Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Break = Homework + Dictates

I know that schools around the world, and even within the same area, have various ideas about what makes a good summer break from classes. I, of course, have my own ideas too.  It is often challenging to keep those to myself as not to negatively influence my children.

Today is the start of summer break for Zilla.  A 4 yrs. old this is also his first summer break from school.  The mothers were required to attend today to practice a dance we'll be preforming with the kids at the festival tomorrow.  There are also classes and activities held at the school during most of the summer and I've heard many of the children attend.  I look forward to having Zilla home with us so I'm not planning on sending him.

So far (I haven't finished looking through his bag yet) there are 2 major pieces of "homework" which need to be completed over the break.  The first is a flower project (I'll post about it once I get some pics) and the 2nd is a daily calendar.

The top page has squares with the dates of summer break and the kids are to add a sticker to each square (completing the picture) as the days go by.

Zilla's initial explanation about this project was "I have to do a calendar with poop stickers!" To those who don't have kids in school in Japan this probably sounds strange. Schools (and society) pay an undue amount of attention to poop.  The preschool told us from the start that we are to have the kids poop before they come to school each day.  The card we need to fill out on their pool days (splashing in a shallow pool at school) also wants to know when their last poo was.  Now, over summer break, we have stickers to put on a chart each day that he poops.  The poop stickers go right between the weather for the day and the sticker for brushing teeth.  In my mind this is "Too Much Information!" and none of the school's business!

The rectangle space next to the 3 stickers is for writing a bit about what we do each day. I don't mind this part as it will be a nice record of what we do this year. However, Zilla has already scolded me for writing in English as he is sure his teacher will not be able to read the comments. We are going to compromise by using both easy Japanese and easy English with little drawings so everyone can read it.

The column to the right (in the photo above) has some dictates for the kids (parents) to follow over summer.

Here is a translation:
Let's have a fun summer!
 - Go to bed early, wake up early.
 - Eat your breakfast.
 - Don't kick balls in the road.
 - Wash your hands.
 - Wear a hat when you go outside.
 - Don't eat too many cold things.
 - Don't go with strangers.

While all of these things are fine and good I think some of them should be at the discretion of the parents.  Or, at the vary least, there should be an explanation with the statements to explain why these are things the kids should do.  I don't see how following this list will make summer fun though.  I think it will make returning to the school routine in the fall easier on the teachers.

The back 6 pages of the book are additional activities including a place for pictures, ticket stubs, etc.  We have to turn the book in to the teacher on the first day back and there is even a space for her notes and comments.  Wonder what she'll have to say...

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