The differences of schools between Michigan and Japan

I have two children, 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.

One of my biggest worries regarding moving to the US was about them.

Will they be able to adapt to the American school?

Will they be able to make friends?

Will they forget Japanese language?

Will they be late for Japanese curriculum?

The list is endless.

As I wrote in the previous post, they enjoy going to the local school now.

Actually, there are a lot of children who came from abroad in their elementary because we live in diverse and international city.

That's why not only my children but also other children have some difficulties to speak in English.

But teachers are skilled and very used to such children.

They help such children and they are getting used to school little by little.

I started taking the ESL class two weeks ago.

It is very inspiring and fun for me!

As well as my children's school, the ESL class is also very international.

It is opened only for adult.

The students are eager to learn English, and very friendly.

They don't stick to their friends who speak the same language, they enjoy talking to the students who are from different countries.

They try to speak in English even when they talk to the students who have the same mother tongue.

I like the atmosphere there!

I found some differences of school between Michigan and Japan through my children's elementary and the ESL class.

They are very interesting!

1. Teachers sometimes talk sitting on the desk.

When I saw the scene, I was surprised because Japanese teachers never do like that because it is usually regarded as a bad manner.

2. Children read books while lying down.

Children have a reading time in the elementary in Michigan.

My children were so surprised to see the other children's behavior.

They read books while lying down on the carpet and while eating snacks!

It could happen at home in Japan, but children have to read books while sitting on the chairs in school.

And they must not bring snacks to schools in Japan.

They can bring snacks only when they go to the field trip.

3. The students can go to the washroom during the class.

There is a washroom in the classroom of their elementary.

They can go anytime they want to go without permission of teachers.

In Japan, children are offered to go to the washroom during the recesses.

Children have to manage it by themselves.

If they want to go during the class, they have to tell their teacher.

The teacher would say like that,

"OK. But you should go to the bathroom before the class."

4. School lunch doesn't seem to be good for health.

I make lunch (bento) for children every day.

The elementary school offers school lunch.

But I don't think the menu are not good for health.

It is offered in the buffet style so that children can choose what they like.

But some parents or adult who are living in the school district have to help them as a volunteer at the lunch time.

Unless children choose vegetable, children don't eat vegetable no matter how much they offer it.

In Japan, the menu of school lunch is made by the Nutritionist.

Children and teachers eat the same one.

All children have to be on a school lunch duty in turns for a week.

They serve their lunch and clear the tables by themselves.

As I mentioned, children must not bring snack to school in Japan.

The lunch time is only the opportunity to eat in school.

Even though there is something they don't like, they get to eat it because they are hungry.

But recently, children can reduce the amount of the dishes before they start to eat.

Since my 8-year-old daughter always doesn't eat a lot, she often reduced her meal before she ate.

5. Children don't have to clean their school.

In Japan, there is a cleaning time every day and children have to clean all the classroom, hallways, entrance, school ground, and washroom.

They sweep with brooms, put the dust and garbage in the dustpan and throw it away in the dust box.

They also wipe the floors and hallways, wipe windows with a damp cloth.

In Michigan, children don't have to do it.

My children are glad, but I want them to learn how to clean.

6. Children go to school by a school bus.

My children take a school bus to school.

I think school bus is the best way for children to go to school safely.

In Japan, they walked to school carrying a heavy bag like a backpack named randoseru made of leather with a lot of textbooks and notebooks.

It was hard for the first-grade students, but it makes them stronger.

7. Teachers try to teach children with fun.

Children enjoy the local school because the class is fun.

Teachers seem to let children have more fun with learning.

They have a few homework.

The ways of teaching are quite different from each teacher.

The school seem to leave it to the teachers.

In Japan, children learn a lot of things in school.

Sometimes they don't enjoy it because it is like a training.

Teachers have to follow the curriculum guideline issued by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Children can learn in the similar way wherever in Japan, but teachers have a very heavy workload.

