I have a truly multicultural family. My daughter, who was born in Italy, attends Japanese day care. Yes, she’s American, but culturally, she’s different.
There’s a wealth of anxiety when considering where to send your kid to school. While there are plenty of English-speaking schools in Japan for western families, our goal was to take advantage of our environment. We’re in Japan. We should send her to a Japanese school.
Granting her unique experiences that would strengthen her character as a foreigner in this country.
The first worry is the language barrier. How will our child adjust to a setting where everyone speaks a different language than her parents? There are few foreign children in her class. All the other kids are native Japanese. Even the teachers have limited English competency. It may sound scary, but children at her age are primed for language learning.
When she speaks Japanese, people often say my daughter sounds native. When I drop her off at school, it’s like flipping a switch. She transitions between languages with ease.
One evening. We went to a bon odori festival wearing yukata bought from a thrift store. Many tourists will go to a shop to rent kimono and yukata, but you’re better off just buying one for the same price. The only benefit is for the women who get their hair styled at those shops. Anyways. We went to a bon odori festival, and my kid made friends with Japanese girl around her age. For the entirety of that evening, she was off somewhere playing with that kid, and that’s cool.
Her exposure to Japanese culture allows her to connect with local children in a way she wouldn’t have been able to if she attended a different school.
The cultural components she absorbs at school exceed my own experiences as big city child. She’s taught to be more self-reliant, insightful and adventurous. There’s a strong focus on outdoor activities and staying in-tune with nature. They engage in the most amazing activities.
During the summer, her class planted and eventually harvested their own rice and potato plants. If you’re wondering about the matching hats, that’s common in Japan. Unlike grade school children, preschool kids aren’t required to wear uniforms but still have these hats to keep them identifiable in public settings. If you watch my Spartan Race video, there’s a shot of a class wearing similarly styled hats.
What I love most about sending my kid to a native school, is what she learn from school, and allowing her to converse with other children.
I you can send your children to a foreign school; I’d be the first to encourage you to take that leap. I’m extremely proud of my daughter’s development.
She’s my little ambassador
This cultural exchange is not only beneficial for my kid, it helps also helps the community. It helps to humanize foreigners. Japanese people seldom interact with foreigners, especially ones that look like us. We’re not the people as seen on television. We’re more genuine.