Okinawa Montessori School

Editor’s Note: We published a new post about OMSI in April 2013, and that can be read HERE for a more recent perspective. We have closed comments on this post but welcome your comments on our newer post.  Thanks!

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.

If your child attends a school that has not been reviewed on this site, please contact our Submissions Manager for the template.


If OMS 1

CONTRIBUTION NOTE: This post was originally published on March 5, 2007 with many thanks to LAN for providing the initial information.  On February 1, 2010 ROSIE gave us some updated information and her thoughts on the school as well.

Address: 1-348 Miyagi, Chatan, Nakagami District
Phone:  Ms. Aida (098) 936-6044 or (090) 8911-6044
Email: [email protected]
Ages Accepted: 2.5 to 6 years

Ages of Your Kid(s) in this school: son, almost 3 years old (Lan);2.5 – 6 (Rosie)


What is the maximum number of students that your school has? 45

What is the current number of students? 38 (as of Jan. 2010)

Is enrollment open/year-round enrollment or per semester? Year-round

Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend? Yes

Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? It’s highly encouraged. In fact, the child is assessed during a “try-out” day for 4 hours so that the teachers can observe and make sure that he/she is comfortable with this new environment.


What are the school’s hours? There’s a full-time program (8 hours) 8am-4pm, and two part-time programs where the kids either go from 8am-12pm or 10am-2pm five days a week.

Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule? American schedule with American holidays

How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times? Not sure. I’ve dropped off my child 15 min. early before and there was no problem.


What are the registration fees? 40,000 yen

What are the tuition fees? 35,000 yen per month, but will vary depending on full, extended, or half day schedule

If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? None

Are there any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? Discount for siblings

Is there a late-pickup fee? Yes, if more than 15 minutes late

How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? Beginning of the month, Yen only. This school even offers automatic monthly payment through GI Bill Pay.


Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? Both yes and no. The director ask that I not visit my son in the first month b/c of his separation anxiety. But all the teachers are very open with parents and I’ve dropped in to speak with the director a handful of times. Volunteering as a parent is difficult due to the space issues of this school, but parents can visit w/their child during weekly outings to parks.

How do you communicate with parents? Is there a regular newsletter, or a notice board? I talk to at least one of the teachers everyday and there is a notice board right before you enter the school.  Monthly newsletters, fliers, and teachers.

Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)? nothing written like a daily log, just speaking to the teachers.

Are there parent/teacher conferences? Yes, every semester (twice a year).


How are the kids grouped? It’s mixed ages

What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? 10to 1, but the current students come different times so usually it’s lower than 10 to 1.

How many full-time teachers do you have? How many assistants? 4 teachers and occasionally a TA

What is the school’s educational philosophy? Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? It adheres to the code of ethics of the American Montessori Society, although there is much structure and group activities like singing songs and dancing. As the children get older, there is an academic focus where they will do worksheets and learn to read as well as do math. OMS offers a challenging curriculum that aids the children in their total development.

Is there a playground for the children to play on? There is no playground, but the children go to the Japanese Children’s Center across the street or to Dolphin Park as much as they can when the weather is nice.

What do the children do on any given day? What’s the general schedule/routine? One on one time with teachers, floor time, reading time, snack time, learning songs, and trip to park.

Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? Yes! They’ve gone mikan picking, orange picking, strawberry picking, farm visits, and sweet potato digging.

How does the school discipline children? Thinking chair, similar to Time-Out

How does the school comfort children? The teachers do hold the kids if necessary. They certainly did with my son when he was going through the separation anxiety.  Mostly they talk to them and give them one-on-one time.


From Lan: After 2 months of attendance, I’d have to give this school a thumbs-up. They dealt with my son’s separation anxiety appropriately, he seems to have plenty of stimulation at school, they teach politeness and considerateness, they encourage outside play, and the special events at holidays and field trips are fun.

