Ai International Preschool

Should You Bring The Kitchen Sink?

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.

CONTRIBUTED BY SARA

Name of School: Ai International Preschool
Address: 2-10-13 Chatan, Chatan-Cho, Okinawa-Ken, 904-0116
Phone: (098) 936-0144
Website: http://www.ai-internationalschool.com
Ages Accepted: Birth to 5 Years
Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School: 3.5

Admissions/Enrollment:
What is the maximum number of students that your school has? Not sure

What is the current number of students? In the 3 yr old class there are approx. 15 children

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

Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend? Mine was potty trained when she started but there are a few in the class that are still learning and they do a great job with that.

Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? Yes I brought my daughter in 2 times before she started to give her a feel for how it would be.

Days and hours:
What are the school’s hours? 6am to 6pm, I believe

Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule? A mix of both, the principal is Japanese but married to an American so the schedule reflects this, but they are surprisingly accommodating and school is only closed for ‘Major’ holidays.

How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times? Very flexible. I never had a problem picking her up early or bringing her in late for appointments etc.

Costs:
What are the registration fees? When I registered it was $50.

What are the tuition fees? My daughter is in program #1 which is 2x/week 9-1230 (you pick the days) and the fee is $80/month. It goes up to Program #4 which is 5x/week all day so you can really tailor the schedule to fit your needs. There is also optional school lunch program. It is Japanese food and my daughter loves it which surprised me pleasantly. That costs an additional 250 yen per day.

If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? Every 3 or 4 months there is a short list of supplies that each child has to bring in (usually costs less than $20.)

Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? I am not sure.

Is there a late-pickup fee? Yes, I don’t know the exact fee since I have never had to do this. I know they offer before and after care and they have a program called ‘Gakudo’ (I think) that is an after school program.

How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? Within the first week of the month they accept Yen or Dollars.

Parent Involvement and Interaction:
Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? I have come by unannounced a few times and none of the teachers minded as long as I did not come in and interrupt the class.

How do you communicate with parents? Is there a regular newsletter, or a notice board? There are newsletters that go out in the beginning of every new month along with a calendar and lunch menu.

Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)? Each child has a ‘notebook’ that the teacher writes in the activities of the day and parents are encouraged to write in it to communicate with teachers and also to bring up any concerns.

Are there parent/teacher conferences? I have never had a ‘conference’ but there are “parent days’ every once in a while where we go to school with the kids for a short period of time and go through their daily activities with them. Classroom Structure and Size: -How are the kids grouped? grouped by age

What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? For the 3 yr olds in a group of 15-20 there are usually 3 teachers sometimes 4.

How many full-time teachers do you have? How many assistants? In the 3 yr old class there are 4 teachers and 2 assistants, total (they rotate days).

What is the school’s educational philosophy? Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? The principal believes in Montessori theory and it is a good mix of both developmental and academic. There are different days of the week that are set aside for each ‘academic’ subject and they have developmental activities throughout the rest of the day.

Is there a playground for the children to play on? There is a large playground in the back with a roller slide that goes down from the 2nd floor to the playground which the kids LOVE. They are also very close to many neighborhood parks including Araha (pirate ship park) and they walk there occasionally.

What do the children do on any given day? What’s the general schedule/routine? They have greetings and circle time in the morning and they have ‘academic class’ then lunch followed by outdoor time and free play. They also do crafts and some singing and dance in the afternoons.

Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? They have occasional ‘field trips’ to the library or nearby parks.

How does the school discipline children? They usually try to guide the children to resolve conflicts on their own but if a child gets out of hand they do a time out/ quiet time.

How does the school comfort children? All of the teachers are very loving and SO good at comforting kids that are shy/nervous etc. My daughter had a tough time adjusting at first and they never hesitated to talk to her and engage her in an activity that made her comfortable and love staying there and wanting to come back everyday!

Final Comments or Observations about the School:

I cannot say enough good things about this school. My daughter loves it and it is very interactive. I feel very aware of everything that goes on there. The principal is always in and out of the classes everyday and she is very involved with the children and the parents. Any problem that I have ever had was handled so quickly I was amazed. This school is very flexible in all aspects which works very well for me since my schedule changes frequently, but they manage to remain flexible without compromising the security and comfort of the children.

