Kindergarten 101: What to Look for in a Hong Kong Kindergarten Class

Kindergarten 101: What to Look for in a Hong Kong Kindergarten Class

Hong Kong has an impressive range of kindergartens including many international ones from around the world. This gives parents a wide choice. But it can feel a little overwhelming and be very time consuming trying to make the right decision.

The first six years of a child's life are a golden age of development, and they harbor some significant milestones in growth. In order to find the best kindergarten class for your child, you will first need to decide on the type of early education you would like for your child. 

 

Some parents are very focused on getting their child into an academic kindergarten which focuses on teaching reading, writing and numeracy skills at an early age. Others prefer a more child-centered approach; one which takes into account individual learning styles. The latter tends to focus more on "whole child" development through structured play and building social skills. 

 

The second important area to consider is admission strategy. Many of the top primary schools have affiliated kindergartens, but not all affiliated pre-schools will guarantee admission to the primary school. Some may give priority in moving up. For many parents, this offers security. 

 

Ultimately, primary schools do look at a child's previous schooling. It is standard procedure to included 2 year reports in any primary school application so be sure to put those into your consideration for a holistic view of each kindergarten.

Your next step is to tour potential schools. These visits will give you a chance to see the kindergarten teachers in action, and to see how they run their classrooms. Here's a list of general topics that you should pay attention to during your visit, along with a sampling of questions you can ask for each.

Classroom/School Logistics

  • How big are the classes? 

  • Does the class size seem manageable or unwieldy?

  • Are safety precautions in place -- both in the classroom and in the school?

  • How diverse is the classroom? The school? Is it diverse in terms of race/ethnicity/sociocultural background?

  • What is school policy on bullying?

  • Is transportation provided to and from school?

  • How is communication handled between the teacher and the child’s parent/guardian/care provider?


The Class Curriculum and Teaching Style

  • Does the teacher do a good job of engaging all of the students, or does she seem to focus her attention on a few?

  • Are all activities done in one large group, or is there also one-on-one time with the teacher? Is there any small group learning opportunities?

  • Are learning opportunities presented during everyday situations, as well as during instructional periods?

  • Are outside trips offered that help bolster learning? (e.g., field trips to libraries, stores, museums, zoos, etc.)

  • Are there ample opportunities for kids to participate in creative activities, such as drawing, performing, and singing?

  • How much "read aloud time" is there?

  • Are movies or television shows routinely shown in the classroom? If so, how many hours per week are spent in front of screens? Why?

  • Find out how many hours of English or Putonghua are used in classes during a typical week and precisely which activities are carried out in each language.


The Classroom/School "Look and Feel"

  • Is the classroom clean? Are the bathrooms and other public areas clean?

  • Does the atmosphere foster respect and manners?

  • Do the kids look happy? Do they appear engaged?

  • Does the teacher seem happy to be there? Or does she seem exhausted and overwhelmed?

  • Does student artwork decorate the classroom and hallways?

  • Does each child have a designated space (i.e., "cubby") where they can store their things during the day?

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