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Playgroups and Nursery School - What do Parents want??

  1. #1
    Pairten is offline Registered User
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    Playgroups and Nursery School - What do Parents want??

    Hi Everyone,

    A friend of mine is in the early stages of planning to open her own English and Mandarin Playgroup/Nursery Center. Together with a few partners, she is thinking of doing something on a larger scale, with space enough to offer a full curriculum for children of ages ranging from 6 months to 6 years old, as well as a large indoor play area. The idea is to offer parents more of a "one stop shop", as many busy mothers spend their days shuttling various children between different playgroups, after school classes, babygyms, etc.

    Since she is in the preliminary stage of designing her center, I wanted to ask all the parents on this forum if this is something that you feel meets your needs? More specifically:

    - If there were to be a new playgroup/nursery center, what would you want to see offered, that isn't already out there? It seems like HK has plenty of such offerings, yet the "famous" places all charge exorbitant prices and have long waiting lists
    - Does the concept of one stop shop matter at all, or is it secondary?
    - What are your top considerations when selecting a playgroup/nursery for your child? What makes you stay and what makes you leave?
    - Where do you primarily get information on whether or not a school is good?
    - How open would you be to trying a new center that just opened?

    Any other suggestions on a new playgroup/nursery being designed would be appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
    elle is offline Registered User
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    - If there were to be a new playgroup/nursery center, what would you want to see offered, that isn't already out there? It seems like HK has plenty of such offerings, yet the "famous" places all charge exorbitant prices and have long waiting lists

    Has not been my experience that the larger playgroups/ nursery schools on the south side have long wait lists. There are wait lists, but they seem to work quite hard to accommodate families and we had no trouble enrolling a two year old. Not familiar with schools in other areas but I have heard about wait lists from some acquaintances, although my understanding is that the problem is much greater in primary school.

    - Does the concept of one stop shop matter at all, or is it secondary?

    Doesn't matter. In fact, prefer that our kid goes to activities in different locations for exposure to different environments. It also lets us pick activities/ classes/ teachers that are "best" for our child. Our kid's current nursery has a (growing) range of after school activities (music, language, gymnastics, art) but we do not do any classes there. However, I can see how this might be a plus for some families, particularly as there is no (or very little) concept of a daycare or creche in Hong Kong imagine some families would appreciate a nursery school option that is more than a few hours.

    - What are your top considerations when selecting a playgroup/nursery for your child? What makes you stay and what makes you leave?

    Excellent teachers, and that our child enjoys "school". The English teachers should be native speakers, the Mandarin teachers should be native speakers and they should have both qualifications in early childhood education and plenty of experience - it should also be apparent from observing the class that the teachers enjoy what they are doing, not just going through the motions. Also, at the nursery school age, not looking for a school that focuses too much on "academics" at that age, prefer somewhere that takes a more comprehensive approach to early childhool development and education.

    Location also matters - would not travel more than a short distance for a 2-3 year old to go to "school".

    - Where do you primarily get information on whether or not a school is good?

    My own observations of the class, talking with our child and talking with the teachers. Good communication from the school about what is going on is also important.

    - How open would you be to trying a new center that just opened?

    Not very. Pretty happy with where our child is currently and so is she, so I don't think we would change her nursery school. More likely to try out a new once a week after school class.
    carang likes this.

  3. #3
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Playgroups and Nursery School - What do Parents want??

    Hi Everyone,

    A friend of mine is in the early stages of planning to open her own English and Mandarin Playgroup/Nursery Center. Together with a few partners, she is thinking of doing something on a larger scale, with space enough to offer a full curriculum for children of ages ranging from 6 months to 6 years old, as well as a large indoor play area. The idea is to offer parents more of a "one stop shop", as many busy mothers spend their days shuttling various children between different playgroups, after school classes, babygyms, etc.

