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.
This is our second post on this school; the original was published in 2008 and was in need of an update.
CONTRIBUTED BY CHARLECE
Name of the school: Rainbow Montessori Education Center
Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School: 13 months and almost 3 years old
Where is this school located? Chatan-Cho (Out Kadena Gate 1)
Contact Information: 098-936-2060
What is the current number of students? 50-60 children enrolled during the school year; fewer during the summer session
Is enrollment open/year-round enrollment or per semester? Year round, although academic year is September-June. June, July, and August are considered summer school
Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend? No, The teachers actually assisted me in potty training my oldest son.
Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? Yes
Days and hours
What are the school’s hours? School hours are 9am to 3pm, but there is also extended care hours from 6am to 6pm for an additional fee.
Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule? American
How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times? If the parent drops off before 8:35 or picks up after 3:15 there is a charge for the hourly extended care. 500 yen for an hour. The staff is very accommodating, if the parent will be late or the child needs to arrive early they just make note of it and it is charged to the next month tuition statement.
What are the registration fees? Registration fees for a new student are 3,000 yen. For returning students it is 2,500 and for additional children (i.e siblings) it is 2,000 yen. This is due at the time of sign up or beginning of school year.
What are the tuition fees? Rainbow is set up by age groups in classrooms that are named after colors. The age and classroom of the child will determine the fees. My children are in the purple room (0-18m) and the orange room (2 1/2 to 3 1/2). The purple room offers drop-in care for 1,500 yen a day. Or the parent can chose between one of their three plans.
My son is in school 3 days a week, for 6 hours (9-3) and his tuition is 21,000 yen a month. My oldest son started Rainbow in the blue room (18m- 2 1/2yr) and at that point we paid 27,000 yen a month for 3 days a week. Once the child has reached the older rooms tuition is higher and more days are required because of the educational aspect of the classrooms.
My oldest son in the orange room goes 5 days a week, 6 hours a day (9 to 3), and his tuition is 36,000 yen a month.
Extended care can be added to tuition, either hourly (500 yen), part time (am or pm; 9,500 yen a month) or full time (both am and pm; 16,500 yen a month).
If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? Once a year fee 20,000 yen (depending on classroom)
Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? Siblings receive a small discount
Is there a late-pickup fee? yes
How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? Tuition is due a month in advance, on the 20th of the month. For example, for the month of November I will receive an invoice on the 15th of October in which my payment will be due on October 20th. Or a once a year amount can be paid upon sign up with a 5% discount. We choose to break up our tuition and pay monthly. Rainbow accepts Yen and dollars, no credit cards.
Parent Involvement and Interaction
Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? No, if the parent wants to call the staff will let you know how your child is doing, however Rainbow believes that unexpected visits may interrupt the child working.
How do you communicate with teachers? Monthly newsletter, lesson plans, parent board, and daily communication upon drop off and pick up.
Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)? No. For the infants (purple room) they write down the times for each and the parent is to sign it when they pick the child up, however the copy is for the school.
Are there parent/teacher conferences? Yes, once a year
Classroom Structure and Size
How are the kids grouped? Mixed age groups with about an 18 month span between oldest and youngest
What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? The purple room has 8 to 10 infants to 2 or 3 teachers, the orange room has 16 children to 2 teachers, sometimes 3.
How many full-time teachers are there? How many assistants? 4 full time, 6 assistants.
What is the school’s educational philosophy? Montessori based
Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? Both, very well-rounded, a blend of both.
What do the children do on any given day? Depending on the day there are different lessons, the child will then have “work time”. The classrooms all have circle time where they read, sing, and dance, then they have outside time and lunchtime. In the younger rooms there is also a nap time.
Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? Yes, in orange and green rooms
How does the school discipline children? Talking with the children, redirecting, and on rare extreme cases, time out for 2 or 3 minutes.
How does the school comfort children? They are all very loving, very nice words and lots of hugs
Final Comments or Observations about the School:
When my family and I first moved to the island we searched for a place for our oldest to start preschool. Most places required the age of the three or to be potty trained. Our child was neither of those. However we wanted him to get social interaction with other children because we had just moved here and had no couple friends with children for him to play with. My search lead me to Rainbow Montessori.
Being a creature of habit, the first place I wanted was the CDC on Kadena. This was not a choice because he was not three, so I was onto the next idea. I have a degree in child development so I knew of the Montessori belief and knew that would be closest to what I would receive on base.
However, now that our son has attended Rainbow for almost a year, and our second son has started, I must say IT IS BETTER than I ever thought it would be. I love the fact that shoes are taken off at the door and no shoes are allowed in the classrooms, children & teachers wear socks, if the parent wants to enter, you must remove your shoes.
The teachers are all very well trained, and very good with the children. In fact there are 3 children in my immediate neighborhood that attend Rainbow now, one of which all 3 of her children attended. It was a joke at the local neighborhood playground that my son’s teacher was the potty training whisperer because she had successfully helped potty train 5 out of the 9 children on the playground, when they went through her class.
Now that my 1 year old is in the purple room, I see two sides to the school – the academic base and the developmental base. The teachers are so good to him. He DOES NOT cry when I drop him off which is a relief to me. There will always be a complaint or two, for example one day I picked my baby up and his diaper was SOAKED!! (but it was only once). Overall, I really really like this school for my children, being an educator myself I am very picky and this is the right fit for us.
Directions: Out Kadena gate 1 turn left onto 58, immediately get into the right turning lane and turn turn right at the light. Drive down until the next stoplight, and turn right again, the school will be on the left about a block up. It is hidden back on a side street, there is a yellow sign on the main road showing where to turn left at and the school will be on the left.
Address: 272 Aza Sunabe, Chatan-cho, Okinawa, Japan