Note: This post has been edited from its original query asking for reader feedback about Ai Preschool.  The template filled out above was taken from a reader’s comments and added in place of the original post for ease of reading.  Thanks!

66 COMMENTS

  1. I previously worked at AI school. It is not clean, unorganized, the children do not have adequate supplies (not nearly enough erasers or glue). The supervisor never had the room unlocked before classes so I never had time to lesson plan or clean the thick layers of dust in the room.
    Children with learning disabilities were put in the same class as children without disabilities, which made it very hard to focus on each child.
    I made my own lesson plans every class because the ones provided for me were not the students level of learning. I hope the school has improved their lessons since I left.
    The bathroom downstairs that all children use when at the playground is incredibly unsanitary and probably never cleaned. The just the smell made me sick.
    The teachers in the toddler class let the children run outside the room, unsupervised and naked on the second floor.
    The positives of the school they will take children with strong learning disabilities. Also, the children seem to enjoy the covered playground.

  2. I am currently looking for a school for my 3 year-old. Today we stopped by Ai unannounced to check it out and get some information. We were at the gate, which opens to a balcony next to the classroom/s. A little boy, about 3 years old, walked out onto the balcony in his underwear. He had a shirt in his hands and was swinging it around. I asked where his pants were, but he only spoke Japanese. Also, it’s February and it’s been in the 50’s lately. I rang the buzzer but nobody answered. Another smaller child entered the balcony, too. Nobody seemed to know they were out there. I rang the buzzer again. No answer. Not only would I avoid taking my kid here, I feel like they need to be checked out to make sure there is adequate supervision for these kids. This was pretty out of control.

  3. Horrible daycare….dean’s post was right on spot! Always picked up my child with poo diapers. Half the time Yuko would ask me how (insert random child’s name) is doing, or that he is doing good. I have a daughter and she only has one name. The child to teach ratio is crazy! they do not toilet train 2 year olds…the list continues! Avoid like the plague. your child is not safe there.

  4. I have nothing good to say about Ai preschool, the same complaints people had 5 years ago are still present today. I got really angry reading them. So about a week ago my wife picked up my 2 year old daughter and saw she was wearing the same cloths she was dropped off in 10 hours before aand her diaper look full of pee. My wife questioned them and they admitted to not changing her cloths or diaper all day. The main teacher yuko gave the excuse they were under staffed. This happened on a holiday and there were only a hand full of kids that day. My daughter had really bad diaper rash. They do not discipline what so ever and it shows at home. When I went to get my daughter yesterday one teacher is reading book while some kids listened and most just ran rampid around and another teacher did nothing. At lunch time the kid do what they want, sit, stand, run around, eat other kids food etc…it hard to teach your kids to act good when majority of their day they are in control. We are going to try kiddie castle, really glad they are not a church based daycare, Ai International had left a bad taste in my mouth for the church.

  5. We recently had a very negative experience with AI International. Our son enrolled there for the 2 day/week program. Everyday that we would leave him he would scream and cry and was inconsolable. This is very unusual for him and we had never experienced this anywhere else. The staff was not good at comforting him. In addition he would always seem to get hurt. I understand that children fall, but he was always bleeding, usually from him face, when we picked him up. The staff never called to tell us about these injuries, even though we asked repeatedly to call us. The most troubling part of this place is that our son also kept getting bit! Again the staff never seemed to notice, and was not concerned that there was a child who was going around biting other children! Needless to say we pulled him out after a month. The school and principal were NOT helpful or caring. They refused to refund our $130 registration fee. Look elsewhere for a daycare or pre-school.

  6. Does anyone have an email address or phone number for Ai International? The phone number on the website is not in service. Thanks!

  7. Hello,
    We just got here on the island not to long ago. I have been reading the comments posted for all schools here. However; I am having a hard time finding any schools out in town close to Kinser. Would anyone know of any schools close by that they could vouch for.

    Thank you in advance.

  8. Chris: My son attends Baby 123 and I have never been happier with a daycare/preschool and they have no religious teachings or prayers included ever.

  9. My daughter attends Okinawa Montessori and we love, love, love it. The kids to say a small prayer before lunch but that is the only time during the day that anything religious/spiritual ever comes up. It is very academic/montessori based and is an absolutely exceptional school. It is not based in a church and the curriculum is not religious based at all.

