Whether you call it pre-school or nursery, education up to the age of five or six is vital for your child’s development in the short and long-term. The fact is, keeping learning light, fun, and engaging at this age is a proven means of helping kids become more well-rounded people as they grow. However, with so many to choose from in Hong Kong, each with their own approach to teaching, finding the right one to meet your child’s needs can be a challenge.
To help narrow down your search, we bring you (in no particular order) ten highly reputable pre-schools that offer various methods of learning, along with excellent teachers and facilities, and carefully curated activities to develop your child’s academic and social skills to give them the best possible start in life.
1. Safari Kid
In order to achieve the developmental goals for each child, Safari Kid has devised a unique method that fuses the learning from several leading international methods of early childhood education, such as Reggio-Emilia, Steiner Waldorf, and Montessori, to foster creativity and imagination, personal, emotional, and social development, skills in the creative arts, and motor skills in each child. Safari Kid customises its program to the learning capacity of each child, something that it is able to achieve through its uniquely high teacher/student ratio. Its methods have proven so effective that academically, children attending Safari Kid tend to be at least one grade ahead of their peers in primary school. These students stand out as natural leaders in a group and are able to communicate effectively with their peers and elders, as well as being more creative problem solvers who demonstrate more imagination and creativity than others.
Fees: Full pricing list can be found here
Safari Kid, Pok Fu Lam – L101 Chi Fu Landmark, Chi Fu Fa Yuen, Pok Fu Lam, (+852) 2177 0001
Happy Valley – 16 Min Fat Street, Happy Valley, (+852) 2177 0001
2. Garden House Pre-School and Kindergarten
Adhering to the Waldorf school of thought with regards to early-childhood education, Garden House encourages its pupils to engage in creative free play and use all five senses to absorb and actively engage in life. Daily activities range from painting, colouring, singing, and reciting poems to modelling with beeswax, baking bread, building houses out of boxes, sheets, and boards, and dressing up and pretending to be parents, kings, and magicians. Although this might just sound like a whole lot of play time, these activities intrinsically develop and evolve children’s core abilities in things like communication, use of language, and expression. All essential if they are to thrive at the next stage of their education.
Fees: Anywhere between $49,000 and $110,500 annually depending on how many days a week you want your child to attend
Garden House, 7 Silverstrand Beach Rd, Clear Water Bay, (+852) 2358 1177
3. The International Montessori School
The Montessori approach emphasises nature, creativity, and hands-on learning, with gentle guidance provided by the teachers. Children learn about other cultures, animals, and plants, in addition to reading, language, and mathematical skills. The Montessori curriculum focuses on five areas: practical life; sensory awareness education; language arts; mathematics, and cultural subjects such as geography, zoology, time, history, music, movement, science, and art. All disciplines tie together in complementary ways. Many pre-schools currently run a programme that includes Montessori elements, however, most of them are not pure, authentic Montessori. The only school that can claim to do it properly are the four International Montessori Schools, found in Sheung Wan, Ap Lei Chau, Stanley, and Shau Kei Wan.
Fees: Prices can range anywhere between $135,600 and $149,500 depending on age
The International Montessori School, Mid-Levels Campus – Mezzanine Entrance, Tung Fai Gardens, 17 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan, (+852) 2857 7007
South Horizons Campus – G/F, Blocks 23-23A, South Horizons, Phase III, Ap Lei Chau, (+852) 2861 0339
Stanley Campus – Phase III, Ma Hang Estate, Stanley (off Stanley Plaza), (+852) 2566 7196
Shau Kei Wan Campus – G/F, i-UniQ Grand, 155 Shau Kei Wan Road, Shau Kei Wan, (+852) 2156 9033
4. Woodland Pre-Schools
Utilising EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) – the required curriculum for all schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers in England – Woodland Pre-Schools is a great starting point for any parent looking to give their kid a bit of a leg-up. The three primary areas covered are communication and language, physical development, and personal, social, and emotional development. Secondary are an understanding of the world around them, and expressive arts and design. Best of all, Woodland has managed to maintain its rather stellar reputation across nine different schools in the city, so you can be guaranteed of having one relatively nearby practically anywhere in Hong Kong.
