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Ying Cai Kindergarten Parent’s Day


When the teacher told me Friday was Parent’s Day, I wasn’t too concerned. We’ve been pretty happy with Ying Cai Kindergarten. There have been some issues, but no preschool is perfect. So, I attended Parent’s Day in my usual relaxed mode – Sianna in tow.

The first thing I noticed was that Schäfer’s class has grown considerably. I thought he had about 25 classmates with 2 teachers plus a class assistant. Today, I realized that his class was over 40 three-year-olds with 2 teachers and a class assistant. Having 40 or more in a classroom is common in Chinese kindergartens. Only the private or bi-lingual kindergartens limit their class size.

When the lesson started, the little girl sitting in front of Schäfer turned around and punched him in the arm three times. Her hand was balled into a fist. Schäfer looked back at me. I mouthed, “We don’t hit.” Immediately, Schäfer went to tell his teacher. The teacher gave a quick reply, “Ok. Ok. Go back to your seat.” and she kept teaching the lesson – after all she had 40 kids to keep under control.

And now I saw the problem.

For weeks, Schäfer has been saying that his classmate hit him. We’ve been encouraging him to always tell his teacher and never hit back. Today, I was able to see him get hit (he was doing nothing but sitting in his chair) and then watch the teacher do nothing about it.

Schäfer returned to his seat, then hit the little girl back since the teacher did nothing.

I was not pleased.

Teacher #2 was busy preparing for the next activity while the classroom assistant was cleaning up from breakfast and preparing for the soy milk snack.

Pretty quickly Schäfer wasn’t paying attention at all. In fact, he was flying helicopters with other kids at the table.

After that lesson, there was a 20 minute break for the potty. In this kindergarten there is a co-ed bathroom, but the teachers prefer for the students to go in the classroom in buckets. We’ve seen this in several preschools so we just kind of rolled with it. Today, I noticed that they never wash the kids hands.

The next activity involved singing a song. Schäfer enjoyed this.

The final lesson dealt with a dialogue they were learning and characters they were memorizing. For the most part, Schäfer was flying helicopters with the other kids at his table. There were lots of kids not paying attention, but what do you expect from 40 three-year-olds who had been at a table since 9am?

The teacher asked, “Where is the 在 ?” To my surprise, Schäfer jumped up from his seat, ran up to the board and pointed to the 在. Remember, he spent most of the lesson flying helicopters. Instead of getting the prize (a 在 to stick on his shirt) he was reprimanded for not raising his hand and was sent back to his seat with no reward. He returned to flying helicopters.

This happened two more times. (There were three 在 in the dialogue.)

Finally, the teacher went student to student and had them recognize the character 在.

Schäfer was pleased to have his own 在.

Even though our beloved son (#16) is having a good time in school, I left the kindergarten feeling very uneasy.

The positive:
Schäfer likes going to school.
He likes his teachers.
He’s made some friends.
He’s improved his language skills.

Areas of concern:

If Schäfer stays at Ying Cai, will he be ready for 1st grade?
Will he continue to fly helicopters instead of pay attention in class?
What can be done about the hitting?
Why didn’t the teacher praise him for finding the 在 instead of reprimanding him for lacking in classroom etiquette?

For the first time, I’m considering paying way more for a preschool if I can get a limited class size and some teachers with a better methodology. (In this country, most kindergarten and elementary school teachers have little formal training. It’s not until middle school or high school that teachers usually hold a university degree.)

Hubs and I have much to consider. Whatever we decide, a change probably won’t happen until the fall. Our little guy has already had enough transition for the spring: new baby sister, moving to a new city, making new friends, starting a new preschool, etc. I think we can make this work for a few more weeks.

5 comments to Ying Cai Kindergarten Parent’s Day

  • jdavis2

    wow! comparing the two kindergartens does give us mommies a lot to consider! thanks for sharing your experiences with us… taking tons of mental notes. for schafer’s overall wellbeing we’re hoping for a happy medium nearby. (((hugs))) to you, mommy!

  • Sarah

    I can relate in so many ways with all your concerns. We looked at a few local preschools and finally decided on a more expensive one because class size was smaller, teachers seemed to be happy and really care about students, bathrooms were clean (even had soap)and our kids seemed happy. It’s been about 3 weeks now and Nathan is starting to struggle, just kind of bored and not interested. Emily on the other hand is more social and seems to enjoy (even though she does not understand). I think we will continue on for their own good. At the new preschools you can pay to watch online, which we decided to do for the first month so that we can address problems as they arise and I think this is a good idea for our situation. At this point we are paying more, but feel it is worth it. We’ll see how things continue to happen. I don’t think Nathan wants to go, but I am trying to encourage him that this is part of the language learning process. This whole preschool thing is not easy but necessary for the future. Struggling With You, Sarah

    • Thanks Sarah for sharing our concerns. We’ve done two preschools so far (because of our move) and have enjoyed each experience. Schäfer has learned a lot of language and enjoys being social. Now that he is 3 and will definitely be in xiao ban in the fall, we’re wanting to make sure he’s in a solid program that can prepare him for first grade. I do have some self inflicted pressure to find a good school for him since I can’t supplement his Chinese lessons at home – unless we get a tutor, but there’s just not enough time in the day for preschool + private tutoring + tot school + creative play. I just keep plunging forward remembering what a pain it was to learn Chinese in my old age. (ha!) We all want our kids to seize this amazing opportunity before them.

  • Ryan

    It looks like Shafer is adjusting well… though a smaller class size would be much better. It is great that he picked out "?“ He'll be ready for first grade if you keep him in a Chinese Kindergarten. Remember, there would be problems in a US school too. Don't give up… I'll pray as you decide whether to move him to a different kindergarten with a smaller class.

  • sherry

    Girl, I can’t imagine what you’re exactly going through! I think it is sooo awesome that you are making available all options for learning Chinese! How wonderful is that! Schools are such an individual choice and style for everybody. Chinese schools are a different style than western ones. One thing that i think doesn’t change, little boys are full of energy and it is very difficult to get them to sit still for any serious length of time. Caden, who was 5, does 15-20mins then i have him do jumping jacks, run on the porch, or up and down the stairs, he comes back ready to focus again. All the kids, even noah at 10, play legos, color, blocks or playdough while i’m reading to them. Kids do have to learn to focus, but it’s nice if you can break it up as well. Boys in particular seem to need to do something with their hands in order to be able to listen, so i try to not let if bother me. I know this is not possible in school, but maybe it will help to know that wiggly little guys are perfectly normal. And they do learn great too! Just differently.

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