Hong Kong Kindergartens, again!

As Mr Tall notes, we're currently making our choice of kindergarten for MissB. Yes, it's interview time.

When I first heard about the concept of interviews for kindergartens, I filed it away under the category of amusing stories to tell visitors, and left it at that. Several years later and we're in the thick of it. It turns out that the term "interview" is pretty broad, and the three we've been to have all been very different.

Interviewing through the language barrier

The first interview was at the kindergarten we'd visited previously for their open-day .

This was to be Cantonese-only, so I left MrsB and MissB to it. It turns out that understanding the teacher's Cantonese wasn't a problem for MissB, though the interviewer had a harder time of it.

After letting MissB settle in with some playtime, the interviewer asked her to come and look at some picture cards and say what she saw...

Interviewer: [holds up picture of tiger]
MissB: [jiggles her shoulders up and down]
Interviewer: ????
MrsB: Tigger! (To quote one of MissB's favourite books "Tiggers bounce, yes they do...")

Interviewer: [holds up picture of lion]
MissB: Raaar!
Interviewer: (no problem there)

Interviewer: [holds up picture of cup]
MissB: [puts hands together and wiggles them]
Interviewer: ????
MrsB: Fish - there's a picture of a fish on the cup!

Interviewer: hmm, ok [holds up an apple-shaped keyring]
MissB: Boat! (in English)
Interviewer: ????
MrsB: Boat! (in Cantonese) There's a picture of a boat on your keyring...
Interviewer: (turns keyring around)
MissB: Apple!

Interviewer: [holds up picture of monkey]
MissB: Baba!
Interviewer: ????
MrsB: Uh, she means daddy - it's a family joke (The first time MissB saw a picture of a monkey the connection to daddy's gweilo body hair was apparent)

Interviewer: Yes, yes, all very creative. Maybe we should try something else...

Down to business

The next one was at a bilingual kindergarten that can be difficult to get in to. Here the "interview" didn't have any one-to-one attention. Instead a group of potential customers and our offspring spent some time doing activities while observers with clipboards made notes. I asked what they looked for in their pupils - nothing particular was the reply, just making sure there were no serious behavioural problems. But then we know of two people that didn't get offered a place, so I guess there must be some profile they are looking for.

Anyhow, the time passed without incident, and I was happy to have just about kept up with Cantonese games intended for two year-olds.

The latest and greatest

This morning's interview was different again. Their stated focus is on explaining what they do and what their beliefs are, so the parents can make a clear decision about whether or not it is what they want for their children. We were taken for a walk around the school, and it was all very refreshing. It is a very clear winner in our eyes, and we hope when we hear from them next week that we get a place.

A proper interview

When I first heard of kindergarten interviews, I had the mental picture of our 2-year old perched on a chair in front of a grumpy interview panel. You can see from the limited experince we had that it's not really like that at all, and yet...

One of the local mothers got their child accepted at a prestigious local school (one of the "Saint ...") and told MrsB she should get in quick for an interview. But here it really is an interview, where the child is taken off for 15 minutes without parents present. After the time was up, they would not tell the mother what had happened.

Isn't that a bit crazy? Thinking back to that first interview, who's to know what they'd have made of MissB's responses without mum present to interpret. And unlike Miss Tall, MissB takes a little while to warm up to strangers. We decided to pass on that interview.

Anyhow, fingers crossed that the number three option above comes through, and then no more interviews to worry about for another three years!


Go on to read about MissB's second round of interviews.