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Need advice: School System for Dummies + French / English dilemma!!!

  1. #1
    SophieHK is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Need advice: School System for Dummies + French / English dilemma!!!

    I really need your help on 2 related subjects: I am currently pregnant with my 1st kid, none of my friends have kids and I have to admit at this stage I do know much about raising kids.

    I am very confused about school systems: what is playgroup, preschool, kindergarten, when does it start in HK, when to register (I hear 2 years in advance??!!), how much is it, what is ESF, etc etc. Could anyone please give me a clear big picture? I get a lot of information from different websites but somehow they all contradict each other?

    Coming to my 2nd question: I am French, my husband is Chinese born in France so we will speak French with our kid. We also want him to learn Cantonese so we?ll hire a HK Nanny. But of course we want him to learn English asap so he can interact with other kids from different nationalities. Is it possible to find a pre-school (or whatever the name of the 1st ?school? the kid will attend is?) in HK where kids learn / speak BOTH French and English? We thought he has to learn good verbal and written French at school in case we go back to France in a few years but if he goes to a French school then I?m afraid he will not learn good English and he will not interact with kids from other countries. I?ve checked the French International School but it seems like kids have to choose between a French program or an English program?

    Any advice would be so much appreciated!!! Thanks all so much in advance.

  2. #2
    Shenzhennifer is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Tsuen Wan
    I don`t know much about the first part of your question as my little one is only 3 months old, but for your second dilemma:
    You`re both French-speaking and will speak at home so that will be his/her mother-tongue so that is covered. You can spend more time with him when he gets older regarding reading/writing or hire a tutor. How about sending your baby to regular school with a really good English component, as well as hiring a (probably Filipina) nanny with great English skills.

  3. #3
    MLBW Guest

    I'm not expert but am "learning the ropes" as well when it comes to the education system in HK.

    What is a playgroup? A playgroup is just a group of moms (or dads, or both) who get together with other moms to let their kids of similar ages play together. This usually happens on a weekly basis at least.

    In Hong Kong there are basically two types of playgroups--informal and formal ones. The informal ones are where you get in touch with ladies who have children your child's age (or older and younger--there are no rules about this)--you can get in touch with them in all sorts of ways. A good place to start is joining one of the Pregnancy Due Date Clubs here on Geobaby--that way you'll know women who are having babies right around the same time you are--go out to eat a few times with them and then have someone to talk to when your baby is born. You could also post a message here looking for people who live nearby you who are pregnant or have small babies and then get together with those people. Or it could even be just people you already know or happen to meet in HK--say, shopping for baby supplies.

    Then, there are the formal playgroups which are run as businesses. These playgroups come in all sorts of varieties. Some have an aim, goal or theme--like a playgroup based on music learning or sports. They have offices or centers and you have to register (and of course pay--I think the price ranges from $1-3,500 HKD/month but you can check with individual schools). Some are difficult to get into because of waiting lists. These also give your child an opportunity to learn and grow while being around other kids but in a more structured environment (however, some informal playgroups are also structured) and are usually based on the Montessori style of teaching. There are lots of ladies on this site who take their babies to these types of groups--even baby massage classes--and they can recommend good ones.

    Preschool here is what we call Pre-kindergarten or nursery schools. Generally, the age that kids start this is anywhere from 18 months-2-years-old. There are both nursery schools that are full-day but these are a bit few and far between and also half-day nursery schools which have about 3-hour sessions. Students work on building friendships and simple coordination tasks such as finger painting and the ABC song etc. It's more learning through play.

    Kindergarten starts at 3-years-old in Hong Kong. It's just basically a longer, more-extended version and continuation of preschool. There are lots of kindergartens. My son is 16-months-old and we are starting the process of registering him for kindergarten. It's better to start at least this early especially if you want your son to go to a particular hard-to-get-into kindergarten. Many kindergartens have waiting lists. Kindergartens will start accepting applications for the 2010 schoolyear (when my son will begin) beginning in June and ranging through August or October (depending on the kindergarten). Most schools require that the child and parents attend an interview as part of their screening process. Kindergarten fees vary by school and whether the school is private or government-run. The kindergarten we hope my son will attend is about $3,400 HKD/month for 5-days/week, 3-hours/day.

    If you haven't even given birth yet, I think that probably you'll want to just focus on the healthcare system here and getting through that process first. After your baby is born and you've adjusted to life after baby then maybe you might want to venture out and join a playgroup or class.

    Hope some of this is useful. Most ladies here will be able to give you more specific info. fi you want it.

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