For all you parents looking for a preschool that suits your kids, we’re hoping to add a little something to aid in your search. Parents of children who attend various preschools on island have filled out a series of questions about the schools for the benefit of the rest of us. We welcome more than one voice on each school since everyone has a different experience, so please feel free to add in your two cents in the comments.
Name of School: Koza Seibo Yochien (Click on above photo for more pictures.)
Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School: 2 years old. The school takes children between the ages of 2 and 5.
General Location of School: Out Kadena Gate 2 and left at the 330 intersection. The exact address is 1-4-1 Kamara, Okinawa City
Contact information: 098-937-7065
What is the maximum number of students that your school has? Not sure what the enrollment for the whole school is but Eli’s class has 21 students.
What is the current number of students? The class doesn’t get higher than 21 students. Some kids have left but there is a waiting list and so those vacancies fill up.
Is enrollment open/year-round enrollment or per semester? I’m guessing it’s per semester but perhaps you can get on the waiting list of a particular classroom year round.
Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend? No. But they essentially potty-train them for you. Eli is home on break for summer right now and I thought I’d give the potty-training a go and he just knew what to do and I did NOTHING. Painless.
Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? Not sure but they are pretty flexible so my guess is they would let you.
DAYS & HOURS:
What are the school’s hours? For the Angel Class which is the youngest class for the two-year olds begins at 9:00 am. You are free to drop them off between 8:00 and 9:00. Pick-up for them is between 1:30 and 1:45. The older classes have different pick-up times. Also there is an afternoon class or daycare program for kids whose parents work. It’s called the Gloria program. I don’t know the details of that.
Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule? Japanese. The school year begins in April.
How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times? I’m not sure. This is a delightfully structured environment. If only my whole life could be this structured! I don’t get the sense that there’s much flexibility here as it’s run as a school more than a daycare.
What are the registration fees? I believe it cost 5,000 yen, around 50 bucks, to hold a spot for Eli.
What are the tuition fees? It costs a smidge of 18,000 yen per month to have Eli in school 4.5 hours a day. Just under 200 bucks. Seriously. SERIOUSLY!
If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? The Angel Class is the only one that does not require a uniform and various other knick-knacks. Some things are required. I detailed it once HERE. Much more is required of older kiddos. So there is not supply fee but there is a list of necessary things. Also, we were asked to purchase plastic bags, two boxes of tissue and two bars of soap. Each student buys the same and are used communally throughout the year. GENIUS!
Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? Not sure. There is another American woman who has three children in the school. I’ll try to get in touch with her and see what she has to say.
Is there a late-pickup fee? Not sure.
How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? Payment is due before the tenth of each month. You will get a payment envelope and there’s a little mailbox for you to slip it in at the school. All payment is in yen.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT & TEACHER INTERACTION:
Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? My guess is no. From April to July we were allowed more freedom as we were mostly all new to leaving our little ones. For example, they allowed me to stay in the classroom for as long as I wanted and come early and such. There is a detailed routine that they do upon getting to the classroom and every step of it makes sense and lends to their overall responsibility. They take off their shoes and put on their room shoes. They put their thermos on the thermos table. They get their attendance book out and put a sticker on the day. They hang their towel on THEIR hook. They put their bag in their cubby right-side up so that the zipper is accessible. They get a toy and sit quietly until nine when school starts. When they return to school in September the parents are no longer allowed to go through their morning routine with them. Just a drop off. So, not sure about the spontaneous visits. I would feel like I was interrupting if I dropped in.
However there is a program that happens monthly during the day where we are encouraged to come and do an activity with the kids. I love that they do this although it’s been in the gym which is not air-conditioned which is some kind of hot when we all get moving about.
How do you communicate with parents? Is there a regular newsletter, or a notice board? There is a monthly newsletter that Kaho KINDLY translates. It includes events and the menu and birthdays and rules or reminders.
Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)? No, but they are happy to chat before or after school. The language barrier is huge for me but there are always people who help or body language to rely on.
Are there parent/teacher conferences? I don’t think so but I’m sure if you wanted to chat with them then you could make an appointment.
CLASSROOM STRUCTURE & SIZE:
How are the kids grouped? mixed ages / grouped by age: By age.
What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? 2 teachers for 21 students. There are other people floating around that seem to help when necessary.
What is the school’s educational philosophy? Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? I’m not sure. There is a lot of routine and tasks done together and individually. Honestly, for Eli’s age I was mostly hoping to give him a chance to be immersed in Japanese culture and language. Furthermore, I wanted him to have social interaction with people other than myself especially while I wasn’t around. I wanted the school to feel welcoming and safe and organized. I wasn’t concerned with an educational philosophy. Lots of people ask how he fares with the language. I don’t know details. I do know that he loves to go back to school most days and that he sings songs in Japanese and that his shyness has lessened a bit. If it’s possible, it just doesn’t seem to bother him or occur to him that it’s in another language. My guess is he compartmentalizes Japanese as school language. And he just goes with the flow.
Is there a playground for the children to play on? Yes.
What do the children do on any given day? What’s the general schedule/routine? Routines and songs and lunch and playing and some praying. This is a Catholic school. We are not Catholic however I’m just as happy to introduce him to the religion as I am to the language and culture.
Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? Not that I know of. Maybe for the older kids.
How does the school discipline children? I’m not sure if a policy exists. I’ve seen kids get taken for a walk outside the classroom but I’m not sure what discipline happens. Whatever it is, it doesn’t bother Eli. He is happy to be there.
How does the school comfort children? There is hugging and your standard comforting. I do like that they don’t coddle kids too much. When a parent leaves the class and a child cries the teachers give the kids a few minutes to work it out for themselves. If they don’t then the teacher will open her arms to them. I’ve seen the teachers with three crying kids hanging on her.
FINAL COMMENTS & OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE SCHOOL:
Maybe I’ve been vague here. I really don’t know the nitty-gritty details about this school. I do know that I love it and that Eli loves it and that every time I go there I am glad he has this incredible opportunity. He may never have a chance again to be so interjected into a different culture. The teachers and staff are warm and earnest and ready to help in whatever fashion you might need. We’re in Japan for such a short while, I can’t think of a better way to begin teaching Eli about the amazing kinds of culture and language and people and food that all fit so snugly into our world.