Playgroup was only introduced to Hong Kong in the early 2000s. In fact, Tutor Time Hong Kong was the first to introduce a fully immersive bilingual playgroup to Hong Kong, and it took off from there. Parents could confidently leave their children in a rich learning environment while they went to work, and their children would benefit from learning and socializing with teachers and peers. Since then, many playgroups have opened up and choosing one can seem impossible. Here’s our top 5 things to consider when choosing a playgroup.
Usually, environment would be number 2 or 3 on our list but for playgroup it’s definitely number 1. Playgroup classrooms need to be suitable for young babies and infants, especially the safety aspect. Classrooms should have:
- Baby-safe play areas
- A proper hygiene and sanitation routine
- Age-appropriate toys and materials
- Enough space to accommodate babies and their caregivers
- G/F or 1/F campuses in case of emergency evacuations
Once you have a great environment, you’ll need great teachers who knows how to capture your baby’s attention, plan age-appropriate lessons, and bring energy to the class. Things you should look out for:
- Are the teachers energetic and passionate?
- Can they effectively lead activities?
- Are they knowledgeable about baby development?
As with most things, convenience is a big factor. Choose a campus that you can access easily. However, remember that the environment and teachers should be the priorities. Things to consider:
- How many days a week will you enrol? If you only go once a week, a farther campus may be okay.
- How accessible is the campus? Can you reach it by public transportation?
- How big is the campus?
4. Learning philosophy
Usually, this is high up on the list. However, as far as playgroups go, when you have the three points above covered, you can be confident that your child will learn and have fun. Some things to consider:
- What does a typical class look like? Does it have a specific structure?
- What kinds of activities do they do in class?
- What languages are classes conducted in?
Playgroups in Hong Kong range from free to relatively expensive. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Higher fees are usually justified by the environment, teacher, location, and student-to-teacher ratio. If you’re unsure, you should schedule a school tour.
Other useful tips
- Weekend sessions are always popular! Apply well in advance to secure your spot or opt for weekday sessions instead.
- Many playgroups are linked to further education opportunities. Getting started early can give you a feel for the school and help you make a decision about whether to stay for Nursery later on.
- Ask the school administrator if your child gets priority admission into Nursery if they join for playgroup.
Playgroup is without a doubt a game-changer in early childhood education. However, that’s not to say that you must join one. Plenty of parents opt for home learning in the early years and there are some great materials to do just that. Just remember, if you’re looking for a playgroup, take the time to find out the answer to these questions – it’ll save you a lot of time (and money).