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: Clover Montessori International
Address: 52 Aichi, Ginowan City
Phone: 098-892-2168
Ages Accepted: 2-6 (Montessori program; after school care up to age 10)

Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School: 2.5

Where is this school located? Ginowan City, just off route 330

What is the current number of students? There are currently 14 in my son’s class (2 to 3 year olds); the max for his class is 16. The Montessori program is open to children aged 1-6 years, there is an after school program for children up to 10 yrs, and an “extended care” option as well.

Is enrollment open/year-round enrollment or per semester? Year round, based on availability.

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

Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? Yes. Their trial is three 90 minute sessions. We went 3 consecutive days from 9:30-11am (though they asked me to pack him a lunch and come later for the 3rd trial day “so he can eat with his friends”)

Days and hours
What are the school’s hours? 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (including after-care hours). School day is 9-3:30; pick-up is between 3:30-4:00 p.m.

Is the school on a Japanese or American schedule? Japanese, though American/”Western” Holidays are introduced in class. They are closed Dec. 25, and (for 2011) there is a holiday break Dec. 28-Jan 4

How flexible is the school with pickup and drop-off times? You can drop-off your child anytime after they open for no additional charge, pick-up is between 3:30 and 4pm. Past 4pm, they charge 100 yen/10 minutes

What are the registration fees? One time payment of 30,000 yen includes all assessment fees & insurance, etc.

What are the tuition fees? Varies by age and program. *You can choose to enroll your child 1, 3, or 5 days/week for Montessori or anywhere from 1-5 days for extended care! Tuition for the school program ranges from 6,400 yen for 1 day/week 12 month olds, to 40,000 yen for 5 days/week for 2-6 year olds. My son goes 3 days/week from about 8-3:30 and we pay 25,200 per month.

If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? They will provide a supplies list for parents to buy (it is very reasonable—you probably have most of it already, and virtually everything can be found at the 100 Yen shop).

Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? 10% discount on both registration and on tuition for siblings.

Is there a late-pickup fee? 100 yen per 10 minutes, past 4pm

How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? Yen, no later than the 20th of each month.

Parent Involvement and Interaction
Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? Observation is permitted, but if you want to “sit in” for an extended period they prefer it be scheduled to avoid crowding/conflicts etc.

How do you communicate with parents? I see other parents at school events and at pick-up/drop-off times. The students are predominantly Japanese (I think there may be 4 or 5 Western kids total). All the other parents I’ve met are very nice and patient with me and my limited Japanese ☺

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 which travels in his/her backpack daily; teachers write about his/her day and include temps, BMs, how they ate, what he/she did that day etc. Kids are also weighed and measured monthly.

Are there parent/teacher conferences? Yes, annually, but parents can schedule a meeting if they feel the need. Report cards are twice per year.

Classroom Structure and Size
How are the kids grouped?  By age, generally.

What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? There are at least 2 teachers in each class and assistants who help out when/where needed. The youngest children (6 months-1 year) have 4 staff at all times. Also, the director, Mrs. Sesoko, is very active in the classrooms.

How many full-time teachers do you have? 2 per class, one English speaker and one Japanese speaker. How many assistants? There are several assistants (I’m not sure exactly how many). They seem to work in all the classes at various times, as needed. All the teachers and assistants at Clover know my son by name and he is happy and excited to see whoever greets us at the door each day.

What is the school’s educational philosophy? It is Montessori. Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? Both. Clover is a Montessori, so developmental needs and abilities are very much a part of the program (especially for the younger students). However, this school is designed to teach English as a second Language to Japanese children (though they welcome everyone), so academic focus on language and related skills are emphasized.

Is there a playground for the children to play on? No. However, they do take walks daily, and have a P.E. instructor come to the school weekly (he brings a variety of equipment for exercise/play). They also go to local parks and have water play in the parking lot during summer months (my son loves this).

What do the children do on any given day? The weekly schedule includes various activities related to the following learning areas: Reading & Communication, Practical Life (self care, etc), P.E., Language & Phonics, Math, Sensorial Activity, Culture Science & Geography, Music & Creative Art, Show and Tell/ “Fun Day” and Story Telling (English and Japanese stories, alternating weekly. Parent volunteers come and read too).

Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? Yes! There are regular local field trips (as described above) as well as day trips to tour (for example) the Fire Station on KAB, Torii Beach Family outings, Easter egg hunts, school fundraisers and more. The school has 3 passenger vans at its disposal. A parent is generally asked to accompany kids on major outings.

How does the school discipline children? Discussion of the infraction & redirection with positive alternatives, teachers will “give a break” to a student acting out if absolutely necessary, but not isolate them in a “time out” as someone always sits with the child until they are ready to re-join the group.

