If you would like to go back to work before your child is old enough for kindergarten, you can either register the little one at a local childcare center or hire somebody to look after your child at home. Childcare centers include nurseries for children between two and three years as well as crèches, for kids up to the age of two. Every childcare center and Hong Kong kindergarten is registered with the Social Welfare Department and subject to periodic inspections.
If you want to spend time with other parents and have your kid meet peers before attending Hong Kong kindergarten, try one of the many toddler playgroups, which are available all throughout the city. The non-profit Pre-School Playgroup Association has a list of these groups. International women’s organizations are another good source of information for expat moms to get in touch and do some networking.
You may also consider hiring a domestic helper or a nanny who takes care of your child while you are at work. A local nanny might help your child get in touch with the local culture and learn more about social etiquette in Hong Kong while remaining in a familiar environment. Since costs are comparatively low, this is a very popular option. Lots of parents also choose to hire an Au Pair or a tutor in order to help their kids (and the entire family) to become more familiar with Mandarin or Cantonese.
If you are looking for a suitable and reliable nanny, it is generally best to seek advice from other expat parents. The region’s Community Advice Bureau can also provide you with some hints on how to find just the right person to take care of your child. Casual babysitting offers are rather rare in Hong Kong. However, if you need a babysitter for only a couple of hours per week, why don’t you ask older children of other expatriate families to help you out and earn some additional pocket money?
In Hong Kong, compulsory education begins at the age of 6, when children enter primary school. However, most children spend three years at a Hong Kong kindergarten before starting primary school. The average Hong Kong kindergarten admits children from the age of two years and eight months on. All of them are privately run, either by non-profit organizations or by private enterprises. All of them are registered with the Hong Kong Education Bureau and receive at least some state funding. The Education Bureau also sets certain standards for all kindergartens and does regular inspections. They are required, for example, to employ qualified teaching staff in a ratio of no more than 1:15. You can find both part-time and full-time Hong Kong kindergarten programs and international kindergartens.
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