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Schools That Offer Alternative Education for Children in Hong Kong

By Sarah Moran 3 December 2018
Searching for schools and learning programmes for your kids can be a daunting task in Hong Kong. With limited schools and an increasing number of students, the city's mainstream education is notorious for its rigid, high-pressure, and competitive environment. Academic competition can begin as early as pre-kindergarten, where children start learning all sorts of skills to become competitive applicants for the best kindergartens. However, there are several forward-thinking schools that offer alternative learning programmes that go against the conventional way of teaching, and strive to make learning both effective and enjoyable for your children.

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JEMS Learning House

JEMS Learning House is an after-school, English-speaking learning community that focuses on Character Education for children up to 12 years old. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote, “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education”, JEMS believes that each child has the ability to be a Junior Excellent Member of Society (JEMS) with high intelligence, as well as a strong character and values. The curriculum covers three key areas – Identity Development, Relationship Building, and Community Service. Lessons are taught through a variety of development appropriate activities, including role plays, performances, interactive discussions, and more.
JEMS Learning House, 4/F - 5/F, China Hong Kong Tower, 8-12 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, (+852) 3188 1516

Hong Kong Forest Adventures

Hong Kong Forest Adventures – also known as Hong Kong Forest Kindergarten – offers a bilingual, outdoor nature-based developmental programme for toddlers and young children. The programme doesn't follow a particular curriculum, but instead, is completely play-based and child-led. Rather than teaching tangible knowledge such as languages or maths, the programme focuses on boosting a child's sensory and motor development. Through activities such as climbing trees, finding worms, making mud cakes, and climbing over rocks, children can learn to become more resilient, imaginative, and patient.
Hong Kong Forest Adventures12D Tai Shui Hang North Road, Tai Shui Hang, (+852) 5238 2377

Forest House Waldorf School

Through the introduction of Waldorf education in the curriculum, Forest House Waldorf School strives to nurture Hong Kong primary school children through a diversified approach to their physical, emotional, and intellectual development. The school teaches traditional academic subjects through a curriculum appropriate for the different stages of child development and learning styles. A typical school day at Forest House includes the main lesson, middle lesson, and block lesson after lunch. The main lesson is two hours in the morning dedicated to one academic subject or theme, three to four times a week, which is taught through a range of creative activities. The middle lesson is an ongoing teaching of languages, maths, and other creative or physical skills that supplement the main lesson. Lastly, students move on to the block lessons, where they engage in hands-on activities such as beeswax modelling, woodwork, and gardening, all of which link back to the morning studies.
Forest House Waldorf SchoolCommercial Area, Floral Villas, 18 Tso Wo Road, Sai Kung, (+852) 2792 6055

R.T.C. Gaia School

R.T.C. Gaia School is a private primary school that promotes alternative education and creative learning in Hong Kong. Its curriculum places a strong emphasis on nature-affective education that promotes green and simple living, and cultivates people-oriented, autonomous learning attitudes. Students are encouraged to embrace their innate curiosity to learn in a safe, enjoyable, and motivated environment. Small-class teaching is exercised to better accommodate each child's learning needs. With no more than a hundred students in the school, teachers have the freedom and flexibility to customise their classes in order to interest and challenge their students creatively as well as intellectually.
Gaia School87A, Tseng Tau Sheung Tsuen, San Hui, Tuen Mun, (+852) 2650 0588

Hong Kong Red Swastika Society (HKRSS) Tai Po Secondary School

HKRSS Tai Po Secondary School is a local, Chinese-medium secondary school known for its outstanding work in catering to students with special needs as well as those with none. The school strives to provide as many choices as it can for its students, ensuring that no child is left behind. More than 100 students diagnosed with special learning disability – ranging from autism and ADHD to dyslexia and speech delay – attend HKRSS, along with students without any special needs, allowing them to integrate in a positive environment. The dedicated teaching staff offer a comprehensive and inclusive curriculum that empowers students of various abilities to learn at their own pace. In an interview with SCMP, vice principal Franky Poon once said, “Being part of the public education system, we believe that schools should not turn students away because they don’t measure up in terms of the standard academic system, that is simply wrong. School is a reflection of society. All of our students have a role to play, and they enrich each other’s learning experience and personal journey.”
Hong Kong Red Swastika Society (HKRSS) Tai Po Secondary School, Fu Heng Estate, Tai Po, (+852) 2666 6821

The Woodland Montessori Pre-School

With a 40-year history of operating in Hong Kong, Woodland Pre-Schools has established itself as one of the best preschool groups in Hong Kong. Accredited by the Montessori Evaluation and Accreditation Board (MEAB), the Repulse Bay and Mid-levels Montessori pre-schools approach teaching with their own philosophy, whereby each child is encouraged to develop at their own pace, within a safe, caring, and structured environment. Children of different ages learn in the same classroom, working individually or in groups, providing younger students with role models for imitation, and giving older children an opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by helping younger pupils. Classes are taught in English, Mandarin, or both, with a strong emphasis on self-directed learning, which is supplemented by teachers directing each child only when needed. Woodland Repulse Bay Montessori Pre-School, G118-119, The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay Road, (+852) 2803 1885 Woodland Repulse Bay Montessori Annexe, G204, The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay Road, (+852) 2803 1885 The Woodland Montessori Pre-School (Caine Road), 1/F & 2/F, On Fung Building, 110-118 Caine Road, Mid Levels, (+852) 2549 1211
Read More! Explore the rest of our Family and Education section.

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Born and raised in Hong Kong to expat parents, Sarah grew up as your typical third-culture kid, caught between two worlds. As someone who is nosy (or just curious) and loves the written word, there was never any other career that appealed to her as much as journalism. When she’s not busy on her mission to find the line between not enough coffee and too much coffee, you can find her exploring the city or getting stuck in a good book.

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