Lithuanian elementary schools: education heaven?|Hiroshi Yamauchi|KnowLedge World Network|Activities|KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL

  • 2016.05.02
  • Lithuanian elementary schools: education heaven?
So, Lithuanian Summer Time has begun, and I can feel that spring is drawing near – albeit slowly!
In my homeland of Japan, the cherry blossoms are doubtless in bloom and everybody must be welcoming in the new fiscal year!

To all new students and company employees, I say: “Congratulations on your new beginning!”

The Lithuanian school year doesn’t actually begin until September. However, as “school” is clearly a topic of the moment in Japan right now, I’d like to write something about life in Lithuanian schools – especially at elementary level.

Firstly, Lithuania operates a 4-6-2 education system. Children will spend their first four academic years at elementary school, before completing Years 5-10 in junior high school. They will then spend their final two years in senior high school. Whereas in Japan, children automatically start school at 6, that is not always the case here. A lot of Lithuanian children born in summer are actually held back one year by their parents, meaning they do not start school until aged 7. Also, if your child is not meeting the educational standards required for his or her age, he or she will be made to repeat a year – even in elementary school.

The first day of the academic year sees all students come to school bearing flowers – not for the purposes of decorating the classroom, but to hand to their teacher as a gift! So on September 1st, if you catch sight of an adult clutching masses of flowers in the afternoon, you know they must be a schoolteacher.

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Children starting new school year

Now, let me tell you a bit about the curriculum.My daughter is in her final year of elementary school right now, and this is how her weekly lesson schedule breaks down.

timetable
The lesson labeled “moral education” is actually a choice between “religious studies” and “etiquette classes.” As much of the Lithuanian population is devoutly Christian (please refer to my earlier blogs for more details), the majority of children will opt for religious studies. Dance lessons see children practice both ballroom and traditional Lithuanian dancing, while PE classes are currently reserved for dodgeball – which all Lithuanian kids seem to love playing!

The lunch break lasts for just twenty minutes, and takes place between 11:40am and 12pm – just after the fourth lesson of the day. Here, children can choose to bring a lunch box, receive a school meal, or buy some bread and snacks from the school tuck shop. As you can order school lunches by the week, it’s possible to give your kids some variety: school lunches one week and packed lunches the next. Children do not have lunch in their own classrooms but all together – both juniors and seniors – in a dining hall. The school doesn’t even mind if older children get their lunch off-premises, with several boys and girls apparently buying food from the supermarket.

Another difference between Lithuania and Japan is the method of parent-teacher communication. Japanese schools still operate overwhelmingly from a paper base when it comes to communication. I believe they still print huge quantities of bulletins or notices about various matters, and expect teachers and parents to communicate via a contact ledger. At my daughter’s school, on the other hand, everything is done by internet.

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Via the site pictured above, parents can receive messages from the school, be informed about homework and next week’s curriculum, and also communicate with teachers. You can have individual consultations with teachers online, and check out school reports too. Nothing is done on paper at all! And if you want a paper record of something, you can simply print it off the webpage.

Although in Japan it’s common for schoolchildren to help with classroom cleaning and other such duties, this does not happen in Lithuania. A cleaning company does all that instead. This means there’s no appointed person to look after the blackboard, the medical room, the classroom pets or the sports equipment. There’s also no need for children to stand up and bow when a teacher enters the room or say “goodbye Mr. Smith, goodbye everybody” at the day’s end.

And finally, another big difference with Japan is the sheer amount of vacation you get here! Here’s the latest schedule:

ChristmasDec 28th – Jan 10th (14 days) 
Winter Mid-termFeb 11th – Feb 21st (11 days)
Easter Mar 21st – Apr 3rd (14 days)
SummerMay 20th-Aug 31st (3 months)
Autumn Mid-termOct 26th – 1st Nov (7 days)

When the kids are on holiday, the only homework they get is reading. I bet Japanese kids feel really envious of their Lithuanian counterparts! And there may even be some parents reading this and thinking they’d rather have gone to a Lithuanian school! (I count myself among that number, by the way!)


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  • Hiroshi Yamauchi
  • AgeSnake( HEBI )
  • GenderMale
  • JobRestaurant owner

It’s been three years since he fells in love with the Baltic state of Lithuania and emigrated here without really thinking it through. He runs a restaurant (which would sound cool, but it’s actually just a diner) as Lithuania’s first-ever Japanese owner/chef. He lives a relaxed life outside the capital city of Vilnius with his wife, daughter, and dog.

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