The main YMCA building in the city center is a great resource for the international community. On the 7th floor, the sports center WAAP offers a swimming pool, tennis court, training gym as well as sports, gymnastics and dance lessons for students of all ages. The adjacent building has a day care center and art school and behind there is the international business college and school of languages.
In the main red brick building is where the YIK (YMCA international kindergarten) and Bees Knees international daycare is located. Children from birth to age 3 can be taken care of at the Bees Knees and then start at the YIK kindergarten from age 3 to 6.
The YIK classes are kept small and there are two teachers assigned to each class, one teacher is a English speaking teacher and one teacher is a licensed Japanese teacher who speaks English well. Most activities are conducted entirely in English until 2pm, the afternoon “kindy care” is run by Japanese staff mostly in Japanese. Daily classroom activities include circle time when the class goes over the schedule together, singing songs (including *Zoophonics learning songs, Japanese songs and Christian songs), playing games (including games learning the alphabet, sounds and letters= Zoophonics), playing in the gym, arts and crafts, eating lunch, free play time and other special seasonal activities and preparing for events. You can see the everyday schedule on the YIK curriculum page. (*YIK is certified to teach Zoophonics which is a fun, internationally recognized method of teaching English to kids).
As we are in a two parent working household, I never thought we could send our kids to an international kindergarten as most private pre-schools in the city end the school day at 3 or 4pm. However, YIK offers after school “kindy care” for children to continue their day learning and playing to be picked up anytime up to 6:30pm. Some children go home at the end of the YIK day around 2pm (later on swimming days), but many others stay on in kindy club until later in the day.
A nice follow-up program for students who graduate from YIK is the OWL academy program which gets students together regularly to keep up their friendships and their English ability.
I am always impressed by the quality of teaching and care at YIK. As a teacher myself for many years, I appreciate the effort and care that goes into planning a very balanced curriculum for these students. They are also very easy to work with if you have special needs- for example, they prepare meat-free options for vegetarian children’s lunches and are very understanding if a child has to miss some school to visit family abroad. I was worried about our child’s understanding of Japanese before entering Japanese elementary school, but now they also offer a “yomi-kake-soroban” class to get YIK students started with reading, writing and understanding Japanese.
Another benefit of YIK is the after school options available at the WAAP sports club. Thanks to this, our child also goes to different sports classes and activities everyday and back to “kindy” for snack and free play once finished. There is also a wonderful music teacher who gives private piano lessons after school. Our child’s day is so full of fun, learning, sport, art and friendships that makes for a happy, well-rounded childhood despite her parents busy work schedules.
YIK is a very popular school and there is usually a waiting list to get in. So, if you are interested, it is best to get in touch with one of the bilingual staff to find out more and get your child on the list as soon as possible.
Address: 7-11 Hatchobori Naka-ku Hiroshima city
Tel: 082-228-2657 Fax: 082-228-3370
Hours: Office: Mon-Sat 10:00am-7:00pm
YIK Website: http://www.hymca.jp/yi/index.htm
View YMCA International Kindergarten (YIK) in a larger map