  10. Is there any preschool/daycare offbase that does not have religion mixed in? I’d prefer there to be no prayers, religious songs, bible teachings, etc. It seems the only people running preschools/daycares conducted in English offbase are Christian people which is a little questionable to me.

  11. St James phone number is 0988991212. My son has been going there for over a year. He loves is there. The staff is great and when I had an issue with one of the other children biting, it was resolved quickly. I have not had any issues with staff as a matter of fact I love them to death and I feel greatful that they take such good care of my son. He can be a handful and they are kind and patient with ALL of the children and finally the owner, Miss Amiee, is wonderful.

  12. I have visited AI and found it to be chaotic. My 3yo child has been attending Sunshine Montessori now for a year. We love it.They seem to take a holistic approach to learning ( nutritious food, caring environment, etc.)My daughter is in the primary 2 room and I absolutely trust her teachers. My daughter always has good things to say about how she is treated and I am happy with the things she is learning. The owner is licensed to run a montessori and STRICTLY adheres to the true Maria Montessori principles.Definitely one to try if you are looking for a safe, caring place where your child can learn and grow.

  13. My daughter went to AI for all of about 3 days and i pulled her out. She hated it, I wasn’t impressed with the structure of the classrooms, it was very unorganized. Although she had a great sensei he was never in the class because the “owner” had him performing all other types of duties because he spoke good English.

  14. To the post about St. James International School: do you have a number or a web site for the school? I can’t find ANY info on it.

  15. try st james international school, i have my son, been there for 2years the staffs are really great teaching my son good values i was amazed for my child doing good things at home!!!! try it!!!

  16. The previous post if for Clover Montessori. My children do not go there, but I visited twice and it seems very nice and clean. Stay speaks English. Classes are in English, but free time obviously all the kids speak Japanese among themselves. They said the English speakers Learn Japanese well. The nice thing about this school is you can pick the day of the week and the # of days per week you want to go. Very flexible! They have a set schedule/curriculum each day of the week.

  17. I’ve read anyone was looking for bilingual preschool. There is a bilingual preschool in Ginowan, along route 330 very close to Camp foster (legion gate) or futenma air base. It is a Montessori bilingual preschool. The teachers are college graduate with a degree in education/early childhood education. The teachers are hand picked brought to Okinawa on working visa. For more information you may visit or ask for a free trial lessons to see how it works. http://www.e-cmi.net/

  18. I had to comment on Ai International. I have had my kids there for the last 1 1/2-2 years. We have loved everything about that school. Yes the morning is chaotic, but it does settle down and the learn. My 2yo has known his ABC’s since you could understand what he was singing. He also speaks and understands quite a lot of Japanese, in my opinion. They are always singing songs and playing ‘school’ on their off days. Yes, Dora/Anpanman are played but only in the afternoon during nap some days of the week. I have been especially pleased with the Christian environment of the school. My children began saying the blessing at lunch because of the school. It has challenged me to do a better job in that area. My daughter can be a bit of a handful and the teachers have worked very patiently with her to behave better. I can not say enough good things about this school!

  19. I was curious to know if anyone has any contact information in Uruma City (phone/address). Looking to enroll my daughter in day-care and I am also curious to know of their other locations and #’s.

    Any good bilingual daycares in Uruma City would be most helpful.

    Thanks in advance for any assistance.

  20. Does anyone send their kids to Okinawa Christian International School in Yomitan? I can’t seem to even find a website or email for them. I’m living in the UK and thinking of moving out there, Wife’s Japanese and 9yo son who speaks only English (That’s the problem). Any comments welcome

  21. My kids go to St James Preschool near the commisary gate by foster (near wing king). I noticed that they only have 1 staff (comes in around 10 I think) and they have this boy-teenager who watches the kids ages 0-3 plus the owner. I think it’s insane to leave a bunch of kids to a teenager and just have 1 staff. What if there’s fire? How are they able to carry all the kids out? That’s my major concern. I would not recommend this school. However, Ai is good though they seemed to be short staffed. Owner is nice and the place is nice too!