From Rosie:  The school has two big events during their school year.  In the fall they have Sports Day and also have a year end program and graduation.  Both are great and the children perform numbers in English and some Japanese.  OMS offers summer programs as well.




  1. My three children attended OMS during my three year tour in Okinawa. After being back in the states for a year, and continuing with Montessori education, it has become more and more obvious how AMAZING and WONDERFUL OMS was for our children! All three of my children were far advanced for their age group compared to their peers.

    Additionally, the teachers truly love and care for each and every child in the school and the admin/staff is concerned for every student. The school finds an amazing balance between education, fun, recreation, arts, physical activity. During it all, the kids are having FUN!

    If you are looking for a school for your children, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND OMS for your children.

  2. As a elementary school teacher with a Montessori primary certification, I can tell you I am very pleased with OMS. A true Montessori education means that each child advances at their own rate. For some, that may mean they are ready and willing to read in preschool. It isn’t a requirement or an expectation. A quality school has the ability to meet each child “where they are”. One of the things that I really like about OMS is that they provide a “prepared environment” to facilitate different kinds of learning. The teachers are traditionally trained, which is important in a Montessori school. All this adds up to the high number of children that leave OMS reading, writing and understanding mathematics. Most importantly, children at OMS are NURTURED in a kind, respectful environment that develops the whole child. This has been my son’s first experience with an actual Montessori school since we have not lived near one since he was born, and I am so grateful to have found OMS.

  3. When kids go to preschool and learn how to do some academics, it always seems like a very ideal situation. Let’s face it- Parents love telling others about how their three year old can read or how their four year old can do addition, etc. However, please don’t choose OMS because you think your kids are going to leave the school ready to skip kindergarten. Many OMS families seem very happy with their child’s whole experience at the school, and that is what is most important. We receive plenty of kids from OMS into our kinder program who are not fluently reading or doing math, but that is NOT what preschool should be solely about. Preschool is a time for kids to learn how to interact with other children in different social situations and explore new and exciting ideas.

  4. We have loved our time at Okinawa Montessori. My daughter has been at OMS for 1.5 years, and is currently doing kindergarten there. Academically, my daughter is doing work well beyond the kindergarten level and, more importantly, enjoys her work and enjoys being challenged. She loves her teachers. Socially, she has learned so much about how to be a good friend and about how to interact with all her classmates. Discipline is strict (thinking chair), but the children are in a loving environment and are learning proper behavior. They will not tolerate children disrupting others, and take the time to teach the children this respect for others. As long as the parent is willing to listen to suggestions the teachers have, the children learn this quickly. The school is small, so it really feels like a family community. The children each get so much individual attention so they can grow. I am sorry that some people did not have a good experience at OMS, but thankfully there are many choices for preschools in Okinawa. For us, OMS is a perfect fit and we have loved our time here.
    I am questioning the accreditation comment on here. According to the AMS website, OMS and Sunshine are both members of the American Montessori School (the link was provided in a previous comment). OMS as a full member, and Sunshine as an associate. According to the AMS page, associate schools are not eligible for accreditation. Honestly, I don’t think it matters though. We had the pleasure of attending an amazing Montessori school near Camp Lejeune, NC and it was not a member of the AMS or the IMC. I think everyone just needs to find the school that fits their child, and not worry about what memberships the school obtains. I visited East-West, Sunshine, and OMS and for us, OMS was by far the best choice. These three schools are all very different and I recommend taking the time to visit all three before making a final decision.

    • I just want to clarify my comment about “some people did not have a good experience”, because there is very little negative on here about OMS. I am referring to the comment regarding the “entire child vs. the composition book” commenter above. This is one of the very few schools on Okinawa Hai with no negative experiences, and there is a reason for that!

  5. We are about to leave Okinawa after 3 years and Okinawa Montessori is the thing that we will miss the most. The academics are excellent. My 3 year old is reading. And the teachers truly care for the kids. The teachers ensure that the children behave. Hitting is not tolerated and the thinking chair is very effective. The school is small, so they don’t encourage parent volunteering, but on party days, parents are welcomed. I would highly recommend OMS. It will give your child an unbelievable foundation for his or her education.

