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.



Name of the school:  Busy Bee International School – Affiliate of Future Society
Address: 1 Chome-13-2 Kitamae, Chatan, Nakagami District
Phone: Educational Director Mike Martin: cell: 090-9781-5308; office: 098-935-4751
Ages Accepted: 2 years -3rd grade

Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School:  5 Years Old

Where is this school located?  Foster Legion Gate, Across From Johnny’s Used Car Lot

Contact Information:

What is the maximum number of students that your school has?  180 Children

What is the current number of students?   95

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

Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend?  No

Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? Yes, the actually like the parents and children to check it out before enrolling

Days and hours:  Monday – Friday, 0630-1800

What are the school’s hours?  0815-1530

Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule?  DODDS Schedule/American

How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times?   They try to accommodate the parent’s schedule as much as possible.

Costs:  Yen Only

What are the registration fees?  50,000 Yen for Normal School Year – 10,000 Yen for Summer School

What are the tuition fees?  45,000Yen/Month

If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees?  Varies depending on the grade

Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? A discount of 5% is applied towards tuition of each additional child enrolled

Is there a late-pickup fee?  Yes, 400Yen/Hour after 1800

How and when does the school require payment? Registration/Book fees in June. Tuition and other costs on via either cash or bill paying service

Parent Involvement and Interaction:

Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents?  Yes, if you make advanced arrangements to insure no major interruptions to the classroom schedules

How do you communicate with parents?  Newsletters, periodic notifications and emails

Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)?    Parents/students are provided a classroom schedule that outlines the times for the various subjects being taught.

Are there parent/teacher conferences?  Yes, during the 1st and 3rd Semester, conferences are held.  Additional conferences or discussions can be held depending on the need.

Classroom Structure and Size:

How are the kids grouped? Mixed ages / grouped by age?  Mixed ages determined by acquired skills in both English and Japanese

What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? (Eng: English   Ja: Japanese)

Toddlers – 12 students, Teachers – 1 each Eng/Ja

Pre-school – 14 students, Teachers – 1 each Eng/Ja

Pre-K – 11 students, Teachers – 1 ea Eng/Ja

Kindergarten – 14 students, Teachers – 1 ea Eng/Ja

First Grade – 22 students, Teachers – 2 ea Eng/Ja

Second Grade – 8 students, Teachers – 1 ea Eng/Ja

Third Grade – 6 students, Teacher – 1 ea Eng/Ja

Multi-Age – 6 students, Teachers – 1 ea Eng/Ja

How many full-time teachers do you have? How many assistants?  14 Full-Time teachers – No Assistants

What is the school’s educational philosophy? Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus?  The school believes each child has the potential to develop into a successful person and that being mulit-equipped in a second language can help increase their success.

Is there a playground for the children to play on?  Yes

What do the children do on any given day?  They work on their skills in the academics of both English and Japanese subjects, develop their creative skills; via art, music, speaking and athletic abilities.

Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? Yes

How does the school discipline children? Various methods are used for discipline: Time-outs, writing assignments and other measures if necessary.

How does the school comfort children?   With love and attention

Final Comments or Observations about the School:  

My daughter has been attending Busy Bee for 2 years now (Pre-school and Kindergarten) and will be sending her there for 1st grade as well.  She enjoys going to school every day.  Her teachers have worked with her individually to help her excel in many areas and she has picked up the Japanese language very quickly.  Her first week there, she cried because it was new and different and she didn’t understand some of the students.  But now she gets upset when I pick her up because she wants to stay at school!

She is much more advanced than the students on base, which is why we chose to keep her off base.  They learned to read in Pre-School and her teacher now works with her on sentence structure, advanced math and she writes/reads/speaks Japanese.  I’m very impressed with how much she has learned.

In addition to the regular curriculum, they did a speech/talent show this year, participated in an art contest that was run through the Kadena schools, had holiday parties for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day.  At the Christmas concert, they had Santa Claus visit and all of the children performed songs/dances.  They have an option for your child to take swim lessons (extra cost) and piano lessons (extra cost).  My daughter has been going to the swim lessons (a bus picks her up, a Busy Bee teacher comes along) for the past year and she has really enjoyed it.  I will keep her in swimming next year as well.  For the older children, there is an orchestra and they are really good!

