kodomo No Ie
Our family moved from Japan to the U.S. in winter three years ago. It had been decided that our children, 2nd grader and a preschooler in her 2nd year at that time were going to the local schools here. However, we were also thinking of sending our children to a Japanese language school to maintain their Japanese language skills.

It was the first class at school in January when we first visited "Kodomo no Ie" and observed its Saturday classes. That was soon after we moved here. On that day, we could get to see that the children at this school were energetic and happy doing "kakizome" (first calligraphy of the New Year), and playing with "kendama"(traditional Japanese wooden skill toy) .

Also, I could feel the teachers' enthusiasm in their effort to incorporate Japanese annual events into their classes creatively within a limited amount of time as little as one day a week; and their appreciation of Japanese culture. Amongst several options available for us to maintain our children's Japanese language skills, we chose "Kodomo no Ie" as we strongly felt that "Kodomo no Ie" was the place that our children could learn not only Japanese as a language but also Japan including its culture.

After our children started going to "Kodomo no Ie" we gradually started to see our children's progress in their Japanese language skills. In preschool section of "Kodomo no Ie", our children could learn hiragana and katakana from the basics of Japanese written characters carefully by changing the colors when practicing each stroke of the kanas. They also became capable of constructing short sentences through a book making project.

At elementary and junior high school section, students at this school did not use the textbooks made in Japan, but they learned Japanese language comprehensively on a given topic. When our children learned vocabulary and kanji comprehensively on a given topic, they could learn Japanese very efficiently. This experience was also helpful for our children to develop the skills to think logically. Furthermore, this topic based learning was related to student presentations in March, so it has another benefit for our children to have an opportunity to work toward the goal.

Our life in America started with lots of uncertainties as we had to move here with a short notice. But we are very happy that our children could attend and enjoy learning at "Kodomo no Ie" comfortably under the detailed guidance of caring teachers.

Yuriko Mitsumoto, September 2008
It's hard to believe it has already been more than 6 years since my son started going to KODOMO NO IE, including preschool. He is now in the elementary middle grade class.

When he was younger he enjoyed playing games, which the teachers came up with and enjoyed origami and different Japanese calendar events.

After starting elementary school, his class made Takuan (pickled daikon radish) from the radish that everyone in his class planted in the school garden and they actually got to eat it. At Halloween for Okashiyashiki (Candy store), they discussed what would bring more customers to their store and then they made their own advertising posters together. And they got to be a customer or seller, and counted real money.

For him, it doesn't feel like he's being forced to study. While using Japanese, he experienced different activities. In addition to Japanese language and culture, he is also learning and being exposing to many things from various points of view.

He enjoys going to KODOMO NO IE every Saturday and learning without realizing he's learning. As a parent, I also enjoy learning something new while looking at what he learned in class and for homework.

I'm grateful for the big hearts of Encho-sensei and the teachers. Thank you.

Mikiko Haneji, October 2008