The Japanese school year is winding down, which means some teens are dealing with the bittersweet emotions of their impending high school graduation as they tearfully eat their final made-by-mom bento boxed lunch. But on the other end of the spectrum, some kids’ formal education is just about to begin as they enter elementary school.
That’s the case for mother and manga artist Mandaring (@mandaring on Twitter), who recently received a parents’ orientation package from the school her child will be attending. Included in the packet is a list of expectations regarding students’ behavior, but the extensive checklist is causing a stir in Japan because ticking off every item would be difficult for many adults to do, let alone kids.
The 18-point list begins with:
“Before your student begins classes at the school, please make sure they are capable of the following. Also, as parents and family members, please follow the same conduct yourself.”
The 18 points are divided into two categories, starting with “Basic Conduct and Attitude,” which lists:
● Attentively listen when someone is speaking.
● Greet others and respond to questions in a clear, easily audible voice.
● Sit up properly in your chair.
● Have a clear understanding that what belongs to others does not belong to you.
● After taking off your shoes, arrange them neatly in the entryway.
● Make sure your clothing is clean and unwrinkled.
● Keep your desk and surroundings tidy and organized.
● Take responsibility to go to bed early and wake up early on your own.
● Eat a proper breakfast.
● Always brush your teeth.
● Never tell lies.
Moving on to “Relationships with Friends,” the remaining criteria are:
● Do not leave anyone feeling left out.
● If someone has a problem, help them.
● Do not badmouth your friends.
● Be able to get along with, play, and learn with anyone.
● Don’t always just play by yourself, but be friendly in playing together with everyone.
● Play outside, both to get plenty of exercise and also to relax in natural surroundings.
● If you make a mistake, earnestly apologize.
If you can do all that even as a full-grown adult, most people would say you’ve grown into a pretty good person. Asking parents to make sure their kids can do all of it before even starting the first grade, though, seems like a pretty tall order when dealing with such little kids.
With a kid entering elementary school, Mandaring should have plenty of material for her "Oyasodate Nikki" (“Diary of Raising Parents“) series.
Still, the list is a pretty comprehensive collection of admirable goals, especially its emphasis on not alienating others, given how important group activities are in Japanese society. And though one could make the counterpoint that the most important part of elementary school education isn’t scholastic knowledge, but social development, it’s also encouraging to see the school subtly reminding parents that in order for lessons about how to get along with others to really sink in, kids need to see kind and conscientious behavior not just in their classroom, but in their home as well.
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