  6. Here’s the link to American Montessori Society

    Okinawa Montessori School is a Full International Member School
    Sunshine Montessori School is Associate International Member School

    *In Full International Member level, all classroom lead teachers must hold Montessori credentials in the level(s) they are teaching. Only full member schools may apply for AMS accreditation,which involves a rigorous process of review and evaluation.

    *At the associate level, the lead teacher in some, but not all, of the school’s classrooms must hold credentials from a teacher education program affiliated with AMS, AMI, NCME, or accredited by MACTE. Associate member schools are NOT eligible for AMS accreditation.

    East-West Montessori is a member of IMC (International Montessori Council)

    • I actually contacted the American Montessori Society credentialing department, which Marie Conti informed me that yes OMS is a full member and Sunshine is an associate member; but, that OMS is NOT accredited and ONLY Sunshine is accredited. I have visited both schools and Sunshine has multiple teachers in the classrooms and seem to have all of the montessori materials; while, OMS didn’t seem to have all of the montessori materials. Plus, they had toys that weren’t montessori. Sunshine seems to focus on the entire child, not just how much the child has written in their composition books.

  7. Actually, according to the credentialing department with the American Montessori Society, OMS is not accredited. The only accredited school is Sunshine Montessori Schhol.

  8. I see not all schools are listed here. Does anyone know anything about “Golden Mind Achievers International” on route 24 next to Camp Lester? If yes, would you please share your experience and speak on the academics/curricullum. Thank you in advance.

    • If you check the comments on Santa Monica International Kids School, you will find out about the credibility of its past school principal. I have personally met this lady and I was appalled with her response when I inquired about their montessori method ( they claimed that they incorporate traditional and montessori methods in their curriculum). What she told me was, “..we don’t really apply a lot of montessori method because it’s actually for handicapped children” . She is not with SMIKS anymore and is now with Golden Mind Achievers International.

  9. Also, does this school conduct parent/teacher training; so, the parents develop a deeper understandin of the montessori teaching?

  10. I am wondering why some of you chose Okinawa Montessori over the other Montessori Schools on the island? Have any of you had children in the other Montessori Schools before switching them to Okinawa Montessori? My family will be PCSing to the island soon. Is this a traditional Montessori school?

    • There are only 2 authentic montessori schools on Okinawa. OMS and East-West Montessori School. The term ‘montessori’ does not have a copyright, anyone can open a school and call it a montessori. You need to ask and check that the school is affliated with either AMS (American Montessori Society) or AMI (Association Montessori Internationale). The difference between OMS and East-West (based on my personal inquiry), is that the lead teachers of East-West got their certification via online distance learning. While in OMS, the lead teachers got their certification hands-on and on-site in the US. While online learning may work for other fields, for me, it does not translate well in teaching, particularly, where the need to experience interacting with children is very important.

  11. I highly recommend OMS! Two of my children attended over the course of the last four years. They attended 1/2 day which was perfect for developing literacy and math skills through a variety of experiences. It was beneficial for my son because it taught him how to “do school” such as follow the rules, socialize, and follow through with activities. My daughter flourished in the academic atmosphere. OMS helped with everything from potty training to teaching them to read and write. Both kids worked at their own pace and developed a love of learning. I am grateful to the patient, amazing teachers at OMS. Another great feature is the comraderie among parents–from attending various school events: field trips, sports day, Halloween at the Park, holiday program, Easter Egg Hunting, and the End of the Year Program. If you are looking for half or full day school for your little ones, you should check out OMS.

