Update 7/8/2020: Taiwan’s Covid-19 restrictions ban travel to Taiwan for social visits and tourism. Permitted purposes for coming to Taiwan include internships and training, international conferences or trade fairs, international exchanges, volunteering, religious proselytization, working holidays, youth exchanges, and seeking employment. Upon entering Taiwan, all foreign nationals must present an English-language certificate of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding the flight to Taiwan and undergo a 14-day home quarantine period. Up to date info on the BOCA website
So you’re visiting Taiwan and plan to send your child to school during the trip. Sounds good right? But it’s harder than you think. Back in the “good ol’ days”, you could just head down to the nearest school and enroll on the spot. Sometimes the school let you attend just for the day! It’s not so easy anymore! Here is some info on how to find a preschool or kindergarten in Taiwan.
Let’s start with some facts
For starters, the terms preschool and kindergarten are already confusing in Taiwan. Basically, preschool age is 3-4, and kindergarten age is 4-6. However, local children can register for the kindergarten lottery as early as age 3. And some preschools accept students as young as 2 years old. My son’s preschool in Taiwan accepts ages 2 to 6. All. Very. Confusing.
Chances of your non-resident child getting into a public preschool or kindergarten are slim to impossible. Public preschool and kindergarten admission is based on a lottery system. Priority is given to local children based on proximity, age, etc. Even then, only about 20% of local Taiwanese children are selected for public preschool or kindergarten each year. Non-residents can enroll in public school only if there is a spot available.
If your child is a Taiwanese citizen (has dual citizenship), or at least one parent holds a valid ARC card, here is a link to the Taipei Department of Education for more info on how to apply for the public school lottery.
Of course the other option is private preschool or kindergarten, which makes up for about 50% of the preschools and kindergartens in Taiwan. Historically it’s relatively easy to find a private school because you can hand over cash and they will happily accept your child. This may change starting this August. The Taiwanese government will begin providing subsidies to families to pay for private preschools and kindergarten. I suspect this will make it harder for non-residents to find a spot at private preschools and kindergartens.
Language Camps vs Preschool or Kindergarten
Finding a Chinese language camp in the Summer months isn’t difficult. But, if you find yourself in Taiwan any other season, then your options are limited. During these months you may consider finding short-term enrollment at a local school. I prefer my children attend school with local Taiwan children for greater language immersion. It’s also much cheaper than a language camp.
How we found our preschool in Taiwan
Like many parents, I thought it would be easy to find a school for my son to attend for a few weeks. I imagined we could casually stroll up to any campus and some nice teacher would happily whisk our children away. Prior to our trip, I asked family members to help me find a school, but every school within a reasonable commute required we enroll for at least one semester, and that’s if they have the space.
In the end we found one private preschool that agreed to short-term enrollment. They accepted us only because my aunt’s friend’s son’s daughter attends their after school program. The only option was a full-time schedule. The fastest commute was a 17 minute walk. It was nothing I had envisioned but we just went with it.
Tips on finding a school in Taiwan
- Search “幼兒園” in google maps. It helps to zoom in on the map.
- Walk around your neighborhood and inquire directly. Many of the smaller schools don’t show up on google maps. Nor do they have websites, making online searches difficult.
- Ask local relatives or friends to help find a school before you arrive in Taiwan.
- If you have friends or family with kids in school, you’ll have better chances of enrolling in the school.
If you like to learn about our experience attending preschool in Taiwan, here is my review of our preschool.