i wish i could give a run down of japanese youchiens (preschools/kindergartens), but i’m finding my time on the computer to be shorter and shorter these days — and the days that its longer, i’m often ignoring something more important (playing with my boys?) or pressing (the dishes in the sink since monday?) in order to be online. praying to cultivate self-control in this area, seems to be something many blogging mommies deal with and post about.
anyway… i can at least give a run down of jones’s youchien! i love it. there are two types of youchiens: public and private. jones is going to a public youchien — its cheaper and more parent-involved (i.e. we take him to school instead of a school bus coming to pick him up). the things i love in particular:
- jones’s youchien in particular is very play-oriented (lots of opportunity to get dirty!)
- there is a place for EVERYTHING! very organized. each kid has their own sticker (jones has an airplane) that is found on their cubby hole, their drawers, their chair, their extra clothes basket, their desk, their towel place, their shoe cubby, etc, so they know where to put their stuff, since they are little and can’t read
- each kid has their own hand towel to use! keeps the spreading of germs at a minimum. kept on a rack, found by their personalized sticker.
- the kids have been coming to play at the youchien every once in a while for the past 6 months, in order to hopefully get them more used to the place. this was in hopes that when the first day arrived, youchien would not be a scary place, but familiar. mom or dad were always at these youchien playdates, and the teachers encouraged us to stay close by to our kids to help them feel safe. it was so wonderful! and has really helped jones. he hasn’t been apprehensive at all about going and playing.
- the 3 year olds start out going in two groups of ten, for an hour and fifteen minutes each day, for four days. then they all go together for four days for two hours and 15 minutes. then, over the course of a month, they slowly lengthen the time up to four hours at youchien.
- the teacher makes 10-minute house visits to all the kid’s houses this week — to meet the parents and, honestly, i don’t know what else. we’ll see when she comes on friday, i suppose 🙂
we were also required to have a lot of handmade items — we could have purchased some of these, but it was cheaper to make them, so i did. i had a blast and learned a TON about sewing in a short time. made me a little more confident about tackling bigger projects, and at the very least, i can whip out a tote bag or a little sack in no time! also, in japan, opening ceremony’s are a big deal — more important than the “first day,” which is what we tend to celebrate in america. the men wear suits, the women wear dresses, suits, or kimono, and everything is very formal. it was a great experience! bryan and i had fun hashing out the things that were interesting to us afterward. here are a few pics of my handmade items and the opening ceremony.
yesterday, i was thanking God for youchien and for the opportunity to have this experience. it is still so strange to have jones away from me, even for an hour — but already, in less than a week, i can tell that i will really enjoy this phase of life. i have opportunity to leave the house everyday, which is really good for my spirits — sometimes i can feel really bogged down by all the things around me and just need to leave. jones is learning more and more japanese — and my language has improved, too, with the daily practice and interaction. i am meeting moms, jones is making friends, and i finally feel — after two years of living here — that i am part of something in japan. obviously, being american makes me an outsider, but doing youchien brings me into the culture in a way that learning japanese, eating japanese food, and adapting our lives to japan in other ways have not. being an introvert in a cross-cultural setting can be very lonely, particularly if the culture is not known as “warm” (compared to countries in africa, or india — “warm” cultures, where a foreigner might have trouble getting people to leave him or her alone!) — our first two years were rough, and making friends was hard. though i still have mixed feelings about my little boy being away from me, i am seeing many blessings at the beginning of our youchien experience. there will be more to come, i’m sure, as i encounter interesting things along my ‘youchien mom’ journey! 🙂