  12. Hi There,
    Does anyone have directions to this school? (Okinawa Montessori–not the others discussed on this page). Their website lists 2 different addresses on different pages, and I can’t get anyone on the phone (it just rings and rings, this is day 2…). Does anyone know the cost for part-time/half days? Do the 2.5 yr olds have to be fully potty trained?
    Any current info would be great!thx

    • Directions to Okinawa Montessori School (OMS)

      From Kadena Gate 1, head south on 58. Immediately, get in the far right lane and turn right at the very first light (US Auto and Family Mart are on the corner). Take a left turn at the second red light. Once you’ve turned, a large colorful Japanese school will be on your left. Just past the Japanese school, the road will fork. Take the right fork and then take an immediate left turn (small road). OMS will be about three buildings down on the right.

      From Camp Foster, head north on 58. At the Camp Lester red light (Starbucks on the corner), turn left. Turn right at the first light. Go through four red lights. You will pass JUSCO, the Ferris Wheel, and Hamagawa Lodge. You will then pass the Pink Panther Apartments on your right (yes they are pink!). Begin to slow down. As you pass the Rainbow II Apartments on your right (they are yellow), you will make the very next left turn. Currently, there is construction underway on the left. There will be a small road on your right with two vending machines on the corner. Take a right turn on that road. You will pass a small park on your right and OMS will be just ahead on your left.

      I hope these help! By the way, I have a son at OMS and we all love it! We love the teachers, we love both the social and academic skills he’s obtained in the 6 short months we’ve been there. I love that they teach/reinforce respect for one another, kindness and leadership. Couldn’t be happier!

      • A quick correction to the directions above…
        From Camp Foster… I said go through “Four” stoplights and it should be “THREE”. Also, the yellow building is called “Rainbow House III” instead of “Rainbow II”. Sorry about that!!

  13. I have two friends with children at OMS. Both love it and give it ‘two thumbs up’ for what their children have learned both socially and academically. On top of what they do during a typical school day, OMS takes the kids on some very cool field trips.

  14. I currently have a child at Okinawa Montessori and could not be happier. We have been there almost a year and a half. My daughter started when she was about 2 and a half. The teachers are very organized and the program is very structured. My daughter has learned a ton both academically and socially while there. I recommend it without hesitation! It is truly the thing I like the most about being on Okinawa.

  15. I am interested in Okinawa Montessori; so, I don’t understand why all of the comments on this page focused on Santa Monica and Rainbow Schools. Is it possible that a parent whose child is attending or has attended Okinawa Montessori post their beliefs, both positive and negative, about this program.

  16. Hello,
    We are moving to Okinawa this summer. Would like to know more comments made about Okinawa Montessori. Thanks!

  17. Tina,
    I believe that Ai International is in front of Foster, but to be sure, I’ve tried to connect you to another member of the Hai Society (check my comment there) who should know more about the school.

  18. Please help me find a childcare facility or pre-school near or around or in betweem Camp Foster or Camp Kinser…around $250.00 to $340.00 a month. I have a three year old daughter and I need to get her into something ASAP. Camp Kinser’s CDC has a long waiting list. Thank you.

  19. Well I had to chip in here. My son loves SMIKS, the teachers are caring and very loving, the kids seem happy, my son is happy there and that is what is important to me. if it really was that bad, it would close down, but lots of Americans have their kids there. They are actually moving into a brand new building in Jan 09, more space, and new. Kids change all the time, so do teachers, you get that everywhere. Anyway, we love SMIKS, we knew it was the place for our son on our first visit. They love him and that’s what matters to us.

  20. Does anyone have comments on Okinawa Montessori school. All of the above comments are not related to this school.


  21. k,

    Yes, I got that same impression about the standard of cleanliness at Rainbow in the short amount of time that I was there. It seemed like there was a place for everything and everything was in its place…always a good sign if you ask me! There were lots of children there when I visited; obviously there are many parents that are satisfied with the programs at Rainbow and feel comfortable sending their children there.


