No summer relief for kindergarten pupils

Updated: 2013-07-25 09:08

By Wu Ni (China Daily)

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The 'most anxious mother'

No summer relief for kindergarten pupils

Xiaoyu enjoys traditional Chinese painting. provided to china daily

Jiayi's story is not unusual. Many urban Chinese parents use the preschool summer holidays to prep their children before they enter Primary One. The parents believe a carefully planned early leg-up is essential to ensuring that their child does not get left behind in an education system that hinges on a series of competitive exams that can ensure successful candidates entry to the best schools and, later, the best jobs.

In Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, a woman surnamed Xu was dubbed "China's most anxious mother" after sending her 5-year-old son on 17 training courses since the age of six months. The total cost was 120,000 yuan, according to reports by the Xinhua News Agency.

No summer relief for kindergarten pupils

Given the intensive nature of the tuition, it's little wonder that many children enter primary school with a working knowledge of rudimentary math, Chinese characters, pinyin and English. A report published by the Shanghai Education Commission's Teaching and Research Office earlier this month said 88 percent of kindergarten children attend at least one training course and 32 percent attend three to five courses. The top three subjects are pinyin, English and drawing, according to the report, which surveyed roughly 1,000 kindergarten children across Shanghai's six districts.

Cai Jian has always wanted her son to enjoy a happy childhood, free from academic burdens. Now, though, she is ambivalent.

Her 6-year-old son, Xiaoyu, attends classes in English, Chinese ink-and-water painting and playing the drums. He will join a pinyin class in August. Cai, a human resources director at a large foreign enterprise in Shanghai, also utilizes her scarce leisure time to teach Xiaoyu Chinese characters, logical thinking and basic math.

She has formulated a strict study plan for each day of Xiaoyu's summer vacation. He writes four pages of Chinese characters every morning, as a precaution against him falling behind at school, listens to English tapes, practices painting, plays the drums for two hours and then goes swimming.

"As far as I know, every child in my son's kindergarten class attends some sort of course. I don't want my son to lag behind when he goes to primary school. Even if we as parents can resist the pressure of failure, I don't think he will be able to resist it."

But Cai is concerned that this preschool training is narrowing his imagination. "Before I taught him Chinese characters, he would say a character looked like an animal, a building or some other thing. But he doesn't do that now because he knows a character is just a character, nothing else."