Montessori or ESF for K1? (as a stepping stone to other through-train schools)

  1. #1

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    Montessori or ESF for K1? (as a stepping stone to other through-train schools)

    I have applied (or is applying) for the 3 or 4 year old class at the following schools:
    HKIS [Hong Kong International School]
    CIS [Chinese International School]
    CDNIS [Canadian International School]
    AISHK [Australian International School]
    ICS [International Christian School]


    My son is born in November 2010, so most of the schools stated above would only accept him for the 2014-15 school year due to his birth month (either that or they start accepting kids at 4 years of age). To make sure he can apply for all the schools above, he will be attending K1 or equivalent this coming autumn (at ALMOST 3 years of age).


    So far He has several options, but mainly i'm struggling between:
    1. The Montessori system [DMS Discovery Bay]
    2. The ESF system [ESF Tsing Yi]


    I wonder which school can better prepare him for those applications / interviews (both in terms of the schools' reputation and the actually learning)? Any comment or suggestion is deeply appreciated. Thank you in advance!


  2. #2

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    Apr 2013
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    Most certainly Montessori. I am a big fan of IMS (International Montessori School). They had excellent balance of English and Mandarin, and you will love the Montessori method of teaching. Especially in Hong Kong when we're all so reliant on our helpers, it is really refreshing to see my kids cleaning up after themselves. My second daughter had been going to IMS for the past 2 years. Her Mandarin and English reading level is almost the same as her sister who is 2 years older. I am not familiar with DMS. If it is a credited Montessori school, I'm sure the teaching method must comply to a standard. Good luck.


  3. #3

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    Thank you abbyt. I'm definitely a fan of the Montessori teaching. DMS is a great school and i registered my son from birth in order to get a spot. He's been in their playgroup since 12 months old. I will most probably keep him there even when the ESF-TY placement comes up (he's within the first 10 on the waiting list now, so the offer should come in soon), but emotionally it's hard to let that go, especially this year being the last for ESF kindies to have P1 interview priority.

    However, let me play devil's advocate here. Given the Montessori teaching emphasizes independence and less on social interaction / following the teacher as a group within the classroom, i am afraid that my boy will have trouble during the kindergarten interview process.

    I just heard a fellow mom mentioned that a kid from a Montessori school failed an interview at a renown Int'l School (one on my list) because when the interviewing teacher showed him the letter B, instead of pronouncing it "Bee" (the letter name), he said "Buh" (the phonic sound) and the teacher didn't understand the Montessori method.

    The Montessori method is great for kindie kids but I do want him in a traditional International school for his primary education, preferably in one of the school listed above. The mass intake happens at K1 or K2 level, so although i love the montessori method, i would only keep it as a second school / interest class if he get into a through-train school. Many of the Montessori exercise is also doable at home (our place is partly set up the Montessori way), so being in IMS or DMS is not a must to practice the Montessori method.

    Just wondering, is your child in IMS? What are your plans? Will you transfer the child at primary age, if not, do you have any target school after primary graduation?

  4. #4

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    I am not sure why you would consider with ESF Kindy is ESF Primary is not on your short list, especially since you're at DMS already. Also one of the schools on your short list (CIS) has a very strong Mandarin program (bi-lingual) so in that case I would make sure the preschool is also bi-lingual in order to increase your chances. The top 4 on your list is quite hard to get into (not sure about ICS, getting more popular), so you may need back up as well. If he gets into ESF Kindy, ESF Primary could be a back up option as well. Without priority, it will be significantly harder, though not impossible. Also all these schools have very different curricula, American / Australian vs. IB. You need to think about the curriculum that you think fits your child's needs best (as far as you can tell at this point). ICS is of course a more religious school. You need to be careful not just to aim for the big names without looking what kind of curriculum fits his personality. What your future plans are? If you believe in Montessori, you should possibly look at IMS, which has a strong Mandarin program as well. I went through Montessori education myself (and so did my husband), but I am not necessarily a big fan of it (worked for me, but don't think it works for the majority, Montessori is more than cleaning your toys up after yourself and being independent).


  5. #5

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    Thank you MommyTo3 for your careful analysis. Yes I must admit that Montessori is not for everyone. Given I registered him from birth and believe in the Montessori method personally, it is sorta sad to observe that my son may not fit the school. I would give it another year when he go to class by himself (currently we go to class together and the problem could simply be mommy's presence). He did apply for IMS but he didn't do too well on the interview; perhaps he's just not made for it.

    My son is a very 'Boy' boy. He loves trains & buses & tunnels & bridges. He's highly imaginative and inquisitive, but cannot sit still for long. He's very verbal, love music & sports. He's read to everyday and enjoy a good story. Everyone say he is very smart, but then, he does not have the patience to sit through any formal learning. Beside the regular learning i give extra attention on his patience & concentration skills at the moment (which is shorter than normal kids his age). What kind of curriculum do you think would fit him? I'm more sided with the IB inquiry based learning style, but my husband want him in a British system with more discipline and core learning. (He's from Australia & I'm from Canada)

    Anyhow, given how difficult it is to get into any school nowadays, I think it's not up to us to choose. ESF primary is on my shortlist, just not stated on this thread since ESF kindie-->ESF primary is sorta a given (for the final year) so it doesn't need much discussion. The first two choices on the list are from my husband (HKIS & CIS) since he wants an academically strong school. The next three are mine (CDNIS, AISHK, ICS) since i want a more well-rounded school. We are a Christian family so ICS is actually a plus for us. Chinese is important but if the choice is limited then we'd just have to remedy it via extracurricular activities.


  6. #6

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    Just wondered if you had considered ICA (Island Christian Academy) the new Small World kindergarten Primary school? It seems to tick all your boxes academically as it runs an similar to IB PYP enquiry based learning curriculum (IPC) but uses the UK National Curriculum for literacy and the Australian National Mathematics programme which ensures these basics are taught in a very structured and thorough way. At the moment it does not have a secondary school but there are plans afoot to develop that starting in a couple of years. It is also a Christian School which you mentioned is a plus point for you. Despite being very new it is a truly wonderful school both in terms of academics and fantastic pastoral care. It is definately worth checking out, we could not be happier and given the choice of any school in HK, would not move our child!


  7. #7

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    Thank you Ophelia, would definitely check it out and enroll for my boy this coming year


  8. #8

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    Just to follow up, after being in the Casa program in DMS for over 1/2 year, my boy has progressed and learned so much that i had also applied for IMS, hoping to keep him in a Montessori setting for primary school as well. Montessori ends up working well for him.

    Due to his age (born Nov 2010), he is only eligible for interview this season for CDNIS, ICS & IMS only. (AISHK will have their assessment after the summer, and CIS+HKIS next year) Of the 3, IMS gave us an offer well in advance (two weeks earlier than expected), while we are still waiting for results from CDNIS & ICS at the moment...

    If he is fortunate enough to have more than one option, then my happy headache begins... Anyhow, thank you for all your previous suggestions, especially those encouraging me to stick to DMS. My boy has learned so much in Montessori!

    Last edited by Jomama; 06-03-2014 at 03:21 AM.