  22. My daughter has been going to that school for over a year now and love it. She’s 4. I was checking up on you to see if you, yourself got that info. For the daily activities, I went to open house last year and they showed and had the parents participate in their activities. It was fun. They gave me a stack of her paperwork at the end of the month. They had parent/teacher conferences in Jan., I believe. I don’t mind the “no drop-in” for parents. It’s like any other regular school, the office has to know that you are there. If I have to pick her up early, I usually call ahead of time and they will have her ready to go at the time I said I was going to pick her up. We looked at alot of schools and this had the times we needed 6am-6pm. I know they don’t play with repetitive bad behavior here and it even says in the handbook that they will disenroll your child. Thanks

  23. K,

    Sorry I didn’t get to your request sooner. Regarding your question relating to Rainbow Montessori Education Center, I did visit their main facility (in Sunabe) briefly and have some info about the 18 months to 3 year-old program to share. I did not have the opportunity for an in-depth visit at Rainbow; I merely stopped by to gather some info and speak with the director.

    As of last Monday, Rainbow Montessori had a couple slots in their “Blue Room” for part-time care (MWF 0900-1500). Naptime is part of the daily schedule for the 18 months-3 years age group. After age 3, the kids go to a full-time schedule. Newcomers would pay 4,000 yen for registration, a 13,650 yen supply fee, and 24,150 yen tuition in monthly installments for 10 months of care, for a total of 41,800 yen to start, (24,150 yen per month thereafter). Hourly care is avaliable at a rate of 400 yen per hour. Tax is included in the above figures, as required by the Japanese government. The children wear a uniform tee-shirt that you must purchase. You provide the lunches and once per month you provide a snack for the class; a list of healthy snack suggestions is provided by the school. The stated method of discipline used at Rainbow is Time-Out. The school seemed very neat and tidy; everything was in its place and the childrens’ lunches were laid out neatly at assigned places, waiting for them when I visited just prior to lunch time.

    I have not gone back for a full-on investigation and probably won’t because I am investigating other alternatives. I spoke with a few parents who have/have had their children enrolled at Rainbow, and they all seemed ambivalent about Rainbow. Basically, the general consensus was that it was as good a program as the parents could find, but not all that they desired it to be. No parents with whom I spoke had anything specifically negative to say about Rainbow; they just weren’t very enthusiastic. If/When these parents find an alternative school that they like better, they move their children. According to the most satisfied parent with whom I spoke, some areas of concern included lack of parent-school communication (the parent said they weren’t clear what their child’s daily activities were) and a “no drop-in” policy for parents. However, these concerns were not enough to keep the parent from being “fairly satisfied” with Rainbow. I heard more universal praise for the program for younger children at Rainbow’s Annex (outside Gate 3, I believe).

    Rainbow is one of the few places I’ve come up with that will take 2 year-olds on a MWF basis; pretty much everyone else that does part-time schedules does half-days M-F. Clearly, if you are looking for a MWF enrichment program for a two year-old, Rainbow is worth investigating.

    Hope that helps you,


  24. I have to say that before and during our initial arrival here I was very excited about the prospects for learning my 2 year old would receive here (mostly due to some of the reviews I’d read of the preschools on blogs), but things have changed after witnessing much of the same things that “L” has alluded to viewing first-hand herself. Let me caveat by saying that I don’t have to send, nor do I want my child to attend, a daycare facility. I was excited for enrichment programs to enhance my child’s upbringing, not teach untoward behavior. I have been extremely disappointed with what I’ve witnessed so far, and have become very reluctant to send my child to any of the “preschools” out there for 2 year olds. After being here for some time, something that really bothers me is that more people aren’t critical of these schools on this blog. There are people locally who have had really negative experiences at these local preschools and don’t write about them on this blog – and then you have to hear about them through word of mouth.

  25. Wow, there are some firey comments on here about this (I guess when it concerns our kiddos, that is the only way to be right?)

    I actually visited SMIKS this week also. I was a little disappointed in the curriculum being done with the 2 y.o classroom. I did not witness any playground interaction and the interaction with the staff seemed positive.

