Good kindergartens - parents and teachers

This was suggested on another thread, but no-one seems to have started it, so I will. If you send your kid to a kindy, or you’ve taught in one, what was it like? What distinguishes a good kindy from a bad one?

I’m reasonably happy with my daughter’s kindy. It’s bright, clean, cheerful and has a varied “curriculum” - music, dance, games, computers, arts and crafts, excursions as well as the usual phonics, math etc. I still find it odd having a curriculum for kids that young - ideally I’d like more free play/creative play and fewer structured lessons, but that seems to be ‘the way it’s done’ here, and at least it’s varied and fairly balanced. It also happens to be English immersion, for her transitional comfort, but obviously that’s not a big selling point for me :slight_smile:

We only looked at two or three before deciding on this one, so I’d like to hear about what other kindies offer, how they compare in the way they’re run, and how you think the kids benefit - or not - from them.

I would make sure that the bathrooms and kitchen are kept clean. First thing you want to see when visiting a potential kindy is the kitchen.

Visit the kindy during lunch and see what is being offered to the kids.

Beware of “fluff”. Many kindys pile on the books without teaching them well…or teaching them at all.

Small classes should have two teachers.

Big classes, second semester, should be adapting to life as a 1st grader. Sitting at tables, desks. Being responsible for making sure that their book bags are in order…etc

No hitting or child abuse (putting kids in cupboards, doing knee bends with their hands on their heads). This one is a no-brainer.

Make sure the school and bus system meets safety requirements.

Are the students happy and behaved?

The kindergarten I worked at in a previous life offered regular beatings, which included open hand whacks, fly swotters and rulers. Not to mention the screaming the poor little kids got.
It got so bad that… hmm… let me describe the senario for you:
Every English class one student would always muck up. He’s only 3 years old or so. This sweet little boy, although very large for his age, was a little…retarded? Maybe, not sure. But I loved him just the same.
So, whenever this kid would play up, the teacher would smack him until he was red and crying.
It got so bad that whenever he saw me…he started crying, screaming, running away…I think he associated me with smacks from the teacher. :cry: x2
I left soon after.

But I here there are some great kindies around…I’ll never work at one again though.

My school is English-immersion although the kids are not required to speak English until kindergarten when they begin reading (proof there that it’s not a language school, but a real kindergarten). They have activities in hands-on science experimentation, cooking and food prep, music and movement, numeracy and math skills, letters (phonics) and literacy, dramatic play, and physical education. We focus on different skill areas such as fine and gross motor, social, self-help, language, cognitive abilities in a continuum. We regularly have excursions in the community such as a trip to the astronomical museum during a space theme, a walk through Di Hua St. during Chinese New Year to buy traditional snacks, and trips to Da’an Park to fly homemade kites. We also have guest speakers, especially parents in various professions to talk about their careers or give demonstrations to the children. Essentially my school is a community where everyone looks out for the kids.
Although most of the kids come from a strong background of English, the ones who don’t get special language instruction to help them better understand their English environment. I think the highest child to teacher ratio in my school is 7 children to 1 teacher, but they are 5 years old so that makes it better than the requirement for preschool ratios in the US. There are some ratios that are as low as 4 children to one teacher. While the curriculum is theme-based, the children set the themes by what they are interested in rather than the teacher dictating what they are going to learn.

My school follows the guidelines for learning as set by the NAEYC in the US and is an active member of Taipei’s Early Childhood Education group.

