More Komatteiru

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Yesterday I was komatteiru about receiving too many vegetables from the neighbor, but what we have been even more komatteiru about for a while now is figuring out what to do with Mona.
The deadline to sign her up for pre-school starting in April passed a few weeks ago. Yes. It is crazy. The kids go to pre-school from less than age two. Actually, that in itself is not that crazy. We thought about it briefly because we want to give Mona the social benefits and time to play with other children, BUT…
BUT, this is not a two-day-per-week half-day pre-school play time. This is Monday through Friday 9-5 school for toddlers. Mona would actually have a rougher schedule than Tomoe and I do! Not to mention that we would only get to see each other for an hour or so each day – either when she has just woken up and we are rushing to get ready for school, or when she is exhausted upon her return.
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We passed on signing her up for the school, but now we are left with little opportunity for her to interact with other children her age. The other kids in the neighborhood her age are either already in the school, or starting next year. There is no option to have Mona join them only twice a week, or for half-days only. Its all or nothing. We aren’t quite ready to give her up to the system yet, but we also want her to play games with other kids and learn to socialize.
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I know I talk good talk about the countryside, and it has its benefits, but maybe the city is the best place to raise a child… someplace where we can take her to the park and let her spend a few hours with other children. Or maybe we just have to drive or take the train for an hour a couple times each week to someplace more inviting where she can hang out.
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12 replies on “More Komatteiru

  1. Kevin,
    Mine are now 5 and 3 respectively, both in the system (9-3ish), and because it allows no middle ground, I bend the rules. How do I do that ? Well, some days they’re ‘sick’ and on other days they’re on ‘vacation’ with family. I do realize that this would be completely unfair to any families with kids who were perhaps on a waiting list to get into school, but by chance our school is lacking in students, and not the other way around.
    What we need is a deep transformation of the wage labor system, so we work 20-40 weeks a year, instead of either 50 or zero. Then we can spend more time at home with our kids.
    If Mona ever wants to hang out in Lowland Aichi, my son is banging his head on the floor, and my girl is singing ‘Pirikura’ tunes.

    1. The pre-school teacher is our next-door neighbor, so not much room to say she is “on vacation with the family” because they will quickly spot her playing along side us as we work in the field, or playing outside while we work inside, etc.
      And we are already considered to be the most irresponsible parents ever to live on the block. Mona being sick that often might have the local welfare officials knocking.
      Tomoe’s parents live in Nagoya, so we were planning to go back again soon. Maybe we can swing a stop-by. I’d like to see your place too, even though it will just serve to make me feel even worse about my lack of productivity. Where exactly was it again?

      1. You guys are Welcome to stop by our place. We’re located West of Nagoya, just on the other side of the Shonai river. You can send me mail at kenelwood, and then hotmail, and the ( thing.

  2. the social interaction is valuable, and you’ll still be able to instill all of your beliefs on her…and you’ll get some time off with tomoe, which is the major bonus…let her go! it’s not that bad (at least at this stage)…i feel you’re hesitation, but it will be totally justified when you see how much smarter mona is than all the other kids 😉

  3. Hello, I take it there are no “ichiji hoikuens” in the area? I’ve two girls 3 & 5. They were going to ichiji-hoiku from the time they were a year old. I had them in for two days a week, sometimes one depending on my shcedule. I did this so I could work part time and they could get some Japanese into their system (mostly English at home). Also for companionship.
    Once they turned three they went full time to the local hoikuen and I worked. I work for my husbands family so I tend to drop them of around 9 and pick them up around 4pm. We do take ‘holidays’ and the school is very good about my schedule and trips home to Ireland.
    My eldest would be nenchuu now, second grade in preschool, and this year there were a few new children in the class so it’s not unusual to wait a year.
    I wouldn’t stress about this one, people do they are own thing whereever they are and the Japanese are very good at doing their own thing. Some of the Mums at the hoikuen make me laugh, supposed to be working but talking for hours outside the gates etc.. Don’t worry about it. Wait a year and put Mona in when she’s four. I’m sure she’ll have no problem settling in.

  4. 9 to 5 isn’t that bad. I live in Delaware, and I have a 5-year old, a 2-year old (who Mona kinda reminds me of), and a 5 month old. The wife and I both work 9-to-5, so all the kids are in day-care or school. I get an hour each morning and a couple of hours each evening with the kids, so it’s not that bad. And it’s costing us $15K per kid each year.

    1. If we both had a 9-5 job I guess it might not be an issue, but with our freedom to have such flexible schedules I just can’t imagine having lunch at home every day, relaxing, enjopying the mood and food, while Mona is off in some strange lunch-room lining up and chanting her “itadakimasu” in time with the other kids learning how to “sit still” while eating and not to play with the food, etc. before they move on the next scheduled event (I think it is a forced nap so the teachers can have a break).
      If it was going to cost 15K per year for Mona the decision would be made as I didn’t even make 15K this year. I would consider watching her to be my job and call it a promotion and raise. 🙂

  5. I’ll be a cranky old auntie and insist that socialization is highly, grossly overrated. It’s not that hard to learn how to talk to people, doesn’t need decades of being forced into unnatural classroom situations — in fact, just the opposite. Schools suck the creativity out of children, makes them want to be like their peers, pop culture is their common language. Girls learn that appearance is everything and being smart isn’t cute, go on diets at nine or ten years old. No, no, no, keep Mona home until absolutely necessary. She’s wonderfully photogenic, beautiful eyes, intelligent. Save her from possible mediocrity.

    1. Thans Theresa. You said it better than I could. I guess I made a bad choice of words saying i wanted her to have “socialization”. No, I just want her to have fun playing with other kids once in a while. I most certainly don’t want her socialized. Especially not with the kind of socialization she would get here. We are far from happy about the rules she would learn to follow. We want her to run around barefoot, jump off of tree stumps, play in puddles and ponds, eat dirt, pick up worms and everything else the other parents and teachers scold for being dirty or dangerous.

  6. Hi Kevin
    It has been ages since I read your blog, and firstly wanted to say – wow Mona has grown and just looks like the most amazing, funny and fun little girl.
    We home educate our son (he’s seven) and of course our neighbourhood here is a lot different than yours, but I just wanted to chime in with Theresa and say socialisation is way over-emphasised (especially by people who believe ALL kids have to go to school). If you are interested I can recommend some reading that backs this up. But the short answer is – having her at home with you guys is probably going to provide her with amazing learning experiences that she wouldn’t get in school.
    Admittedly you don’t get a break all that often – trust me I know that downside! But it is worth it. I am not sure what the law is on home educating in Japan, but if it is legal you should be able to search for home-ed groups in your area. You might be surprised how many people there are doing it, and they are sure to give you support.

  7. As our daughter is coming up on her first birthday, we are facing the same decision. Fortunately, our town has a couple of options. There are two places that do “ichiji hoiku” for a few hours or a day here or there. Then there are these places called “jidokan” where kids can go and play – sort of like an indoor park, a nice thing to have where winters are cold. The downside to those is that a parent has to stay with the kid the whole time.
    We are considering sending her someplace full time after her third birthday. In the mean time, our solution is to give grandmother her own room to stay as often and long as she likes.
    It’s a bit out of your way, but if you ever make it to Takayama, drop us a line.

    1. Wish ours had a the ichiji too, but no such luck. Mainly it is a place for parents to dump the kids so they can have free time, rather than a place for kids to go and learn, play, or socialize. This is why it is from morning to night.
      Unfortunately for us, grandmother lives several hours away, and rarely even sees Mona.
      I will look you up if I am ever in Takayama.

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