    The other comment I will make on this is that they state that they are using Montessori materials and theories for teaching. Our older daughter went to a Montessori school in the states (and yes, I know they are differnt here), however, I did not see a lot of Montessori principles at work at this school. I am not saying it is a bad school, it just wasn’t what we are looking for.

    The decision about preschools and schools is a personal decision based upon your family ideals, choices, financial ability, child’s personality and just in general what YOU are looking for. I love this site because it offers me different opinions and viewpoints and people’s personal stories. Each person offers something different and that in itself is a tremendous gift.

    As we are looking now for preschools for child #2, the things I am looking for are different from what I looked for for child #1 – my point? THEY ARE DIFFERENT, all of our kids are different and respond to different ways of teaching. The main thing is that they need to be somewhere that there is love and compassion, patience and understanding. I am always looking for a place that can “feel” like an extension to my family and home life and will complement us.

    Best of luck in the search (it is a tough one!) and thank you for all of your comments.

  26. I have to agree with L on this one. I would have grabbed our daughter and left immediately. I understand that all children misbehave but to not have any sanctions for it whatsoever is unnacceptable. I suppose that I could be labled overprotective too, but violent behavior will not be tolerated in my home or anywhere else that my child is. If we don’t teach our children these skills, no one will. It’s your duty as a parent to make sure your child is in a positive, loving environment in which they can flourish.

  27. It’s okay with me if someone thinks I’m overprotective, and I am okay with other parents having different philosophies regarding how to handle agressive behavior in children. I am well-aware that different people have different beliefs. I agree that time-out is not the only answer, nor is time-out always the most appropriate answer when it comes to teaching children about proper social behavior. I agree that acknowledgement of aggressive behavior, instruction on appropriate and inappropriate behavior, positive redirection, loss of privileges etc. are also valid ways to teach and encourage children to engage in appropriate behavior.

    In my previous post, I was merely sharing my observation that while I was present during the outside free-play time for two year-olds at SMIKS this Monday, the staff did not do anything in regard to behavior that easily could have been harmful to the children in their care. I am not angry; I am shocked. I had high hopes for SMIKS based on comments submitted to Okinawa Hai, and I expected better. The staff didn’t even acknowledge the second trike-ramming incident that occured, and I’m not talking about an accidental or playful bump.

    I disagree with the previous poster on one point: I not only have a right to tell someone not to hit my child, it is my duty as a responsible parent to do so if the nursery school staff fails to do it. I certainly would expect another parent (or any adult present for that matter) to tell my child NOT to hit their child, should that occur if nursery school staffers ignore the transgression. You can bet my reactions would have been the same if my own child had been the agressor. If nobody teaches a child what is appropriate behavior versus inappropriate behavior, they won’t learn the difference and someone will get hurt. Somebody has to keep kids from knocking each other out until they are mature enough to control their impulses. I agree that it should have been the staffers (and I did give them a chance), but they were oblivious. I didn’t intervene to be rude; I acted on common sense in the hope that the staff would do the same to ensure the safety of the children in their care.

    Pre-school is supposed to be a positive learning experience for children under the guidance of adults, not a “Lord of the Flies” type of nightmare. I am sure that every pre-school on Okinawa has satisfied parents, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business still. However, what satisfies some parents may not satisfy others. This is why we check out schools in person, and why we share information about our experiences on Okinawa Hai: so other people may have an idea of what schools might be like. It’s kind of like applying for a job; we gather all the information we can, then go on an interview. Everything might look good on paper, but if the mix of personalities is incompatible, then it’s just not a good fit. Things do change rapidly around here. That is why I shared my observations about my limited experience with SMIKS and encouraged other parents to check it out on their own. I have no idea what SMIKS parents and teachers talk about at the end of the day because I didn’t experience that; I just shared info the director told me about daily reports because that is a question many parents have about parent-teacher communication. I only know what I saw and what I was told. I wish someone who sends their child to SMIKS would fill out a complete review and submit it to Okinawa Hai; it would be helpful for everyone looking at pre-school info on this site. Thanks!


