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After school care

Japan With Kids - Forums: Education in Japan: After school care
By Susan Burns on Monday, September 2, 2002 - 4:52 pm:

My daughter has just started Japanese public school. Since I work, I had planned to have her attend the "Jido kurabu" at the Jidokan. She is finding it very hard though. The local jidokan has 50 plus kids and there seems to be minimal supervision or planned activities, so the kids are really noisy. Has anyone had experience with Jido kurabu?
Are there other options for after school care?

By Cornelia on Monday, September 2, 2002 - 5:19 pm:

My daughter will be attending but hasn't actually started yet. I learned that there are different programs within the same building in my ward (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo). There is the jidokurabu which is open to all kids after school until 6th grade I think, but only until 5 pm. Then there is a program where the parents actually enroll and pay a fee (the one that my daughter will be in). This one includes supervision and insurance and is available until 6 pm AND on Saturdays. This program only exists through the end of 3rd grade though, and is only available to kids where there is no alternative supervisory person at home, i.e. mother works and grandma lives far away. In my ward it is called Gakudouhoiku.

I went and chatted with the head man at my local jidokan who is immensely popular with the kids. I was able to see the contents of one of the rooms upstairs which included a large hand drawn map of Japan on the ceiling put up in pieces, and a number of other educational materials including stuff for science experiments. I hope to have more to report in a couple of months.

Anyway, the point is that I get the feeling that the way the programs are run in actuality may vary a bit from city to city and even from one Children's Center to the next depending on the Chief Administrator's magnetism and vision. And also that there are at least two different programs run under the same roof. Also, I may not have all the details precisely correct.

This is the only publicly offered after school care that I know of. A lot of kids go from school straight to a huge array of after-school activities such as swimming lessons, English lessons, various sports clubs and so on, on their own, and then return home after that.

By Susan Burns on Wednesday, September 4, 2002 - 10:13 am:

Thanks for answering. I have looked into swimming, gymnastics, etc. but there is always a gap between when school ends and when the lesson starts.

I guess we will try and stick it out with Jido kurabu for now. It seems like this would be a great business opportunity for some entrepreneur!

By Cornelia on Friday, September 6, 2002 - 6:08 pm:

I went yesterday to my jidokan to fill out a few more forms and learn more about the system. The jidokurabu kids must leave by 5 pm. The kids that pay can stay until 6 pm Monday through Friday and until 5 pm on Saturdays. At my location there are 28 kids (2 of whom are handicapped) in the paying program. Another name for the paying program is ikuseishitsu which sort of translates as "well-growing room". But there are any number of other children that attend between school ending and 5 pm and on school holidays that are not jidokan holidays.

I got there at 4:30 and the change in noise level between 4:59 and 5:01 was truly remarkable.

The cost of the supervised program for me is Y4000 per month paid to the ward office and another Y2000 for snacks and drinks paid directly to the jidokan. When she attends all day long (for example on Saturdays when there is no school) she will still have to bring a lunch with her. This Y4000 yen payment means that the staff is actually responsible for her well-being while she is there. This program only exists for first through third graders.

I also found out that from 5 pm they are generally asked to sit at a table and do their homework (which is great for me!) and the staff will assist them.

I must say that picking my daughter up from school is also a treat in noise. When all the kids are rushing out things get very energized.

I've got my daughter in a soccer club now on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 to 6 pm. On Wednesdays her school lets out early at 3pm which means that she gets to the park for soccer practice a few minutes early. The rest of the week her school lets out at 3:50 so she gets to soccer practice late.

I'll write up about this co-ed soccer club under the sports section by the way, as soon as I understand it better. The cost is 500 yen per practice, and my daughter was the only girl last Wednesday. So we'll see how it goes.

By Cornelia on Friday, September 6, 2002 - 05:47 pm:
I just thought of something else. I think that the staff at any give institution has a huge impact on how things go. For example, I noticed a big change at my daughter's daycare when the "encho - sensai" retired and a new one came on board. It wasn't necessarily a simple matter of "better" or "worse" but rather "different". As in different things were more emphasized. Anyway, if your daughter is not in the paying program, than she basically can go to any jidokan she likes. So if the atmosphere at one jidokan is not what she likes, than she can go to another one. In dense Tokyo, most of live withing bicycling distance of more than one.

AND even if she is in the pay program, she can probably transfer if you find (or can fabricate) a plausible reason for doing so, though it might be a bit of a gamble; the new one might actually turn out to be worse.