How does the school comfort children? The staff at Clover is exceptionally caring and sweet. They give high-fives, hugs, and will hold/comfort an upset tot as necessary.

Final Comments or Observations about the School: We feel so fortunate to have found this school. I came across it during an online search (it is not listed in the English Oki telephone book). We were welcomed to visit, and the director spent a solid hour with me answering questions and asking questions about our goals/expectations, as well as how our son learns, plays and communicates etc. The combination of English and Japanese is perfect for our Tot; his peers are native speakers, but they are all learning together in English. Tot has never been in daycare or any out-of-home program, but we have not had a single concern with Clover from day one. The teachers are caring, supportive and communicative and (the biggest indicator) Tot is excited to go to school every morning, and he’s all smiles when I pick him up.

FYI: The school does have a catering service that will provide lunch & a snack (Japanese food) for 270 yen per day. Advance notice is required, but you can choose to use the service as desired.

Also, there is an extensive photo gallery on the CMI website which shows school activities and pictures from various outings and events.

Directions: CMI is off of route 330, between 130 and 34. From KAB gate1: Take 58 South to 130 (just past Lester, there is a left lane on-ramp). Then go right (south) on 330, but get into the LEFT lane because after you pass MCAS Futenma back gate you’ll have to turn left to stay on 330. Continue on 330 thru several lights (past the Ginowan City offices etc). Look for a “McDonald’s in 2.2km” sign atop a bldg on the right. The turn for CMI is 0.9 kilometers from this sign! There is a light, and Ginowan Elementary School is on the right corner, a Kumon & a Pizza LA are directly across the street and there is a single pedestrian overpass just beyond the stoplight. Turn right here, and right again at the first alley (the color of the pavement changes at the turn). Look left; the school is the bottom floor of an apartment building. See map #22 in the 2010 Oki yellow pages (on route 330 find “G.S. Elementary”—it’s on the corner).

Address: Dai 2 Marusei Mansion 1F, 5-2 Aichi, Ginowan City.


  1. Hey I would like to put my kids into this school, it seems like a great school. My kids only know English and are American. Would this school be a good choice? My oldest is 4 and my youngest is 2 going on to be 3. How much would I pay monthly if I wanted them to go 3-5 days a week? I tried to calculate but i don’t think I did it right. Any advice would be very helpful

  2. Hey All!
    We are PCSing to Oki this summer. I have a four year old and two year old. This school came recommended from a friend who was stationed in Oki previously. I didn’t know how to go about getting more information and possibly starting the registration process, or if I should just wait until I get there? We’ll arrive in early June.
    Thanks so much!

  3. My daughter has been in clover for a year and we LOVE it. No regrets. She is thriving here. The tuition has raised since the first post, but nothing too much. I have such a love for the teachers and staff. She recently moved up a class and still loves her classmates and teachers. We will be so sad to leave this school when we PCS. We live on Kinser and although the drive can sometimes be a pain, it’s well worth it. Traffic is always hit and miss.

  4. My original plans were to put my sons in a completely immersive japanese school. We hired a translator and toured our top picks for Japanese schools, only to find these programs are full; registration requires 6months+ advanced payment and enrollment AND they have a limited number of slots per class for foreign students (<3 foreign students per class of 20). So, (sadly) we had to resort to more "Americanized" programs…. We toured Santa Monica, Kuwae, American and Clover. Without hesitation my husband and I settled on Clover for my 3 and 1yr old. I couldn't be happier with the decision. The program is both fun and educational. My 3 yr old is perfecting his English literacy, and yet still learning Japanese through interaction with his classmates. The classroom is abundant with well organized (educational/developmental toys) and the curriculum is well structured. Simply put, it was love at first sight. The teachers are excellent (firm, loving and extremely invested in their children). The principal runs very tight ship, having a noticeable presence throughout the school. The parent- teacher interaction is FABULOUS. I would HIGHLY recommend touring. The staff is bilingual making it VERY easy to schedule a visit.

  5. this is a good school. you should definitely check it out …i wish I found this school when i first got here…visit as many schools as you could and decide which one is the best for you. don’t assume any school is good just based on other’s reviews. my son was in another two schools before this one, and those are also recommended by ppl. however, I regret that I enrolled him to those schools. he could have had a much better experience if i had enrolled him here.

  6. I was the author of the original post for CMI, and I am happy to see such positive comments! Now, both my kids attend part time (I arrived on island 35 weeks pregnant!) so my wee girl is now 17 months and in 2 days a week, and My 3.5 yr old is still 3days per week. If we could “swing” having them there more often, we would! Both kiddies absolutely love being there. And the staff is again, and stll, wonderful. I’d recommend this school to anyone with littles! Oh, and we live in Yomitan! It’s worth the drive, for my babies. 🙂

    • Min,

      I am looking to enroll our 2,5 y/o, however, I was wonderigf how academic they are? It seems that most schools who are patronized by Americans are extremely academic, and focus less on interaction through play. Thanks!