A bad kindergarten? One where there is manual that tells the teacher exactly what the kids are going to do, how long they are going to play and with what toys (with the exception of recess because of needing to schedule that space), has unrealistic expectations for the children, and little concern for their whole development…just as long as they can speak English.
I think this forum is full of examples of what bad kindergartens are like.

good teacher… well. i try to think i’m a good teacher… unfortunately, i have been hindered by my current school…

first, they tell me “do this book at your own pace”
then they tell me “you’re going too slow… you’re behind schedule” (what schedule?)
so i speed up, sacrificing teaching time so that the kids can complete more pages
then i’m told “you’re not teaching them well enough… you should take more time to teach them”…
the school contradicts themselves…

personally, have a look at the school’s schedule before you decide… and i mean look at their text books etc. as well… the books i am being asked to teach for math are just ridiculous… venn diagrams when the poor kids have only been in school for not even 6 months… :loco:
my english books that i have to teach :unamused: we’re onto book 2 now that it’s the 2nd semester… and my kids know over half the book already… not reading, but speaking and grammar for sure…
phonics thankfully is my own schedule as long as i follow the rules that kids will know beginning cosonants and short vowels by the end of the year… :s that’s it? my kids… even the less-than-average ones are capable of reading any three letter word and most 4 letter words that you throw at them (ex. long vowels)… phonics is fast and easy for kids to learn as you can combine it into nearly every class you teach… be it reading, english or whatever…

yet they give such a relaxed attitude towards phonics, and cram the maths on them like they were in 6th grade…

for a good school:
if the course curriculum and material has clear, visible steps that start at easy and go to difficult… then that’s good…
clean, friendly staff, well organised… all important

for a good teacher:
clean (duh!)
funny but serious at the same time (let them have fun, but make sure that they realise they are there to learn)
strict but relaxed (you musn’t be like a dominatrix, but you can’t sissy them forever either)
good communication with parents… a teacher should do more than just write a little note in a stupid little book… they should be able to call parents and discuss problems with them… or just give the child some praise…
… and most importantly… HONEST! one of the worst things you can have is a teacher who tells parents the child is doing great (when they’re not) just to make themselves look like a good teacher…

The kindies I’ve seen here have all seemed pretty bad.
One I taught at had large, well-equipped classrooms, lots of toys, and a huge indoor playground. Unfortunately, the boss was incompetent. In one of my classes (of two-year-olds!) a little boy told me in Chinese that he could count, and then counted in English up to 10; the boss screamed at him and gave him a big lecture about how he had to speak English all the time. Most of the children in the class couldn’t even speak their native language - ie., there were none of the two-year-olds you often meet who can chatter away, just the ones who were still speaking baby talk.
The kindies here also seem to have no idea what kind of textbook would be appropriate for the age group. I had one boss who insisted on using junior high school English textbooks for 5- and 6-year-olds because the children were “quite smart.”
They also have unrelistic expectations of just how hard the average child is going to study, and of just how many students should be in a class. I walked into one job where the owners had put all the classes together for the English class. I had more than 60 students crammed into one room; most had to sit on the floor or stand up because there weren’t enough desks. The ages ranged from 2 years to 6. Class was supposed to be for two hours, and consist of them repeating after me. And then I was blamed when the kids seemed bored.
This thread is giving me flashbacks.
Another place advertised heavily that they had a native speaker of English for the English class. Again, three classes of students were crammed into one classroom for the class. It was so crowded that the kids could not stand on the floor. When we were doing TPR (the boss insisted), the kids had to stand on their chairs. Inevitably, one would fall, setting off a chain reaction of falling kids. The boss had also decorated the room with English labels - unfortuntely, neither he nor his teachers knew English very well. so most of the labels were wrong: the wall clock was labelled “watch”, a large rectangle was labelled a “square”, etc. When we were doing colors, my coteacher smacked a child for saying that something was blue - a direct quote: “It’s not blue, you idiot, it’s sky blue.”
Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t send any child of mine to a kindergarten here.

bababa… i would honestly report that kindergarten to the MOE… that’s just ridiculous… not only is it stupid, but it’s dangerous also…

another thing to note about a kindergarten is the boss… i will admit, our teachers in our school are all pretty good… we’re well organised, work together, share ideas etc. etc.

our kids love us to death… and of course, not all kids will do as well as the others…

so what does our boss do? he writes letters to the parents, upsetting them even more… making them lose face… and in general, making students leave… all of our teachers are sure this school will be closed in two years… and not because of us… because of our stupid boss…