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"Mom and me" study abroad programs for Japanese children

Asahi reports that a new trend, mothers taking their children abroad for months or more at a time in order to study English, has emerged in Japan, coinciding with the opening of English language classes in elementary schools.

Rie Hirakawa, a representative with Ryugakutoshokan, a study-abroad coordinating service based in Tokyo, said: “Parents who come to us (seeking advice on mother and child programs) have one common characteristic. They all experienced the economic bubble when they were students.”

Most of the mothers enjoyed overseas travel as college students, and maybe they even did a short study abroad stint, she said.

Another important factor in the equation is that Japanese fathers are becoming more low-maintenance and self-sustaining.

“This phenomenon we are seeing now, the increase of mother and child ryugaku, was unthinkable a decade ago,” Hirakawa said.

It sounds like a unique and effective way to give children a head start in English. I feel sorry for the husbands who have to stay home, though!