Kelvin, Hong Kong

Kelvin: An education that best suits your child

Anson’s parents, Kelvin and Kathy, chose to send their son to Adelaide for SA Government schools Prospect Primary School because the Australian education system suits his style of learning. Now in Year 7, Anson lives in Adelaide with his mum while dad is back home in Hong Kong. Despite the distance between them, they are a close-knit family working together to give their son an education that best suits him. We spoke to Kelvin, Kathy and Anson to find out how they stay connected while they are far apart.

Why did you decide to send Anson to study in abroad in Year 4?

Kelvin: We weren’t planning to send Anson to study abroad as young as Year 4, but he’s an energetic kid and can be reluctant to sit down and learn. We thought he was better suited to a more active type of teaching method with lots of outdoor activities. We also thought it might be easier for him to adapt to a different language at an early age. Kids make friends and can adapt more easily when they’re younger.

Why did you choose Adelaide?

Kelvin: We did a lot of homework and asked friends and family who have children studying in Australia and Canada. We decided on Australia because the time zone difference to Hong Kong makes it easier to communicate. We knew I’d be able to speak with Anson and Kathy when I came home from work. In Canada, it would be too hard.

We chose Adelaide because it’s not a big, busy city compared to others. Life in Adelaide is comfortable and very suited to study, and the weather is better. Also, there’s a direct flight from Hong Kong to Adelaide, and the airport isn’t far from the city.

How did you find information about Adelaide’s schools and education system?

Kelvin: It was quite easy to search for information. We have a lot of education exhibitions in Hong Kong, and we have family and friends with children studying in a lot of different places. It’s easy to get all the information on websites.

What do you think Adelaide offers in terms of affordability, lifestyle and safety?

Kathy: Depending on your lifestyle, the living costs in Adelaide aren’t high, especially when you cook for yourself at home. The ingredients from the supermarkets are not expensive, and they’re very good quality.

It’s easy to access places in Adelaide. I can drive only 20 minutes to the beaches which are clean and comfortable, and not overcrowded. Also, you don’t need to book to see a movie in advance.

Anson: I think the schools are great because they’re multicultural. Schools are happy to accept children from all religions and cultures.

Kelvin: In the beginning, I felt a bit panicked to have my family going to another place, but we have friends and family in Adelaide, so I knew they could get help if needed.

I’ve never worried about safety in Adelaide. And I can follow the Australian news on Facebook to see what’s happening. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was a bit concerned, but I feel safe knowing the South Australian Government is doing a good job of containing the virus.

With Kelvin in Hong Kong and Anson and Kathy in Adelaide, how do you stay connected?

Anson: I call my dad every night to chat about my day and what’s going on in my life.

Kelvin: We talk every night. Before the pandemic, I would fly to Adelaide four times each year. Sometimes, even when you’re together in one place, parents can be too tired when they come home from work. So you don’t always feel motivated to spend time together. We make sure the time we have together is quality time, even from afar.

Tell us about your experience as a parent of a student in Adelaide.

Kathy: In some ways, I feel there’s not as much pressure. There aren’t as many exams here. At first, I wondered why there wasn’t a lot of homework in Australia. But it means the kids have more time to spend on themselves and do after school activities.

Kelvin: The school gives regular updates to parents via emails and newsletters, so we’ve found the system in Australia very active and open. The style of teaching encourages research and self-learning, so you learn the skills of writing English and calculating maths problems. You learn the process and how to apply your skills in life.

Anson, what do you like most about going to school in Adelaide?

Anson: I like doing really cool activities like technology where I get to learn coding with robots. We have art and physical education (PE). And we learn a different language. In my school, we’re learning Greek. There are lots of other topics, and I’ve learnt about mind mapping and systems for researching. My favourite subjects are English and maths.

What would you say to other parents considering sending their child to study abroad?

Kelvin: It depends on the child’s personality. In Australia, they focus more on the overall development of the child, while in Asia, there is more emphasis on learning through books. The education system that best suits your child will depend on your child.  Learning is a process not an investment. No matter where in the world they are, if they’re happy, they’ll learn more. We feel this has been a good decision for our son. He’s happy to be staying in Adelaide for high school.

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Reiko and Eriko, Japan

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Taking time off from their Japanese schooling to study at an Adelaide public primary school for 6 months are three members of the Nishiwaki family.

With her own experience of an American homestay while she was a high school student, Eriko and Reiko’s mother, Mikiko also wanted her own children to experience another culture and broaden their minds. After hearing that children are best suited to acquiring language until about 9 years of age, Mikiko turned her plans into reality. With her two daughters in Years 1 and 4 of primary school, the three began studying here in July thanks to the encouraging support of her husband, Takahiro, who has stayed in Japan to work.

“I want to stay here forever.” Mikiko was surprised to hear her daughter Reiko suddenly say this on the way home from her first day of school. After asking more about it, Reiko said that all of her classmates were kind and open, and she found it a really comfortable place to be. This was an unexpectedly great start for Reiko especially considering that, although she had studied English a little before, when she arrived and was immersed in English, she felt she frustrated at not even being able to properly follow conversations.

Eriko, who had only just begun primary school in Japan, is a very careful and precise girl. At first she found it stressful not being able to fully understand English nor express what she wanted to say, but she is gradually understanding more and more and is beginning to get used to living here.

At school, Reiko has joined the netball club and Eriko is looking forward to starting cricket this term. Apart from these sports, the girls go to trampoline and gymnastics lessons, and make sure that they study hard when they get home, really keeping busy and making the most of every day.

For international primary school students that have low level English skills there is an intensive English language course called IPEC. Reiko and Eriko both study this course while going to normal primary school classes with Australian and other international students. Both girls have improved their English abilities more than they expected and are growing their circle of friends. Mikiko first thought it was a little strange when Reiko said “I want to stay here forever”, but while the girls go to school she has begun studying English at community centres, making new friends and she is beginning to understand what Reiko meant. “The freedom and joy I get from people’s friendliness really makes me happy. I am also starting to feel sad now thinking that the day we have to go home is drawing closer.”

They are already half way through their 6 month study abroad program and the Nishiwaki family are increasingly making the most of their time here in Adelaide.

Reiko (Year 4) and Eriko (Year 1), Linden Park Schools

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