Overall, I’m very impressed with this school.  I wish we weren’t PCSing next year since I know it will be tough to find something as good as Busy Bee.  I would recommend this school to anyone.



  1. @Shelly:

    My husband and I have been considering enrolling our 2 1/2 yr old daughter at Busy Bee and thanks to your comment, we’ve decided to check out the school this week. If the academics are taught well and the teachers are great mentors to their students (as you claimed Mrs. Joy to be), then that’s what matters most to us.

    As for repeating a grade level when we return back to the state side due to her age, i agree with you & we’re not worried about that either. If she’s a year older than the grade she’s in, BUT shes advanced in her academics, then thats ok with us because I know there are programs such as gate and advance placement classes she can be involved in.

    So again, thanks for posting you comment.

  2. My son started at this school a few months ago. Best decision I have ever made. He was about 19 months when he started and within a month he started saying his vowels. He now tries to write a’s and can count to 5. Very impressed since he won’t be two until September. Recommend the school to everyone. The teachers do such a good job and he looks forward to school everyday. I contacted a school in the states about them not being accredited since he will miss the cutoff by 17 days for Dodd schools. Basically, they will just do a test to determine he is okay to continue in the grade he is currently in here. It is a lot of money but I want him to have the best education possible 🙂

  3. We’ve come a long ways since my employment as both the Educational Director/Teacher. The best thing for one to do regarding questions is to check it out first hand. Our enrollment includes (1) year old/Toddlers to 6th Grade/Elementary. Both English and Japanese are taught with some great teachers and there is plenty of variety of things that the children learn; music, art, P.E., Japanese writing, field trips and intercultural events to name a few.

    I have moved on to work on some of my international dealings along with continuing my volunteering in many functions here on Okinawa. It has been a great learning experience for both the students, teachers…including me…You never stop learning.

    Please refer your future questions about enrollment in our Pre-School-Elementary program by calling: 098-935-4751

    Best Wishes To You – Mr. Mike

  4. If you are looking foa a caring and loving environment. I recommend POTC it is a daycare that is known for teaching children prayer, bible lessons, and also good Godly values.

    POTC also servers breakfast, lunch, and 2 USAD snacks that is so convieient for your family. The teachers share their love and I recieve emails each Tuesday about POTC informaiton and pictures on Friday.

    Check them out they are near Kadena gate 1.

  5. Both my sons attended kindergarden at Busy Bee. After my oldest finished kinder, we put him on base at Zukeran (mainly because of the $). He was far above grade level when he started, speaking and writing some japanese.

    My youngest started attending Busy Bee as an almost 2 year old. He’s now in his 4th year there, Kindergarden at age 5. He is doing second grade math, and reading at a first grade level.

    I LOVE this school! Yes it is expensive, and if we could have afforded it, I would have kept both boys in. But my youngest has had THE best experience. Mrs Joy is the kindergarden teacher and she is by far, the most impressive woman I’ve ever met! She challenges her kids, but loves them too. My youngest brings home more work than his 3rd grade brother?!

    We are now PCSing back to the states. My 5 yr old will not meet the age cut off for kinder in the states, so he’ll do kinder again. I dont mind at all. He’ll be the oldest and one of the smartest. I’ve got NO REGRETS about this school 🙂

    The school doesn’t look the greatest from the outside, but not too many buildings here in japan do, lol!

    If anyone has questions I’d be more than happy to help out.

    • My husband and I have been considering enrolling our 2 1/2 yr old daughter at Busy Bee and thanks to your comment, we’ve decided to check out the school this week. If the academics are taught well and the teachers are great mentors to their students (as you claimed Mrs. Joy to be), then that’s what matters most to us.

      As for repeating a grade level when we return back to the state side due to her age, i agree with you & we’re not worried about that either. If she’s a year older than the grade she’s in, BUT shes advanced in her academics, then thats ok with us because I know there are programs such as gate and advance placement classes she can be involved in.

      So again, thanks for posting you comment.

  6. Esme,
    Unfortunately I did not proceed with research for Golden Mind Achievers. My son currently attends United Christian Preschool Academy and will attend either Zion or Santa Monica in the fall. Because your baby is pretty young for safety and cleanliness I would recommend visiting United’s daycare. The downside is I don’t believe they teach Japanese but their babies are well cared for, and it’s reasonably priced. If you’re looking for the Japanese aspect then I would consider the Japanese preschools.