Fees: Between $2,000 and $8,800 per month
5. Eton House
This famed pre-school adopts the Reggio Emilia approach to its educational theory and practice. What is this and why should you care? Well, this approach encourages exploration and puts an onus on community and self-expression, shedding the linearity and stuffiness of many schools’ approaches. As such, Eton House has nurtured a reputation of excellence with its early childhood program. All this is helped by the school’s stellar location complete with sea views and a treehouse.
Fees: Prices are dependent on age group, click here for full pricing list
Eton House, Mayfair By The Sea Lowrise 8, LG/F Kindergarten, Mayfair By The Sea I, 23 Fo Chun Rd, Providence Bay, (+852) 2780 5700
6. Tutor Time International
This popular, colourful-looking school has developed a reputation for nurturing kids at their own pace while still enjoying the benefits of their fully immersive bilingual English and Mandarin programs for kids aged six months to six years old. Tutor Time provides daily activities designed to promote your child’s understanding of the world through art and sensory activities, blocks, language and library activities, math, playground fun, as well as music and movement. Using the Tutor Time Ability Profile, teachers are able to observe and record your child’s progress towards achieving developmental milestones, making for a more personalised educational experience.
Fees: Dependent on location, age etc, click here to make an enquiry
7. Yew Chung International School
Yew Chung International School (YCIS) marries the best of both Eastern and Western cultures by ensuring that your kids gain some strong development in the two major world languages – Chinese and English. YCIS has been around for 80 years, specialising in early childhood development, seeking to nurture its students to become “outstanding leaders, caring global citizens in a bilingual learning environment”. The children experience a multicultural and bilingual learning environment where their active participation, investigations and experimentation enable them to to develop with the aid of stringently trained teachers who encourage the children’s initiatives through exploring deep and meaningful topics of interest – maybe not so much the bigger questions on the human condition, but things that are interesting to small kids.
Fees: Full pricing list can be found here
8. Highgate House School
Established in 1992, Highgate House School’s main aim is to nurture all-round development while embedding a love of learning in children and nurturing their imaginations. Although many schools follow it’s central tenants, this is the only accredited Steiner Waldorf pre-school in Hong Kong, following an educational philosophy that is rooted in creative free play, adhering to the notion that children who are not hurried through childhood will become more well-rounded adults. Its integrated curriculum is offered from birth to six years, in either English, Bilingual, or pure Mandarin.
Fees: Anywhere between $2,080 and $12,400 a month depending on age and classes attended.
9. Mills International Pre-School
Mills offers a caring and stimulating environment for up to 300 girls and boys aged between six months and six years. The school provides a rigorous and international education following the British National Curriculum with Mandarin as an integrated language. It partners with Kids’ Gallery and Star English to bring you a very wide range of co-curricular activities. Each classroom is fully equipped with the latest learning aids and technology. Children enjoy a very broad and well-balanced curriculum and are encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities. They receive specialist teaching in Mandarin, Music, Art, and PE. Each classroom is fully equipped with the latest learning aids, and technology is fully integrated into the daily curriculum.
Fees: $6,500 per month
Mills International Pre-School, The Spectacle, 8 Cho Yuen St, Yau Tong, (+852) 2717 6336
10. City Kids Pre-School and Playgroup
With classes taking place in a beautiful, historic building surrounded by trees, and on outdoor playground on hand, City Kids has established itself as a favourite among the discerning parents of Mid-Levels. The main goals of the City Kids curriculum are independence, confidence, and the development of a positive attitude towards pre-school so the move into the next, more difficult stages of education is as smooth as possible. This is achieved through a combination of play-based and teacher-led activities that gradually introduce the children to the idea of a structured timetable while still letting the kids be, you know, kids.
Fees: $2,250 to $3,630 per week
City Kids Pre-School and Playgroup, 2/F, East Wing, 12 Borrett Rd, Mid-Levels, (+852) 2522 4446