  22. My family and I are about to move off base to Maeda point, which is near Yomitan, along highway 6.
    Does anyone know of a good day care near that area? Our house is located a few minutes away from a Japanese day care but unfortunately they do not speak english! Oh, the irony.
    Worst case I will drive out to hwy 58 where the other day cares are at but love to see if there are any near us….even a 20min drive isn’t bad.
    [email protected]

  23. This is in response to the questions about Sunshine Montessori. Sunshine is a member of the American Montessori Society and Sunshine does use the Montessori curriculum as the basis for their childerns education program. The teachers at the school have a total of 15 years of teaching the Montessori circulum and kids at Sunshine are learning more each day. Sunshine started as a home daycare having about 10 children 10 months ago to having 40+ children and the school continues to grow. Parents and children love this school and this can can be evidenced by the fact that parents continue to recommend this school to other parents. If you are interested in a quality daycare for your children and you want to find out about this daycare for yourself, you can call the staff at: 090-6859-8087 and 098-936-9968. Sunshine Montessori is conveniently located on Hwy 58 about 5 minutes from KAB gate 1.

  24. Allie,
    My daughter have been going there for 6 months and she loves it. I suggest you to look around some school on island before you have decided the best place for your child. You may check out 2 or 3 schools like i did. My daughter is almost 3y.o and she learns so much. Her teachers are great and lovely. They have school hours 9-3 is 40,000 yen and full time with ex-care 6-6 is 50,000 yen (they do have part time too). They can provide lunch with extra fees. My daughter loves the foods. What i like from Santa Monica is they are not a totally Montessori school like some school here just advertising a Montessori education but they`re not (some though), Santa Monica kind of combining the curriculum with Montessori, American, and Japanese curriculum. The language they teach is in english (reading, writing, math, geo, bio, etc), they do have Japanese day (and Chinese too :)My daughter went to Montessori school back in the states but she improves more in Santa Monica either in social and education. In my first visit i spent almost an hour to see the school, and everything was positive for me. Well, some days you may see some kids loud or wild, like monday after weekend (thats normal) or break time. They take age from 0 to 6 (kindergarten) age. Their phone 936-3656. You gotta see the place and witness yourself. I hope you find a good one for yours.

  25. Does anyone have more information on the Santa Monica place…prices, times, basically just how they feel about the place…I have heard from one friend who LOVES it, but just thought I would check around on here as well. Thanks!

  26. L,I even heard that the current owner does not even have a license to operate as a Montessori. The one teacher that had a license jut left an still they call themselves montessori. Isn’t that technically fraud?

  27. Montessori seems to be popular school on Okinawa. Some school like to advertise as montessori school to get more customers. I went to sunshine and they did not have any montessori materials, and the education they give, not even close to montessori. As montessori teacher, i feel sad about sunshine.

  28. I also looked at the Santa Monica place and it seemed really quite good. I just choose Sunshine because the cost was more reasonable and they provided lunch. Plus, I also liked it’s vibe!
    Good luck!

  29. Do you know whether they are taking enrollments currently for Kuwae? In otherwords, are there any openings. What are the days/times/prices? Thanks!

  30. This school was recommended to me by a friend so I went to check it out twice. Both times it was chaotic, loud, and I hated it! It just seemed like glorified day care to me and did not fit our needs at all. It obviously works for some but I’d never recommend it. Kuwae, on the other hand, has 5 stars from me and my 4 year old daughter.

  31. 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

  32. Okinawa Montessori School is a real Montessori School. My son is also allergic to peanuts and although they won’t administer the Epi-pen, they will use benedryl. Although they are a bit expensive, the staff is wonderful.

  33. I live in the next street to Kiddie Castle and frequently drive down the street it’s located on to get home. In the afternoon ‘go-home’ time there are often kids just running everywhere, especially on the street. The amount of times I’ve nearly hit a child is scary and now I avoid it at home time. It seems that the staff no longer feel responsible but nor do the parents who are usually standing around talking with the gate open – it’s like a grey area of responsibility. I will say this though, the kids always look happy there and their covered play area looks better than the facilities at many other preschools.