  7. I have been reading all the reveiws of this school. It sounds like a great school for my 18 month old. Has anyone had any issues when they left getting their child into another school? Were they ahead of their fellow students or did you find them having to catch up?

  8. I will be PCSing to Kadena AB in november 2012. Our daughter would be about 18 mo then, i am just curious if anyone that has been there felt that it was worth the money? Are they picking up english and japanese both? Do you feel your child is ahead of most children their age? She would be out of the school before kindergarten so i am not really concerned with the fact that it is not DODDS transfered or whatever it is that people where talking about. (im a first time mom so i dont know all about that stuff yet)

    also, is the swimming and piano alot more money?

    I am really debating between this school and Baby123.
    If anyone can help me with this decision, id appreciate it!

  9. Owen, thank you ever so much for sharing. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. Since my son is 3.5 I’m considering putting him in Okinawa Montessori and maybe later on switch him to Zion Christian Academy for more structured learning. Currently i’m homeschooling him and he’s producing 1st/2nd grade level work, so for now he just needs to be with other children so he can develop some social skills. Are you at all familiar with any other accredited schools that are academically sound in the chatan-cho region?

  10. My son went there for 3 yrs and this past year we put him in E.C. Killin. The problem was the school is unaccredited, so he had to take a placement test and was unfortunately downgraded to the 2nd grade. Of course I was very upset, as this school is supposed to be on par with other Amercian style schools. I feel disappointed at wasting money, only to have my son repeat the second grade due to the these issues. By the way, he was making great grades at Busy Bee before his switch to E.C. Killin.

  11. I’m considering this school for my 3.5yr old son. Would anyone please comment on the schools cleanliness. What educational philosophy do they use (Montessori, A Beka, Case….etc..)Also at what age or in what grade do they begin teaching Japanese? Also, 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.

      • My child go to Golden Mind Achievers. We’re grateful about the development that she’s up to now. I can say that she learn a lot from that school. Their staff are very friendly and nice..that makes me feel comfortable to leave my daughter through out the day with out any worries. The previous school that my daughter went to, they didn’t teach that much, and my daughter kept telling me that the kids spanking her or biting her..that makes her scared to go back to her previous school. Since we brought her to Golden Mind Achievers..we saw a lot of changes from her..she started to read and be active for her assignment and most esp. she’s happy wherever she at right now..So you might check it out this school and you’ll see how they’ll make you feel comfortable for taking care of your child..:-)


  12. This school is not accredited even for Japanese School. Just the name sounds like very nice because it is an International School, just think twice if you really want to spend your money. They are just home school type.

  13. @Nicole-

    If you are talking about your child entering kinder or first grade while in Oki, they must meet the age requirement. There is no other way around it.

    The only families that will be allowed (as of right now) to enter their child into DoDDS if they don’t met the cut-off are those who have PCS’d from the states-and already had their child enrolled in school stateside.

  14. Thanks for all the infomation. I think this program sounds amazing. I will just have to find a way to afford it. Since this school is “not accredited by American standards,” how does that work out once the children get to school age?

  15. Melissa, my son is going to be 6 after 1st Grade cut off, at Busy Bee he excelled far beyond our expectations in their Kindergarten program. Since DODDS philosophy of placement into Kindergarten or 1st Grade is “by the childs age NOT ability” my son only qualifies for Kindergarten this year. We have decided to keep him at Busy Bee for 1st Grade because they believe on teaching children based on their abilities and NOT their age. This is one of the reasons why the American Education System is going down the hole. People wonder why Asians come to America and soar through our schools with straight A’s. I believe it’s because these local children have a solid foundation from such a young age.
    An example of curriculum: DODDS Kindergarten math says children shall learn numbers 0-20. Busy Bee kindergarten teaches 0-100 numeric and written. Math included 1st and 2nd Grade work, addition, subtraction, greater than less than and much more.
    We were told last year by a DODDS teacher that DODDS had lowered their standards.
    Melissa, Busy Bee will challenge your child you will not be disappointed.

