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Education:
International Schools and Kindergarten in Shanghai


Introduction



More and more foreigners, coming to live in Shanghai without expatriate education allowances are opting to send their young children to local Chinese kindergartens. The benefits are paying greatly reduced charges (100-500usd a month full-time) and an opportunity for their children to learn Chinese and make Shanghaianese friends.


Scottish designer, Fiona Hewitt, said: "I wanted my daughter to really benefit from being here. But, because my Chinese language skills aren't great I opted for a local kindergarten that has a class taught half in English, half in Chinese. This means I can rely on the English teachers to tell me how my daughter is getting on, or contact me in an emergency.

"Now she is three - within a year she has learnt to speak Chinese pretty well. I am sure this will hold her in good stead for the rest of her life. She just wouldn't have had these opportunities at an English-speaking international school. I know the first 6-months were hard for her - especially getting used to the new style of cooking - but she loves it now.


"To be honest, it took a big leap of faith to get her started there in the first place but it has worked out so much better than we thought. Although, because of the huge differences in teaching approach at primary school level, I don't think we would send her to a Chinese school. I know lots of people who do though, and they don't have any problems."

Local kindergartens are often in spacious buildings with great on-site facilities. The class sizes are usually around 20-30 and teachers are supported by classroom helpers who keep the children clean, fed and watered.

Parents must register their children in person, bringing their passport, Chinese-issued health certificate and a vaccination certificate. For students in Grade 1 and above, selected local schools are open, but students must have an adequate base of Mandarin plus the required documentation.


English Instruction International Schools




Non-English International Schools





Local Schools/Kindergarten


More and more foreigners, coming to live in Shanghai without expatriate education allowances are opting to send their young children to local Chinese kindergartens. The benefits are paying greatly reduced charges (100-500usd a month full-time) and an opportunity for their children to learn Chinese and make Shanghaianese friends.

"To be honest, it took a big leap of faith to get her started there in the first place but it has worked out so much better than we thought. Although, because of the huge differences in teaching approach at primary school level, I don't think we would send her to a Chinese school. I know lots of people who do though, and they don't have any problems."

Local kindergartens are often in spacious buildings with great on-site facilities. The class sizes are usually around 20-30 and teachers are supported by classroom helpers who keep the children clean, fed and watered.

Parents must register their children in person, bringing their passport, Chinese-issued health certificate and a vaccination certificate. For students in Grade 1 and above, selected local schools are open, but students must have an adequate base of Mandarin plus the required documentation.

 



Pre-School Education



With nannies (ayis) so easily available, day care and child care is not much of a concept in Shanghai. In this respect expats feel quite spoilt. Children can begin pre-school early, however, as young as 18 months. All the major international schools offer pre-school beginning at age four, but there are also pre-schools catering exclusivey to those under four.

 

 

 


Expatriate Pre-School Choices


In addition to all the places listed below, all the English-language international schools listed above offer pre-school and kindergartens. With classmates from their own countries, speaking the same language and often living nearby - this can be a comforting way to get your child and you used to his or her new environment. It's also a good way to meet other parents.

Prices can be high (up to 1600usd a month) but the facilities are usually of a very good standard, as is the level of care. It is also worth remembering that children attending kindergartens belonging to the best schools also get first choice of moving up into the much sought after primary-level places when the time comes.

 




Summer Schools and Camps


Most Shanghai expatriate families head for home over the summer holidays, but for those who remain in Shanghai, there are an increasing number of camps and summer school activities, from `fun camps' to athletics and special interests like computer camp. Watch the newsletters around May or contact the following schools and their Web Sites.

Shanghai American School
Concordia International School
Shanghai Community Schools

See Tourism and Sport Activities for other alternatives.