MsB's kindergarten interviews, part II

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We had another interview on a recent Saturday, this time at a popular kindergarten in mid-levels. The style was different again, but left us feeling even more convinced that kindergarten #3 mentioned in the previous article was the right choice for us. Then on Monday we received a letter saying that #3 had accepted MsB, so all is well with the world. Still, this brush with the interviewing process has opened my eyes to a business opportunity…

There are books on sale that list kindergartens, neatly tabulating their staff-pupil ratios, monthly fees, etc. I’m thinking of releasing a new version of the booklet with some extra columns, including:

Hello-Kitty rating
Kindergarten #4 achieved maximum points on this rating, meeting all criteria:

- Pastel coloured uniforms for staff (they even got the bonus point for pink)
- Staff age below 30
- Use of baby-talk voice to encourage “Deh” behaviour as early as possible

Kindergarten #3 failed miserably, not managing to get past zero

Religious fervour
While MsB is at such an impressionable age, I’d like her to get a brief description of what’s going on at different religion’s festival times, and let her make her own mind up about her religious persuasion when she is older and wiser. That is always going to be tricky in Hong Kong, with many of the schools linked to one of the Christian faiths.

#2, the international kindergarten worked much the way I wanted, scoring low on the fervometer. #1 and #4 rated high, with #3 coming in at a medium (daily prayers, but not high profile otherwise).

Tolerance to bugs and dirt
If you can’t eat earthworms when you’re three, you might not get the chance later (or at least, not until you are much older and eating China business-trip dinners).

#1 scored low on this test, with their belief that outdoor play should be avoided since “Hong Kong is very dusty and our pupils' parents wouldn't like it.”

#2 was also low, with no outdoor play area
#4 had a good play area, scoring medium
#3 was the clear winner, with outdoor play area, regular field trips, and pictures of happy kids playing in paddling pools in the summer

The Blackberry / Academia factor
I originally thought these would be two separate columns, but statistical analysis shows a high correlation. The Blackberry factor assigns one point for each disinterested father that is checking email / making business calls while attending the school interview. Academia points are granted for each parent giving intensive questioning on how the kindergarten will help them get their progeny into the right school.

#3 failed miserably again. They provided personal tours of the classes, so I didn’t get a single chance to check mail or make a call! And they skirted questions on schools, preferring to talk about how they turn out a whole child (though MrsB noted the pupils’ workbooks had the most sophisticated Chinese writing of all four sites)

#1 was barely better. It seems to have the reputation of being the place your kids go if they don’t get an offer from a ‘good’ kindergarten.

#2 and #4 both scored highly. #2 was the early leader, with charts on display showing the schools their 6-year old alumni were gracing. #4 made a strong recovery when the head-mistress’s talk about her school focused exclusively on learning and academic achievement.

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This is written with tongue firmly in cheek, but there’s an element of truth to it. Several of the local mums MrsB talks to had also visited the #3 that we liked so much. Mostly the comment was that they didn’t like it because it was old and scruffy, though they did comment on how they liked the approach of the school and the attitude of the staff.

Sigh.

The building is old (but clean), and ok the toys weren’t all bought this year – but is that really more important than the attitude of the people who will be spending five days a week with your children for the next three years?