Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Katei Homon

Which is the Home Visit. Elementary school teachers visit the student's home in Japan. Usually this happens in April or May soon after school begins so the teacher and the student's family can get to know each other. In our case this year, we had the Undokai in May, so everyone was busy preparing for that, so we had the home visit at the start of the summer vacation.

The teacher comes in, but only for ten minutes or so. We are told to not serve tea and snacks, so we do anyway, but are not surprised when she doesn't drink it! She tells you about how your child is doing at school and answers any questions you may have. It's a good opportunity for parents to ask questions they might be reluctant to bring up in front of everybody at a PTA meeting, or be too shy to go to the school to ask about. And it gives the teacher a good chance to get to know something more about her students. As a teacher, I would love this opportunity to take a peek inside my students' homes, to see what their home life is like.

We took the opportunity to ask about extra work that might be needed when we go to NZ later this year. Both teachers were fine with it, one even commented that her friend had done that too!

One teacher this morning asked about our daily routine. I've heard some want to see the child's room, or rather their study area, but that never happened to us. Though we have the desks downstairs now, in Amy's first year they were upstairs in the girls' bedroom. To some parents obviously, this will feel intrusive. DH told her the kids are up early to get to rajio taiso, then come home to do some study, with free time after lunch.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Elementary School Entrance Ceremony

Starting school is a big deal in Japan! All the little six-year old first graders dress up in their finest to attend a special opening ceremony, then their parents go with them to see their classroom for the first time, meet their teacher and get some of their school supplies.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ball Toss

Four Teams throwing soft balls up into a basket.

The basket

Winner is scored by all teams counting together as they throw balls from the basket. Whoever is left counting wins! Listen to the Japanese numbers, I missed one, so it starts from two, 'ni'.


All the kids got together into two mixed-age teams (not much choice in this tiny school though!) for a variety relay:

Balancing a ball between two posts

Big kids pulling a little kid on a tyre.

double skipping.

Ever tried a three-legged race? This is several steps up - six kids coordinating their steps. Actually this kind of race is a really big deal in Japan. They have prefectural champions then the best teams go on to the nationals. The teams are bigger, about twenty kids. They work really hard and there's usually a documentary on TV about one team or another and how hard they worked.

Parents' Relay:
This is also a kind of varitey relay, 'unmei' or 'fate' relay. Instead of just running, they run to an envlope on the ground, placed randomly, and they have to open it and do what it says inside. Things like 'find two old men and run with them' or 'find a giant ball and run with it'. It means that it's just pure luck whether you win or not! This picture show two who got 'piggy-back a kid' as their fate.


The kids tying on their festival coats, or 'hapi' for their dance:


This is a traditional community group dance. It's origin is in the Obon festival, the Japanese festival of the dead. On this day, the deceased ancestors are said to return home to the 'butsudan' or Buddhist altar each family has in their home. There are lanterns set up to guide them home, and the dancing also helps to guide them home. But sometimes they do the dancing on other occasions too, such as School Sports Days!

A close-up of the ladies' hapi coats - pink with cherry blossoms. The writing says 'Koge-machi' the name of the town.

Video of the dancing:

Ball relay and Lunch

Tug-of-War ahd Gateball relay