Recently (as in the beginning of this month recently) I became a Yochien (Japanese preschool/kindergarten) Mom. Typically kids don't start in November, and I had not planned on starting Yosei into yochien until April. In Japan yochien goes for 3 years at the very longest, but some schools also allow you to do a 2 year program. There were a lot of things working against Yosei that made me initially think 2 years would be the best for him; most of these reasons centered around the preemie factor though.
The cutoff date for all Japanese schools is April 1st meaning that beause Yosei was born in March rather than June like he should have been, he got pushed ahead one year school wise. So obviously this being sent to school one year earlier than he should have been also means he's pretty immature, couple that with the expressive speech delays and... well you get the paranoid overprotective mom that I became.
So anyhow generally you start searching for a preschool in the fall, get applications in and enter in the Spring of the following year. Yochien release their relevent info and applications of October 15th and being accepting the completed applications on November 1st; as far as I know this is standard across the entire country.
Usually there are public and private yochien, however in our town, as well as the neighboring one, there are no public yochien. Which means the option of super expensive private yochien for us. Yochien is not mandatory but nearly every child goes to either yochien or hoikuen (i.e. daycare). But since both parents have to be working to attend hoikuen (and I'm not willing to put Keia in daycare at this point) its the yochien route for us.
So around the end of September I began to look at exactly what yochien were available, I was quite shocked to find out that out of 7 yochien in our twon 4 of them were religious (2 Christian, 1 Catholic, and 1 Buddhist one though affiliated with some temple and totally different from what we practice) The others were just ridiculously huge (think 300 kids) and to me with a kiddo that's delayed a large school probably wouldn't have been ideal. Being a little transportaionally challenged ( I don't drive, and at that point I walked everywhere) I decided to start by looking at the closest and supposedly smallest school in the area, which also happened to be one of the Christian ones. We went and took a tour and watched part of the lesson, but I really didn't get a good feeling about the place and really the religious atmosphere made me uncomfortable.
So after that failure feeling totally lost and defeated about how I'd probably have to suck it up and send him there despite ont really liking the school, I started researching the yochiens in our neighboring town. And I found one! A little farther away but still walkable it looked to be a little bigger but not too much so. So I called and took the kids to go tour the place and it was then that the principal told me that she felt it would be better for him to start sooner rather than later with his delays. I wasn't too sure but I really liked the school, and even the school itself was bigger (as well as the playground) there were actually less students than at the other 'small' school.
So after lots of talking and trying to convince the husband (and after quite a few no's) he finally relented and we began the whole enrollment process so we could start in November.