One of the main reasons that Japanese students work so hard is the expectations set by their parents and the school system. Particularly the mothers of Japanese children want to ensure the admission to a better kindergarten which will lay the path to future success later on. Admission demands of these kindergarten schools are so high that sometimes a lottery is used in place of the normal criteria and examinations to determine those accepted. Mothers will even go as far as to attend the school in place of their children if they should fall ill, just to take notes. Homework tends to be so difficult that it requires the assistance of the mother. This is cause for the mother’s involvement in every aspect of the child’s education. Not only does the success or failure of the child reflect upon the child themselves, but also upon the teachers and parents.
All this expectation of the child to perform academically has led to a profitable industry in schools called yokiō and juku. The larger of these cram schools, yokiō, are recognized by the government and the smaller juku are smaller, privately run within neighborhoods. There exist three types of these schools. The first is considered the highest with a sole purpose to teach children to pass the examinations, even the ones that specialize in teaching three and four-year-old children for the exams in kindergarten. These schools are very expense. The juku are there to help the students master the regular curriculum. The last type focuses more on vocational training.
The academics of the cram schools vary greatly from the normal colleges. Cram school requires a massive amount of study and time devotion. All this hard work is just to secure placement in college. The children have very little to do with the choice of schools that they are applying to, this is mainly the decision of the parents. The child is often robbed of a normal childhood because there is so much focus on academic study and placement into schools.
Compared to American students, Japanese students display a higher degree of diligence in school work mainly due to the expectations of family. The Japanese stress application and diligence in education, while Americans simply motivate and encourage the ability to understand.