I have an 8 year old and a 4 year old, and one on the way, due in late September.
What you said sounds about right, yoichien (kindergarten) is actually alright, but shogakko (elementary school) is where it starts to go wrong. Second grade was hell for my daughter. It was not tolerable in any way, shape or form. I have been called a bad mother for removing her (by PTA mothers from the school), told I am wierd, my daughter is strange, that she has to learn how to `gaman` to tolerate to stand the bullying. We have been called dirty foreigners, generally very very bad. Everyone from PTA members, to grandparents, to a woman in the supermarket seems to want to tell me how awful I am to homeschool.
However, I had a daughter who was being physically and emotionally bullied by a large group. Who had started to withdraw and stop talking (yes my eight year old went silent). She was learning nothing apart from `people can be cruel`. She was being kept in at breaks because the teachers refused to deal with the bullies. I had other kids coming up to me and saying `your daughter must not use kanji to write her name, she is not Japanese`. It was just beyond tolerable.
It just gets worse and worse from what I have heard from other mothers. More restrictive, more rote learning, more bullying by teachers and students....
We are working on a move - we should be gone by Spring. It cannot come quickly enough for my family.
If a young newly married non Japanese woman in Japan asked me for advice, it would be to make her life out of Japan. It is far too hard here. I know some people have made it work, but more who have not.
We are enrolled with calvert school, and managed to fill in the right papers to remove our daughter from the system. For what its worth she is doing amazingly well academically and is fine socially. Far far happier.
Oh, if anyone is interested, Sanno hospital has been very nice for prenatal care but only have had one visit so far, but for anyone who wants a vbac in Japan, there is no way they would allow it. If I end up staying here, they will jsut deliver by section before I get a chance to go into labour.
OMG, what a nightmare! I'm sorry for you, and scared to death for me! We are here for the long haul!