      • Overall, I have been extremely pleased with the academic/social balance at Clover. I toured several other ‘schools’ that specialized in programs for American children. Unfortunately, the majority had LITTLE to NO ACADEMIC component. At another extreme, I toured a very expensive school- one that boasted a beautifully renovated space and offered a number of extra-circulars…. but, while on tour, I discovered the classroom atmosphere was cold, the educational component seemed militant (lecture & “recite after me”) and the administrative staff was removed from the classroom (principal couldn’t recall the name(s) of the assistant teacher). After touring 4 schools, I was completely disheartened… that is, until I found Clover. Meeting the principal and touring the school was an ‘AHA moment’. The Clover curricula is research based, provides clear lesson plans and academic goals that are developmentally appropriate. Despite the rigorous academics the program still maintains daily play activities (both structured and free-play). Still, culturally there is a greater emphasis on academics in Japan- comparing year-end performance goals, the clover curricula is approx 1-2 years advanced our previous stateside program. Despite the challenging curriculum, the teachers make it fun- incorporating crafts, games etc. My son loves school- he comes home laughing (with crafts in hands) singing songs in Japanese and English, eager to tell me about his day. Perhaps most importantly, is that in my absence- the teacher(s) care deeply for my child’s growth and well-being.


      • Once classes begin main doors are locked to outsiders, only access would be through the school’s main office. Only students and staff are permitted to walk the “halls”. The facility is operated as a Montessori school (rather than daycare) likewise, there is no video recording/broadcasting of lessons. Each classroom is staffed with a teacher and several assistant teachers. And, if there was a problem with your child (for instance illness) your child’s teacher would contact you directly.

      • The drop-off/pick-up entrance is unlocked during pickup and drop off times. No IDs are checked at pickup and there is no check-in/check-out process. The doors are locked at other times and the admin office is opened. There has been times that I’ve been there where there are no staff at the front and technically anyone can go to where the children are. The perception is that Japan is safe and therefore certain safety measures are relaxed but i think the safety of our child/children is a personal judgment. People will be people. There is good and bad everywhere. There are no cameras in the school. Many of the staffs are hired in other countries and brought over to Japan on work visas. The main teachers are advertised to have degrees in teaching, but because their degrees are from the foreign countries, you would have to be the judge of whether those degrees have value. Personally, i would prefer that cameras are in place to either confirm or dispel any concerns or questions.

  7. I have to agree with the other reviewers. I recently enrolled my four year old daughter at Clover Montessori and couldn’t be happier. It took her a few weeks to adjust and feel comfortable, but now she really enjoys going there. Her teacher, Ms. Marucho, is very sweet and caring. She always greets the kids with open arms and a hug. You can enroll 2,3,4 or 5 days a week. My daughter goes 3 days a week from 9-3:30 and I pay about 25000 yen. I am so glad I found this school!! It is about 20 minutes from Camp Kinser and 10 minutes from Camp Foster’s Legion gate.

  8. I just wanted to put in my thumbs up for this school too. My son was going to a daycare off base and when he turned three, I wanted to put him in a school more geared towards learning. So I set off to look for a school. I went to Japanese preschools first and they were full up. Then I started looking into numerous Montessori schools. Most were great, my experience with one was horrible (Sunshine). But then we found Clover. The director was welcoming. The curriculum was perfect and the teachers showed such caring for my son and his education. Often times, I would stay 15-20 minutes talking with the teacher about my son’s progress. I cannot express enough how helpful and caring the staff is. The location of the school and the lack of a playground put me off a bit but like I said, the staff and curriculum was fantastic enough! They do plenty of outside activities..

    • Is there a lot of American kids? This will be my kid’s first time in pre k and I have been searching for one that is the right fit. I think I’m going to take a look at this one. Also how are they at the transition of them going to school and was there a waiting list

      • There aren’t many american kids, more Japanese kids but the teachers all speak english. I would definitely recommend this school. My son went here for quite sometime and just progress so well. The director, Ms Evan is amazing. This school really puts your concerns for your child’s education to the forefront. THey have progress reports, I think twice a year and if you have any questions or concerns, all you have to do is ask. They are very open and so accomadating. As for transition, they give you a three day transition period to let him adjust. I dropped my son off at 0830 (school starts at 0900, I think) and picked him up at 1130 for 3 days. There were tears and a bit of wrestling but Ms Evan or any of the teachers will take your child and comfort them. This school is fantastic in every way possible.