Schooling options in China If you find yourself among the chosen to end up in China with school-age children, your options are probably about the same as they would be in any modern city – go local, go global, or go local but bilingual.
We chose door number one. The whole point of our moving here was for our kids to learn Chinese and at 5 years old, we figured the language barrier would remove itself soon enough. It’s only two months into our experiment but results are mixed. i.e., one (the shy) twin having a great time and coming home with new Chinese and his brother not so much (yet).
In China, at 5 years old, children still attend what’s called kindergarten but what is really pre-school. Some “kindergartens” take kids under 1 year old. The idea, and ideal, is that the kids end up well prepared for the rigorous and competitive world of primary school. Most private kindergartens, the only ones a foreigner is likely to get into, call themselves bilingual, even if that means English classes once or twice a week.
Private kindergartens are not cheap, however. Be prepared to pay up to $500 (on the high end) a month, quite steep by local standards. This covers a nearly 10 hour day and three so-called meals. I have not fully investigated international school options (of which there are many), but those certainly run more much in cost. And for me that would defeat the purpose of being here.