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为何中国小孩三岁就被送到寄宿学校?

2014-02-10    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Why children as young as three are sent to boarding school in China

在中国,家庭联系极为重要,但仍有数以千计的中国家长在孩子才三岁的时候就将其送往寄宿学校。他们为何这样做?

Family ties are hugely important in China, but thousands of Chinese parents are still sending children as young as three away to boarding school. Why do they do it?

Kelly Jiang bounces into her kindergarten classroom, her parents a few steps behind.

"Bye Mum and Dad," the four-year-old trills, with barely a backwards glance.
As her parents wave farewell, she's already happily chatting to her teacher and her classmates.
There are no tears, no cuddles and no long goodbyes, which is all the more remarkable, because Kelly won't see or talk to her mother and father for another four days.

Kelly is one of dozens of three and four-year-olds sent to this boarding kindergarten in Shanghai. From Monday morning to Friday afternoon she and her classmates play, learn, eat and sleep in their brightly coloured classroom and its attached dormitory, only going home at weekends.

They are not alone. There are other boarding kindergartens in Shanghai, Beijing and other major Chinese cities. While no official figures are available, it's estimated that the number of boarding toddlers runs into thousands nationwide.
In traditional Chinese culture, family is prized about all else - so how can the phenomenon of the boarding toddler be explained?

There are a few reasons, says Xu Jing, executive principal of the Kangqiao kindergarten affiliated to the China Welfare Institute (CWI) in Shanghai.
"Some think it's good for the children because it helps promote independence. Other parents don't have time or energy to look after their kids," says Xu.
"Also, in traditional Chinese culture many grandparents live with the family, and [because of China's one child policy] sometimes there are four grandparents, two parents and just one child in a home.
"Some parents worry that the grandparents will spoil the child, so they send them here."

Kelly Jiang's father, Jamie, is an investment consultant, and her mother doesn't work. As part of China's wealthy business elite, they are able to afford the monthly fees of $1,000 (£622).

"We did a lot of research, and discovered that boarding kindergarten benefits outgoing children. It helps them become more independent, and have better life skills," explains Jiang.

"Our Kelly was a very cheerful baby who liked her own space, so we sent her for a trial. Then we asked her if she wanted to stay in the boarding class, and she said yes."

Jiang's eyes fill with tears when asked if he misses his bubbly little girl.
"At first we missed her so much. But we think that as the world is more global, sooner or later she will leave us.

"We let go of her earlier to help her become more independent and be able to survive in society. But we cherish the time we spend with her."

Boarding kindergartens were established in China in 1949 to look after war orphans of the civil war, as well as the children of new Communist Party leaders who suddenly found themselves too busy for childcare.

These days, as the queues of Audi and Mercedes cars at drop-off time attest, it is a very different crowd who send their children to boarding kindergartens.
Numbers peaked in the 1990s, when sending a young child to such schools was a fashionable status symbol.

But recently the system has become less popular. Some boarding kindergartens, both private and state-run, are closing. Others are switching from boarding classes to day care.

The CWI kindergarten in Shanghai used to be exclusively boarding, but now only three out of 22 classes for young children are residential.

"Chinese parents are now starting to realise that it's important to spend more time with their kids when they are very young, because they are learning and it's a very important stage of growth," says Xu Jing.
"We also advise parents that if they have the time and ability to be with their children, day care is a better option."

Psychologist Han Mei Ling is a vocal critic of boarding kindergartens, having treated a number of adults and teenagers scarred by the experience.
"They feel abandoned and irrelevant. They struggle to find their place in life, and they don't know how to behave in their own family," she says.

"It achieves independence only in parents' minds - it is brutal."
Han believes a culture where family pride depends overwhelmingly on a child's success or failure is the reason some parents still send their children to kindergartens.

"Most Chinese families understand that it's important for children to be with their parents, but they also have very high expectations of their kids," she says.

The experience of boarding is seen by some parents as a way for a toddler to get ahead. From boarding kindergarten, they are likely to go on to a boarding school and then, the hope is, they will win a place at a good university.
But a number of former boarding kindergarten pupils told me it had been a bad experience.

Fashion model Wang Danwei was sent to board aged three after her parents divorced.

"In the end I accepted it in a passive way, but I never liked it," she says. "When I later went on to boarding school I felt a deep sense of exclusion, and spent most of my time alone, keeping quiet and resisting getting to know new people."

Adjusting to life away from their parents is difficult for nearly all toddlers. During the day, the children are busy with fun activities, but when I made a bedtime visit to the three-year-old boarders at the CWI's Kangqaio campus, about half the class was in tears.

Children cried out for their parents in heartbreaking scenes of distress, as teachers tried to comfort them.

"We are seeing a lot of tears tonight because it is the start of the academic year, and these children are new to boarding," kindergarten administrator Huang Ying assured us.

"In about two months no child will cry at bedtime. The kids also have family photos, so when they need their parents they can talk to the photos and it's just like they are there with them."


Mo Li, a 17-year-old student, said she, too, found it difficult at first as a three-year-old boarder, but then had a positive experience.

"At the beginning I missed home, but the food was very good, and the environment lovely, with lots of trees," she says.