  34. I personally wouldn’t send my child to kiddie castle. The main reason for me is that he is allergic to peanuts/treenuts and when I visited they didn’t seem comfortable with that and asked “could he have peaut butter sandwiches then” (!) That was it for me :o)
    But it is cheap, it isn’t the most modern of places, but it’s whatever fits for you.
    P

  35. I am seconding the question about Kiddie Castle Preschool? Anyone is familiar with it or knows anything about it? I am looking for preschool for my two year old, preferably close to Chatan, Araha beach area, I don’t want a long commute. Thank you in advance!

    And as far as Okinawa being hot, it probably depends on where you are at. It’s not bad where we are at, we are not running AC at all, and my kids are outside every day, I try to keep them covered and hydrated, and they are fine. Also, my two year old is never clean, he is a mess, that’s his natural state. My oldest one never was that messy, so it’s just different with every child I guess.

  36. Okinawa is pretty hot. I actually avoid taking my kiddos out during certain times of the day (just like I would have if I lived in Florida during the summer time). I wouldn’t expect my toddler to be outside during the hottest times of the day (hopefully that isn’t the case with this CDC b/c kids are more sucseptable to heat injury) and I would expect my child to be relatively clean when I picked him or her up from any school or daycare. If my child was extremely dirty I would see it as a form of neglect. If I’m going to entrust my child with someone else, I would expect them to take proper care of my child. I take my toddler to the park and beach all of the time and she doesn’t return home looking like pigpen. I wouldn’t expect it to be any different when she’s not with me. Unless, that is, she isn’t being watched after. I then would have visions of her rolling around in a mud puddle so I guess I could see that happening if she were completely unsupervised:)

  37. CS-not sure how old your kids are. My son is 2. If we made it thru a day without lunch on his clothes, or dirt, or grass stains, it would mean he spent all day sitting on the couch in front of the TV, not eating a thing. Kids are naturally messy. We come home from the park with grass stains, dirt, etc…he has fun-I can deal with the laundry later. I don’t disagree that it’s hot outside-but it’s not too hot to enjoy being out, with proper precautions. Sorry you feel this way-I hope you find what you need.

  38. I guess I had great child care for 10 years. Never did I once pick up my children with lunch on their clothes, not dirt or grass stains. Okinawa is hot.

  39. There seems to be a lot of “montessori” schools in Okinawa but how many really use the true montessori method of education? Anyone know?

  40. Hm, CS-
    I am of the opinion that kids just get dirty-especially toddlers! You really can’t expect a toddler to preschool age child to stay clean-at least not mine!

    Playing outside is a great thing-it’s not too hot at all! They just need to be outside for limited times and get plenty of water-I try to get my son out everyday!

  41. Where did these comments come from? I checked just last week and there weren’t any. Maybe something was wrong with the internet. I just enrolled my child at this school. My child was at Rainbow Montessori last year, loved it but the prices went up. So, I wanted to try this school since it’s near the house. I’ll try this school out, I can always pull her out. Just like I did at the CDC. I was angry after the 3rd day, I never picked my child up dirty until my child went to the CDC. They played all the time, especially outside. It’s too hot outside!

  42. Ai has done wonders with my three year old. We started here after having a horrible experience at another preschool. The teachers here really took her under their wings and have showed her a lot of love. She enjoys school and has picked up quite a bit of Japanese, too. I agree that the older kids in the mornings are not well behaved and it seems chaotic. However, I have never second guessed leaving my child there. When I drop her off in the mornings, her teacher always drops down to hug her and tell her good morning. I know she is loved there, which is very important to me.

  43. My son goes to Sunshine now and I am happy with them. His teachers are great, they ‘command’ respect in the nicest way and he is enjoying it. It is a fairly new preschool and the Director, Jungsook, is very personable. My Son also has peanut and treenut allergies so I am VERY cautious about the ‘feel’ of a place. Cheers, Pam

  44. My son currently attends AI and, like many of the other parents, plan to remove him next month. My son is not quite 2 yet and is in the one year old room. The mornings are constantly chaotic. I have seen very bad behavior coming from several children. I have seen teachers have to restrain kids. Also, at times when I have dropped my son off, I have refused to leave until another teacher has arrived because there were about 20 children with mixed age ranges in one small room, most of whom were crying, and one teacher. There was another teacher floating between rooms. Although I have never seen my child in front of the TV, I have seen many children just hanging out on the porch doing nothing. Every day that I show up they are there. The teachers are very sweet, but the general air of the place is chaos and I can’t stand it. A friend had recommended this place to me, but now I wonder why. Good luck finding a good place. Does anyone know of a childcare provided in Yomitan? I am desperately looking for a place up here. Thanks for any info.

