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Choosing between two English preschools in Japan

cloa513

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My bilingual son is 5 and has been going to a Japanese kindergarten has a basic 1 hour per week English program. My son is an outgoing child who misbehaves and takes the whole lunch period to do lunch. We want to choose between two preschools- preschools are bit like childcare with full days independent of the time of year. Both schools do my son's grade all in English. For all schools (and English lessons), my son says he wants to go there everyday. Both teachers for my son are native English speakers with young children. Neither school has a playground, students might walk to a local park a couple of times a week. My son doesn't use the inground playground at lunch time rather he does craft - (Honolulu (H)) H is one station away. H is cheaper with no entrance or annual fees. H has only one English teacher with 16 students in the combined 5/6 year old class. My son slightly likes the teacher better. It is very free form with the kids just talking with the teacher and worksheets. In the trial lesson, there was one other student who talked a lot but she is graduating so my son will most likely be the top communicative student. H has a elementary program with the same teacher as the primary with all grades at once. There is Japanese assistant and principal as well- the entire school's staff. The room is a little stinky attached to a solitary toilet. H has classes only 4 days a week. H has a 2 hour Saturday program with one other child (at the moment) who didn't speak much. H is 10 minutes away by bicycle. (Sea (S) )S is two stations away. It has teachers for each grade. S has a five day program. S is very structured and children have to raise their hands to speak. My wife had a negative experience with a Saturday program teacher who a bit physical (only seen on a monitor) with my son - the teacher is only Saturdays. S has a good elementary school program whereby you can go 3pm-7pm five days a week with separate teachers for different levels- you do have to have graduated from the school to use it. S is 25 minutes away by bicycle. My wife (with my son) would have to use the train to get to S when it is raining or after my son goes to a public elementary school. S has a modernish building and refurbished third floor. Which school would you choose?
 

Lothor

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H sounds better - he'll get more than his fair share of structure later on in life, so let him enjoy the unstructured time at H. You will also welcome the reduced travel time in the morning if you and your wife both commute. Why not put the money you save from H into a post office account to pay for juku lessons or for other educational purposes when he's older?
 

cloa513

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H's level (by now) was at 6th grade elementary on the worksheets e.g. what is the main point of this paragraph, is this a noun, so the teacher was extensively teaching English but the children didn't speak much at breaks. S rather teaches singing and dancing and craft in English rather than teaching English directly so much and their children talk a lot in English in break time. S's structure is they have a time for activities and classroom control. H apparently talks in class if children misbehave (like non-violent misbehave).
 

Lothor

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Don't worry too much about the spoken English. Your son is far more advanced for his age than my kids - Mrs Lothor only speaks to them in Japanese and they have only been to Japanese nursery and schools - yet my 14 year old son's spoken English has taken off since starting to study English at JHS and he's now up to about pre-intermediate level. Your son will get there with the spoken English whichever place he goes to.
 

cloa513

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But should I be focused on a school where the teacher focuses on teaching formal English- he does other things like my wife heard at free play time that they were watching an English TV program and did a balloon thing during lunch, if you think so then H is the place- Honolulu is a bit like a juku really . If you think a school should be about doing activities in English where many students had a focus on speaking English early (one half-Japanese and one returnee), then Sea is the place. My son played on blocks free play time. Both schools actually have a set daily structure- only just found out- the difference is child can just answer at H and at S they have to put their hands up. Given the way these preschools are like childcare, it is hard for children to meet friends out of school- a child might stay until 2pm or 4pm.
By the way the talkative child at H was giving answers to questions like she had rehearsed them down pat.
 

Lothor

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Your posts make it sound like it's a close-run thing for you.

Since you are unable to decide having thought a lot, there may be a case for going with your instinct. What would be your, your wife's, and your son's instinctive choices be?
 

cloa513

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Your posts make it sound like it's a close-run thing for you.

Since you are unable to decide having thought a lot, there may be a case for going with your instinct. What would be your, your wife's, and your son's instinctive choices be?
I don't have an instinct and my wife's instinct has a bad record. We choose a different kindergarten (good in most ways) first but they suddenly said when my son was there for an interview- second year entry (his year) is full so we went with our only viable choice a rather expensive kindergarten that wasn't in the process of reconstruction or didn't have some nasty teachers and had a in-school playground. My son was very active then and going far to a playground sounded like a recipe for disaster.
 

bentenmusume

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There's nothing wrong with asking the question, but I'm not sure why you'd entrust such a personal and subjective decision to people on an internet forum.

If it were me, after weighing all the factors (which it seems like you've already done), I would just go with whichever school feels right to you. You say you "don't have an instinct", but certainly you're closer to the situation than any of us...you must feel something. (And I'm not sure what to think about you saying your wife's instinct "has a bad record." Nobody can predict the future, and I don't think you should necessarily write off her feelings just because she may have made a decision or two in the past that turned out poorly.)

I mean, there's no "right answer" here. I'm sure each school has its pros and cons, and besides, at the end of the day, the type of experience your son has is going to depend on numerous factors, many of which are completely beyond your control (such as other kids in the class, etc.).

All you can do is make the decision as best you can, and stay supportive of your child and family throughout it all. (And if it turns out to be a bad/incompatible environment for your son, which hopefully it won't, you can cross that bridge when you come to it.)
 

mdchachi

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I'd probably go with the more convenient and cheaper one.
 

cloa513

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What is your choice based on? The price doesn't really worry me.
 

mdchachi

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What is your choice based on? The price doesn't really worry me.
Sounds like you didn't find much differentiation based on teacher or curriculum/routine. If so the closer one would be more convenient would it not?
Plus it has the added benefit of giving him a lifelong skill of being able to not be fazed by public toilet smells.
 

cloa513

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Sounds like you didn't find much differentiation based on teacher or curriculum/routine. If so the closer one would be more convenient would it not?
Plus it has the added benefit of giving him a lifelong skill of being able to not be fazed by public toilet smells.
It is interesting that you think they are not much different. For us beside son's slight preference, H is superior- it has three teacher one for each grade. It has more activities in English not so much teaching exploring English also the children talk more and talk more to each other in English. For your information, the city council (in Saitama) gives a subsidy if both parents work (min 64 hours a month). My wife doesn't work but she can enable it for two months if she gives notice of searching for work . We are calling H today to set the school despite the inconvenience.
 
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