Brandy asked what we are doing for school, so I shall tell you.
I go into this post with the disclaimer that obviously, what is right for us isn’t necessarily right for everyone, and we’re not judging those who make different decisions, so don’t judge us. We have friends here who have kids in all of these different options, and I know that they’ve thought things through carefully and made the best decisions for their kids.
We basically had 3 options for school- international school, Japanese public school, or homeschool. Since we were already homeschooling, the decision wasn’t difficult, but we did think about it. The main international school here is excellent, and a fair number of the kids from church go there. It is extremely expensive, but we could have included that in our negotiations. We decided against it, because if we’re going to bring the girls all the way across the world to experience another country and culture, we would rather them have the chance to do that than spend the majority of their day in school. The Japanese public school was less of an option, since the girls don’t speak Japanese. There are some accommodations made for non-Japanese speakers (including pull out classes with tutors to work on Japanese), but the friends I know whose English speaking kids have tried it have not had great success in learning enough Japanese to flourish. Things seem to go well in yochien (preschool/kindergarten) but not as well once they start first grade. So homeschool it is.
The laws/culture around homeschooling here are interesting and complex. This is a really good post about the various ins and outs of the situation. Basically, all “school aged children” (ages 7-15) are required to attend school. (High school is not compulsory, which is a whole other topic.) Some people interpret that to mean that homeschooling is illegal, others don’t. But the loophole for us is that if the child isn’t a citizen, they just kind of don’t care. Whether it’s that they don’t care or they don’t want to be bothered, if you are gaijin (a foreigner) no one asks where or if your child is going to school. If anyone did cause a stink, there is a form that we could fill out saying that we were not enrolling the girls in the public school, but no one has requested or required that form, and that’s been the experience of everyone I can talk to or find online. So we go with it.
We have already started school, even though it’s technically summer break. The girls don’t do well with changes in the school routine- they forget things over the summer and it’s a huge battle to get back into the swing of things when school starts again. So we are doing a simplified school day (math, spelling, reading, history), which takes about an hour in the afternoons. When we came out here the first time, we paused on the history we had been doing and did Japanese history for 2 1/2 months, which put us behind in our regular history book. So we are learning about Romans this summer, and should be all set to pick up with the Middle Ages in September.
We’re sticking with the CA rules of 180 days of school per year, but going to a year round schedule. (I just looked around to confirm that 180 number and apparently there’s all sorts of madness going on with how many days are required- we’ll stick with 180 to be safe. And because I’ve already figured it out based on that. ) In a month we’ll have 3 weeks of school and then 1 week of vacation, where we can fit in bigger field trips and exploring Japan. That should give us plenty of downtime while keeping the girls in the swing of things.
Once we get to September, we’ll be doing math, reading, writing/spelling/handwriting, history, grammar, art, and Japanese daily. We’ll do science 3 times a week, and life skills on the other 2 days. We’re starting on Earth sciences this year, which should be great fun. The Middle Ages should be fantastic as well- yay knights and the Renaissance! In addition, we’re planning on getting the girls into a Japanese class that would be twice a week. Hopefully we will also be able to find a dance class for them. Zoe really wants to take gymnastics, but that may be more difficult to find.
So that’s what we’re doing. Yay for school!