1. Grass. Say no more.
2. School finishes at the same time everyday, for all grades.
3. Empty bag. The kids DON'T have to lug a few kilos of textbooks to and from school everyday because a) they keep all their things in their desk at school and b) there are NO textbooks in primary school. You buy them exercise books and a scrapbook, which often come home with them, but not always.
4. Little homework. Here is the homework from Amy's class (4th grade): "Homework Challenge Weeks 9-10 (ie, this is all their homework for a two-week period): Present a fact page or make a poster on any creature you would find in the sea or rock pools. Hand in any day next week". That's it folks. Oh, and daily reading.
5. ONE pair of shoes, which often get kicked off as soon as they arrive at school, so they can enjoy playing (see No.1). NO sports shoes, inside shoes, inside shoes bag, gym clothes, gym bag and gym clothes bags.
6. I want to add 'have to make lunch everyday' to the list of things I don't like about NZ school, but unfortunately, making lunch is SO simple (sandwich, yogurt, fruit, snack), that it costs me as much effort to wash the kyuushoku apron, hat and bag, find the damn masks, and ensure they have clean chopsticks, tray cloths and a bag to put it all in everyday. So I'm not sure kyuushoku is any easier.
3. KISS. They really do keep it simple! Getting ready for Amy's field trip on Tuesday I was struck with how short the list of necessary items was, and how broadly defined. 'Bigger than usual lunch' '2 bottles of water' 'togs and towel' 'plastic bag if you think they might like to take something home' Or not, if you can't be bothered.
Amy was starting to panic about getting it right and not having the wrong thing, which she gets off me and I obsess about getting everything absolutely right in Japan, which I do only because Japanese people act like the sky is about to fall on your heads if anything is slightly different. I know, they're only being kind and helpful, because they assume that you will feel embarrassed and insecure if you do something different, as they would.
And I'm sure a Japanese mother here would constantly feel insecure and frustrated at the lack of detail. I wonder how the foreign mums cope without the insider cultural knowledge we all grew up with, so we know without having to be told what to do. Much as the pedantic rules in Japan annoy me, at least I'm not left guessing what to do all the time, just most of the time. There are unwritten rules in Japan too, of course.