Update 6/18/2022: Taiwan’s Covid-19 restrictions ban travel to Taiwan for social visits and tourism. Foreign relatives of R.O.C. (Taiwan) nationals and Alien Resident Certificate holders may apply to enter Taiwan while strict border control measures remain in place. A three-day home quarantine and four-day self-initiated epidemic prevention following the end of quarantine will be required. Up-to-date info on the BOCA website
Sesame English (芝麻街美語)
Last year (2017) we spent 2 months in Taiwan. My son was 3 at the time and attended preschool. This year (2018) we spent 3 months in Taiwan and returned to the same preschool. I was able to enroll my 2.5-year-old as well this past trip. They were separated into classes based on age.
Sesame Street English is an after-school program that tutors English for elementary school children. The preschool program is taught in Mandarin only. I know that can be confusing! They have several locations throughout Taipei but only some locations offer a preschool program.
My daughter’s class, ages 2-3, focused on play. Classwork involved coloring and applying stickers. They also incorporated music with singing and dancing. My daughter really enjoyed her time at this school. I felt this was very age-appropriate.
My son’s class, ages 4-5, still had a lot of play time but began preparing students for primary school. Classwork involved learning Zhuyin, writing lessons, and math. About 2 months into the trip I realized he had learned simple addition! He was also learning how to tie his shoelaces. Pretty basic but things I didn’t have time to teach him yet. The school also focused on proper behavior, safety from strangers, what to do during an emergency, etc. I was so impressed with what my son learned from his teachers in such a short amount of time.
Here are some photos of my 4-year-old’s school books.
Punctuality is Important
We were tardy on the first of school. As a mom of two toddlers, we are late every day for just about everything. Upon arrival and without any explanation from me, the teacher crouches down next to the children and says, “Tomorrow you mustn’t be late. Please listen to your mom so you can be ready on time.” I was taken aback by her approach but also thankful she didn’t tell them, “it’s OK!” like we so often hear.
Responsibility for their Belongings
One morning, tardy as usual, I forgot to grab the kids’ backpack. By the time I realized it was too late to turn back. The school doors were closed so the kids ran into class and I didn’t get a chance to apologize to the teacher. At the end of the day, I apologized, to which she responds, “Don’t worry. I already scolded mason for not being responsible for his own backpack!”
Students have Chores
Students from the older classes often help with the younger children. They are responsible for helping the younger children tidy up after lunch and snack time. They also play with the younger ones, showing them how to play games or telling them stories. This has been immensely helpful in teaching my son how to be a better brother to his little sister.
Health and Hygiene
Each student has their temperature taken upon arrival to school. If their temperature is anything but normal the parent is asked to take the child who cannot attend school that day. Students clearly ill are sent home, others with a cough or sniffles must wear a face mask. Students also have to brush their teeth after lunch. We haven’t experienced any of this at our schools in New York or California.
Their uniforms are worn twice a week for physical fitness classes and during school outings. I am a huge fan of uniforms! It’s so much quicker getting the kids out the door when there’s no argument about what to wear!
Each month the preschool organizes a field trip for all students. The school charters a tour bus, which my son loved riding. These days were very memorable for my little ones.
Cost of our preschool in Taiwan
Tuition: 9200 NT per month and includes meals and field trips.
Registration: 7500 NT, even for short-term enrollment. Covers textbooks, uniforms, backpacks, field trips, lunch bag and utensils, school supplies, etc.
Admissions Requirements: Full health records and all immunizations
Final Thoughts on Preschool in Taiwan
This was our second year enrolling our kids in a Taiwan preschool. Before our Taiwan trip, my 4-year-old was growing more and more resistant to learning Chinese. After starting Mandarin Immersion preschool in California he started speaking English most of the time. He didn’t like to be pushed to speak Mandarin and said he didn’t want to learn Chinese anymore. It was heartbreaking for me! After about 2 weeks in Taiwan, both children spoke only Mandarin. After the 3 weeks, even when I got upset and scolded them in English (a reflex) they would respond in Mandarin!
The tuition for the preschool in Taiwan was so much lower than what we pay in California. We actually saved money going to Taiwan. This was my daughter’s first experience with school and she absolutely loved it. With both kids in school, I got to enjoy some solo time. I made some new friends and had so much fun. Here are some of the things I did while the kids were in school.
We plan to return each year until primary school. I’m not sure what to do then. Perhaps we’ll have to attend language camps with the masses.