Katei Homon

Today was the dreaded annual home visit by my son’s teacher (Lilia’s teacher will visit in the summer). My friend L. said that she didn’t understand why the visits occurred so early in the scholastic year. The kids have only been in school for two weeks. What could there possibly be to talk about? I reminded her that the visits are not meant for discussing the children’s progress. The teachers enter their students’ homes to check out their living conditions. For me, as an American, these visits constitute an invasion of privacy. The closest American equivalent I can think of would be a visit from social services. I guess the difference would be that Japanese teachers don’t make any suggestions about changing their students’ environments. They just take notes and file away the information for future reference. They might then cut a kid some slack if they know he’s living in squalor with his single mom.

Last year I couldn’t find the appropriate moment to hop up and serve refreshments. This time, I made sure I had a pot of coffee and a plate of cookies all ready. As soon as the teacher came into the house, I directed her to the sofa and poured the coffee. And then we talked about yesterday’s paper-ripping incident. Yesterday evening, Jio was earnestly taping one of his prints back together, saying that his teacher would be angry. (She has complained already about the state of the prints that he shoves into his backpack.) Upon further questioning, we discovered that some kids in his class ripped his homework print. There have been other similar incidents, and Jio is not one to talk, so we’re ever vigilant.

It’s hard, though, to strike a balance between caring too much and caring too little. We want him to be able to fight his own battles, but we don’t want him to be bullied. He’s a sensitive kid, and I’d like to nurture that, but I don’t want him to get stomped on.

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4 thoughts on “Katei Homon

  1. My visit isn’t until the week after next — I was thinking about cleaning the house up but, with your insights in mind, maybe I should create a bit more squalor to get my kid the sympathy vote? 🙂

    Sorry to hear that about your son — hope it’s nothing that concerns him or that you need to worry about. It is so hard to know how involved we should get in our kids’ interactions.

  2. I read this posting with interest. My family lived in Japan for a long time (17 years in my case) and I remember the teacher’s home visit very well.

    When my kid’s teacher came to our house for katei homon, she let all of us mothers know in advance that she did not expect anything to eat or drink — thank God!

    Where I live now, in the U.K., midwives have legal access to your home for some time after your baby is born. This is probably a good thing in the long run, but I resented it deeply at the time.

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