    Since she is in the preliminary stage of designing her center, I wanted to ask all the parents on this forum if this is something that you feel meets your needs? More specifically:

    - If there were to be a new playgroup/nursery center, what would you want to see offered, that isn't already out there? It seems like HK has plenty of such offerings, yet the "famous" places all charge exorbitant prices and have long waiting lists
    Honestly, it doesn't have to be "fancy"--it just has to be high-quality and good quality-for-money. Also, I think location is key. Hong Kong Island and Kowloon have a lot of great places but New Territories West is lacking--this is a major expansion area so it would be a great place to "catch the wave of the future" because with the new MTR spur lines and how things are going NT West really is where it's at in the next 10-15 years, I think.

    I prefer hands-on, inquiry-based teaching such as Montessori. It has to be reasonably-priced but unfortunately, those places that are opening as a business to make money are often going for a higher-income market and therefore a lot of the population is left out in the process. As you kind of alluded to, Hong Kong doesn't need another overpriced specialty school catering to wealthy HKers and expats.

    - Does the concept of one stop shop matter at all, or is it secondary?
    Honestly, it would be really hard to create a "one-stop" place that covers such a wide age range and attempts to be all-inclusive at a reasonable price. I think this is a secondary issue. People in Hong Kong have helpers to ferry their kids about to be honest.

    - What are your top considerations when selecting a playgroup/nursery for your child? What makes you stay and what makes you leave?
    1. Interest. Is this something our children would gain a lot from or be interested in? Will this help them develop?
    2. Price. We have two children and make ends-meet on one mid-range income.
    2. Location. If we have to travel more than 30 minutes to get to the place it is a waste of time for us in most cases.
    3. Teachers. Are they qualified? This doesn't mean "do they have a slip of paper that says they took some course." It means, do they have a knack for working with children? Are they organized? Is there a game-plan? As a teacher, I am hyper-critical of this (can't help it!)
    4. Ambiance. Is it a warm and welcoming place or is it obvious that this place only exists to pull in cash for the owners (been to far too many places like this!)
    5. Facilities. Are the toys and items clean and organized? Doesn't matter if they're the newest or greatest but are they functional? Has the money I pay for this course been well-invested?

    - Where do you primarily get information on whether or not a school is good?
    On this forum or from other expat moms.

    - How open would you be to trying a new center that just opened?
    If the trial lesson is free, sure, why not?

    Any other suggestions on a new playgroup/nursery being designed would be appreciated. Thank you!
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  4. #4
    Abbysam is offline Registered User
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    The teacher must be able to attract my kid so my kid can learn fast. The place must be clean and easy to reach by public transport since it is too costly to travel by taxi.
    Posted via Mobile Device

  5. #5
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    Teachers that are passionate about teaching and of course our kids. Distance because I'd be transporting the, there...parking so I can actually take them to class after I drop of my car.

    One stop would be nice but only if all the teachers are specialized in what they teach and not having a couple teachers teach during the day and then offer lessons after class. It is important for students to learn from different teaching teachers so that they caninteract with teachers from different styles and learn different things.

    Cost would be something, but not the most important.

  6. #6
    xeniachan is offline Registered User
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    For me, at least my kid won't cry during the lesson. I also dont like the teacher teaching without fun

    Sent from my GT-N7105 using GeoClicks Mobile

  7. #7
    cocotsang is offline Registered User
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    I think the most important factor the hygiene condition in the center, you know babies is not as strong as adults. Also, the teacher needs to be nice ;)

  8. #8
    lydiahall80 is offline Registered User
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    Having read through this thread one thing I feel that has been missed out is for the need for whatever playcentre you are setting up to be accredited by the Hong Kong Education Board. Having had three children go through kindergarten and pre-school and then onto ESF schools, I have found that ESF do not take applications seriously unless you can prove you have been to an accredited School in your child's early years. There is no 'education' in a Play Centre, and a distinct lack of curriculum (well definitely not one that is recognised.) Knowing how competitive the international schools sector is, i think any parents should think twice before opting for a playcentre rather than an accredited school.

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