    • DoDEA teachers teach beyond the standards. A DoDEA math standard might say that children shall learn numbers 0-20, but my class does not stop learning their numbers at 20. Every class I have observed within the DoDEA school community pushes their students to learn above and beyond what the standards say. I’ve had students come from various preschools off base, on base, and some of my students did not attend preschool. Besides truly gifted children and children with special needs, my students are all around the same knowledge and ability level regardless of which preschool they attended.

      • I can only second the previous comment–DoDEA elementary schools teach well beyond the curriculum. They also foster gifted students and have programs in place for students on both ends of the spectrum. To state “DoDEA has lowered their standards” is, in my opinion, incorrect. I can only speak about elementary schools, but our daughter went to a DodDEA school both in the US (JPS at CLNC) and here (ECK) and both schools were/are excellent.

  16. Wondering if anyone has any experience with this school and an older child. My son is 5 1/2 and knows how to read short sentences, just looking for something to challenge him. For personal reasons we are not enrolling him in kindergarten on base. Looking for something challenging off base….not just daycare.
    Thanks for the help.

  17. Nicole, there is no attendance policy that I know of for the little ones, but there is also no part-time or half day program. For the first few months I picked my little guy up early everyday, but there was no discount in the tuition. You can sign up anytime if there are spots available in the class.

  18. Stacie, Busy Bee is expensive, second only to East West Montessori. However, my son will be starting his second year there this fall, and I recommend it highly. He started at 2 1/2 years old and is learning to speak Japanese and to read hiragana while still learning to recognize and write the alphabet and numbers to 20, letter sounds, counting to 50, and write his name. He sings songs and English and Japanese and participated in the school’s speech contest, reciting a simple speech in Japanese in front of an audience.

    His teachers are wonderful and potty trained him faster than I could have alone. Most of his classmates are Japanese, so although most of the class instruction is in English he is exposed to lots of Japanese. My son is a bit of a chatterbox so I recently asked his teacher if he talks a lot at school and she said, yes, in both languages. I couldn’t be happier!

  19. Stacie: I just got my 5 yr old daughter enrolled in this school and she’ll start on the 30th. I do know what you mean by EXPENSIVE! Especially the registration fee. I’m just going to try it out for this year and hoping it’ll be worth the money.

    Nicole: I can’t really answer all your questions since I just barely enrolled her in school. I don’t think they have any part time care though.

  20. I am pcsing there in Feb and am considering put my now 15 month old daughter in school. I really want her to learn Japanese but also want her to continue learning English. I like the idea that this school has both an English and Japanese speaking teacher. Like Stacie has pointed out it does seem pretty expensive; especially for an E-3 who’s the only one bring in the income. Is there any other information about the school that can be provided? Is there an attendance policy for the younger children? There’s there part time or half day options as a cheaper option? Can children be enrolled at anytime during the year?

  21. Thank you for the information! I was hoping to find someone with the same issue. I have also been homeschooling my daughter as well. When I read about parents putting their children in Japanese schools or international schools, I am wondering what do they do after the pcs back to the states. Are their kids going to school where they left off or what? How about for second grade?
    This is very frustrating. My daughter tells me everyday that she wishes she could go to school.

  22. If she does not meet their age cutoff they won’t allow her to transfer. I am having the same problem with my daughter and I went to my elementary school near my house on base and talked to a counselor about our options. Basically DODDS will not make any exceptions for Kindergarten or 1st grade age cutoff, unless the child has attended an accredited school in the states. She said DODDS will not accept a transfer from any school off base here unless they meet DODDS age cutoff. I was also informed that DODDS will not do any waivers for children close to the age cutoff.

    I agree it’s all very frustrating and I looked into several off base schools as well, but have decided to homeschool my daughter until we return to the states where it will be easier to get her into her appropriate grade level.

  23. Really, I don’t see why they make it so difficult for military kids. Do you know why dodd won’t accept my daughter to transfer? How do I find out if the school is accedited by American Standards?

  24. @Jamie This school is not accredited by American standards the last time I checked. I’m not sure how transferring from this school to a school in the states will work, but DODDS will not accept your daughter as a transfer part way through the school year OR next year as a first grader either.

  25. Hi Meredith, I am planning for my child to attend Kindergarten here since she isn’t able to go to the dodd school on base because of the cut off date. I was wondering if you knew how their bus systems work?