  28. Choosing a school is a personal decision which should be made by the parents of the children after they themselves have visited each of the schools. Any school can change dramatically from year to year due to possible relocation, teacher turnover, and children attending at that time. My advice is to visit all of the potential schools near your home and decide for yourself.

  29. L, you sounds like a “too much” protective parents. FYI, when you go to some school to check out as a parent, i guess you do not have any right to warn a child that rude while the teachers was the one who has that right. By the way, they are 2 years old children. From your comment, you seem like mad at them cause the incident involved your daughter. Those incident you mentioned, hapend to all school or day care all over the world. And i can believe from your review, the teachers of SMIKS are really kind and patience. Sometime time out is not always the answer. Anyway, my children(2 and 5) go to SMIKS and i am happy. They don`t have daily report, but yes they communicate with parents everyday to tell what hapen to the kids. I see the teachers spend 10 minutes to talk to every parents daily. I believe the other parents who enroll their child in SMIKS is happy as i am.

  30. Robin,

    Regarding Santa Monica Intl Kids School, no one has posted a full review yet. I can tell you that what I saw when I checked out this place on Monday was enough for me to decide against sending my two year-old child to SMIKS. The staff seemed nice enough, and the school seemed a bit run-down, though this is not what bothered me. While I observed my 2 year-old on the playground interacting with the other children in her would-be group, I witnessed three incidences of child-on-child agression within 15 minutes. There were three staffers present, plus me. What bothered me most about the incidences was the staff’s reaction, or rather, lack thereof.

    In the first incident, a little boy purposely rammed his tricycle at full speed head-on into my daughter, who was riding a little bicycle (he had a clear visual and was aiming for her). The staff (and I) said “Oh my goodness!” and checked to see if the children were okay. The little boy started to cry after the staff asked “Are you okay?”, and nothing further was said or done. No apology was required, no positive redirection was given, nor warnings, nor time-out, nor loss of privileges (such as having to get off the trike for a given amount of time) etc, NOTHING.

    In the second incident, a different boy tried to pull my daughter off a different ride-on toy, and when she resisted, he grabbed her arm and smacked her, hard. Mind you, they were standing at the feet of one of the staffers, but the staffer didn’t react. After giving counting to two to give the staffer a chance, I went over to the boy, knelt down and ater checking on my child, said “No sir! We do NOT hit other people. Hitting is a no-no and it is not allowed”. The child blinked at me, and the staff said NOTHING, not about waiting your turn, not hitting or ANYTHING. Again, no apology was required, no positive redirection was given, no warnings, nor time-out, nor loss of privileges, NOTHING.

    The third incident didn’t even involve my child. A different boy purposely rammed his tricycle into another child right in front of me and and the director, Yong. I saw it coming; the boy had a clear visual and was aiming for his victim. I moved forward, but wasn’t able to stop him in time to prevent the crash. I said, “Hey! Hey! No sir! We do NOT ride tricyles into other people! Somebody will get hurt, maybe even you!” Fortunately, the victim wasn’t seriously injured. The director didn’t say or do anything. I turned to the director and told him, “That boy needs a time-out”. The director never even blinked. No apology was required, no positive redirection was given, nor time-out, nor loss of privileges, NOTHING.

    Keep in mind these children were only two and three years-old. Clearly the kids are used to having a free-for-all on the playground at SMIKS. I suspect that ramming one another with tricycles is a sport in which the children regularly engage. I was surprised that nobody was injured. There were children crying for no obvious (to me) reason yet I did not see SMIKS staff investigate or offer comfort.

    In addition to the child-on-child agression that I witnessed, I was also disturbed that none of the children were wearing hats (it was 87 degrees and they were in full sun) or bike helmets (they certainly could have used them given the crash-up-derby behavior), and they didn’t have disposable/individual cups of water available to them (remember, 87 degrees and full sun), yuck! A staff member had a pitcher of water and one common cup for the children to drink out of on the playground. I caught my child before she drank out of it and handed her a cup of water that I had brought with me.