By Anita Byrnes on Friday, September 6, 2002 - 11:08 pm:

My son aged 7 attends the gakudo club at the jidokan in our area in Minato-ku. He enjoys it, has plenty of friends there and it has saved my life over two summers now.The program seems to be a good mix of structured and unstructured time. During the holidays the first hour is spent in the reading room with reading and homework. My son seems to pay a lot of ball games like dodge ball but there are all sorts of activities, including a drawing/crafts room. There are only 25 kids in the gakudo which means they are supervised, eat lunch together and are expected to attend unless otherwise arranged. Other children not in the gakudo can come and go in the jidokan as they like. It costs 2000 yen per month for the afernoon snack fee. The leaders in charge are responsible about intervening, notably in a minor case of bullying. All in all it's great and my son's preferred destination after school. Not sure what I'll do after Third grade.....

By Cornelia on Wednesday, October 9, 2002 - 10:17 am:

I just learned that I could probably enroll my daughter in the gakudouhoiku program closest to her school (her school is in a different ward from the one in which we live). But I am not going to pursue this because I really like the idea of her still having contact with all her old friends on a daily basis even though she is now off to a private school. It would of course be a lot easier if she were going from school to a jidokan within walking distance, since right now she is still too young to get to our local jidokan by herself via public transportation.

I also found out that many of the larger elementary schools here in my ward have their own gakudouhoiku programs within the school. I guess it's a sign of creeping changes in Japan (more women working, oh my gosh!)

By Yvette Takizawa on Monday, July 11, 2005 - 10:35 pm:

Im looking for an English pre-school or an english after school near taito-ku,tokyo-to.If you happen to know one please tell me.thank you so much.

By Caroline on Monday, May 14, 2007 - 2:14 pm:

Please anyone enlighten me about gakudohoiku, and jidokurabu. Do these exist in all wards? In Musashino-shi we have a gakudo club and Asobee. Gakudo is only for kids who attend public school (there is fee), but Asobee is for anyone who lives in the area and it's free. Asobe is a lifesaver for me in the summer, and I thought it only existed in my ward. I'd be interested to know what other wards offer a similar free afterschool play program.

By Cornelia on Monday, May 14, 2007 - 10:29 pm:

Dear Caroline,
I wrote a bit about gakudouhoiku above. In my case, both in Bunkyo-ku, and in Toshima-ku, the fact that my daughter was enrolled in a "private" school did not prevent her from being enrolled in the after school program.

We did quit the program after 2 years though. For one thing, the lead sensei was transferred to another facility (they get moved every 3 years), and he was special, and sorely missed. Then her second year, she started getting some teasing from other kids for her name and her American mother, which I figured she could live through. BUT she was only going twice a week by the end of the 2nd year, so I finally decided that we could save the Y6000 a month, and spend it on something else. There were two fees, one for attending, and then one for the daily snack. One paid for the daily snack and the attendance fee even if the child wasn't going, for example, during the summer months.

I think maybe Jidoukurabu or Jidoukan is the same as Asobe? It finishes at 5pm, so it has never been of any use to us. She gets home from school at 4:30pm, and has a snack, and then there is only 15 minutes left of it.

By Linda Gondo on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - 7:51 am:


I don`t know about asobee and gakudo, but my daughter attends something called something called houkkakugou-kurubbu, which I think is just another name for one of the clubs you mentioned. I am not sure, but I think anybody who lives in the area (Shibuya) can attend.Mothers who are not working are allowed to leave their children there Monday to Friday until 5pm, and working mothers are allowed to leave their kids until 6pm and weekends also. It is open almost every day of the year, even most public holidays and only closes for New Year. Cost is only 500yen per year and this is for insurance.


By Mdelgrosso on Sunday, September 23, 2007 - 1:17 am:


I am an after-school coordinator from Houston. I came across this page while searching for information on after-school programs in Japan. I am going in three weeks to study the educational system, and I want my focus of study to be "after-school" in Japan.

Just wondering - is "Jido kurabu" an exact translation of "after-school"? or does it mean something else?

By Kurz on Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 3:48 pm:

I think "jido" or "jidou" is another way to refer to children. "kurabu" is just a Japanized version of the English word "club".
"Jidoukan" translates as "child mansion" on babelfish, for what that's worth.

By Star on Tuesday, October 2, 2007 - 7:57 am:

hi! "Gakudo-hoiku" would be the general term for after-school in Tokyo. I have never heard of "Jido Club" in my life. But when I search with Google, there are "Jido Club"s too.
This is the organization for Gakudo Hoiku in Japanese, maybe you can contact them.

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