Planning Your Child’s Education in Hong Kong Part 1 - The Pre-Primary Years
Get a head start in securing that school spot for your child with Anne Murphy, Director of ITS Educational Service, as she shares her expert tips on navigating through Hong Kong’s educational system in this 2-part guide.
Planning your child’s education should be a first priority for new parents in Hong Kong. With an ever-increasing population, competition for a placement, as well as the financial aspect of a better quality education, requires early planning and by early, we mean starting from the time your child is born. To help you through this process, we offer you some tips to navigate your way through the pre-primary education years starting from birth to 4 years of age, and explain how to plan and when and what options are available to you in Hong Kong. We continue our tips for the 6 - 19 year olds in our follow-up article on GeoSchools.com.
The arrival of baby heralds an exciting period as new parents adjust to the joys, demands and sleep deprivation of parenthood. While most parental dilemmas revolve around the pacifier vs. no pacifier debate or night feed schedules, parents in Hong Kong face the added stress of planning their child’s education as some schools here literally accept applications from birth. So where do we begin?
A good start will be to purchase The Unique Schools Guide which is published annually by ITS Educational Services. The guide will bring you up to speed quickly about the education system in Hong Kong and the various schools available here and provide a better understanding of what your options are.
The school application game begins as soon as your child is issued his/her birth certificate as some schools will accept an application for a placement as soon as your child’s birth can be verified. Schools who accept applications as early as the child's birth are: Discovery Bay International School, French International School, German Swiss International School, Kiang Su & Chekiang International School, and Kellett School.
It is advisable to visit these schools before your baby arrives so that you are sure that you want to apply to them this early. What might seem the best option when your child is only a few weeks old, might turn out to be a terrible decision when they are 4 years old.
1 - 2 Years
For those who want to make the most of meeting other moms, there’s a wealth of activities offered in Hong Kong; not just 'mum and baby classes’ but everything from ‘swimming classes’ and 'music with mummy' to ‘sensory stimulation'. Also, start to investigate nurseries, kindergartens, preschools and early childhood education programs. Visit schools and ask lots of questions so you are reassured you are making the best choice.
Methods of getting an application will vary depending on the school. With some schools, you can download the application online, while other schools require some face time. In certain cases, there are restricted application periods. It is a first-come-first-serve basis for many kindergartens and preschools, so the sooner you get started, the sooner you will get your child’s name on the waitlist.
Playgroups and nursery classes are accompanied at this young age and children attend anywhere from 2 days to 4 days per week. It is also common for parents in Hong Kong to experiment with at least two different nursery classes.
3 - 4 Years
Filing an application from birth doesn’t guarantee a place. Many sought-after international schools offering early education programmes require an interview as well as other hurdles. Therefore, it’s important to have a backup plan in case your child does not get offered a place. Even if your child fails to meet the school’s entry requirements, there is still hope that he or she may be offered a place for subsequent grades.
Here’s a list of primary schools that accept advance applications:
Hong Kong International School and Chinese International School accept applications from when a child is 2-years-old up to the end of the January of the entry year.
Canadian International School accepts applications from birth but no priority is given regardless of how far in advance applications are received. Applications open every year from beginning of August to end of October.
Australian International School and Harrow International School accept applications, two years in advance.
Hong Kong Academy, ISF Academy and Singapore International School accept applications one year in advance.
ESF schools and the Private Independent Schools only accept applications for Year One entry, one year before, between the beginning and end of September.
Other schools, such as Harbour School, American International School, Hong Lok Yuen International School, and Island Christian Academy accept applications all year-round.
For more information on planning your child’s primary, secondary and pre-university education in Hong Kong, read our Planning Your Child's Primary and Secondary Education guide on GeoSchools.com.