Well, we have our first graduate! Owen graduated from Japanese yochien, which is a 2-3 year combined pre-school and Kindergarten. It is a REALLY big deal in this country! Dads get off work; women dress in their most formal BLACK suits, pearls, and high heels (I’m glad that I knew this ahead of time– I’ve had a friend or two show up at their child’s graduation wearing the wrong color)… But most of the moms were wearing fake white corsages that I didn’t know I needed…
…and it is very clear that the school teachers, staff, and children take the event quite seriously.
They even made yearbooks for Owen’s class!
I read a book a number of years ago entitled, “Going to School in Japan.” The author did extensive research on what happens at Japanese yochiens compared with American kindergartens. She came to the conclusion (this is oversimplified, of course) that basically the goal of American kindergartens is to teach the child independence; in japan the goal is to teach cooperation. Over and over we have seen this reality. We are amazed at how the yochien educators are able to pull off all that they do, and how they get 60 children ages 5 and 6 to all — cooperate!
One friend wrote and asked – “But did you cry?” Yes- I was in quite good company. I tried to keep the sniffles to a minimum while videotaping…but hearing your son singing in Japanese, “Thank you Mom and Dad for all you’ve done for me” can make even a non-cryer-type shed a few tears.
Here is a 5 minute video overview of Owen’s graduation. You’ll see that Annie was involved, as well, as one of the younger siblings also attending the yochien.
So… I guess I’d better start making some fake white corsages… if all three of our children end up finishing college — only 14 more graduations to go!