Starting School

My daughter will be starting first grade in a Chinese Elementary school in September. She has been attending a Montessori school for 3 years which isn’t very structured as far as rote teaching/learning goes so she hasn’t really developed these all important Chinese elementary school system skills.

I thought about putting her into a bushiban over the summer where she could be exposed to this but that just feels like subjecting her to the same trauma of a new school, environment, teachers, class mates twice in 2 months so I will probably try to do it myself through teaching her English and Chinese.

The main concern I have though is that she is born in August, which is to say if she had been born a few weeks later she wouldnt be starting school until next year. She also is not very mature for her age, the principal in her kinder suggested we may look at holding her back when we met last semester but feels she has made enough progress this semester to go to school this year. But I know it is going to be hard for her.

I would really like to hear from anyone out there that has advice to offer, paticularly if you have been in a similiar situation regarding your kids background and level of development.

Additionally I expect there may be some issues she will also face with being of mixed blood but I expect that too will have its pluses and minuses, interested in hearing peoples experiences on this too please.



Our son is in the same situation, but a year older. We were also thinking about putting him in a buxiban this summer to toughen him up, but canned the idea.

He’s going to have to learn to do what they ask him to do. He is pretty smart and we don’t think there will be any major problems.

But if you think your daughter should do another year, why not find a more traditional kindy to put her into?

Good luck.


What do you think about giving her a break during the summer, i.e. not go to any cram school or kinder, since she is going to have somewhat of a big change in her life.
If she is interracial, I would think it’s a bit easier than 100% either way since you will be looking at being exactly the same and nothing special than other kids or too stand-out. I think kids will adore her and that’s going to make it a little easier since she is accepted, which is important to kids at that age as my view.
If holding back is even a consideration, will redo grade one be somewhat of a solution if somehow she just doesn’t do near what you or she would like it to be?
I told my son that so long as he is not getting zero, he is doing great! I also told him to let the kids know, especially the ones who make fun of his grades, that thank God they’ve got him in the class, otherwise they will be having the danger and disgrace of being the worst student in class. And now he is going to be in third grade after summer, well over zero on every subject. :slight_smile:

Which Montessori school? I attended a Montessori school for my first four years of education, and when we moved to another state and I had to attend a state school (ack, ack!), my parents were very concerned that I wouldn’t handle the rote learning method well, and that my academic performance would suffer.

Well, despite being crippled by the stupid state school system, and the mindless compulsory downgrading of my skill set (I had learned in Montessori to write in cursive with an ink dipped scratch pen, but at the state school I was given a pencil and told to print), my reports each term came back with near perfect scores in every subject.

I wouldn’t worry too much about academic performance. I would be more concerned by the fact that the system stifling your child’s creativity, individual potential, and generally intelligence, which has been fostered so long by the Montessori school. Your child may well find that as frustrating as I did.

For a few months before I entered the state school, my mother tutored me in the traditional methods of education, so I would at least have some experience of them. I would recommend this.

Don’t worry too much.

Will your child complete all 12 years of the Taiwanese education system? If not, I don’t see any reason to worry. My boy will complete his 8th year in the Taiwanese system in about 2 weeks. However, it will be his last year in this system, as he has been accepted into one of the international schools and I am having him repeat the 8th grade. He was never at the top of his class in the Taiwanese system, but he wasn’t near the bottom either. We always wanted him only to get the most out of the Taiwanese system that he could, without driving him like a slave of his studies.

Again, don’t sweat it. First grade, even here in Taiwan, isn’t that difficult.

Your girl may surprize you.

My boy has been the youngest in his class every year. But, I’m holding him back to repeat the 8th grade in his new school. He’ll probably be one of the oldest in his class next year… but, so what? What’s the rush? We have our entire lives ahead of us to work. Childhood, however, is unfortunately fleeting. If you think your girl is not ready, hold her back. Why listen to what the kindy principal thinks? Who knows your girl better, you or her? Maybe the kindy principal is telling you what she subconsciously believes will put your mind at ease. And even if the kindy principal is correct, and your girl is ready… so what? If you’re more comfortable holding her back another year, go ahead and do it. Another year of childhood would be good, I’m certain.

