My friend and English student, Mrs. Ehara, was telling me about why she chose the kindergarten she sent her daughter to (where I teach English) and what all she had to do to get her daughter enrolled. I thought it was a very interesting situation and not all that unusual in Japan. A couple other mothers were telling me that it was difficult to enroll children in some of the other kindergartens in the city and I have heard of kindergartens in Tokyo where they child goes to preparatory class BEFORE applying to a kindergarten so that they can pass the difficult entry exams. (to KINDERGARTEN!!)
Anyway, I asked Mrs. Ehara to write me a composition and she sent along a sweet picture of herself and Mion. (I think, Mion means "Beautiful sound".)
I have one child, a daughter, and her name is Mion. Mion is 7 years old and she is in the first grade now. In Japan, most children who are preschool age, (ages 3 to 5) attend kindergarten before they go to school. Mion went to kindergarten for three years. I wanted her to attend so that she would be able to make many friends and have some "sisters and brothers". I think kindergarten is a good place for children to learn how to relate with each other.
When choosing a kindergarten in Japan, some parents send their child to the one nearest their home which makes it convenient to take the child to and from kindergarten. Some parents choose a kindergarten according to what it offers in the way of progressive education. We can choose a kindergarten freely and enroll in the school which fits the child's personality or the family lifestyle. In our case, I wanted to send Mion to a small kindergarten, one that might be like an extended family. Mion and I joined some introductory groups which were held by each kindergarten for the pre-kindergarten child. I found out a lot about the kindergartens and their policies and based on that information, we decided on a kindergarten which we thought would be suitable for Mion.
Unfortunately, that kindergarten was very popular and the enrollment was limited. I had heard that there were many people who were hoping to apply for enrollment which surprised me. However I really wanted to send Mion to that kindergarten. When application day arrived I tried to get to the kindergarten as early as I possibly could. I went on the day before the actual application day! Even so, I was the eighth person in line! I had to wait in line until the next morning! Can you believe it?! But it's true and to attend this kindergarten that was what we needed to do.
When it was evening, my husband came to the kindergarten after work to take my place in line. He stayed overnight on the kindergarten grounds in a small log house which is built there. It was a very stormy night and the windows shook whenever the wind blew. He said he couldn't sleep at all that night! Early the next morning, the director of the kindergarten came to the log house and she passed out application forms. Though the day was very long and we were very tired, we were able to enroll Mion in the kindergarten of our choice!
Mion loved her kindergarten and our family had many wonderful experiences while she was there. We have so many good memories and we are happy with our decision and efforts to send Mion to this nice kindergarten.