indergarten should be a happy time, but for many Chinese preschoolers it is not. An investigation of kindergartens in Beijing and Shanghai by Shanghai-based news portal The Paper
has found many parents are swapping out their children's later kindergarten years for primary school preparation courses.
Exposing students to intense learning environments at too early an age may harm their future studies, commentator Chen Sanxi warns, saying if they already know what they will be later taught in school, they may have trouble focusing, which could have an unhealthy impact on their learning habits.
But Chen writes that the competitive educational environment – not parents – is to blame. Prep schools teach courses that would have been taught in primary school, and some primary schools give students an assessment on their very first day. Parents are scared their kids will fall behind. Meanwhile the most prestigious private primary schools enjoy considerable autonomy to pick and choose new students, sometimes even interviewing them, Chen says.
It will be near impossible to change the minds of parents as things stand, Chen says. What is needed instead is an indiscriminate enrollment policy that puts public and private schools on a level playing field.