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 DIANA MIDDLETON/UPDATED BY ALEXANDRA KOOB (FEBRUARY 2014)
Name of School: East West Montessori School
Address: 465-2 Ihei, Chatan-Cho, Okinawa, Japan, 904-0102
Ages Accepted: 3-6 years old
Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School: 4 years old
What is the current number of students? 52 students as of October, 2013. The maximum number of students the school can enroll is 60. The age range is 2.5 years to 6 years old (including Kindergarten)
Is enrollment open/year-round enrollment or per semester? Enrollment is year-round.
Does my child have to be potty-trained to attend? Yes, but school accept students who are almost potty-trained. The school continues to work with the younger students who may need more time.
Can I bring my child in for a pre-enrollment visit? Yes, the school encourages parents to bring their children to visit the school as well.
DAYS AND HOURS:
What are the school’s hours? The school has two programs. Core program, which consists of 5 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Full day program is 5 days a week as well, but 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The school also has an Extended Day Program that opens at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m.
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? Drop off time is from 8:30 to 8:45. Pick up time is from 2:30 to 2:45 (Core program 12:30 to 12:45). The school can be flexible at times depending on the situation. However, they encourage parents to follow the school schedule as much as possible.
What are the registration fees? The Core program registration is 33,000 Yen. The Full day program, registration is 43,000 Yen.
What are the tuition fees? For the Core program, yearly tuition is 380,000 Yen. For the Full day program, yearly tuition is 450,000 Yen. This can be paid in ten monthly installments.
If any, what are the assessment and school supplies fees? None
Are any discounts offered for referrals, siblings, volunteering, working there, etc.? Discounts are offered for siblings or lump sum payment of the yearly tuition.
Is there a late-pickup fee? The school works with parents. They understand things happen. However, if it becomes a problem, the school charges 700 yen an hour.
How and when does the school require payment (in yen, dollars, etc.)? The registration fee and first month in paid at the school in Yen. Consequent month are paid by using the GI Bill payment service (enrollment required).
PARENT INVOLVEMENT & INTERACTION:
Does the school encourage spontaneous visits from parents? Yes and no. The school asks parents to wait for about eight weeks after the start day, before visiting the classroom for observations. However, the school provides a camera/monitor in the office where parents can see what is happening in the classrooms without distracting the class. The school encourages parent volunteers for different school activities.
How do you communicate with parents? The teachers try to communicate with parents on a daily basis. They also communicate via Facebook, newsletters, and flyers. On Fridays parents receive a note of their child’s highlights of that week.
Is there a daily report or other process for informing parents of what children did during the day (naps, BMs, snacks, etc.)? The school does not provide a daily log. However, the teachers are always willing to provide daily information to the parents upon pick up time.
Are there parent/teacher conferences? Yes, there is one parent/teacher conference in January of every year.
CLASSROOM STRUCTURE & SIZE:
How are the kids grouped? The kids are grouped in a multi-age classroom.
What’s the teacher-child ratio in each group? 12 to 1. There are 24 students in each classroom with one head teacher and one assistant teacher.
How many full-time teachers do you have? How many assistants? Three full time teachers and three assistants. Each classroom has a head teacher and an assistant.
What is the school’s educational philosophy? Children are natural learners, who are constantly ready to explore the world. East-West Montessori provides an environment that allows children to make discoveries in a classroom full of wonderful materials and lessons. Our Montessori trained teachers guide our students in an atmosphere that promotes personal responsibility, freedom of choice, problem-solving skills, self-esteem, love, and respect.
Is the school program developmentally-based or does it have an academic focus? The school follows the Montessori Method. It provides an environment that allows kids to grow and learn at their own pace. The Montessori curriculum allows children to challenge themselves and learn as fast as they are ready to learn. The teacher will help with the transition of the student to a more traditional school environment at the end of the school program.
Is there a playground for the children to play on? Yes, the school has a playground on the second floor. It is covered, which provides protection from the sun and rain. Even on hot days the children can play outdoors since the playground is elevated and accommodates a cool breeze.
What do the children do on any given day? The students have lessons, play time, reading, music, dancing, and snack every day. Activities and lessons vary with each child and curriculum.
Are there extracurricular activities or field trips? Yes, the school plans two field trips a year. They also have parent/child nights, where parents and students come to school and do lessons together.
How does the school discipline children? The children notice the natural consequences for their actions. Those natural consequences allow children to learn and take ownership of their mistakes. There is no punishment set by the teacher or a “thinking chair”.
How does the school comfort children? The teachers are always there for the students to provide support by giving a hug, talking, or listening to the child.
FINAL COMMENTS OR OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE SCHOOL:
From Diana: This is a great school for my daughter. She loves the freedom and independence and has learned a lot in this environment. My advice is to try it out. It’s not for everyone, and the director will say as much. My son tried it out, too, but it was not a good fit for him. He’s doing great at DoDDS. Every child is different and it’s up to you, as the parent, to determine that fit. Their web site is: www.east-west-montessori.co.jp
From Alexandra: This school is amazing, in so many aspects. In true Montessori spirit, East West has given my children confidence and a love for learning through exploring the world, which I hope will last a lifetime, or at least through collage.
The classrooms are bright with large windows, clean and arranged specifically for small children. The lessons are planned and exchanged through out the year to appease the curiosity of the child. I love the practical life lessons, which teach how to prepare food/snack, set a table, sweeping and table manners. It makes for a delight at home.
I selected this school because the teachers are well educated (and Montessori certified), caring and affectionate towards the children. Their personal attention to each child’s family life and weekend activities is amazing. The teachers really listen to the parent’ s concerns and wishes, and work with us to solve problems. I consider them a part of my family and they keep my child’s best interest at heart. It is also nice to see the teachers dedication to the school and the low employee turnover.
To top it all off, the administration is great and continuously improve the school grounds and classrooms. Again, listening and working with parents in the best interest of the child. Thank you!
Directions: From Kadena gate 1, turn left out the gate. Then make the next left turn at the light. Travel up route 23 until the next red light, and make a U turn. The school will be after Docomo, and across from Eagle Lodge.
From Foster travel north on 58, turn right onto route 23 and make a U turn at the next red light. You will see the large orange East West Montessori School signs on your left.
Address: 465-2 Ihei Chatan-Cho Okinawa Japan