Worry about Yifan’s Education

This is a series of articles on education in Shanghai (I tried to avoid big topics like Education in China:

Worry about Yifan’s Education and

Worry about Yifan’s Education – Part II
Is China Changeable?

Chinese or International Eduction?

University Education = Hukou in China

Schools Conducted by Gaokao

Hijacked Education by Scientists

Which primary school should I send Yifan to? Every parent wants their child to receive the best education, and there is not standard of what best education is. Here are some choices we have:

1. To enter the public school.

There are always a public primary school in your community. However, most of the time, it is either new, or just so-so. Be definition, the most common schools are not best school.

In our case, the Chang Yi Primary school is the school Yifan can enter, but we don’t feel that we like the school. There are many other great schools out there.

2. Best Public School

There are some schools like No. 5 Primary School at Jiang Su Road at Chang Ning District, or Yuan Yuan Road Primary School – they are top schools of Shanghai. However, you need to buy an apartment in that school district three years before the child enters the school. That is very similar to the school district concept in US. I checked around, and the price for that area has raised to 4 million RMB for a two bed room apartment – way too expensive.

3. International Private Schools

There are many other great schools in Biyun International District or other places in China. They accept students from all over the city, as long as you want to pay the high tuition, and their education system is aligned to international standard. Well. International standard in primary school is a negative word. Although kids are more happy and can learn in a more open environment, and have more time to pursue what they are interested, it also means the kid is kicked off from the mainstream education system in China.

Look at the public schools. They push kids to the limit to learn unlimited stuff – primary school students have to work as hard as to 9 PM to finish their homework, and their weekends are also occupied. This does not happen in international schools.

What is the choice? There are not many months for us to decide – if our choice is a very good public school, we need to act now to secure an apartment (and sell the current one at the same time). Both need time.

25 thoughts on “Worry about Yifan’s Education

  1. How time flies! The little boy will go to primary school! It’s amazing. Good luck to Little Yifan:)

  2. Obviously this blogger needs to be reminded of his humble origin/beginning in He-Nan Province. His son was born in the best O.B.G.Y hospital in Shanghai. (Note: Most of the audience here who are not familiar with Shanghai does not know that one needs not only decent amount of money but also influencial connections in order to enroll as a patient in that hospital. It is only reserved for the rich and powerful elites in that city.) Now he wants to send his son to the best elite school in Shanghai. It is understandalbe for a parent to send one’s son/daughter to a good school. But I just want to point out that the odds for a kid to be successful has little to do with the school he/she attends in early years. If a school in He-Nan Province can turn out a self-claimed elite, why can’t an average school in PuDong District?

    It is common knowledge that some people attend an elite business school not for an MBA degree but for connections to some future rich and powerful elites. I hope it is not the same motive here to set up some sort of connectons starting from primary school. Otherwise, it should open Western audience’ eyes to long-term STRATEGIC PLANNING in a Chinese way!

    Disclaimer: How to educate one’s own child is none of others’ business. But since the blogger puts his private business in the open, I don’t consider an offense to comment a few words here.

  3. to shanghai-ren,

    agree that a school in He-nan province can turn out a self-claimed elite, but that’s a 1 in 1000 odds and there is this survivior bias. getting into an elite school can probably turn out most into at least moderately successful people, and people tend to overamplify cases of losers from this background, kind of loser bias:-) Feel that moderately successful parents have no much choice and their dominant strategy is still to send kids to best school possible.

  4. for the international private school, you may need to get the approval from 上海市教委

  5. Jianshuo, Just my two cents.

    an easy way to make this decision is to ask yourself, what do you want yifan’s future like?

    If you want him stay in China, and having his education in one of the best university in the end, then enroll him into one of the best primary school as you can in Shanghai, they do make difference from my experience.

    If you want prepare him for oversea education, obviously a private one is more appropriate in this case.

    At the end of day, you and wendy may play more than whatever school can do for Yifan. Good luck.

  6. Hmmm… Who said I am an elite? I never self-claim to be one – any one give me any reference in this blog in which case I said I am an elite? I am be perceived as one, although I would try all my effort to refuse to be labeled as an elite. Yes. I got a decent job after graduate. Yes. I am very happy about my current business. If you mention that I got the #1 position of half million people in one course of that graduate entrance exam in 1995, yes. But I never think I am an elite – to me, that is a pretty negative term that often used to describe people who have no common sense of comment people, and who have money but don’t know how to spend, and those who are greedy but empty in brain…

  7. I think for primary school it is not importatnt enough to move to another district and buy an expensive house there. What if Yifan is very unhappy at that school? He will feel the pressure of what you did to get him into it. Just put him in the primary school close to home. He won’t have to commute far and his school friends will live nearby. As long as he does his best and with the help of his parents he will do well in his tests and than can make a choice what he wants to do after.

