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Local Preschool So Far…

Navigating Chinese preschool has a lot to do with the classroom teacher + the child’s personality. What works for my eldest may not work for my others. I’ve come to accept that.

Here’s our journey with local preschool’s thus far:

We put Schäfer in Bao Bao Ban at 2.5 years old because all his neighborhood playmates were starting. If he didn’t go to preschool then he wouldn’t see them. They attended from 7:30am – 5pm in the evening.

We intended for Schäfer to go for maybe two days a week. He wanted to go everyday. Honestly, I think the consistency made it work in his situation. (Well, he’s also social so that helped too.) I think it’s a little confusing for kids when they only got two days a week. They can’t read calendars so each day they don’t know what their doing.

Our first kindergarten was on the campus we lived on. His class probably had 30 kids. Because it was Bao Bao Ban they mostly sang songs and memorized poems. The bad thing was that this kindergarten was old school… meaning they put a bucket in the middle of the room and whistled for each child to go. Yes, they had a “trough” bathroom, but it wasn’t used. This school was 700rmb/semester.

Then we moved. We looked at the nice bilingual kindergarten, but they wanted 600rmb/month. Yikes. Plus they had a big English emphasis so we decided on another local kindergarten for 200rmb/month. The bathroom situation was the same: bucket in the room, everyone pulls down their pants and watches the other kids go. The teachers whistled. They were surprised when Schäfer got up and went to the trough bathroom himself.

We decided to only let him stay at this preschool for one semester when I attended a parent’s day. On that day, I learned that the class had well over 40 three-year-olds (not 25). Also, Schäfer wasn’t paying attention and the teachers were basically ignoring his bad behavior.

So, we toured the bilingual school again. Loved their toilet situation. See that here. The school offered to let us pay 200rmb/month instead of 600rmb since Schäfer would only be attending half days. They also offered Schäfer Chinese tutoring while the other students attended English class.

On the first day of school, I give a letter to his teachers. It’s generally a zoo on the first day, so I feel that if I have something written down helps. They can shove it in their pocket and review it when they find time.

After a brief introduction about how happy we are that they will be Schäfer’s teachers, I share this list of preferences:

请不要用英语跟他讲话。 因为我们的普通话没有你们那么标准,我们很开心你能用普通话跟他说话!
如果他生病或者有其它问题, 请及时给我打电话。我自己带他去医院。


So, while we are paying more for preschool than we wanted to, Schäfer is in a really, really good school. He has 16 classmates with 2 teachers and a class aid. Schäfer thrives in preschool because he’s extroverted and social.

The school also has the occasional family activity like this or this so we get to know other families too. Awesome.

I have no clue how Sianna will do. She just doesn’t like people so she probably won’t like preschool because, you know, there’s people there! Hopefully, she’ll grow out of that.

Every preschool is different. I think the teachers and class size can make or break the experience.

For us, it’s been a good experience. We’ve learned a lot and plan on sending all our kids to preschool for language exposure and social interaction with other kids.

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