  45. Pamelala

    I think that is AI.

    During our visits for our 3 year old(a year ago), I really liked Cherry Blossom. Although we visited the day care, the teachers seem really caring and lunch was amazingly calm. They also have a pre school for older kids. We ultimately picked All Souls (partly b/c of location) but I think we would of been happy with Cherry Blossom.
    See: http://www.okinawahai.com/2007/05/cherry-blossom-.html

  46. hmm, I wonder if this was the preschool I passed the other day, it is past Araha park on the way to petbox in an apt type building. There were kids on the balcony throwing things down!!! I am currently looking for a preschool for my son, who is 4 and will be starting K in Sept. so it is only for a few months. I am going to see kiddie castle and sunshine tomorrow, anyone familiar with these 2? Plus, if anyone has the # to Ai can you post it, I googled but no luck. Also (again!) if anyone knows any other preschools in the Kitamae/araha area, please reply!

  47. I am trying to find anyone who sends their kids to OCIS and any information they could give me on the school. Why you would choose a private school over the schools on base? Thanks

  48. My daughter has been in this school for a while now and we have no complaints. I wouldnt be put off by previous comments totally, I have visited unannounced PLENTY of times and never had a significant complaint. The only time I saw something I didnt like was an aggressive boy not being reprimanded and I spoke to the director about it and the boy was removed from the school ( I was not the only one to complain). As far as the learning curriculum they send home the packet of projects and learning info at the end of every month not every day. They do the things that are on the calendar but as anyone knows you cant force a child to learn something if they arent ready. Overall, my child has been to 4 different programs (including CDC) here and this is BY FAR the best one. I do agree the drop off period in the morning is a little hectic and since I made a suggestion about this it has gotten better. There is no such thing as a ‘1 size fits all’ daycare or preschool, but dont write a school off because some person didnt enjoy it.

  49. Oh God, after reading HP’s comments now I’m nervous about the school. I’ve never had those problems there and wonder now if I haven’t made enough unannounced visits. Just when I thought we were doing good…
    sigh.

  50. My son is currently attending Ai, He started last month and I plan to pull him out this month. The director claims it is a Montessori school but everytime I have come unannounced the kids are gathered around the TV watching Dora. I have sent my older daughter with my son on a few occassions and when the notebook says they worked on letters my daughter has told me they never discussed letters nor played games or sang songs about letters. I have never recieved any paperwork showing they worked on letters. I was there one day for calendar and the kids were running wild in the classroom while the teacher was talking to only a small number of children sitting on the mat. The teachers could not get control of the room to have a lesson. I ended up going in and removing my son for the day. It is total chos with no dicipline. I have seen extremely aggressive behaviors and no intervention by the teachers. The first hour my son is there the kids just run around fighting and screaming, there are no toys out to play with and the teachers are too distracted to address any issues. I walked in one day and a teacher was changing a diaper right next to the lunch table while other kids were eating. My sone has been there over a month now and he still has no place to put his shoes or bookbag. It is not a good learning enviornmnet for chidlren, it is simply a poorly run daycare.

  51. My daughter goes to AI as well and we love it. Yuko sensai (the principal) is very loving and always keeps us up to date on Doodle’s progress.
    I would rather leave my child entrusted to a homeless person than Foster CDC (I have horror stories a mile long if you have the time), so off base was my option. Of the schools I visited, this one seems just the right mix of American-Japanese.

  52. I visited AI when looking for a preschool for my 2 yr at the time(maybe march07). The building was brand new and look quite clean. However, I could not get past the chaos in the morning when I visited. Kids were running around on the balcony and between rooms as parents dropped them off. They seemed short staffed and nobody was really watching the entrance gate. A tv was on to entertain some. Older kids were mixed in with younger kids and as would be expected some were not being very friendly. Hopefully, they have changed the morning routine but I was not comfortable with it and did not stay long enough to evaluate the rest of the day.

