interview time for that school. Then, go to your backup kindergarten and submit their application form. This should get you a later interview time for the backup kindergarten. If you have family in Japan, ask them to wait in line at one of the other kindergartens for you. If not, you can hire people to wait in line for you. This will take the stress out of submitting an application form within the application acceptance time.
Some schools accept applications for 1-2 days so there is not rush. When you hand in your application you will be given a receipt and a number that you should keep. These schools will send you an appointment date in about 1-2 weeks.
Typical Japanese Yochien Interview Attire
Women: Navy blue dress, jacket and navy blue/black indoor shoes/slippers. * Make sure parent slippers are black or blue. White or light colors from the 100 yen store don’t cut it.
Men: Navy Blue suit and tie and navy blue/black indoor shoes/slippers.
Boys: Navy Blue pants, white collared shirt and a navy blue vest/sweater. White indoor shoes.
Girls: Navy Blue dress with white stockings. White indoor shoes.
* I have seen families going against the norm wearing colorful attire to the interview. It is your personal choice.
Yochien Interview Process
The first school we interviewed with took our application form then sat us in a classroom with ten other families. They took children, five at-a-time, to another room to play while staff supervised. This is part of the interview. They watch the children interact with one another and see how they resolve issues without parental supervision. They then called one parent for each child to go to another room to interview with the child. My husband interviewed with my son. He said five parents sat next to their child in a row of chairs and were asked one question from a panel of three different school board members. My husband was asked what he liked best about our son. Others questions were `What is their best accomplishment?` or `What about your child are you most most proud of?`. He said the parents gave long, elaborate answers. We were told post interview when asked to speak about your child give a long, detailed response. The board members view this favourably. The group was then sent back to the classroom to gather their things and were instructed to leave the school.
Our second kindergarten filled their quota for interviews that day so our interview was scheduled early the next morning. They placed the children in a playroom while the parents were interviewed separately by one member of the school. Our interviewer spoke about their school and asked us if we had any questions about their program. It was short and sweet.
Yochien Interview Results & Payment
Our interview results were posted on a school board on November 2nd at a specific time. Some schools require a person to physically receive the results, usually handed to that person in a sealed envelope. Other schools post the results online. If you are accepted, you are required to go to the school at a designated time to pay the admission fee, in cash, and to receive a booklet or documents listing supplies needed for the first year in Kindergarten. * Again, please check with your local kindergartens as the dates & process may vary.
Once accepted you can start preparing for Japanese Kindergarten (yochien) before the new school year begins April 2021! Good luck!