The start of the new school year brings with it an array of new and exciting adventures, trivia, and educational lessons, all of which promise to further our childrens’ academic development. My daughters are already well on their way to broadening their knowledge within the various subject areas that they are each expected to learn and study. But aside from the obvious confines of the classroom and school environment, our kids are exposed daily to new learning experiences every time they step out the front door and leave the house.

The last few mornings on our way to the bus-stop for example, my youngest daughter has caught the attention of some of our elderly neighbors who on more than one occasion have waved out to her and with a big smile, called out Itterasshai. For those of you who don’t know what Itterasshai means, it is an affectionate way of saying “Goodbye, be safe,” or “Goodbye, come home safely.” I usually encourage Jade to reply by saying “Arigato gozaimasu.”

In addition to teaching Jade the meaning of Itterasshai, I took the opportunity to add to Jade’s Japanese vocabulary and teach her a few more “coming and going” greetings that are easy to use at home. I’d like to share them with you too:

Ittekimasu – “I’m leaving now, but I”ll be back.” This phrase is used for example, when a child is leaving for school in the morning and is about to walk out the door. The parent/s will respond with Itterasshai.

Tadaima – “Hi, I’m back.” This term speaks for itself; when your child walks in the door after returning from school, he or she can call out Tadaima!

Okaerinasai (Okaeri – less formal) – “Welcome Home.” Again, no need for explanation. As the parent, you would respond to your child’s return from school with Okaerinasai!

These are simple one-word phrases you can use at home on a daily basis; I hope you have fun with them and in the meantime I’ll stay alert for more “learning” opportunities that I can share with both you and my family.