    I don’t care what the children at SMIKS are learning academically. I think the only real thing they are learning is how to defend themselves against one another. I realize that not everyone agrees with my philosophy, but I think that two and three year-olds shouldn’t be responsible for defending themselves. I believe it is the responsible adult’s job to ensure the safety of the children in their care by monitoring, intervening and trying to prevent child-on-child agression and injury.

    I realize that not everything can be prevented, that biting, hitting, running into each other with trikes etc. can happen in an instant even if an adult (even me) is standing right there. However, I believe that what is equally as important as supervision and intervention is WHAT THE ADULT DOES AFTER AN INCIDENT!

    I believe that an apology shouldn’t be a penalty for bad behavior. However, an apology SHOULD BE REQUIRED from a transgressor to their victim as part of learning pro-social behavior. To fail to require an apology is to teach children that anti-social behavior is okay, and in my opinion, it is NOT okay. There should also be consequences for poor choices and aggressive behavior, such as positive redirection, warnings, time-outs, or loss of privileges (pick one depending on the circumstances and the children involved)).

    The problem I have with SMIKS is that from what I saw, not only do the staff not require apologies or enforce consquences for poor choices and aggressive behavior, they didn’t even acknowledge that it was happening. I think it would be dangerous to put my child in an environment like that, so I told the director, “I’m going to look around some more, thank you” and left. It is okay if other people don’t agree with my beliefs about children learning to “defend themselves”, monitoring children’s behavior, requiring apologies, and enforcing consequences for poor choices and aggressive behavior. However, I would never place my child in the care of people with whom I have a fundamental difference of opinion on the matter of child safety.

    I’m sure there are parents satisfied with the experiences their children have had at SMIKS, but perhaps things have changed. I would encourage anyone thinking about SMIKS to check it out on their own and keep observe the children interacting during the free-play time, not to go into the office to discuss paperwork during that time. The director told me that they do not do daily reports, so you would never know if this sort of thing was happening to your child at school, unless you witness it yourself, or your child is articulate enough to tell you.

    Just my $0.02; I hope it helps you.


  31. Robin, here is one comment with some info:
    Try Santa Monica International Kids School. Good location, near araha beach. Great school, great teachers, great education. My son graduated kindergarten there. He is in second grade now. My son knows the multiplication from 1*1 to 10*10 and read any kind of books even magazine when he(5y.o) was in the SMIKS. AMAZING His first grade teacher was saying that he was just as a third grader. You should try to visit them, lovely staff, you`ll love them. Here the # 098-936-3656
    Posted by: Ashley | August 29, 2008 at 10:29 PM

  32. Hello there! I am interested in learning about Santa Monica International kids school. I didn’t see any comments posted about this school, however, I may have missed it.

  33. I absolutely love this informative site! My family is scheduled to report to Okinawa later this year. Our son will graduate high school while we are in Japan. Do most military families send their children back to the states to attend college? As far as colleges go, are the base satelite campuses the only option for military families? What opportunities are available for high school graduates? Thank you in advance for your input.

  34. Your website is very informative. My hubby and I are considered orders to Okinawa and I am trying to gather as much information (in advance) as possible. I have 2 small children who currently attend montessori school and I was wondering if there were any montessori programs in Japan. Once we confirm Japan is our next stop- I’m sure I’ll be spending more time at your site. Thanks for helping answer a lot of my questions.

  35. You’re welcome, Meg. Hope the info. proves useful for you. Hopefully, more pre-school information will be available soon. This is a great site, isn’t it? I wish I had this information when we first arrived on the island!

  36. Thank you so much for putting something up about preschools in Okinawa! I just arrived to Okinawa and I have been looking at preschools for my son and was not able to find the site for the montessori school until I saw your website…which has wonderful directions to lots of places here–just saying thanks

Comments are closed.