  53. Helpful Information about Pre-schools on Okinawa

    Name of School: AI International Preschool
    Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School: 3.5
    Admissions/Enrollment:
    -What is the maximum number of students that your school has? Not sure
    -What is the current number of students? In the 3 yr old class there are approx. 15 children
    -Is enrollment open/year-round enrollment or per semester? Year round
    -Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend? Mine was potty trained when she started but there are a few in the class that are still learning and they do a great job with that.
    -Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? Yes I brought my daughter in 2 times before she started to give her a feel for how it would be.

    Days and hours:
    -What are the school’s hours? 6am to 6 pm I believe
    -Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule? A mix of both, the principal is Japanese but married to an American so the schedule reflects this, but they are surprisingly accommodating and school is only closed for ‘Major’ holidays.
    -How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times? Very flexible. I never had a problem picking her up early or bringing her in late for appointments etc.

    Costs:
    -What are the registration fees? When I registered it was $50.
    -What are the tuition fees? My daughter is in program #1 which is 2x/week 9-1230 (you pick the days) and the fee is $80/month. It goes up to Program #4 which is 5x/week all day so you can really tailor the schedule to fit your needs. There is also optional school lunch program. It is Japanese food and my daughter loves it which surprised me pleasantly. That costs as additional 250 yen per day.
    -If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? Every 3 or 4 months there is a short list of supplies that each child has to bring in (usually costs less than $20.)
    -Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? I am not sure.
    -Is there a late-pickup fee? Yes, I don’t know the exact fee since I have never had to do this. I know they offer before and after care and they have a program called ‘Gakudo’ (I think) that is an after school program.
    -How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? Within the first week of the month they accept Yen or Dollars.

    Parent Involvement and Interaction:
    -Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? I have come by unannounced a few times and none of the teachers minded as long as I did not come in and interrupt the class.
    -How do you communicate with parents? Is there a regular newsletter, or a notice board? There are newsletters that go out in the beginning of every new month along with a calendar and lunch menu.
    -Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)? Each child has a ‘notebook’ that the teacher writes in the activities of the day and parents are encouraged to write in it to communicate with teachers and also to bring up any concerns.
    -Are there parent/teacher conferences? I have never had a ‘conference’ but there are “parent days’ every once in a while where we go to school with the kids for a short period of time and go through their daily activities with them.

    Classroom Structure and Size:
    -How are the kids grouped? grouped by age
    -What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? For the 3 yr olds in a group of 15-20 there are usually 3 teachers sometimes 4.
    -How many full-time teachers do you have? How many assistants? In the 3 yr old class there are 4 teachers and 2 assistants, total (they rotate days).
    -What is the school’s educational philosophy? Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? The principal believes in Montessori theory and it is a good mix of both developmental and academic. There are different days of the week that are set aside for each ‘academic’ subject and they have developmental activities throughout the rest of the day.
    -Is there a playground for the children to play on? There is a large playground in the back with a roller slide that goes down from the 2nd floor to the playground which the kids LOVE. They are also very close to many neighborhood parks including Araha (pirate ship park) and they walk there occasionally.
    -What do the children do on any given day? What’s the general schedule/routine? They have greetings and circle time in the morning and they have ‘academic class’ then lunch followed by outdoor time and free play. They also do crafts and some singing and dance in the afternoons.
    -Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? They have occasional ‘field trips’ to the library or nearby parks.
    -How does the school discipline children? They usually try to guide the children to resolve conflicts on their own but if a child gets out of hand they do a time out/ quiet time.
    -How does the school comfort children? All of the teachers are very loving and SO good at comforting kids that are shy/nervous etc. My daughter had a tough time adjusting at first and they never hesitated to talk to her and engage her in an activity that made her comfortable and love staying there and wanting to come back everyday!

    Final Comments or Observations about the School:
    I cannot say enough good things about this school. My daughter loves it and it is very interactive. I feel very aware of everything that goes on there. The principal is always in and out of the classes everyday and she is very involved with the children and the parents. Any problem that I have ever had was handled so quickly I was amazed. This school is very flexible in all aspects which works very well for me since my schedule changes frequently, but they manage to remain flexible without compromising the security and comfort of the children.

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