Tuesday 6 February 2018

The Start Of Our Homeschool Journey In Japan

The Start Of Our Homeschool Journey In Japan

I have a BIG announcement... 

Yes, we are going to start homeschooling full time. Ebi-kun will finish Elementary school in March and so we will start our homeschool journey.

For some of you, this won't be a surprise, it is something we have been considering all along but now it's crunch time and we have to jump one way or the other.

We did look at one of the local school which although it is government run, the system they use is slightly different and we thought it would be a compromise. He took the entrance test and didn't get in (only 2 kids from his elementary school did pass the test and then there is an interview). So that made our mind up for us.

To answer the most glaring question first... WHY?

As you know, I am passionate about Montessori and deeply believe that the "follow the child" or child-led learning as it is also known is the best way for a child to learn.

When a child follows their passions and intrinsic motivation - the planes of development as Montessori called them, the child learns at a much deeper level, gets a much better understanding of the subject matter and doesn't get bored by the education process.

Also when a child follows an area of interest it brings in subject areas from many different places. For example, Ebi-kun is interested in food, which is what started the whole Ebi-kun Eats thing but it is so much more than just trying new foods.

He is interested in flavour combinations, he will often try different flavours together to see if they work. He loves to find out the history of a type of food, how it is made and he is an avid ingredients reader.

He will follow a recipe to the tee for the first try but then will experiment by adding things in and taking things out, cooking it in a different way. It's a big science experiment.

So although cooking is the main subject it also brings in maths, chemistry, food safety, history, culture... and he is also learning to take notes in a scientific way, to explore and push boundaries, to ask questions and see where the answers lead him.

This is a very different approach to learning how to make cupcakes in a classroom.

This goes for any other subject he decides to deep dive into. Japanese history is something he is very much interested in now. He is a voracious reader and when he finds an interesting fact in a book he will take that and explore it further.

This is the way I believe education should be, following our passions and exploring them to a deeper level.

I am 100% sure that there are things that both you and I learned at school that have never ever used. Osmosis - has that ever been used in my life, nope. Trigonometry is the one that is usually banded about because unless you follow the path or maths and engineering, there is very little chance you will have need of it.

That said, I do believe a foundation in the basics is important, Maths, English, Japanese so these will be none negotiables. The rest he can choose to study as he likes.

The other reason is that Japanese Junior High works extremely well on the Victorian schooling system, the schools were set up initially to prepare kids to work in the factories. Kids learned that everything had to be done a specific way, to do as your told, when you are told and by the time you had finished, you were ready to join the workforce.

That is all very good and well if you want to go 'into the system' but I don't believe it is a healthy system, the stupidly long hours, lack of time to spend with family and the whole "hammer the nail down that sticks up ethic" If you don't fit the mold, they will make you fit the mold.

As a square peg myself this really, really doesn't sit well with me.

We all have a place in this world, no matter who we are, what we do and what our quirks are, we should be accepted for who we are.

This thing of making everyone equal and the same is totally against everything I believe and stand for, I couldn't put my child through that system. Some people might be OK with it. I am not.

So that is the WHY and now onto the HOW...

Obviously, Ebi-kun has been part of the conversation. His main concern is friends or lack of but we think we can work this out. He will still go to aikido, he's interested in joining the bouldering club, we are looking into volunteering places to join and there are plenty of classes he can join both on and offline.

His biggest complaint about school is that he is bored because the pace is too slow. He does his homework in class (this year the sensei is OK with that) and doesn't get to study the things he is interested in. He is excited to be homeschooling and not to wear a uniform!

We already use Khan Academy and I have looked into other online courses. He is also signed up for this Japanese site Study Sapuri which covers the everything up to university entrance exams. So we will probably use this for maths and Japanese and social studies.

We will also consider juku (cram school) or tutor if he needs it for help on the Japanese side of things.

The Legalities...

Full disclaimer here! I am not a lawyer in any shape or form and we are finding our way through this by ourselves, just taking it as it comes. My husband is 'The Research Type' so he and Google have become very good friends! But I wanted to share our journey to help anyone else who decided to take the same path.

In Japan, the law states that a child has a legal right to education until they are of age to graduate Junior High School (roughly 16 depending on their birthday). The law does not specify how or where the education needs to take place.

It is possible to be registered with the local Junior High, this seems to depend on the headmaster/BOE from what I can gather. The child is registered and will get a graduation certificate but doesn't need to attend the school.
I have read that some schools allow the child to join the club activities or specific classes but Ebi-kun was adamant he wasn't up for that.

Today we went down to the town hall and filled in a form in the Education Committee Section ( 区域外就学・指定校変更届け  ) stating what our plans were and why. It took about 10 minutes, seemed fairly straightforward. At this point we don't know what happens next, I will update with another post when we know!

We are expecting an interview somewhere along the line and maybe a yearly update but at this point, who knows!

Now, if you are reading this, there are a lot of stories where parents have run into resistance and struggled to get the BOE on side if your child has dual nationality, you can play the foreigner card and basically, from what I understand the BOE will leave you to your own devices as the law is only directed at Japanese kids.

I'm hoping that we won't need to go down that route but it's a backup plan just in case.

What About My Business?

I have always built my business with the idea that it fits with the family so that won't change. Iw ill work alongside Ebi-kuns study. I will have to cut the hours back a bit, be more productive in some areas. Generally speaking, nothing will change.

I have decided to retired a couple of my services and concentrate more on the passive income. I am keeping The Kaizen Revolution going so that will be my main focus.

Homeschooling will give us a lot more freedom, we don't have to stick to school holidays for starters, so we can explore more, hopefully, travel more and not necessarily in school holiday time, although we are still tied to my husbands work schedule!

That is where we are at right now.

Graduation is towards the end of March so the adventure will officially start then but I will update here when we have any new information!

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