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Needing appropriate school for my 9 and 10 year old kids while teaching in China


rpduhaime
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I am a recently laid off IT worker, looking for a big career change. I should have my TEFL certification within a month and I do have two bachelor degrees. I have a small amount of teaching experience...pre-school through 2nd grade...but that was only at church. I hope to start looking for a teaching English job in China but the big sticking point is finding a good school for my 9 year old daughter and 10 year old son (they are adopted from China but I am White American). I haven't decided where in China....but Wuhan and Jinan might be considered....other places look good too!

My main goal for my children is to learn Chinese AND make friends.

I don't know much about schools in China but I don't want to home school my kids and I don't think they would fit into a Chinese public school. (if someone disagrees, please say so!). I'm thinking some inexpensive private school, possibly a bi-lingual school might be best. Are International schools going to be beyond my salary? Am I asking too much? especially on a teacher's salary? How do I go about finding a school...should I pick a school before I pick the job?

I will be a single parent in China. I am happily married but my husband will not be able to leave his job to join us except for vacation times. And because I will be a single parent, I'm thinking it might be best for my kids and myself if I teach at the school they attend...but having said that...I want to avoid being a teacher for my own kids....I want them independent of me in that sense.

If there are any opinions, suggestions, I would appreciate it!

Thanks

Rose

currently living in Colorado

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This is based on my limited, Shanghai-tinted perspective. And apologies in advance if what I say sounds harsh: I think you are going to really struggle to find the kind of school you are looking for at a reasonable cost.

Full international schools are not cheap (US$10,000 / year per child would be a very cheap one and many are more than double that.) I also think that in this environment they are not that likely to learn much Chinese unless they are very motivated to do so. The international divisions of local schools are slightly more affordable but still not cheap (some are still over US$10,000/year/child). Many are bilingual although I get the impression that the level and intensity of Chinese varies.

A 100% local school will not be expensive - but it would be 100% local. Your children would have an enormous amount of catching up to do but if they don't sink completely, they will certainly learn Chinese because they will have no choice. The style and intensity of Chinese schooling is.....different. I also would expect that you would get very little support from the school in helping your children integrate.

Something to bear in mind is that since your children look Chinese, there may be a totally unreasonable expectation that they can speak Chinese, fluently.

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I can't see that your salary is going to be enough to cover two sets of fees at the kind of school you want, plus provide a reasonable standard of living for all three of you. Nor do you have the qualifications to get work at that kind of school in order to get your kids in for free / cheap. I could be wrong, but I think you're being a bit hopeful...

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Unfortunately, I have to agree with the others.

Your ideal situation would be for you to work at an international school to which you could send your children (at reduced tuition).

You'd be happier at an international school, your salary would be higher, the benefits and vacation time would be better, and your children would fit it. You three would also have the same schedule, making parenting easier.

However, you'd likely need at least an MA and experience to be eligible to apply.

Unless your children are already fluent in Chinese, they won't fit in at a normal public school. While they may be ethnically Chinese, they're culturally American, which will make them *very* different from their peers.

Aside from an international school position, your only ESL options will be with a private school (which will monopolize your time) or a university (which usually offer low pay).

At this stage, I would recommend against this career choice. It's likely to be much harder on your children than you currently think it will be.

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You say you want a career change but you know what, your two adopted Chinese children already had a huge life change being adopted out of China and brought into the US. They don't remember anything about China anymore and very likely they don't care about China anymore. I know this because my neighbors adopted two preschoolers from China who have already forgotten their Chinese within a span of one year and now refuse to look at photos of their orphanage caretakers and friends. Bringing them back to China is not a good idea, probably even traumatic. You can find a career change here in the US. Now that I think of it I've changed my career several times in the US so can you.

If you want them to learn Chinese then search through this forum, lots of ideas on how to get your kids to learn Chinese here in the US. For example you can see I was talking about STARTALK summer camps for my teen son in a different thread. There are many many ideas here in the forums for you to look at.

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You don't know my children, how can you say they don't remember and very likely don't care? Quite the contrary. My son remembers China extremely well, and desires to go back, and so badly wants to visit his foster family and indeed wants to go back to see his foster brothers who are back living at the orphanage and have yet to be adopted. My daughter is excited as well, but she doesn't remember China.

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Could you leave the children with your husband and try teaching in China on your own, at least as a first step? See how you like teaching and living there; plus you can also scope out the school situation first hand on behalf of your children.

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  • 1 year later...

I realize this is an old thread, but I'm wondering if the OP may still be around, if she went to China with her children, and if so, how it went?

 

My wife and I would also like to take our, now, 6 year old daughter whom we adopted in China when she was 10 months old and live for a year or maybe longer somewhere in China. The three of us would like to study Chinese language, eat good Chinese food, learn about Chinese culture, and travel around and explore the country.

 

If it were just me and my wife, it would be easy. We both have ESL teaching experience, although neither of us is certified. We could just get jobs or enroll in an intensive Mandarin course at a university somewhere in China, get visas and go, but we're concerned about our daughter and that's why I've been searching around trying to find threads on this site and others that relate to taking Western kids to live in China.

 

Although we haven't decided on a specific place in China to live yet, recently we've been looking closely at Kunming. It looks nice there and we like the idea that it's relatively close to Guangxi where our daughter was born. Are there any members of this board who have taken their children to China or who know people who have? What did you do/are you doing about schooling? How did your kids adjust?

 

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me,

 

Shane

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#9 -- @Meng Lelan -- I live in Kunming but have no experience with raising western children here or, in particular, with having them schooled. So please bear in mind that I'm not the best source on such subjects.

 

@Shane -- Still I have two observations which might be at least a little relevant to your situation.

 

The first is that quality elementary schooling, even down to kindergarten level, is so highly sought after in Kunming as to be very expensive. There are long waiting lists to get into the first grade at a well-thought-of school and parents pay obscene bribes to smooth the process along.

 

The second observation is that there is a reason why more and more Chinese parents struggle and save to educate their children abroad. This phenomenon used to mainly apply to university and graduate school. But now it applies to high school and middle school as well. Between 80 and 90 % of well-to-do Chinese (business executives and government officials) currently do this, according to an article I read in People's Daily earlier this week.

 

Actually, now that I've started writing, a third consideration comes to mind that might apply if you lived more than one year. Now your daughter is 6, so she will socialize easily with new classmates and neighbor kids. She's a a good age to make friends. In middle school, however, kids here tend to get isolated. They are given so much homework as to have virtually no time for social life after their long day is done. They often enter puberty without much in the way of social skills, mainly knowing how to play computer games for fun. (I admit this is a slight exaggeration, but not a totally ridiculous one.)

 

But Kunming is a good place to live and both you and your wife could easily find decent jobs teaching English that paid for your travels. It's also easy to find good quality Chinese instruction here, so you could definitely make a start on learning the language.

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 @Meng Lelan -- I live in Kunming but have no experience with raising western children here or, in particular, with having them schooled. So please bear in mind that I'm not the best source on such subjects.

 

 

Don't discount yourself so quickly, your comment about the lack of social skills and abundance of computer gaming is what Chinese parents have been telling me in the last several years. 

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@Meng Lelan and @abcdefg, thanks for your replies and advice.

 

Since my questions didn't seem to really fit this forum (Teaching English in China), I started another post with more details about our situation and tentative plans under Life, Work and Study in China in General. If you'd like to read my new post and have anything to add to your comments, I'd appreciate reading any insights you care to share.

 

Thanks,

 

Shane

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