This morning Grace and I took Scott for the first time to his new school, the Soong Ching Ling kindergarten (Hongqiao Campus). Grace did a lot of research on schools and eventually decided that this was the best for Scott. I visited the campus once before and was surprised how big it was, over 10 hectares full of gardens, playgrounds and even a swimming pool in the middle of Hongqiao. This used to be the edge of town many years ago when the campus was built (1994), but nowadays so much space is very unusual in Shanghai.
Scott was excited, and so was I actually. It’s quite something to bring your little boy to school and leave him there. Last year he already went to the nursery in our compound, but that was different. It was just a 3 minute walk to see him, now you leave him behind in a big school. Initially Scott seemed to like it, but when we had to leave he of course started crying. Becky (one of the 3 teachers for the 10 students, she is British) held him and when we walked past the window a few minutes later he had calmed down again.
The teachers told us that Scott behaved well, but some other kids did not stop crying the whole morning. I guess Scott had the advantage of having been in the nursery, which was a bit similar. When I asked Scott how he liked it he didn’t say much, so I assumed it was okay. But tonight he opened up to Grace: he liked the nursery much better and misses his teacher there, so he wants to go back there. She explained that he is now a big boy so he has to go to a different school and that all his classmates are now also in different schools. She also explained that Elaine will soon go to the nursery now, but his reaction was that she can then go to his school so he can go back to nursery!
I am sure he will get used to the new school quickly and also make new friends soon. The school itself is better than any school I ever attended (and I attended a lot of schools when I was young!), so he is privileged. Soon he will likely speak a lot better English as well, because that’s the first language in his class (second language is Chinese). We are encouraged to speak English with him every now and then as well. Must be confusing for him…
I noted this morning that quite some Chinese kids go to Soong Ching Ling as well, it’s luckily not a pure expat school. The school is popular (we were happy that Scott was admitted) but obviously not very cheap and you can see that from the cars that some of the people, or normally their drivers, bring the kids to school in. When we went there this morning a Mercedes-Benz S600 limousine had been parked next to our car, another S600 was parked 2 places next to it and a Porsche 911 was parked opposite us! Nice for Scott, he is a big car fan now already and each time he spots a Porsche he will inform me about that, so he will have a lot to tell me every day.
Note (Jan. 2013): in the comments below this post people wrote negative things about the school, but if you scroll until the end you will see that they are referring to a school with the same name in Chengdu. At first I wanted to delete the comments, but I now decided to keep them and make this short edit to the post. Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten is probably the best kindergarten in Shanghai and maybe even in China. It was the best choice I could have made for my kids.