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Ebi-kun will start elementary school in April and so the pre-school preparations have started. Yesterday the parents had to go and sit through two hours of waffle, in a freezing cold gym, how I wished I had put my thermals on!
One of the teachers stated that before starting school the child should be able to do all of the following by themselves....
- go to the toilet
- eat dinner
- get dressed
- put on their shoes
- brush their teeth
- pack and unpack their bag
- fold and put away their clothes
Now, considering all the kids will be six years old when they start some of them nearly seven it would be shocking if a child couldn't do all those things (not including any child with some kind of disability, obviously). But then I remember about one little boy from back in my teaching days who at the time was the same age Ebi-kun is now, his mom was one of those fussy mother hen types, the kid never put his coat on by himself and she would come into the classroom and pack up his bag for him - I soon put a stop to that and had him pack his own bag up. I wonder how he got on when thrown into school? Oh yes, they will only have 20 minutes to eat lunch, now Ebi-kun is the slowest eater in the world, he takes slow food to a whole new dimension so we are challenging him to eat quicker. The other thing mentioned is that the kids need to go to the toilet for a 'number two' before they leave for school - this is going to be harder to implement than eating in 20 minutes!
Anyway, after that was a chat with a police officer about road safety and then we were put into walking groups. In Japan children HAVE to walk to school, you are not allowed to drop your kid off by car. The kids are put into groups depending on where they live. In the morning they will meet outside one of the older kids houses, the last couple of years it has been the girl across the road but I think she graduates this year. Once the kids are all there, they walk to school together, the older kid is in charge. The route is set and there are volunteer adults who stand along the route, especially as dangerous inter-sections. I reckon it will be a 30 minute walk for Ebi-kun, they need to be at school by 8.00am so they can do marathon training (running round the yard) and reading, not at the same time.
Coming home, the kids all finish at different times depending on the grade but all the first graders will walk home together. There are 11 kids in Ebi-kun's group but 4 will go to after school club because their parents both work so 7 will walk home together. Luckily there are 2 other boys on our street starting the same time so Ebi-kun will always have someone to walk back with. It is a bit of a worry when you are the last person on the route since the child will be doing the last stretch alone, doubly worrying if your child is a little girl.
The school is pretty new and this year will be the first year that they have had a graduation, the population has increased a lot though and there will be 233 kids in Ebi-kuns grade and 6 classes. His grade is bigger than the whole of my elementary school, in fact his school is about the same size as my high school.
So, we finished off by buying some of the things he needs, they were selling a lot of it there and although it works out more expensive it is the most convenient way of doing it. Remember all the bags and everything that I had to label for yochien, well it all starts again, his name has to go on EVERYTHING so that is going to keep me busy for a while.....