My Eldest Son’s Experience Studying at a Japanese Elementary School!

Hi Mom and Dad,

This time, a friend of Gakken Jakarta, Mrs. Hayu Sayektiningati, will share her experience bringing along her husband and children whilst receiving her scholarship in Japan. What were some of the challenges faced when her eldest son, Maliq, enrolled in a Japanese school? Let’s read on and find out!

Minasan, Konnichiwa! (Hello everyone!) My name is Hayu Sayektiningati. I am a 36 year old mother of 2 sons, Maliq and Mikail. I currently live in Bekasi. I want to share with all of you my experience while completing my scholarship in Japan.

So, in 2016 I obtained a Research Student scholarship conferred to me by the Japanese Government; better known as the Monbusho Scholarship. I did not go alone; my entire immediate family, which consists of my husband and two children, came along for the big move to Japan.

Indeed, I didn’t want to waste this golden opportunity for my children to experience what it’s like to study in Japan. My first child, Maliq, was 9 years old at the time, the appropriate age for 3rd grade enrollment in Japan. Actually, in Indonesia, Maliq would be attending the 4th grade of elementary school, but in Japan the date for determining a child’s age and equivalent grade level ends on March 31, so Maliq who was born on April 11 had to drop a grade. But this isn’t a problem for me, because the unique experience of attending a Japanese elementary school was far more valuable than that of dropping down a grade level.

The registration process for elementary schools in Japan, or to be precise in Tokyo, begins with first reporting to the residential area office (Kuyakusho), followed by an interview at the Adachi-ku Education Office in Tokyo within the Kita-Senju area, as well as determining which elementary school included within the zoning area would be most appropriate depending on where we lived at the time; and the cost? It’s free! This is because Maliq attended a Japanese Elementary School fully subsidized by the Government.

While studying at a Japanese State Elementary School, there was no need to spend money on a uniform. However, some forms of attire had to be purchased, namely a school hat, school shoes, tracksuits, and a backpack. Elementary school backpacks in Japan are considered part of the child’s uniform, and they can be quite pricey, within the range of 1.5-4 million rupiah. Wow! That’s pretty expensive! Why is that? Well, this is because the materials are derived from high quality leather and durable to use for up to 6 years. So buying this backpack is like making an investment at the beginning of the school year.

However, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a mother if I didn’t try to look for a loophole for my son’s sake, so I bought a used backpack at an auction site. A preowned backpack suitable for use can be bought at a price for as low as Rp. 250,000. The one I bought has been used for 6 years by its previous owner, which plainly shows the durability of these backpacks.

On the first day of school, my husband and Maliq’s younger brother accompanied Maliq to school for the first time. During that time, Maliq could not speak Japanese fluently, only Jiko Shokai (self-introduction), though he could speak English properly. I was worried: would Maliq’s lacking communication skills be a cause for stress? However, the anxiety soon disappeared, because a few days after school, some of Maliq’s classmates came to play at our house. They invited Maliq to play! Indeed, my eldest quickly adapting to his elementary school was a huge relief for me.

Maliq’s school also provides private Japanese teachers, better supporting Maliq’s swift grasp of the Japanese language. In less than 3 months, Maliq was able to communicate without a problem; kids are really quick learners!

So, that’s my story about my Eldest son’s Japanese elementary school experience. We will continue next time!

What stories do Mrs. Hayu and Maliq have for us during their next journey? We will be waiting!

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