Back to Japanese School Over the Summer Holidays 夏休み、我が家の場合

Published on: October 04, 2018

This Japanese mum sent her two boys to school during the summer holidays. She has no regrets, in fact, she recommends it to other parents too. Here’s why.

By Akiko Cayne [日本語記事へ]

Article 26 of the Japanese Constitution states that “All people shall be obligated to have all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law. Such compulsory education shall be free.”

So why would I throw this amazing right away? Japanese kids can go to school for free in Japan during the Bangkok summer holidays!!

There are over 80,000 Japanese kids under 16 years of age living outside of Japan. Some of them use the above right and take part in ‘Trial Enrollment’ at Japanese public schools for a month or so when international schools are on summer break but Japanese school is still in session. I hear not many countries have this “Trial Enrollment” system. I’m glad Japan does because it gave my children the opportunity to have a truly enriching experience. Let me share some of their amazing experiences and cultural shocks with you.

Culture Shock 1: Getting to school on their own

As you might know, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. After entering elementary school, kids go to school every day by themselves. This is shocking, coming from Bangkok where you don’t even send your kids alone to the department store toilets. Kids in Japan usually take the bus and train to commute by themselves too.

Children can go to school by themselves not only because Japan is a safe country, but our society as a whole is there to support the kids. Every morning, there are adults from the school, PTA, or neighbors standing on every corner watching and supporting the kids so they can walk safely to school.

The surprise for me was that even in this modern era, the local society is trying to raise children together with the parents. Children are the treasure of society, indeed.

Culture Shock 2: Lunch duty, cleaning duty and class leader

At all Japanese public schools, kids have lunch duty where they serve lunch to all their classmates, cleaning duty when they clean their classrooms and common spaces. Students take turns to be the class leader and lead the class in greeting the teacher at the start and end of each period and generally help the teacher too.

For my kids, who don’t speak fluent Japanese, leading the class in Japanese was not an easy task and needed a lot of courage. So taking part in this system undoubtedly built their leadership and encouraged them to do more things by themselves.

Culture Shock 3: ‘Virtue’ classes

In Japan, all the kids have to take ‘virtue’ or ethics class, where they are supposed to learn ‘judgment between good and bad,’ ‘sincerity,’ ‘sympathy,’ and ‘love for the country.’

When I was growing up, these were things I learned from my parents. But I believe it’s just as important to learn them at school. For Japanese people,  culture is based on virtue, so it’s important that the kids learn about it. My kids definitely learned to think more about how other people feel.

Japan has a very systematized society that sometimes it makes living inflexible and hard to negotiate. However, the positive experience my kids had over the summer in Japan made them grow both mentally and emotionally.

If your country has a similar system, I strongly recommend that you try it for at least one week. The kids might have a different opinion on it for going to school during the summer holidays isn’t a holiday after all.

By ケイン明子















About the Author

Akiko is a Japanese mother of two boys with her Canadian husband. She loves traveling, eating, singing, and BAMBI!!


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