Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Preschool in Korea

Hi, I'm  LeRae and below is my little rockstar son who is almost 4.  In my son's short little life, the biggest thing that ever happened to him  happened  when he turned almost 1 years old. My husband's job landed our little family in South Korea, and we made the big move to the other side of the world. The next biggest thing in his life? It was probably starting preschool which was not too long ago.  

In Korea, they don’t have separate names for preschools or kindergartens.  They group early-schooling before 1st grade together and call it [yu-chi-one].  Most yu-chi-ones are private (very few public ones to meet the demand) and enrolling your child to a good school is very competitive.  All of these schools have waiting lists and on their enrollment days, I’ve heard of moms standing in line in front of the schools before they open just to secure a spot.  If it’s a really popular school, moms even camp-out the night before or  hire someone to stand in line! It’s almost like black Friday!  You can imagine my culture shock coming from small town in Utah. These yu-chi-ones also can cost an arm and a leg because they are private, and some of them can be as expensive as some college tuition in America.

Besides the crazy competitiveness, you have to choose what kind of yu-chi-one you want to send your child to. Korea has many different styles of schools but most of them can be divided into two groups, Korean speaking vs. English speaking.  The surprising thing was that many of the Korean moms prefered sending their kids to English speaking schools (English being one of the most important subject next to math).  Since the Korean kids are not naturally exposed to English and foreigners, they send their kids to these English schools so every day they get some exposure to native english speaking environment .

My husband and I decided to send our son to a Korean speaking school since we felt that our son was getting plenty of exposure to English at home.  Besides we wanted him to have a solid foundation for his native language. After looking over several schools, I was able to find the school that I liked.  They believe that children grow by playing, and that they learn best when they're having fun.  They had an excellent program that  I was very impressed with.  They had one theme for a month and they explored that one theme with music, language art, english, math, gym, and other educational toys and tools.  They have very high safety standards and they use organic or pesticide-free produce for kids' meals.  I could tell from their teaching materials and books that they try to use the best of what is available in current education system in Korea. But out of all these things, what I liked most about the school is the overall atmosphere that is filled with smiling teachers and children's bright sparkling eyes in each classrooms.  

My son absolutely loves his preschool and he is excited to go every morning!  I think he is extremely lucky because back when I went to preschool, it was nothing like this. I’m not sure yet how Korean elementary educational systems are yet and this is just my personal experience with one particular preschool. But I am excited for my son to experience this great yu-chi-one while we are here in Korea.


  1. What a beautiful school! He is a lucky boy

  2. wow IKEA preschool! That's awesome. Funny that in Japan they call preschool "youchien". So similar. Great post. Hope to read more about your son's experience there!


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