An interview with Tsoi Wing Tin on selecting an appropriate
primary school for children

An interview with Tsoi Wing Tin on selecting an appropriate primary school for children
It has always been a concern to Hong Kong parents when it comes to the transition from early childhood settings to formal schooling. In order to give an edge to their children at an early age, parents spare no expense to get them in the best school. For example parents send their children go to interview classes as well as various interest classes. Tsoi Wing Tin, an experienced principal, the former Headmistress of Diocesan Preparatory School, believes that good school performance is just one way of gaining an entrance ticket  to school interviews. Family education, communication skills and self-confidence are highly valued in school interviews too.

Develop essential skills in daily activities
To enroll in a school of their choice,, many parents take great pains to drill their children in different areas.. As a result, the intensive training brings invisible pressure to their children, which might lead to failures. Professor Tsoi believes that performing well in a school interview cannot be achieved in a last minute rush. She suggested that in order to perform well, in interviews, parents should help their children in developing essential skills such as observation skills, organization skills, communication skills as well as self-confidence and good manners in an early age.  Good performance is just a basic requirement.

Furthermore, Professor Tsoi recommended that observation should be developed in everyday life activities and not through drilling or training. For example, parents should point out things of interests to their children and seize the opportunity to communicate with their children to promote children’s curiosity by introducing people and things around in their community where they live.
As for organization skill, it could be developed through reading with your children. Parents could encourage children to retell stories or act out the characters after reading and understanding the contents of the stories. In this way, children get to practice recalling details of the story, which helps with interview skills.

Interview classes and portfolios
Many parents arrange all kinds of interview classes and prepare detailed portfolios for their children to gain good results in school interviews. Will this help? Professor Tsoi felt that, children who are trained to recite interview questions and answers, require little or no effort in thinking on their own, and this does not help children gaining good interview skills. The experienced interviewer can easily see children’s potentials by observing their behaviors through interactions and playing simple games with them.

Interviewers value good family education
During the interview, Professor Tsoi has always stressed that family education is of great importance. Parents should bear in mind that to cultivate good qualities in children, they need to set good examples and match words with action. Do our children greet people that we meet politely or are they ready to help when they see someone needs help are things that people value and treasure.
An interviewer can easily perceive children's behaviors, and see their actions are natural or being trained. For instance, some children thanked the interviewers only when their parents "winked" at them Parent s are the children's first teacher and education children with good manners should be the responsibility of parents.

What school should I choose for my children?
Being at the helm of the local schools for many years, Principal Tsoi see many parents toil in both mind and body for their children to get into the elite schools. When she was asked about any tips in gaining entrance to elite schools, Principal Tsoi said that elite schools are not necessarily the best for one’s children. On the contrary, she emphasized that the school’s philosophy of education should match the value see how parents would like their children to be raised. Only when they are compatible, children can foster their development to their fullest potential. She disagrees with chasing after elite schools blindly and simply to “follow suit” and pursue school just for their popularity.

Before selecting a school, parents should understand the characteristics of their children. For example, for a child who has an ear for music, parents can enroll the child in music classes, which could help develop his potential.  Thus, parents choose schools that focus on music achievement and development in accordance with children's potential and interest.

Sylvia Wing Tin Tsoi
Founder of Hope International Kindergarten
Present, visiting lecturer, Hong Kong Baptist University
Former Programme Leader, Bachelor of Arts in Preprimary Education Program
Former Headmistress, Diocesan Preparatory School, Hong Kong