Kindergarten

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I am moving out to Hong Kong in June with my family for 2 years and am confused about schools and kindergartens. My son is 3 and I cannot work out what type of school he will go to and when? I have searched the internet for some definative guide to starting school in Hong Kong but have just been left totally bemused! Can anyone offer any advise on this?

Kindergartens in the Hong Kong Education System

Our older daughter turned three last July, which meant she started the first year of Kindergarten (aka 'K1') when the school year began in the following September.

Children typically attend kindergarten for three years (K1,2, and 3), so your son will complete K1 and K2 while you are here.

You'll find several articles about kindergartens under the schools section of the site, and you can also check the government's web pages on kindergarten education in Hong Kong.

Regards, MrB

Thankyou for this. My son

Thankyou for this. My son turned 3 this January so I assume he will be due to go to kindergarten this September. We don't move out until the end of June so I am concerned that we will not be in time to get a kindergarten sorted ready for September. Do they have long waitng lists?

It depends on your requirements

When we were looking, we were applying to chinese-language kindergartens, so I think we had a larger range to choose from (I'm assuming you'll be looking at English-language teaching?). I got the impression there was a wide choice available, so that even if we didn't get into the exact one we wanted, we'd definitely get in somewhere.

It's also fairly common to change kindergartens between years 1 & 2, so that's an option if your first choice doesn't work out.

Still, you'll probably feel more comfortable knowing you have a place. If you know where you'll be living, you can certainly start contacting some of the kindergartens in that area to see what they recommend. A google search for 'international kindergarten hong kong' will give you some options.

Good luck, MrB

kindergartens

Our son (3 last June) has been going to Sunshine house (on the peak) for the past year. We've been very impressed with them. They're child centred and parent friendly. They have branches almost all over Hong Kong. They also have a very good mandarin program with 20 minutes every day in class and optional after school classes.
I also have friends sending their youngsters to Woodlands kindergartens and they likewise are very happy there. I think both groups of schools would be fairly easy to google.
we arrived in late August last year, and with the help of our company got him into a kindergarten.
If you're arriving in June I know for sure that Sunshine house is still open until mid Jul for classes and that they're having a summer school (lets go camping its called), so you could ease him into it by letting him do some summer school.
I'm sure other kindergartens have similar things to cater for working parents.

Good luck. And don't underestimate preparing a 3 year old for the move! Mine (and I) went through hell with homesickness which we just didn't expect from such a young child. He's ok now though!

Kindergartens

Thanks for these recommendations - I have come accross Woodlands on the internet. So do you think it's possible for him to get into summer school straight away? One of my main concerns is that he won't even get into a kindergarten for this September as we arriving late June.

What kind of things did your son go through then regarding being home sick?? Don't know how to prepare him - he still thinks we are walking to hong Kong as we have sold the cars!!

homesickness

Dear Anon,
I've blogged at length about my son's homesickness and the repercussions of it for the family (see www.gweipo.blogspot.com) you'll need to go back to the first few blogs on "bed wetting and all).
How to prepare him for it? show him pictures of the type of accomodation you'll be moving to (we went from huge house and garden to small apartment, high rise), show him pictures of HK. Show him pictures of containers, containers on container boats, containers being off loaded, pictures of Hong Kong.
work out what you going to do with him in his spare time, preferably things that he can't do now where you live now ( my son loves his judo now, and its not something he could have done in Spain). Read books about moving house with him.

I don't think you'll have a problem getting him into summer school or to kindergarten to be honest. We arrived here on 23 August and my kids started school on 4 September (and we'd not pre-booked places - we had 2 days notice for our move). Do you know where you'll be living?

kindergarten

http://www.sunshinehouse.com.hk/ is the website of Sunshine house.

Thankyou for all these

Thankyou for all these suggestions. I am slowly starting to feel better about the whole kindergarten issue.

We are looking at appartments in mid-levels. We haven't got anywhere sorted yet. I have been told varying things about mid-levels but I think we are still going for there - It's hard to come up with suitable places to live as I have never been to Hong Kong.

Mid Levels

I have been looking on the internet on other discussion forums about places to live. As I have mentioned we are looking at mid-levels but no-one really suggests that as a good place to live. My husband will be working in central and wants to get to work quite quickly, but we also want to have somewhere nice for the children.

