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 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
Phone: 098-983-7303
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.eastwestms.com/english
Ages Accepted: 3-6 years old

Ages of Your Kid(s) in this School:  4 years old

ADMISSIONS/ENROLLMENT:

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.

COSTS:

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

21 COMMENTS

  1. Since quite a few of these comments are on the older side, I wanted to add a newer one. My older daughter started going to EWMS almost as soon as we got on island, and has had a wonderful three school years. My younger daughter joined her for this school year, and it’s been great for her as well.

    When I first started looking for a preschool, my goal was to find a place my daughter would get some socialization while I had some alone time with my new baby. My husband and I have been thrilled with how much our children have learned.

    The teachers greet the children with a smile every day. It amazes me that they are so chipper each and every day, but they are!

    I truly feel like this school has been a big part of our family’s experience on Okinawa, and it has been positive across the board. Saying goodbye to EWMS is one of the things I am most sad about as we get ready to PCS. I can’t say enough good things about this school!

    • Thanks for your feedback, Leslie! It’s so helpful to others to hear the thoughts of parents whose children currently attend schools here on Okinawa.

  2. The teachers at this school are fabulous! The hands on activities are wonderful and the staff could not be more caring. I loved the fact that they actually had a large field in back for the morning recess area as most Pre-Schools in Oki do not have the land. I have never met a more devoted Director who truly cares for her teachers, which in turn, shows in their care of the children. East-West gets an A+++ in my book and I would recommend it to anyone seeking independence and intellect within their child. ♥

  3. My daughter has been attending for over a year and a half now, and I could not be happier with the way this school is run. My girl was incredibly shy when she began, and she has blossomed so much going there. I was very apprehensive about her starting any school,but East West let us go to “playtime” for over a month before I started leaving her there. When I started leaving her there, it was only for an hour or so, then increasing the time gradually so she was not overwhelmed by all the change. The teachers recommended coming everyday for an hour or two, starting, so that she could get comfortable, but not overwhelmed by all the change. Now, she goes all day and wants to go on weekends, etc. 🙂 The school does fun field trips, they learn some Japanese lang. and culture, but they speak excellent English. The teachers are very involved. I peek in all.the.time. and I have never seen anything that made me upset or nervous, and I’m easy to upset when it comes to my kid! 🙂 The children are always happy and there is never any chaos. I also second what the above poster said about the “only kids you see crying are the newbies.” As far as kindness and gentle encouragement to learn go, these people do an amazing job- very loving. And when the need for discipline arises (and i’ve seen it), the teachers are calm, assertive, and loving, but firm. Your kid sees the same sweet faces everyday and there are no surprises. It’s just what me and my girl need!

  4. My daughter has been at East-West Montessori for a year, and we love this school! The teachers are great and the school is well-run. My daughter loves going there every day and is making great progress. At the age of four, we send her to school mostly for the social interaction (she’s an only child) but the Montessori Method turned out to be great for her academically as well, and she is learning all kinds of things.

    I can’t say enough about her teachers, who are warm and caring people. They all have a great relationship with my child, seem to really enjoy what they are doing and are always willing to talk with you about anything that might be going on in the classroom. I highly recommend this school!

  5. A few weeks ago, east west was one of many schools we stopped at while looking for the right one for our children. The initial pitch by the school’s head master was excellent with pictures in a flip book to show what progress the kids would make. After actually watching how the teachers interact with the students I was not as impressed. The pitch is, we work at your child’s pace; the reality is somewhat different. If I were an employee at this school I would read this carefully to review how I interact with the children. If you speak to a child you just met and they don’t return a greeting and you start telling the parent how that lack of returning communication is a concern, well, a “concern” may be a little premature in judgement taking into consideration the sum total of 30 seconds of interaction. If you are going to truly work at each students pace you won’t have many “concerns” because milestones that show what a “Normal” student are would be part of a traditional education program, not montesorri. This school may be a perfect fit for some children, it just wasn’t for ours.

  6. I love seeing these comments about East West as I worked there for 5 years (first as an assistant teacher and an office manager) and all I saw from the teachers are great stories about their students.

    Not only the outside, but inside the school, I always saw the teachers smiling, laughing, playing, and joking around with their students. The smile from the students are priceless.

    Unfortunantly, I have to leave the school due to my father’s business, but I am SOOOOO happy for my son currently attending East West. I already imagined my son being loved by his teachers before he attended and sure enough, he is filled with loving and nurturing everyday!!!!!

    My daughter graduated at East West after attending for 3.5 years and she is doing very well at her elementary school. She is very strong with her spelling because of phonics she learned from montessori program.

    Thank you East West for the best education and loving you’re giving!!!

  7. I also cannot say enough good things about East-West! My son has been in Miss Rieko’s room for almost a year now and he loves it. His class is for 2-3yr olds and normally there are only about 15 kids but 3-4 teachers in the class. All teachers are genuinely happy to see the kids each day. The children have time to play outside everyday and their lesson activities are wonderful. Everyday my son comes home telling me about everything he did that day and sometimes will even cry that he has to leave school. I love that all of the teachers & staff know his name, even the ones who teach in other classrooms. They have a daily work book so you can see everything he did that day and like others have mentioned, you can go into the office at anytime to watch the monitor to view what is going on in the classroom. We also recently signed him up for Japanese school lunch (optional), which is wonderful because he is trying new things and even learning how to use his chopsticks.