"I think that now, compared to other people my age, I am more independent and more responsible. And you may see this as a positive or a negative, but I also cherish my relationship with my parents more than my peers do."(ChinaDaily)

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蒋可莉(音)在幼儿园的教师里跳来跳去,她的父母紧跟在她身后。

“妈妈爸爸再见,”这个四岁的小女孩欢快地叫道,几乎不回头看看她的父母。她的父母向她挥手道别时,她已经在和老师同学们愉快地交谈了。
没有眼泪,没有拥抱,也没有道不尽的别,这是极不正常的,因为可莉在接下来的四天都见不到父母,或是不能和他们说话。

可莉只是几十个被送到这家上海幼儿园的三四岁小孩中的一个。从周一早餐到周五下午,她和她的同学都在他们被布置得五颜六色的教室和宿舍里玩耍,学习,吃饭,睡觉,他们只在周末才回家。

这并不是个别现象。在上海,北京,及中国其他大城市,还有其他的寄宿幼儿园。尽管没有官方数据,但据估计,这样的寄宿孩子在全国成千上万。

在中国的传统文化里,家庭重于一切——那么怎么解释这一寄宿孩子的现象呢?有几个原因,徐泾说,他是上海中国福利协会(CWI)附属康桥幼儿园的执行园长。

“有人认为这对孩子有好处,因为这能促进孩子的独立。家长们没有时间和精力照看他们的孩子,”徐说。
“同样,在中国传统文化里,不少祖父母都与儿女住在一起,同时(因为中国的计划生育政策)有时候,一个家里有四个祖父母,两个父母,一个孩子。”
“一些家长觉得祖父母会宠坏孩子,所以他们将孩子送到幼儿园。”

蒋可莉的父亲杰米是一位投资顾问,她的母亲没有工作。作为中国富裕的商界精英,她的家里有能力为她支付每月1000美元(622英镑)的费用。

“我们做过很多调查,发现寄宿幼儿园对外向的孩子有好处。它帮助孩子们变得更独立,提高他们的生活技能,”蒋先生解释道。

“我们的可莉是个很讨人喜欢的宝贝,她喜欢有自己的空间,所以我们把她送到寄宿幼儿园试一试。我们问她是否想待在班里,她说想。”
当问及他是否想念自己快乐好奇的小女孩时,蒋先生的眼里满是泪花。
“刚开始我们特别想她。但我们认为,随着这个世界越来越全球化,她迟早会离开我们。
“我们在她小时候就放手让她去寄宿幼儿园,这样能让她更独立,让她能在社会上生存。但我们很珍惜和她在一起的时间。”

1949年,中国就建立了寄宿幼儿园,接受内战遗留的孤儿,以及突然忙得不可开交的共产党领导人的孩子。

这些天,在幼儿园放学时间门口停着一排排的奥迪和奔驰车,这说明了送孩子到寄宿幼儿园的家庭是一个不普通的群体。

20世纪90年代,寄宿幼儿园的孩子数量达到顶峰,在当时送孩子去这样的学校是一种潮流的地位象征。

不过最近,这一体系不再像当初那样流行。一些私立和公立的寄宿幼儿园都陆续关门。其他的幼儿园正从寄宿变为日制。

位于上海的中国福利协会幼儿园从来都是寄宿幼儿园,但现在22个班里只有3个寄宿班。
“中国家长现在开始意识到,孩子很小的时候要多花时间陪陪他们,这点很重要,因为孩子们处于学习的阶段,这是成长过程中一个很重要的阶段,”徐泾说。
“我们同样向父母建议,如果他们有时间有能力和孩子在一起,日制幼儿园是个更好的选择。”

心理学家韩美玲在接待了许多对寄宿经历有所恐惧的成人和青少年后,她强烈反对寄宿幼儿园。

“他们觉得自己被遗弃了,与家里毫不相干。他们奋力寻求生活里自己的位置,他们不知道在自己家里如何表现,”她说。
“孩子们只在家长的脑海里变得独立——这很残忍。”
家庭的自豪感完完全全取决于孩子的成功或失败,韩相信,这样的一个文化是一些父母仍然把孩子送去幼儿园的原因。
“绝大多数中国家庭都明白,对孩子而言,和父母在一起很重要,但他们对孩子还有很高的期许,”她说。

一些家长认为,对一个小孩而言,拥有寄宿经验更能让他脱颖而出。从寄宿幼儿园开始,孩子们可能会读寄宿学校,之后,他们希望能进一所好大学。

但不少读过寄宿幼儿园的小学生都告诉我寄宿是个糟糕的经历。

时尚模特王丹薇三岁时父母离异,她被送往寄宿幼儿园。

“最后我以一种被动的方式接受了,但我从来没有喜欢过寄宿幼儿园,”她说,“后来我上了寄宿学校,我深感自己被排斥,大部分时间我都独处,保持沉默,拒绝认识新朋友。”

对几乎所有小孩而言,适应离开父母的生活很困难。在白天,孩子们会玩各种有趣的活动,但当我晚上在就寝时间去看望中国福利协会康桥幼儿园的三岁寄宿者时,有一半的小朋友都哭了。

孩子们都哭着找爸爸妈妈,这样悲伤的场面令人心碎,老师们也都尽力安慰他们。

“我们今晚看到不少小孩都在哭,因为这是新学年的第一天,这些孩子都是第一天寄宿,”幼儿园管理者黄颖向我们解释道。
“两个月内,就不会有孩子在就寝时间哭了。这些孩子都有家庭合照,所以他们想父母时,他们可以对着照片说话,就像父母真的在身边一样。”
茉莉,一名17岁的学生,三岁便是寄宿者,刚开始她觉得很困难,不过后来发现这是一个积极的经历。
“最初我很想家,不过幼儿园的东西很好吃,环境也好,有许多树,”她说。
“我认为比我的同龄人,现在我更加独立,更有责任感。你也许会认为这要么是积极的,要么是消极的,但我也比同龄人更加珍惜和父母的关系。”


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