Oizumi Jidou Kan
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http://www.kodomo-next.jp/jidoukans/jidoukan_list/todoufuken_id:10 There is a list of all the children's halls in Gunma. I didn't know about this place until my daughters asked to go to play with their friend. I don't know if all the halls around Gunma provide this service, but ours watches children after school until 5 pm if you pay to be enrolled. There is space for the students to do their homework and plenty of space to move around and play. I believe for the students who are enrolled, the staff will also help out on some of the homework if the children have questions. There are plenty of students, so there may not be enough staff to give full explanations if the child is really struggling. My girls are not signed up for the after-school care, but we often visit on weekends. It's free to enter and leave as you like, but the elementary students not paying must drop their randoseru(backpacks) off at home before going to visit after school is over. My daughters love the social interaction and enjoy spending time with their friends. However, they also can have fun when none of their playmates are visiting because there is just such a plethora of toys, games, and playthings to enjoy. In one corner is a desk with a nice little library of books. Many of them are picture books, but also a selection of each level for elementary school are available to borrow and read. There is now a section set up specifically for younger children with so many toys. The bigger kids can run around, borrow any ball for any sport that they fancy, and also have giant heavy building blocks to make forts and get their creative and engineering skills going. Outside has a small amount of playground equipment but also unicycles, pogo sticks, etc. My two-year-old son absolutely loves visiting the Jidoukan. He has access to toy cars, both handheld ones as well as larger one he can ride inside. There are dolls, tricycles, a baby swing, soft mattresses to roll around on, a full kid's kitchen set. There is no end to the fun he can have. Like my daughters, I love to social interaction he can have as well. On Fridays, there are meetings for younger children not yet old enough to go to kindergarten. The moms can have a break while the children play and the children get to make friends before schooling starts. The staff is very accommodating for expecting mothers and those who are still nursing. There are also many events throughout the year, such as a sports day for the babies, Halloween trick or treating, and a small birthday celebration for everyone at the same time. The staff prepares most everything, but they also involve the mother on the Friday meetings, using group work to finish projects, such as decorations for the Jidoukan, or trick or treat boxes for Halloween. I always feel welcome even if I don't fully understand what is going on. I wish I had known about the Jidoukan when my son was younger and I had needed more support in caring for my son that most people received from relatives. The Jidoukan would have been able to give me a break, I think, from the stress of a newborn, if only for a few minutes.