I hope I’ve provided a different perspective above.

That’s impossible to know. My boy never has had any trouble, in either grade school or middle school. But, I know of some children who have had to deal with some nonsense. We always told our boy that he was not any more special than any other student in his class. He’s special to us… but, everyone’s kid is special to his/her parents. I think he’s understood our meaning, and he has acted appropriately, as far as I can tell. I think that has been helpful to him, in this regard. But, even if you prepare your girl well, its possible that other children will not have been prepared well by their parents. You just deal with those, if need be.

Good luck with your decision.

Both our sons attended a quasi Montessori kindergarden before elementary school. I say quasi, because they offered special courses to prep Chinese, Mathematics, English etc. for the elementary school. We chose to let our kids not attend these special courses, because we thought it was the elementary school’s responsibility to start from scratch.
Our youngest son is also born in August, and has always been the youngest in his class - and he is not a big boy either.

So far, very similar background as the OP.

Both our sons had to put in a bit extra effort the first year to catch up to the other kids, but from then on they have been in top 20% of their class.

I think they have gotten a bit more attention than normal from teachers and students, like being qualified for the school team in various sports and performances 1 year before normal. Can’t really be objective to say if it is positive or negative - I am too proud of their achievements to do that.

My wife has always been involved in the PTA, and that has helped us to get first hand information and nip any problems in the bud before they escalate - maybe you should consider to get involved as well.

Why not put her into a Chinese elementary school’s kindertgarten program for next year? Not only will she become integrated into the public school’s style, but she’ll also meet some of her classmates and get that time to get to know the school better and have another year to mature before starting the more challenging curriculum.

Thanks to everyone for the advice. Most very assurring. At this stage I am thinking of having her start, I am thinking of also changing her around year 6 so she may repeat a year then at one of the International Schools as I want her to have a good grounding in Chinese Langauge and Culture that the traditional schools offer before they move into the School life should be HELL phase at around 12 years of age.

Our girl had her first day of school today and I think it’s going to be great! :slight_smile:

She’s 3 yrs and 2 months. I didn’t have to work yesterday, so we checked out a few schools together (my wife had already seen them). They all looked pretty good to me.

Apparently all have Montessori-type activities. For those who don’t know Montessori, it’s all sorts of activities which are nothing but playful toys for the kids but are slyly calculated by adults to teach the kids various basic skills and principles, such as lining up objects according to shapes or sizes or learning finger skills or basic arithmetic or spelling skills. I’m sure the activites are educational, but for my girl it will seem like nothing but play, which I appreciate.

The school we picked seems very friendly and playful, with an airy, open design and I believe there will be lots of interaction between the kids. One school we rejected has, in addition to the common areas, closed in classrooms, apparently segregating them into separate groups by age. I didn’t like that. I don’t want her closed in a classroom learning lessons. I want her in a large open room, interacting and playing with the others.

The teachers in the “classroom” school also seemed a little more serious. I suspect discipline may be more important for them too, and it’s not for me. I don’t want some Taiwan teacher disciplining my child. On the rare occasions when it’s necessary to change her behavior we do so gently through calm conversation and I’d be pissed to learn some hardass tactics were being applied to her. The place we sent her seems better in that regard: more love, less discipline. That also seemed to be reflected in the happy, playful kids in the place we chose.

The place we chose also had lots of animals: rabbits, fish, turtles, tadpoles, birds. That’s definitely a good sign.

And today, my wife reports, they were singing and dancing and playing outside on the playground.

Anyway, that’s all. I guess I’m as excited as she is. It’ll only be 1/2 days for a while (drop her off at 9 am, pick her up after lunch and bring her home for her nap.) My wife told me it took a long time for our girl to fall asleep today after she got home, as she just wanted to play at home. I suspect she feels like a very big girl now and is excited about all the great activities and new friends she will make.

I really didn’t know what happens in these kindergartens, but now I do and I like it. :slight_smile: