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education

1991 to provide a caring Christian environment in which children could develop. A ridiculous rent increase a proposed doubling from 2009 to 2011 forced New Song out of its previous premises in Floral Villas (which remain vacant, of course). Enrolment is falling in the face of growing competition, particularly from the more corporate kindergartens with their ability to assure a place in the increasingly elusive Holy Grail that is an international primary school. Sallying ahead with a unique identity but without the protection of a big brother international primary school is a risky business. Some people may find New Songs ideas radical: children are not labelled bad or good, although at times individuals make bad decisions (its almost as though theyre real people); three- to five-year-olds can begin to develop a worldly social conscience; oh, and Christmas has something to do Christ. In keeping with New Songs letter of the week, James show and tell is an L-based delight of lizards, leopards and Lightning McQueen. He uses only pictures, objects and verbal interaction, PechaKucha style, and attracts lots of questions from the floor. (Does

a unique hymn

A productive day in the life of New Song Christian Kindergarten.

that describe presentations at your place of work? No, I thought not.) Next, one group has Mandarin time while the others play in Sai Kungs hidden gem of a park, nestled around the corner in the old town. Later, the two groups will swap. Its time for me to leave, so I miss maths and phonics, the ABC song, Bible stories, fish feeding and playing musical instruments.

I compare an hour in New Song with any hour in my working day and its clear who is the more productive of me and my three-year-old. I arrive at work and read an email from a colleague promoting staff training. The learning technologies session (IT is so 1990s) would, she wrote, take the format of a you guessed it show and tell. Like I said, toddlers are way ahead of us.

Miracle required
Parental fundraising is helping New Song Christian Kindergarten stay afloat, but without a substantial financial injection an economic miracle to fund its resurrection it will close in July. We have found it harder and harder to compete with pre-schools with links to primary schools and, despite recent ESF changes, its too late for us, says acting principal Karina Slattery, who has worked at New Song for 12 years. There are parents still hoping to keep it open, and the school may open again in the future in a different way or site but not unless there is a large financial donation from outside the New Song community. We have helped so many families over the years and really seen differences in children who were not able to adjust to local schools. It is very sad. Meanwhile, parents are planning a fundraiser in May to keep the kindergarten going until the end of the term details were yet to be confirmed at press time. For more information, or to make a donation, please email newsong@ netvigator.com.

Swansong for New Song?


After 22 years in Sai Kung, New Song Christian Kindergarten is to close. Parent Paul Letters shows and tells.
After breakfast at Steamers below New Song (surveys indicate more dads pick up their children from kindergarten since it moved here from Floral Villas in 2011), I head upstairs to be greeted by sparkling faces scattered around like toys in a living room. Theres James lining up cars with OCD precision while Sophie arranges magnetic numbers in old-fashioned numerical order. Soon, the Tidy-up Song has all 16 K1 and K2 children playing the Great Tidy-up Game if only it happened this happily at home. Several wonderfully silly songs later and its mat time when, James will tell you, its important to secure a blue circle to sit on. The year groups split into separate partitioned rooms. In the younger group, a book is selected by a small person with big horizons: Oxfams W is for World should be compulsory reading for every world leader. Time for a weather bulletin. Up on their feet, the children check the HD view of saddleshaped Ma On Shan and chorus, Sunny! But theres a storm threatening this sunny scene. Without a cash injection the school will close at the end of June. A registered charity, New Song Christian Kindergarten opened in

A phenomenon is spreading from Japan. Its called PechaKucha and it involves adults gathering to talk through a presentation of images no words allowed on any topic of their choosing. PechaKucha nights are now held in more than 500 cities worldwide, including Hong Kong. However, the three-year-olds at New Song Christian Kindergarten (which my son attends) are way ahead. As parental drop-ins are encouraged, I recently went along for an hour to watch my son take his turn at show and tell.

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