Mon, Jan 23, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Kindergartens too commercialized now, teachers say

INTERFERENCE Teachers say that intense competition between schools and more meddling from parents have led to too little emphasis on kids' developmental needs

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

"With competition being so strong, schools are often in a position where they have to comply with the parents' wishes. If the parents ask for English classes, the schools will find a way of providing them, or the parents will go elsewhere," Lin said.

Lin said that due to parental demands, another trend was that Web cameras were being installed in classrooms. By keying in a pin number, parents have become "Big Brothers" of the kindergarten world, keeping teachers on a short leash.

"This puts an enormous amount of pressure on teachers, some of whom feel like they're being judged and spied on. It can also cause misunderstandings, since parents can only see images and aren't able to hear what's going on," she said.

Gillian Chen (陳昭蓉), who is licensed to teach kindergarten, said, "Parents these days interfere too much. Compared to before, when parents would leave their children in the teacher's care, nowadays they tell teachers what to do."

According to kindergarten teacher Katy Shih (施家齡), kindergarten teachers' duties have also changed, with parents asking teachers to train their children in personal care such as using the toilet, tying shoelaces and even putting on clothes.

"Parents are too busy these days to teach their children, some don't even know how. They treat kindergartens like a babysitting facility," she said.

With such a huge kindergarten market, Lin urged parents to choose schools carefully and think about what was best for their child's development, rather than be swayed by some school's slick marketing and sales pitches.

Lin said that parents should obtain details about a school, such as whether it is licensed or not, from local education authorities.

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