Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to School

After a fun summer break in the US, with family visits in both the US and the UK plus vacations, we are now back in Tokyo and doing all the back to school events that happen in the beginning of the year. This is a very special year for the Johnsons, as all the boys are at the same campus for ASIJ this year. We decided to send Sam to kindergarten at the big campus at Chofu and then all the boys would be on the same schedule. Very liberating for mom, too!

Add ImageSam has settled into kindergarten after a week of transition days - one day on, one day off. He is asking about buying a cafeteria lunch, and he is excited to play on the big playground at the elementary school. He also really loves the book that his teacher read, a Max and Ruby story called Bunny Cakes. The classroom is sunny and colorful, and there is a pet rabbit named Ralph. I asked Sam if Ralph hopped around the room, and he said yes, but that he always hides in the class bathroom. Can you blame him? I think I might be tempted to hide in the bathroom if I was in a room full of kindergarteners, too.

Michael's third grade teacher is deeply interested in her third grade class and I think will be very responsive to any questions we might ask. I am very glad that there will be some handwriting work - all of the Johnson boys could use a little help in that area. Michael is a happy kid and was - to my surprise - very pleased to see me today at the Back to School event for the elementary school. Michael's sense of humor is really growing stronger and more sophisticated (ha). The class poster for "What grosses me out..." is full of what you would expect from 3rd graders - body emissions, human and animal, but Michael wrote "When my brother ate a slug."

Chris has settled into middle school with no real adjustment issues - he loves the extra freedom and activities that 6th graders have. He has joined the 6th grade soccer group and he also goes to the Games Club. He will be attending the Middle School social/dance today - he assures me he is only interested in the food!

Our only concern for Chris this year is his math class. I attended the Middle School Back to School night last evening, and was very pleased and impressed with all the teachers he has. The curriculum seems well designed, and the Middle School facilities are beautiful. When I returned, I talked to Chris about what I had seen and he mentioned that the text book he received in math class was a text book he used - in 4th grade at Claymont.

That is just unacceptable. Last year was kind of strange, moving mid year, so I was willing to let Chris adjust and not fuss about his classes. But if we continue this way, he will be behind when we return to the US. Not to mention bored, doing 6th grade math for yet another year. So I have spoken to his advisor already, hoping to have Chris moved to a 7th grade class. We will find out shortly. I am a bit upset, since I know if we were in Delaware he would have finished the 7th grade text he was using in 5th grade, and would probably have moved onto more challenging and interesting mathematics. The advisor says Chris would only be allowed to take 7th grade math if they feel he could perform at the top of the class. I do hope they advance Chris, otherwise we are going to have to find a math tutor to keep him up to speed.

More posts to come on interesting Japanese cultural foibles that westerners have difficulty with like bread.... and toilets....

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