I attended this school for six years, and watched as things like the neighborhood school program went away and the outdoor education came in, and overall I was impressed by not only the amount of learning that happened, but also the quality of the knowledge that both the teachers and my fellow students displayed. One of the things that the school offers with it's Japanese immersion program is a week-long cultural exchange for all the fifth-graders where they fly to Japan and participate in homestays to expose them to Japanese culture and lifestyle. I really enjoyed being a part of this program, and I am eager to see what more they will do with it.
Richmond elementary is incredible. We love it here. We have two children that are both are excelling in this loving, well structured, learning environment. Neither of us parents speak Japanese and we have no previous direct experience with the culture. We chose the school for the focus on academics and the incredible opportunity to learn and appreciate a language and culture so different from our own. We really like the format of the daily instruction, with half the school day in English, and the other half with a Japanese instructor supported by a full-time, college educated intern from Japan. We tried a different language school for one of our children with mixed results; Richmond, on the other hand, is an all-around great experience for our family.
My child entered Richmond at the pre-K level this year, and we are not happy with the school, at least not with the pre-K experience. I think it's important for parents to know that the school is very traditional, both in the teacher-directed learning style and especially in discipline (which is outdated and shames kids). Obedience is valued over creativity or flexibility, and this seems to work well for some kids but definitely not for others.
Our eldest entered 1st grade this year. We are very happy to be apart of the Richmond Elementary Japanese Immersion program. My son used his new language skills throughout the summer when he met folks who spoke Japanese in the community. I was so impressed, as it is his first exposure to the Japanese language and culture. His English and math skills are strong as well. He was not only ready to return to but excited school. We have two more who we plan on entering the program as well.
Having a desire to give our children a bilingual education we put our eldest ing the Richmond lottery at the PreK level. How lucky we are to have made it through! This year she enters 1st grade (her 2nd year at Richmond) and not only is has she learned an incredible amount of Japanese (we do not speak Japanese at home), but her fundamental education has been outstanding! The teachers that we have been so blessed to get have been amazing and nurturing and our daughter is excelling in reading and math. This year our son will start in pre-k and is so excited to be at the same school. There is an incredible amount of parent involvement and a true love and pride of the school. This school is 100% lottery with no neighborhood enrollment. Thus, every child attending has had a parent or guardian that chose this school for this school which, in my option, makes a huge difference on the support and involvement they will in turn provide. We have made lifelong friends through Richmond and look forward to the next several years in the Richmond JMP program.
Richmond is a wonderful place to learn and grow. My children are thriving and loving their teachers, classmates, taiko teacher and can't wait to go to school everyday. I am so thankful for the excellent teachers who consistently go the extra mile for our children.