Are you raising half/half children? This is the Japanese term for kids who are half Japanese and half non Japanese, usually with a parent from each culture. Presuming you are looking to place them in an international school, here are a few things worth noting in regards to school/home communication.
Raising half/half children is a unique family situation. While all schools should accept families regardless of their circumstances, situation or culture, International Schools are going to be particularly geared for this. A good school will consider not just your child but your whole family unit when it comes to support. The home/school relationship should be a close one so that all of your child’s unique needs can be met.
As half/half children need constant stimulation from both sides of their cultural divide your school should definitely support your family with clear and concise, relevant, communication. In return most schools will also expect you to provide relevant cultural information that will help them in their duty of care.
So what kind of special information should you exchange? Here are six cultural tips to consider.
· Holiday dates and policies; In many cases families of half/half children like or need to take extended family holidays back to the overseas country. Your school should be flexible in this regard, and have some policies on tuition and re-entry payments.
· Interests; As they get older its likely that your half/half child may view themselves as different from their peers. Its important at an early age therefore to provide cultural information that can help the school encompass the special interests that come from two cultures. Promoting the wonderful benefits of coming from a mixed culture is very important for your child’s future self esteem and confidence. Its also worth noting here that this will be of particular importance to the parent from the “Over seas” country, particularly if your plan is to stay mainly in Japan.
· Language proficiency; A common reason to put half/half children into an international school is to aid in the development of their English ability. As with the above point, the parent from the overseas country may be particularly keen to see their child become proficient if they themselves can not speak fluent Japanese. In any case the school will clearly need to know the child’s English level.
· School Cultural Celebrations; In most cases the school will provide this information at your first interview. Its likely that quite a few half/half children will come from the same country so the calendar should be full of special events that is relevant to your child’s cultural needs.
· Developmental Milestones; The school will require that you generally inform them of these. In many cases these may be earlier or later than average Japanese kids. If your child is half Western for example their physical milestones may differ. (Children learning two languages will also generally be a bit slower at learning both, due to the extra learning demand).
· Food; In the case of the school this will be food that is not allowed (assuming you are providing lunch on a daily basis from home) Such foods often include sweets or confectionary. In the case of “information from home” you may like to include preferred foods if the school is providing snacks. In both cases this may be determined by cultural choices.
Of course there is a great deal of other information that will need to be exchanged before you start and much of this will be done at your initial school interview. Still more will need to be filled out on your schools enrolment form. Collecting and exchanging information about your half/half children should be an ongoing process and definitely not one that just stops after enrollment day.