My son is currently at a wonderful school that isn’t mainstream (for Hong Kong). The teachers use Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches to early childhood education. I love that they combine the independent aspects of Montessori with the community learning of Reggio. I love it and so does my son. The teachers are caring and the kids have made huge strides in their developments. I’ve seen my son start out as quite quiet in the school setting, opting for independent play and not really participating with the rest of the class to a very outgoing little boy, eagerly putting his hand up to share his ideas. Nothing forced, teachers only gently encouraging participation.
His school is now currently making some changes as they are no longer financially sustainable. They just don’t have enough students and are challenged at getting new ones. Parents of all of the students are eager to lend a hand, but there just aren’t enough staff to figure out what needs to be done. Unfortunately, this makes it very hard for us not to have to look elsewhere as “A” does need a spot for another year before he enters primary school. My older daughter is in her first year now at primary and we are hoping that he will get priority for a spot in her school but nothing is guaranteed. His current school is going to stay open for the rest of the term, but the future is uncertain so I’m forced to have to go out and search for another kindergarten. This part is a bit stressful as most schools application deadlines were all last year for the coming fall so it makes it a bit hard to find somewhere for my son.
Tomorrow, I will go and meet with one school in hopes that there will be a spot for him and that it will be a right fit for him. Hong Kong is a unique place where schooling can be very challenging. There’s the local system, the direct subsidy schools (helped by the government), and also the international schools. You need to decide quite early on which direction you want your child to go. If you want your child to learn Cantonese, you must go local. However, this isn’t easy as school is quite academic this way as it involves a lot more study and you would need extra help unless parents are fluent in Chinese, which for us, neither parent is. Then there’s the direct subsidy which is a little more than the public schools, but very competitive to get in as more parents want their children there and it’s more affordable. Then you have the very expensive international schools. Our daughter is at the ESF schools, which will receive funding til 2016…the effects of the loss of this funding is already being felt.
We chose this route as they use the IB method and we felt that it was the best way to go for our kids. They will learn a lot but also be able to enjoy learning since learning is a lifelong journey. We didn’t want them to hate school and be bombarded with homework at such a young age.
How does it work where you live? Where I grew up in Canada, you just went to the closest public school. Is it the same or are there more choices and decisions that have to be made before your child enters school?