So finally the kindergarten question got decided upon. Thank you to those who weighed in on the dilemma. Although I seemed to be arguing with you, your points were well taken.
After some discussion and a little bit of heartbreak on my part, we decided to stick with an English-medium kindergarten (with one, very likely mediocre, Chinese lesson) for Benji.
The reasons, so that I may remember them as I vacillate in the coming days, are:
- A Cantonese kindergarten means homework for all subjects in Cantonese which I will not be able to understand. When I considered the Canto-kindy option, I had not counted on homework this early. But I should have known better because the Chinese stream is known for being homework heavy. So, even if I could stave off hiring a tutor to help Benji in his first year, I would have to find one for the second year and I don’t cherish the idea. There are many things I have outsourced as a result of being a working mother, but I would like to be involved in my kid’s homework.
- It also means notices from the school, PTA meetings, outings, concerts etc entirely conducted in Cantonese. Considering that I work at a uni, I could very easily find someone to translate notices for me. But it is an extra hassle, though a lesser one to the homework problem.
- We are not sure we are going to be here when the kids start primary school. We are not 100% sure we’re not going to be either, but things do seem to be pointing in that direction. So the above effort would be a little pointless. I would then feel obliged to keep up the kids’ Cantonese wherever else we are, thus forcing them into a tedious and irrelevant extra-curricular which I am supposedly against.
- Being in an environment where everyone is speaking a language you don’t understand is going to be disorienting for Benji. It is true that kids pick up eventually. But do I want to put him through this, particularly considering point 3? If I was sure we planned to be here forever, I’d do it. But it is a little bit like throwing a kid off the deep end, and I’m not sure I’m want to do it.
- Benji is a bit of a wuss socially. He is not the outgoing kid who will reach across language barriers and make friends. It is possible that his personality will change by the time he’s 3. But it’s also possible that it won’t, given that he’s showing every sign of taking after me.
- In addition, there is latent racism in Hong Kong which I would be exposing my kid to and hoping for the best. Again, if I had no other choice, I would do it.
- Cantonese kindy does offer awesome savings but we can afford the higher cost of English kindy.
Thus, I have to give up my dream of my kid babbling away in Cantonese and taking over responsibility for calling out to the curmudgeonly mininus drivers. However, he has a shot at a kindy experience that is a really enjoying and hopefully he will thrive. If he really shows an aptitude for Chinese and an interest in learning more, we can supplement with extra classes. Now for him to get into one of them.