    I really encourage you to consider this school. We also used a Montessori school in the states before coming here, and East-West is in line with what they did there.

  8. My two year old son and four year old daughter go to this school and they love it. We have been with them for about five months. I have already had one friend signup and another about to sign up.

    My little guy has stomach problems and they made me feel at ease about leaving him. They always tell me how he did that day and what I need to look for. The communication is awesome. On one day I asked if she thought there was anything I should tell the doctor and gave me a list of things. I knew those things already but was amazed that she had paid so much attention.

    When you look at the front of the school it does not look like much… and it is not decorated with bright colors. On the outside it is actually kind of bland (like a jail), but it was explained that the bright colors stimulate children. Once you get used to it, it no longer looks like that…. it is very much a happy place.

    Here are ALL the things I LOVE at EWMS:

    I love that they have lots of parking.
    I love that it is clean.
    I love that pickup and drop off is super easy.
    I love that all the head teachers and the owner speak perfect English.
    I love that I have never seen chaos.
    I love that they have daily logs.
    I love that you can see the work they are doing daily so you can practice when you get home.
    I love that they have a large field for the kids to play in.
    I love that when my child is not feeling good they let him sleep in the office and give him the attention that they need till I can get there.
    I love that the only children you see cry are the newbies.
    I love that in just one month my two year old has learned to be patient, kind and best of all use his words.
    I love that my husbands loves it.
    I love the Jack talks about Mrs Rieko all day.
    I love that Braylen pretends to be Mrs Nina.
    I love that Jack likes Mrs Rieko more than he likes me.
    I love that if we were going to be here next year I would send my little guy the minute he turned two.

    I love that I have nothing not to love.

    I am sure there are tons of stuff that I am forgetting. All the other post were really accurate except for the first post.

  9. My daughter has attended EWMS for 3 years and she absolutely loved it!!!!!

    This school has taught her so many things in life. First of all, they ALWAYS follow the child and never force them to do things. People misunderstand that they’re simply “playing” during lesson time, but they’re actually increasing their motivation, self-esteem, concentration, and their social skills using lessons and working with their friends.

    Another great thing about East West is that they can learn the concept behind things, like math and language. They use beads or other small objects for the children to figure out complicated mathematics (what amazed me is that this school has until 3rd grade level of mathematics!!! Addition through division). At traditional school, like where I was, gave me a hard time with math, because I had to memorize everything.

    Language, they learn through phonics, and once they master all the sounds of the alphabets, they start reading non-stop. They start off from 3 letter words, than 4, than with silent “e” and so on…

    Since my daughter, who’s now in first grade, has confident in writing and spelling, she is motivated to join her newspaper club after school (this is at her elemantary school).

    Personally, I think it is a good thing for your child to be motivated to do things, instead of being forced (believe me, I’ve been there).

    Also, the teachers here at EWMS is very nurturing and loving to their own students. You know right then when your child being hugged by her teacher, that you made the right choice for your child.

    My daughter loves this school so much that she’s willing to come back for Summer Session (which they’ll accept to 9 years old if you’re interested) and I’m looking forward to put my son right away after he turns 2!!!!!

  10. My son attended EWMS from 2004-07 (ages 2-5)and my daughter from 06-present (2-now 4.5). I am very happy with the school and the teachers and staff.
    There are 3 classes – 2 for the older kids (3+ and potty trained) they both allow a max of 30 kids with 3 teachers and a “baby” class – with a max of 20 kids and 3 teachers – ages 2-3.5

    Pick up and drop off is flexible but there are scheduled school hours so if you are wanting different hours (byond the daily 8:30 to 2:30)it is best to arrange this ahead of time.

    While it is montersorri it is not incredibly so (if that makes sense…). It is also somewhat different from what I would imagine a school in the US would be. Having said that I am very happy with the school. I felt my son was well prepared for kindergarten. He was not reading or writing at East West (and as it is Montersorri they did not overly encourage him to do so) but he was very ready to begin the journey in DODDS and did very well.

    There were times over the last 4 years when I had concerns however one of the great things about EWMS is there are camaras in the classrooms and you can observe the class in the office (without disrupting the class) – you do not need to let them know you want to observe either.

    I feel very comfortable that the staff of the school have my childrens best interest at heart.

  11. My son just finished his first year in Ms. Nina’s 3+ class. He is also in the EDP (Extended Daycare Program) and Japanese Language classes so he is familiar with all the other teachers as well.

    We have had a great first year at East-West. The teachers are loving and attentive. When my son started “acting out” to get attention, when our family composition changed, we were made aware of his behavior and we worked as a team to help him adjust.

    As mentioned before this school is not for everyone but they have a trial period to help assess this. We found during that period that it was the right place for us, my son wakes up every day excited about what he will be doing at school each day and returns home full of “news” about how he spent his day.

    If you have any questions please feel free to contact me through Okinawa Hai Society.

  12. My daughter had Ms. Rieko for the 2-year-old class and Ms. Nancy for the 3/4 year old class and she loved both teachers very much. These ladies are the lead teachers for their respective classes and they both do an excellent job. I highly recommend those two classes, as well as the teacher assistants in each of those classes. Hope this helps.

  13. I personally didn’t care for East West. My children attend Kidde Castle… and I couldn’t love the program, or the teachers more! They are located outised Foster Commissary Gate.

    • My daughter went to kiddie castle and I must say I was not too impressed with the school. I will try East and West Montessori. Just my two cents!!

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