Starting kindergarten is a big milestone for the kids and their parents. Class and school settings are more formal and different from their preschool years.
Youchien or kindergarten in Japan is between the ages of 3 to 6 for a child. The purpose of youchien Japanese kindergarten is to prepare the children for elementary school and broaden their horizons of participation in Japanese society.
The group environment provided in youchien is a great tool for the children to learn how to take care of themselves and others. It helps them cultivate their genki-ness.
How to Choose a Kindergarten?
- Location of the international kindergarten
Choosing an international kindergarten at a Japan school in the neighborhood is a good idea. Your child is familiar with the area they live in. So choosing a school nearby is convenient. Many other kids from the neighborhood will be attending the same school. So, you will have more interactive exposure with the friends they make in school.
Picking a nearby school also cuts down on the travel time for the child. You can choose to send them via school bus or have the time to drop them yourself.
- Private or Public School
Based on your municipality and your capability, you can choose between a public and a private kindergarten school. Public schools are usually free while you have to pay tuition fees. The tuition fees for a private kindergarten can be covered depending on where you stay.
- The focus of the School
Another factor that you need to consider is whether the focus of the school meets your criteria. Some common focus of Japanese kindergarten is academics with subjects taught like math, English, or Hiragana. Some schools focus on physical education and strength. Some schools, like a Catholic kindergarten, focus on socialization and religion. At the same time, some international preschool youchien focus on language learning.
- Ranking of the School
The ranking of a youchien is an important aspect to consider. The preschool and kindergarten are your child’s first stepping stones into the Japan international school system. It is also an introduction to the Japanese school ranking for you as a parent. Find out the ranking of the international kindergartens you shortlist and choose the one that suits you and your child the best.
- Pay a Visit First to the international kindergarten
Pay a visit with your child to the kindergartens you have shortlisted. Get a private tour, or you can also participate in a group information session. Interact with the faculty and staff. This will give you a better understanding and feel of your child’s school in the next academic year.
When to Apply for Admission for Kindergarten?
The academic session for Japanese kindergarten has a summer/autumn session which begins in April like Japanese compulsory school.
It is advisable not to stall till the winter to take action. Start choosing the kindergarten in the summer and fall before your child’s academic year begins. Once you choose the kindergarten schools, start preparing the applications in advance.
The application acceptance process for youchien usually begins in early October. Popular and prestigious schools accept only a limited number of applications. So you might need to wait in line to submit the application form. But this wait is worthwhile since these schools cover every aspect of kindergarteners’ development.
What Happens After Application Submission?
Once a school accepts the application, a letter is sent to the parents in early November with a date and time for an interview. The interview will be conducted for both the child and the parents. It is advisable to dress formally for this interview.
The children are asked general questions based on their preschool learning. Most schools assess the child’s language, communication, and concentration skills.
The questions asked in the interview vary from school to school, depending on their academic focus and goal.
If the child and the parents pass the interview, a letter of acceptance is sent in December. They also send further details about the entrance and admission process.
How to Prepare for the Beginning of School Session?
By March or early April, the school will send your child’s uniform and school supplies. The school will also provide a list of additional materials that you need to buy. Depending on each school’s requirement, these additional items usually include personal care items like a lunchbox, water bottle, utensils, washcloth, etc.
Do not forget to label all your child’s belongings, including books, stationery, personal items, and uniform. This will save you the unnecessary hassle of buying a replacement if your child forgets their belongings in school.A kindergarten in a Japan international school is an entrance gate for your child into the world of Japanese culture and community. It prepares your child for elementary school. It would be best if you considered every aspect of your child’s development and the school’s focus and goals. Make sure the school meets both your and your child’s needs in the developmental process.