  8. Jianshuo,

    considering Yifan’s family background, i think a very possible scenario for his future education is some kind of mixture of chinese and overseas educations, if you agree with me on this matter, then sending Yifan to a school that can prepare him for such a future secnario seems to be a wise move

  9. Jianshuo,

    a few more thoughts –

    i know most parents send their kids (2-4 yr-old) to nearby kindergartens, based on my observations, these kids like their little friends in the kindergarten and often play with each other when they come back home, which are usually in the same residential community.

    in my opinion, this is particularly good for them to develop healthy and proper self-awareness, character, emotion, etc., all those “soft aspects” that are so important for kids of this age but usually considered dispensable by many chinese parents.

  10. I don’t believe in the Chinese obsession with ‘good’ schools at all. If your child is bright, he will go to a good university, if not, then no matter to which school you send him, he will not go to a ‘good’ university. If you want to worry about a school, then focus on secondary school instead.

  11. You have to move 3 years before entering school? So if you move just before school starts, then Yifan would go to the old school? What if you moved to Shanghai from elsewhere in China?

    In the US, you can move to the district 1 day before school starts, or even during the school year. However it is true that you might not get to your local school, but elsewhere in that same district. I guess the districting is probably different though – is it one school district for Shanghai? In the US, the school district and the city and towns often do not overlap. For example, San Jose is served by many districts depending on where you live – Cupertino, Union, Moreland, Campbell, East Side, Evergreen, Oak Grove, San Jose, and others I’m sure.

    Good luck with your choice. I have some friends in China who face similar questions. Are there Chinese-style private schools, so it would be like going to the best public school and give Yifan the best chance for the university entrance exams, without having to move?

  12. Shanghai-ren

    I’d like to address on your comments above. You have good points, like on the correlation between the success of a child and what school he/she attends in early life. I have to agree with you on that.

    On your comment of

    “But since the blogger puts his private business in the open, I don’t consider an offense to comment a few words here.”

    I want to point out however that discussing what type of school to send your children to isn’t really that of a private topic, at least to me. This is a topic that all parents have to think about, and often discussed with family, friends, colleagues…. Also, this IS a PERSONAL blog. People do come here to hear what Wang Jianshuo has to say. I, for one, appreciate the fact that he shares his thoughtful thoughts and his life including his family, his work with his readers. It is very generous, and courageous of him.

    Lastly, I am not sure what the whole ‘hospital, and elite…’ thing is all about. Talking about where his son is born, AND giving us the ‘background’ on the hospital…, to me, this is stepping into other people’s private business. It is a little over board, unnecessary and irrelevant to the topic of discussion.

    Back to the Topic:

    As a parent to an infant, I am not speaking from experience. My thoughts are:

    The quality of life for everyone in your family is the most important factor to consider, in my opinion. How much time would you have to for each other/ would it create too much of commute time for anyone? Would a decision lead to strain on your relationships (in other words, what are your wife’s thoughts on this?), and would it create stress on your finances, etc.?

    If there were no significant unsustainable burden on Yifan, you and your wife on the things mentioned above, I’d choose the international school. Massive amount of homework is not for children at two. When he gets a little older, maybe enroll him in more rigorous school.

    At end of the day, I really can’t image that what school Yifan goes to at age of two, is really going to make any difference in his future success. I am sure when the day comes I have to make similar choice, it won’t be so easier for me then.

    Good Luck! A big decision indeed!

  13. jianshuo,只给你一条建议,早期的幼儿园一定要离家近,离家人近。早上送晚上接,路程的颠簸,孩子在园有个发烧头痛老师一打电话要接回去,家人要在5分钟内现身在孩子面前,相信我,这绝对是体力活。学校教育固然重要,但父母更重要,扮演”补救”的角色。

  14. 我儿子四岁了,说他长大要当警察,抓坏人。我不得已教他说,警察有好有坏,要当好警察。

  15. It is always best to choose a school or educational philosophy for a child based on the childs area of talent and interest. As far as future job possibilities go – a well adjusted, fulfilled compassionate person will succeed in the endeavour of his or her choice no matter what school is on the resume – dont try to put a square peg in a round hole.

  16. 我不明白现在的教育体制包含什么样的”中国文化”



  17. Jesus!

    As what you show in your blog, I guess you have now better living standard than common.It’s good starpoint.

    Yet, why can’t you make decision is sitll puzzling me.

    As comments posted on Runyifeng’s blog related this special topic, the point should be much clear—No matter what you will do in China, you must have good connection; otherwise, that will depend on luck.

    I agree with what “JiaJia Sunshine” said. A neat idea.

    3 ways future for anyone in China: Do business,Go into politics, Work for others. The fourth way is go overseas.

    What you have experienced,acquired,learned till now in current society, I can’t believe you could’t make decision.

    Think it over, and you will get the answer.

  18. 小孩子最好还是有一个轻松一点的童年比较好。周立波不就说过,小学时候的班长学习委员,有几个最后混得很好的?或者说,小学时候学的比别人多的东西,之后哪里还用得上?



  19. 据我对国际学校WAB.EDU的了解,绝对不会出来不适应中国的情况,还是送自己的孩子去国际学校吧。



  20. 我的意见,不要落进国内的教育体系里去。这个体系的终极目的无非是北大清华交大复旦而已。这些学校的教学质量不说多差,也好不到哪里去,至少没有太多老师把心思放在学生上吧。



  21. 刚才在阮一峰博客下发的评论,转贴一次:



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