Educating our Kids

I'm reading Japanese Lessons: A Year in a Japanese School Through the Eyes of an American Anthropologist and Her Children by Gail Benjamin in preparation for next year. My son will be starting primary school in April. So far the book is very enlightening and I wish I had read it when my son started kindergarten.

On the topic of supervision. The author talks about how the classes are often unsupervised. If the teacher is ill or has to attend a meeting the class simply gets on with the work assigned. This has been one of the issues I've grappled with at kindergarten. Apparently the children are not considered to be in danger. For the most part they do their work or assigned tasks as usual.

I question my son about it and have come to the conclusion that he would not think anything of it if he didn't have a paranoid foreign mum. It's all part of the normal course of the day. At his kindergarten the class is regularly separated for activities. The teacher takes one half of the kids while the others eat their lunch, for example. According to my son, the children (five and six years old) eat their lunch, clear away their utensils, brush their teeth and choose something from the toy box to play with until the teacher returns. The worst that has happened has been a farting contest, name tag switching and the odd finger slammed in a door. Once my son threw up after lunch so the other kids took him to the sick bay. It seems perfectly reasonable.

Group mentality is also discussed in the book and again it's one of those things I have questioned. It all starts to make sense when you read the book. Kindergarten is all about getting used to working in groups. Even the Sports Day has it's place in the grand scheme of things.

I'm only part way through the book but I definitely recommend it to parents looking at education options for their preschoolers. I am actually starting to look forward to school now.

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