The other day, a reader brought to my attention that perhaps my post on How to Plan a Trip to Taiwan was not as helpful in the choosing a Taiwanese preschool department. So, in the spirit of being helpful, I wrote another post about specifically, finding a preschool for the 6 years and under set.
Here’s the thing: it’s really obvious.
I mean, so obvious, I feel dumb writing an entire post on the topic. Thus, be forewarned, this is a super short post and may seem bare bones.
I’m not trying to be difficult. It really is as you likely would have approached the task on your own.
You are not missing out. You are totally doing it correctly.
So. With that caveat out of the way, here’s how you choose a preschool in Taiwan:
1) Decide what you would like in a Taiwanese preschool.
If your kids are already in preschool (or you have gone through this with previous children), you already have an idea of what you want in a preschool.
Do you want it to be more play based? More structured? More formally “educational” (like with learning characters, alphabet, zhuyin, etc.)? A particular educational philosophy?
However, be aware that just like in your home country, the more specific you are (and inflexible), the less likely you will find a preschool fitting your criteria.
Sometimes, beggars can’t be choosers.
So, in my case, I wanted a play-based Montessori-like environment. I didn’t really care if my kids learned any characters, etc. because we do enough of that at home, during the school year. (We homeschool as well as attend Chinese preschools.)
Unfortunately, because Glow Worm has many food allergies (ranging from severe to mild), most Taiwanese preschools refused to accommodate him. They cited a Taiwanese law that states only authorized medical personnel (ie: a DOCTOR) could administer shots. Even if it kills my kid in the process.
So, with all the schools refusing to accept Glow Worm out of fear in applying the Epipen, (always in their super polite, vague, passive aggressive manner), I had to go with any school that would accept him.
Thus, I had to really refine what I wanted, and that was (and is): to have my kids be taught by adults whose Chinese obviously surpassed my “kitchen Chinese” and be surrounded by kids who spoke (mostly) Chinese.
Hence, I settled on an international school because they were used to dealing with all sorts of food allergies, were willing to administer the Epipen if needed, and allowed me to provide all Glow Worm’s food and snacks.
So, although I preferred something less academic, I was satisfied with the school we attended because being alive at an academic place is better than not being alive at a play-based place.
2) Settle on a location and then Google (or ask friends/family) for preschools around the area.
I know. Thanks, Captain Obvious!
But seriously. Google is a thing. Use it.
Also? Local preschools will likely have websites and Facebook pages in Chinese only. For obvious reasons.
If you are like me and when you see a wall of Chinese text, respond with an internal, “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”, this will be the most difficult part of the process.
Thus, I prevailed upon friends and family and Facebook groups for their recommendations and experiences.
Sorry, internet readers. I will not be that friend.
For many reasons, but chiefly: I am not qualified to make recommendations to you, a stranger.
I’m sure you’re a very nice person and not at all creepy. This is nothing personal. Please do not ask me for specific preschool recommendations.
I will ignore you if I’m feeling generous.
I will screenshot and publicly shame you if I’m feeling ornery (which is the norm because I have four children and though I love them to distraction, they also eat up all my minute reservoirs of patience).
3) Email/call the preschool directors and ask if they a) have a summer program, and b) the details of this summer program.
If they are local preschools, you will most likely have to communicate in Chinese. To expect them to accommodate you in English isn’t realistic or fair. After all, you don’t expect a preschool in America to communicate in Chinese (or any language other than possibly Spanish). Why would it be different in Taiwan?
Also, you will either have to pay in cash on the first day or have someone wire tuition via a Taiwanese bank account. This is NOT handy. (I always feel like a drug dealer when I carry around a fat packet of cash in my purse or on my person. Particularly since Taiwanese money has 1000NT bills!)
After which, I have not tried to reinvent the wheel every summer and just stick to what I know.
You cannot know the depths of my consternation when I realized Glow Worm could not attend the school I sent Cookie Monster and Gamera to back in 2014. There was much teeth gnashing and fist shaking and creative cursing.
Do not succumb to FOMO. Unless you had a mediocre or horrible experience, make life easier for yourself. Stick with what works.
Of course, this will fall on deaf ears for people who truly have FOMO. But for those of us who are lazier than we are fearful, this is my official Mandarin Mama seal of approval/permission to just do what you did last time already.
Ok. That’s it.
I told you the information was obvious.
There is no need to overthink the situation. You were going to do this anyway. Here is now the official article giving you confirmation bias.
You’re welcome, again!
I am just a font of benefits today. Happy Hunting!