Sunday, October 01, 2006

School Days

To much anticipation and some hype, Tori started kindergarten in Hong Kong last month, Actually, she is in Reception 2, which is what kindergarten is called here, at a large private school in Repulse Bay (about 10 minutes from our apartment). Tori had a great first day. She loved wearing the uniform and riding the bus but was none too pleased to realize she had to go back the very next day. “How will I recognize my new best friend?!?!” she sobbed, not remembering who was who in her new class. Since then we have had some school acceptance lows but seem to be on the rebound now.

I have not yet figured out much about education in Hong Kong. It seems that most children start preschool at around 2 years old. It is definitely considered odd that the twins, now 3, are not yet in school. Preschool and kindergarten are private and pricey here, with nary a multiples discount in sight. Public education starts in first grade. That being said, all education seems to be private or at least uniformed. As we go about our day, we are commonly stopped behind long lines of buses dropping off uniformed children.

At Tori’s lower primary school, she takes the usual subjects plus music, art, p.e, Mandarin and chapel. The electives are all on a rotating basis, which we are suppose to keep track of via a chart. While Tori talks very little about school, the tea leaves we can read are her phonetically spelled written notes all over the apartment. I can say her writing is much improved in only a few weeks even if all it says is “No moms in mi bedrom” and oddly, “No smoking,” on her bedroom door.

We knew to expect the educated and driven culture here but nonetheless were surprised to hear most Chinese students are reading well by the start of kindergarten and many attend all day Saturday school as well. At a parent orientation meeting for the Mandarin curriculum, we listened with zero comprehension to a heated discussion of whether or not to teach traditional or simplified Chinese characters. And to the follow-on arguments as to why or why not this was important for the new Mandarin AP exam. And we were just thinking it was nice she was exposed to something new!

We all miss Tori much when she is gone and celebrate her arrival home with a little ritual of dressing up (the twins not me) to greet her from the bus. The bus drops Tori off right in front of our apartment building block. To date, Adam and Royce have gone down to get Tori dressed as cats, fairies, mummies, witches and of course, naked.


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