Choosing A Good Kindergarten - Questions and Answers
|1.||How can I choose a quality kindergarten?|
|You may learn about schools' mission, philosophy of education, teacher qualifications as well as fees and charges through the school websites, pamphlets and the Profile of Kindergartens and Kindergarten-cum-Child Care Centres. You may also pay school visits and talk with the teaching staff to gain a better understanding of the schools, in order to find a suitable one for your children. A quality kindergarten should have the following characteristics (For details, please refer to Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum – Parent Booklet):
|2.||What is quality kindergarten education?|
|The core value to kindergarten education lies in “child-centeredness”. A kindergarten that provides quality education always takes into careful consideration children’s characteristics and developmental needs when setting up the school environment. A diversified learning environment can facilitate the development of children in different domains. If a kindergarten’s curriculum places great emphasis on reading, writing and numeracy, it fails to cater for children’s learning needs. Asking children to write too early or assigning mechanical exercises will stifle their interest in learning. Children may even become reluctant to learn. In fact, children are active learners who are curious and interested in exploration. They learn through their life experiences, sensory stimulation and interesting activities. Hence, learning should be integrated into daily life and children should learn through play. Instead of focusing on children’s academic achievement, quality kindergarten education will foster children’s all-round development in the domains of physical development, cognitive and language development, affective and social development and aesthetic development.
|3.||Is the quality of international kindergartens better than that of local kindergartens?|
|International kindergartens are kindergartens intended for non-Chinese speaking children. The major difference between international and local kindergartens is the medium of instruction, with the former adopting languages other than Chinese, like English and Japanese. Therefore, when comparing and assessing the quality of these two types of kindergartens, parents should consider the schools' mission, curriculum, learning environment, facilities and teacher qualifications, on top of the medium of instruction.
|4.||Is the quality of “famous kindergartens” better than that of ordinary kindergartens?|
|It takes a long time for a kindergarten to establish its reputation. A “famous kindergarten” must have its attributes and strengths in order to become “famous”. Hence, a good reputation can be one of the indicators for parents in choosing a quality kindergarten. However, some ‘famous kindergartens’ are actually not performing as good as perceived. They may fail to provide children with quality kindergarten education. No matter how long the history of a kindergarten is, it takes more than just outstanding teaching staff, well-balanced curriculum etc. to maintain the quality of its education and care services. The most important thing is whether the sponsoring body of the kindergarten has a vision and be innovative enough to lead the kindergarten to provide the aforementioned quality education in response to the ever-changing demands of education as time goes by.
|5.||Will those kindergartens adopting innovative teaching approaches guarantee quality education?|
|Some of the teaching approaches adopted by Hong Kong kindergartens include project approach, whole language approach, Montessori, Reggio Emilia Approach, etc. Each method/approach has its own characteristics and underlying rationale. For example, Montessori stresses structured sensory learning to facilitate children's understanding of the learning content. To guarantee quality education, a school should promote children’s holistic development through appropriate activities and everyday experience in a pleasurable environment. Therefore, the teaching approach adopted by a school only constitutes part of quality teaching. Other factors, such as the quality of teachers and resources available, should also be considered. Parents are encouraged to talk with the school principal and teachers to understand their views regarding children learning. They may also observe children's behaviour in school. By doing so, parents will be able to learn about the characteristics and operation of a kindergarten from different perspectives.
|6.||Will those kindergartens which provide lots of extra-curricular activities guarantee quality education?|
|Many parents have high expectations towards their children and thus enrol their children in lots of interest groups. Due to the confidence parents have towards kindergarten teachers, they tend to believe in the quality of the extra-curricular activities organised by kindergartens. As a result, kindergartens are often expected to organise extra-curricular activities at the request of parents. However, will the teachers be too exhausted to teach effectively if they are required to work 6-7 days in a week? Parents should instead talk with their children and answer their questions, tell/read them stories, go on visits and trips with them, etc. so as to enrich their children’s life experiences and exposure to general knowledge.
|7.||At what age are children suitable for entering kindergarten?|
|Normally, children at the age of three are ready for kindergarten education. However, since many parents prefer their children to enter kindergartens earlier so as to enter primary one at the right age, the minimum age of admission for kindergartens as at September was relaxed to 2 years 8 months starting from the 2001/02 school year.
|8.||What should we do to prepare our children for the school admission interview?|
|An ideal kindergarten should foster children’s holistic development through appropriate activities and everyday experiences in a pleasurable environment. All admission interviews should share the same rationale and be activity-based in order to eliminate the pressure imposed on children. Children start their first learning in kindergartens, which should not require them to possess any prior knowledge. Instead of drilling their young children for admission interviews and exerting pressure on them, parents are advised to give them more opportunities to play and communicate with others. Children will then be able to act and talk naturally in front of strangers.
|9.||Which districts have more quality kindergartens?|
|Quality kindergartens can be found in all districts. Parents should consider those kindergartens that are close to home to avoid long distance travelling. Parents may browse the Profile of Kindergartens and Kindergarten-cum-Child Care Centres and the uploaded Quality Review Reports to gain a better understanding of the quality and characteristics of individual kindergartens before they make their choices.
|10.||What is your comment on kindergartens offering "bi-literate and trilingual" learning?|
|"Bi-literate" means written Chinese and English, while "trilingual" means spoken Chinese (Cantonese), English and Putonghua. Since the mother tongue of most children in Hong Kong is Cantonese, the medium of instruction for kindergarten education should be Cantonese as well, so as to facilitate communication and enhance learning effectiveness. At present, a majority of kindergartens in Hong Kong provide children with various forms of learning activities in English and Putonghua. To allow children to learn in an enjoyable and pressure-free environment, these activities should be authentic and meet the developmental needs of children. As models of language learning for children, teachers must speak English and Putonghua with accurate pronunciation and use the languages correctly.
|11.||Which kindergartens can guarantee their graduates to proceed directly to primary schools?|
|As all kindergartens in Hong Kong are privately run, none of them can guarantee their graduates to proceed directly to a particular government or aided primary school. The existing Primary One Admission (POA) System is designed to eliminate the intense competition to enter popular primary schools, and to reduce the pressure of examining young children as well as the adverse effect on education at kindergarten level. The POA System is divided into "Discretionary Places Admission" stage and "Central Allocation" stage. Please refer to the Primary One Admission System for details.
Private primary schools, Direct Subsidy Scheme schools and English Schools Foundation primary schools are not in the System. Parents may apply to these schools directly. Under normal circumstances, graduates of a kindergarten affiliated to a private primary school are more likely to be admitted to that primary school.
|12.||Can those kindergartens that adopt test and exams as a means of assessment better prepare their graduates for primary school education?|
|Assessment of children is essential for teachers to scrutinize the progress of each child and adjust their teaching accordingly. However, tests and exams can only assess children’s partial and fragmented knowledge. Rather than reflecting a comprehensive picture of the performance and overall development of children, tests and exams impose unnecessary pressure on them. Kindergartens should instead adopt formative and summative assessment methods flexibly. Teachers should analyse children’s abilities and performance objectively, based on observation and recording. The information obtained can then accurately reflect children’s development.