Published on April 11th, 2011 | by Paz6
How to find a Kindergarten in China K-3
Deciding to move across the globe with kids brings up many concerns. One of ours was the education for our 3.5 yr old. She loves social interaction (still not sure where she gets that from ) and learning. We realized last year that she needed school. How were we going to find a kindergarten in China for her? We had so many questions and concerns. Well we did it! We found her a kindergarten in China.
Our biggest mistake in looking for her education was not starting sooner. It took us much longer to find a reasonable school than we ever expected.
Since I was just working 15 hours a week and Zeek was able to work more at night we took tons of time to just hang out as a family. First off, it was great for us to be together as a family for over a month. We took little adventures together everyday. We ate breakfast, lunch, dinner and anything in between as a family. We even were able to have a few family naps. Those are always my favorite. Zeek was never able to take lots of time off when either of the kids were born, so the ability to spend some days together as a family was great, but we should have been spending some of that time looking for schools.
Lupita makes friends very easy and loves talking to kids. We noticed that on our walks she started stopping at every single kid we saw and wanting to play with them. She even invited many over to our house to play. (Good thing they didn’t speak English) Not that we don’t want her to have kids over….just not every kid we walk by that we have known for 15 seconds. This is when we said okay obviously we are a little too boring for our social daughter and we should start looking into a school or organized activity.
Why do we want her to go to an all Mandarin/Chinese School?
We only are looking at normal Chinese Mandarin schools. So yes all of her classes will be in Mandarin. There may be a teacher that speaks some English, but there most likely will not be a fluent English teacher that can translate for Lupita. Why these schools and not International schools? Well it is very simple for us. We came to China to experience China, plain and simple. We know that Lupita will not understand what the teacher is saying and we know that she will be frustrated and it will take longer for her to make friends. Why would we do this to our beautiful 3.5 yr old? Why would we submit her to making her life more difficult? Plain and simple because it builds character and we know that she will thrive! We always joke and we are throwing her in to either sink or swim, but in all honesty we have no doubt in our minds that she will swim and even do a few laps in the process. She will learn the language very quickly being immersed in it all day. She will find out what her strengths are and use those to communicate and understand what is going on. She will learn that their are different ways of doing things and they are not right or wrong just different and it is important to understand diversity.
In the America Lupita was the only “white” kid in her entire school. All of the other kids were African American. Now in China she again is the only “white” kid and everyone else is Asian. Many people are scared to let their kids be different than everyone else and think of the hardship that it puts on them at such a young age. I couldn’t disagree more. There is nothing wrong with being different and children are not born with feeling different than another person. It is society and parents that instill and distinguish different. Millions of kids immigrated into America over the last hundred years from every country in the world not knowing English and they learned and caught up just fine. We have no doubt that Lupita will finish her year having a great time at school with many friends.
I was very naive in thinking that we would do a simple Google search and find 5 schools that would all be very similar and we would just sign up for the closest one to our house. I was WRONG!
Google search resulted in 25 schools within a 15 minute walk from our house.
Good = lots of choices
Bad= lots of choices
We had to call our translator (Frank) and have him come to help us look at schools. We saw 6 schools that day. Which if you have ever looked at schools it is very exhausting. We knew that we had to have another day of looking at schools. Every time Frank comes to pay us a visit it costs a little to have him come, nevertheless it is well worth the $30.00 USD to have him come and help us. He translates all of our questions and concerns. We also like asking his opinion of the schools. It is good to get some local feedback.
What did we find? The schools are all over the map!!! They ranged from a school that was created for migrant workers’ children where a lot of the kids don’t speak Mandarin but their local dialect to schools that spoke a lot of English and had $700.00 USD enrollment fee. None of the schools were the same. They were all so different and had such different charges I felt like I needed an excel spreadsheet to just keep track. Another bonus* (sarcasm) was that none of the schools provide you with any of their information written down. You had to remember it or write it down yourself. Which would have been fine if any of them would have had any paper for me to use. Really, you are a school and you don’t have paper for me to write down your information?! At first I thought it was just a crappy school that we first saw, but then every school was just the same. I get conserving your paper, but come on people!! So I started writing information down on receipts that were in our wallets. After our long day we only saw one we liked, however it was about a 25 minute walk and you had to cross a very very very busy street. Okay so the search is back on!
Three more days of searching for schools and we believe that we have found one that fits us. Finally!! However, the day we arrive to pay and register they up the price another $100.00 USD. What??? They said that our translator did not do their job correctly and that they gave us the right amount before. We asked multiple times what the charges where and what were they for, so I know that I and our translator did not get anything wrong. The woman at the school gave us the wrong information or they just wanted to take advantage of us. This was a very unsettling feeling. Mostly because $100.00 USD is not only a decent amount of money for us, but a considerable amount in China. So I KNOW that these prices would not be easily confused. It is like someone saying $1000.00 vs. $2000.00 huge difference and they should get it right. So we left without registering. I think this was a sign that this was not the school for Lupita and we would have spent lots of money to register her ($450 USD) and then had problems later on.
Lupita on her first day of school. She started on a Wednesday…so no uniform.
Our decision came on our last day of looking.We were about to enroll her in the school closest to our house, which we knew wasn’t great, but it was clean, and the teachers were nice. It was also very inexpensive. Our nanny told us that Lupita should not go to this school and she knew of a better one. So on we went, again! When we arrived we used our very good body language to communicate a lot and then did have to call our translator on the phone for a few last questions we had. The 3-4 class was full, but the principal was willing to ask the teacher if Lupita could join their class. I had to call tomorrow. Off we went.
Lupita’s school issued back-pack.
A co-worker of mine called the school for us and YESSSSS they had room for Lupita and we should be there at 2:30 to pay and register. Since I was working Zeek and our translator went to the school and took care of business. It cost us $160.00 USD for everything. For registration (2 uniforms+ 1 backpack) it was $50.00 USD, for classes $67.00 USD, for food for the month $31.00 ($1.54 a day for 20 days of school) and then she gets an ID card which was $7.70 USD. If she misses school we get reimbursed her money for food. See how complicated the price schedule is and why it should all be written down on a sheet of paper that you just give people. Yes, I am going to send out a country wide memo on this procedure, because come on people. Now that she was registered she had to complete a health check before they would let her begin. Okay so now how do we do that and wear do we go????
Here is Lupita getting ready for school! Brush your teeth.
Lupita wears her uniform on Mondays and Fridays only. They are given a hot uniform (above) and a cold uniform to wear. It just depends on the weather. Not sure why they aren’t required to wear the uniform everyday. But we have seen some kids wear their uniforms on non-uniform days. So this is probably just a suggestion.
What does her day look like? What is a typical K-3 day in China? Well here you go!
7:30 – 8:00 am arrive (exercise time outside)
12:00 – 2:00 nap
2:00- 3:00 writing
3:00-4:00 reading and English class
4:00 – 4:30 exercise
4:30 go home!
A long day for our little girl, if she took her nap it would be better.
Now we are off to get her health check!