Can anyone offer their opinion on mid-levels?

midlevels

We live in mid-levels with 2 small children (5 and nearly 4). I personally love living here. The only one not delighted is my son, who could do with some more (outdoor) space esp. grass. The only grass to be had is at least 30 min commute for my husband. It is a trade-off. In our opinion it was more important for the kids to be able to see their dad at least once a day (if he's not travelling), which for us is the morning. He can walk to work in 10 minutes if it is not too hot, so he can get them up, dressed, have breakfast with them and put one of them on the school bus. In HK you can forget about seeing daddy in the evenings as the days are very long. At a pinch however, he is home in 5 minutes, can read them a quick bedtime story and be back in the office or at a company event within another 5 minutes taxi ride. That type of luxury would be impossible if we were living in Repulse bay or Stanley or any of those places.
On the other side, the kids go to school 1/2 day (ie they're in the bus at 7.50 and 8.20 respectively and home by 12.20 and 12.50), So I don't have much time for myself. Now I can walk or take a bus into town, do stuff at the club, go for mandarin classes or whatever and still be back in time to pick them up. They also don't have to spend more than 20 min in the bus to their schools (some kids have nearly a 50 minute commmute). I know mums on the south side who hardly leave home just because it is too much effort. When you're new here you HAVE to get out and do stuff and meet people, that is easier in Midlevels. Also it is easier to get to all the afternoon activities kids do here.
Plus in mid-levels you don't need a car.
Where in midlevels? Well that depends on your budget. We have a fairly reasonable budget and have a fairly nice apartment with many facilities. the trade-off is facilities vs. size. Bigger apartments can be cheaper but then you have no swimming pool / gym / kids playground whatever. If you have kids, I'd say go for the facilities unless you want to spend your life in a club. which is also nice, but its nicer to go downstairs and accidently meet up with parents and kids at the pool than to make an effort to go to a club (yes I'm lazy).
Don't be too hung up on a balcony unless it is huge. They are dangerous for small kids and you don't use them many months of the year (also with the current pollution I like to keep my windows shut).
The quieter sides of Midlevels are on the Western Side (Kotewall road, Po Shan Road, Western side of conduit road) or the Eastern / central side (Tregunter path, Bowen Road, Old Peak Road.)
There are also a few nice places on Kennedy road, which depending where you are has the advantage of being opposite the HK Park which has a large playground. Most of the buildings there have no facilities though and are quite old.

My advice to people new to Hong Kong is to spend the first 2 years (leases are 2 years here) on the Island, in Midlevels and then when they know the ropes, know the town and have friends they can isolate themselves in Discovery bay, or Repulse bay or whatever. But that is a personal opinion!

Good luck

Oh thankyou for this - it's

Oh thankyou for this - it's good to hear that we weren't looking at a totally ridiculous place to live! Our budget is between 35,000 and 45,000. Not sure how this compares? I am totally with you on the being lazy- I have it easy here in the fact that I live in a very family orientated village and making friends is easy!

If you could suggest any appartments you know of in our price range it would be brilliant. Or any areas that you think would be suitable for us? I can get looking on the internet - my husband is also coming out in 3 weeks and will have a chance to look around

midlevels

Hi
That is not a very high budget for Midlevels (are you talking HKD?) ... is there any stretch in that? I'd say have a look at Robinson place (77 robinson road), I think they have their own website. The flats are not very large but it is very well maintained, on the escalator and has excellent facilities especially for children. That may be in your price range unless the prices have jumped again....
otherwise I think there are plenty of property sites / agents / relocation agents. Is the company paying for your schooling - that is not cheap here either - you're looking at HKD 4000-6000 per month for a private kindergarten.

Also take a look at The

Also take a look at The Belcher's development (yep, great name!). It's just outside the Western edge of Mid Levels, but is new with good facilities, still convenient for Central, and fits your budget.

You might also find the "where should I live" topic in the "moving to Hong Kong" section helpful.

MrB

I hope the budget quoted was

I hope the budget quoted was for monthly rental. 35-45k per month can get you a fair size three bedroom flat. Wether it's fair size depends on your previous living standards!

 

Belcher's is an option worth looking into. Taxi access into Central is easy, getting back is even easier. Small playgrounds, small gardens within the complex. Fantastic swimming pool. Many families there as well.

Close distance to the Sunshine House at Pokfulam. About 10minutes by taxi.

Yes - 35-45K is our monthly

Yes - 35-45K is our monthly rental budget. We are coming from a large 4 bedroomed detached house so obviously we are going to be living in considerably smaller accommodation. We may be taking on an appartment from somebody my husband knows so we should be getting a good deal hopefully.