Saturday, December 13, 2008


Second Thoughts

A few weeks ago, Mina had to attend a health check at the local elementary school. Even though she will not be attending the school, the principal of our preschool advised us to go the health check because our elementary school does not have one. So, we took Mina out of preschool early and headed over the local elementary school. The campus is about a three minute walk from our house. On the way, we met up with some neighbors who were also heading to the health check. Mina was happy to see her friend, Natsumi, a playdate buddy since before either of them could walk. The two girls held hands as we worked our way through the different stations of the health check. The school building is very old, but it had a cheerful atmosphere. The halls were decorated colorfully with the children's artwork; every classroom surface displayed Japanese calligraphy or photo essays. The teachers were kind and helpful and the checks were completed efficiently. The mothers joked about the scent of cafeteria food lingering in the air and the really strange thing is that it is the same cafeteria smell as in the States! How can that be? I know the menus are different! As I laughed with the other mothers and Mina smiled with her longtime friend, I began to have second thoughts. Did we do the right thing, putting her into a private school? Is this school so bad? Maybe we made a mistake? When I think about her riding the train everyday, I often wonder if it is worth it. Plus, the little "outskirts of the big city" local school has only 52 first graders this year. That means two classes of twenty six children. The class size at Mina's school is shocking - 42 girls in one class. Then, I remember that the local school consistently has low test scores in comparison to other Yokohama schools. Then, I heard that when Mina's was in the classroom with the teacher during the interview portion of the check, they played a game of rock-scissors-paper where the teacher tells them what she is going to be and they have to figure out how to beat her. This is a game SAM plays in his little class! When we got home after the check, I decided to ask Mina. Where do you want to go to school, Mina? She chose her private school. Whew.

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