They have a lot of homework every day, reading, Kanji workbook, math workbook, and so on.

I have more other things I want to write, but I would like to wrap it up today.

Just one thing I could say, if my children are used to American school too much, they would have a hard time for them to adapt the Japanese school when we go back to Japan.

Because I think American school tend to make them have fun and Japanese schools tend to be stricter.

It is not that which school is superior, or which school is doing right.

I just would like to say that there are so many differences in both.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


Our Hello Project

My 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter go to the local elementary school on weekdays and they also go to Japanese school every Saturday.

They are busy, but they enjoy both.

My son is not shy, he wants to speak in English and has made a lot of friends in school.

My daughter is shy and not good at speaking.

She had a very hard time at the local school in her first week.
(I will write about this later, it's a long story.)

But she has been getting used to being there little by little and could make good friends there.

They started learning English in January from online Japanese teachers.

The teachers were amazing and very kind to my children.

My son seemed to be good at remembering language, he learned very quickly.

But my daughter didn't.

She enjoyed the English lesson, she liked her teacher, but she forgot what she learned easily.

Actually, she didn't even know ABC's.

I think she tried her best.

But she needed more courage to speak in English.

When we moved to the US, it was during the summer vacation.

Even though I took them to the park, supermarket, museum, and so on, my children didn't have any opportunity to speak in English because I had to speak instead of them.

For example, I let them buy something at a food stand.

I told them,

"Say 'one hot dog and one French fry, please' to the staff."

My son tried to say it to the staff, but the staff couldn't understand him because his pronunciation was not good.

My daughter tried to say it to the staff, but the staff couldn't understand her because she was shy and her voice was too quiet.

In this case, the staff asked me with troubled face what we wanted to order.

I thought that was too difficult for them, so I suggested to them:

"Why don't you try to say hello to people who pass on the street?"

I thought it would be an easy thing for them to try.

Actually, we don't have such a custom in Japan.

If people we do not know say hello to us in Japan, most of us would be surprised and think:

"Oh, who was she/she? Did I see them before? If so, I might have ignored him/her. I wonder who he/she was..."

Of course, NOT all Japanese people have this reaction.

Some of us would say hello and some of us would ignore it.

But here in the US, people tend to be more social and say hi more often than the Japanese.

I like this custom very much.

They named this  the "Hello Project" and started trying to say hello to the people who met on the street, near our house, at the park, and so on.

The reactions from the people who were said hello to by the children were very interesting.

Some of them seemed to be surprised at first, then smiled and said hi to them.

Some of them didn't say anything.

My children were disappointed to see such a reaction, but I explained this to my children like this:

"There are various kinds of people. Some people say hello, but some don't. That's same in Japan, too. You don't have to be disappointed even if they don't react to you."

One day, they said hello to a young man who was walking near the supermarket.

He answered "Hi, how are you?" so fast.

My children took some time to understand what they said.

A while after we passed the man, my son finally said "I'm good, thank you. And you?".

But he already had gone far from us by that time, but he said to them in a loud voice:

"Good thanks!"

We were very glad to see his reaction.

This event encouraged my children very much.

I think language learners need courage when we try to speak in foreign languages for the first time.

But when we find that they can understand what we say, we feel very happy and it encourages us a lot.

I wanted my children to experience a small success and a sense of grafual achievement little by little.

I believe that little improvement will build up and they will become confident.

And the same goes for me.

After I moved to the US, I had to adapt to the new environment.

I sometimes hesitated to try speaking and was disappointed because I couldn't do it well.

I didn't want my children to hear my complaints, but it made me drive into a corner.

When I felt tired and troubled, I shut myself in my house and didn't go out all day.

I called to my mother using my iPad and told her how I had a hard time getting used to my new life.

She listened to my story patiently.

Thanks to her, I was able to feel better.

I believe it's sometimes OK if I want to take a rest.

Little by little, I want my children to enjoy their life, and I also want to enjoy my life in the US.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!