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daycare/preschool/Kindergarten for my little Waygook?
« on: February 10, 2012, 06:55:51 pm »
Hello, everyone. My family has been in Korea for nearly 6 months and we're starting to feel pretty settled, thanks in large part to some of the parents in here who offered tips right at the beginning for managing with our little guy. Now we're starting to explore the possibility of more formalized schooling, at least for part of the week and I need some more advice. Here's our situation:

- I'm American, E2 visa, teaching at a public middle school.
- Husband is Mexican, F3 visa, staying home full-time with our son.
- Little guy is 3 years old (5 in Korean age), born Dec 2008.
- We live in Seongnam, connected to Seoul
- Our Korean is struggling. My husband has probably learned a lot more than I have, and we just know the really basic essentials for shopping and getting around.

So far, husband and son are home together all day, where they work on basic academic and language skills in English and Spanish. Husband is also doing a bit of online study. We're starting to worry that our son isn't getting enough socialization. He goes out to play on the playground, and we're trying to more consistently attend church so he can be in the nursery with other kids, but we'd like him to do something more structured and regular. So we've started looking into Kindergarten options. The thing is, we don't want him attending full-time, 5 days a week. He and my husband are making great academic progress at home, and we'd rather be the main ones handling his early education. Also, since my husband's visa doesn't allow lucrative activity, it's not like there's much he could do with that free time while we're paying for someone else to do what he normally does. However, we do want our little boy to gain socialization skills and learn basic early school stuff (lining up, following directions, sitting still, listening to teachers), and picking up some Korean along the way would be great, too.

One of my co-workers eagerly suggested a local hagwon, which turns out to be run by a Canadian with several Canadians and US teachers on staff. She called them, and they quoted a rate for full-day, full-week Kinder that really blew me away because in the US it would cost so much more. But then she mentioned that the kid in question is American and they indicated that they'd be quite willing to reduce the price and/or make other concessions to enroll our son. I talked to the vice-principal and got the same indication. So tomorrow we're going to check it out. But my concern is that I have come to realize that here, partial-day or 1 or 2 day-a-week preschool is not normal. When I asked the vice-principal about the possibility of enrolling our son for just part of the week, he seemed unwilling to say they could do it, but said we could discuss everything tomorrow with the principal. I realize that when a program is set up to run on a full-week basis, it would be incredibly odd to drop our son into it just once or twice during the week, even if they would permit us to do so.

So I guess all of that to ask this:
Is part-week Kindergarten done or even possible in Korea? We're willing to go with whatever local preschool program we can get into if it means he's only attending a few times a week, even if it's conducted entirely in Korean. I don't want to negotiate with this hagwon if it's likely we could find an even closer (perhaps municipal-run) program that will accept our son on a part-time basis. But if it's not likely, then we'll try to make it work with the hagwon. Any ideas here?
« Last Edit: February 10, 2012, 06:59:00 pm by internationalmama »

Re: daycare/preschool/Kindergarten for my little Waygook?
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2012, 10:35:05 pm »
This could kind of been me writing this!! I am in similar situation (I am on an E2 visa, British and my husband is Colombian) He will also be looking after our son who is also 3 in western years, (born Feb 2009) and we are also looking into the possibility of daycare, but in Gwangju.  If anyone has any recommendations, they would very much be appreciated!

Re: daycare/preschool/Kindergarten for my little Waygook?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2012, 03:31:45 pm »
I should have updated. My son has been in school for a few weeks now and it's going quite well. Unfortunately, we weren't able to work out a part-time situation, so he's going to school full-time every day. It was a big of a jump and we're all still making the adjustment, but it's working out slowly. I still think our preference would be for fewer days a week, but given the choice between nothing and this, we choose this.

We ended up with the Canadian hagwon and they are truly wonderful people. You may want to see if there's a similar situation available in Gwangju. I saw some posters for this school many months ago but never thought anything of it until my co-worker brought it up, so ask around. Maybe your co-workers are familiar with a place. And see if the "native English-speaker factor" can work to your benefit, if your son is speaking English. Even if not, these private schools really seem to get excited about being able to market as an "international school" and may be willing to reduce the fees as a result. If not, there are so many Korean-run kindergartens all over the place. For us, we've discovered that the English-speaking staff is essential. There are times we need to communicate with them and I don't like depending on co-workers for everything. So that would be one big reason to try to find a place with someone who can speak English, unless your Korean is up to par.

And let me know if your family ever makes it up towards Seoul. It would be fun to do something with another multi-national family!

Re: daycare/preschool/Kindergarten for my little Waygook?
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2012, 06:22:19 pm »
Thanks for youre reply and the useful information.  It is good to hear of others' situations.  I hope that your son is adjusting well.  As mine isn't here yet, I haven't looked too much at the daycares yet although there seems to be a lot of them. As you say, I shall use the native English speaker to my advantage. Your reply has definitely put my mind at ease!!! Actually, I was very surprised at the number of daycares that I happen to see just walking around my neighbourhood and I am sure my son will do just fine (fingers crossed!) If I am ever venturing up Seoul way, I shall def. post you a message, thanks!! ;D