Kindergartens and entrance exams
It is not mandatory for Japanese children to go to kindergarten. But 90 out of 100 Japanese children attend a kindergarten where they are already learning Japanese writing. At the age of six, Japanese children go to primary school just like Germans. However, the school year does not start in autumn like we do, but on April 1st. Going to school, like us, is a must. In Japan there are entrance exams for elementary schools: Even five-year-olds have to take tests, take part in conversations, perform exercises and do handicrafts. This does not apply to every elementary school, but a distinction is made between schools in Japan. If you want to go to a “good school” you have to prove how suitable you are. Many Japanese children can read and write by the age of five, and this is no exception.
Elementary school in Japan
Around 30 to 40 children study in a primary school class. In addition to Japanese and mathematical subjects, music, art and sport, many children are now learning English at primary school. It’s like with us, here the first foreign language is already learned in most elementary schools. Many primary school children in Japan work with computers. The art of writing is very important in Japan. In this way, the children learn the traditional characters, which actually come from Chinese. Most children attend public schools. There are few private schools, but the number is increasing. Most schools in Japan require children to wear school uniforms.
Japanese middle and high schools
The elementary school is followed by the middle school, which lasts three years. Those who leave middle school after a total of nine years of school do not have to go on to school. The compulsory education ends at age 15. However, most Japanese children continue to go to school. 97 out of 100 children attend high school, which also lasts another three years.
In order to be allowed to attend such a school, however, the children have to take an entrance examination. 25 out of 100 children then go to private school. After finishing high school, 50 out of 100 Japanese go to university. If you want to study at a very prestigious university, you have to take an entrance exam. This can be quite difficult again.
Japanese timpani schools
After six years the children go to the “Paukschule”. Maybe you mean that your school is also a cramming school? Then you don’t know a Japanese cramming school yet. This is called Juku and is very important for Japanese children. “Paukschulen” are always private and serve as a supplement to the public schools. It’s similar to South Korea, where most Korean children still go to tutoring institutes after “normal” school.
There is nothing wrong with tutoring, but if this addition becomes normal, then something is wrong. In elementary school, 33 out of 100 children go to such a school, which supplements normal lessons. And the others? They are unlucky and don’t get any additional lessons. It costs money and that’s why many families can’t afford it. And the children who go to cramming school don’t have an easy life either, there is little time left for free time. So they get used to the working life of their parents with a working day of 15 hours and almost no free time.
Education starts early
In Japan, a country located in Asia according to holidaysort, two-year-old children can sometimes play the piano. But independent action falls by the wayside for the youngest. Often the mothers are the driving force here. There is usually no bad will behind it, most of them only want “the best” for their child.
But if the Japanese children are already playing the piano and violin, they will not be able to tie their shoes on their own. Mom will take care of that. Some mothers read vocabulary to their children during pregnancy or let them listen to classical music in the hope that they will learn all of this in the womb.
There are learning videos for small children and even three to five year olds can read a magazine written especially for them. Yes, right, you can read it yourself.
This is what everyday school life in Japan can look like
Imagine your alarm goes off and you look at the clock and it’s only 5 in the morning. You went to bed at midnight because you had studied up to that point. That’s five hours of sleep. In Japan this is everyday life for many students. And that every day. Many students do their homework quickly after school in order to then go to the cramming school and continue studying there. This school then closes around 10 p.m. Even after that, people often learn.
Is such a school life desirable for children? You don’t have to be a scientist to answer this question with a resounding “no”. But the pressure on the children to get a good school leaving certificate is increasing. In Japan it is now becoming apparent that many children cannot keep up with this pace. Many get sick and in the end cannot go to school at all.