As a foreigner in Taiwan, if you have preschool-aged children it could be a stressful experience to try to find an appropriate place for your child to go to school. Luckily foreign children have some priority when it comes to the public preschool lottery. Also, some preschools also have government subsidies. In this blog, we will give you a general overview of the preschool system in Taiwan.
Please note that the below information is only a general overview and details may vary for each school. I am giving this advice based on my experience as a foreign parent of two children who have gone through preschool in Taiwan.
The numbers below were taken from the government website. For the latest information, please check the government website.
Taiwan monthly child stipend for children 5 and under: 5歲幼兒就學補助
First, let me start off by telling you that there is a monthly stipend for children of Taiwan citizen parents who are aged 5 and under, and are not enrolled in preschool. For the first child, the stipend is 5,000 NT, for the second child 6,000, and for the third child, it is 7,000.
Once you enroll your child in public or government-sponsored preschool, this subsidy stops.
Different Types of Preschools in Taiwan:
Public Preschool (Gongyou 公幼)
This is the full government preschool offered in Taiwan's public elementary schools or other government institutions.
Non-profit preschool run by the government (非營利幼兒園, 政府機關(構)與公營公司委託辦, 理之職場互助教保服務中心)
This is similar to public preschool but is run by a government organization other than the Ministry of Education.
Government Approved Preschool (Zhonggongyou 準公幼)
This is a private preschool that is subsidized by the government.
Private Preschool 私立幼兒園
This is private preschool that is not subsidized by the government.
Government Preschool Classes:
2 year old class (Youyouban 幼幼班)
3 year old class (Xiaoban 小班)
4 year old class (zhongban 中班)
5 year old class (Daban 大班)
Public Preschool and Non-profit Government Preschool Registration:
Process for enrolling in Public Preschool
First of all, in order to enroll in a government preschool in Taipei City, one parent needs to have their household registration, or for foreign children, the child needs to have a Taipei City address on their ARC card. You need to register using the government website, and you can choose up to two government schools: one public preschool and one non-profit government preschool.
Please note the registration website is only in Chinese, so you may need a Chinese native speaker to help you.
For preschool in Taipei City, you can choose any preschool in Taipei City as long as you have a Taipei City address on your ARC or house registration.
Student's that are low income, special needs, foreigners, indigenous, or second children or onward, get preference in the lottery.
It is easier to win the lottery for older kids because class sizes are bigger.
Students with priority will be chosen before other students without priority.
Priority requirements change by county/city, but usually foreign residents are somewhere on the list. Currently though for Taipei City, only foreign students aged 5 have priority (it used to be from 3 years old onward). These regulations are subject to change.
Below is a list of priority eligibility for Hsinchu City for your reference:
Those who are qualified to enter the kindergarten should apply according to the age grouping attributes of the children enrolled in each kindergarten and the following order.
Kindergarten registration will be determined by drawing lots when the number of places in the same order exceeds the quota.
Those whose father or mother is a foreign national should check their annual household income. When verifying a household's annual income, real estate and annual income should be included at the same time. Interest income does not exclude households owning the third or more real estates with a total announced present value of more than 6.5 million yuan, or annual interest income.
Interest income exceeds 100,000 yuan).
(1) First Priority 第一順位
1. Children from low-income families 低收入戶子女
2. Children from low- and middle-income families 中低收入戶子女
3. People with disabilities 身心障礙
4. Aboriginal people 原住民
5. Children from families with special circumstances 特殊境遇家庭子女
6. Children of persons with moderate or above disabilities. 中度以上身心障礙者子女
7. Others approved for placement by the Social Affairs Department of the Hsinchu City Government.
(2) Second Priority 第二順位
1. Children of persons with light or above disabilities. 輕度身心障礙者子女
(3) Third Priority 第三順位
1. Twins (雙胞胎) with annual household income less than 800,000 yuan, and the number of children in the family is more than 3. The annual household income is less than 1.1 million yuan.
2. Children from single-parent families (單親家庭) whose annual household income is less than 400,000 yuan.
3. Children raised by caregivers other than their parents (隔代教養之幼兒).
(4) Fourth Priority 第四順位
1. A child whose father or mother is a foreign national 父或母一方為外國籍之幼兒
(5) Fifth Priority 第五順位
1. Children and grandchildren of faculty, staff and students of this school ( 本校教職員工生之子女及孫子女).
2. There are children in the family whose siblings are still studying in our kindergarten in the new school year 家有兄姊於新學年度
Tip: You can wait for later in the day to register for the lottery to see how many openings each school has and how many people have registered. There are many schools that do not have full classes because they are further away from more residential areas. If you need your kid to go to a government preschool, it is good to have a backup non-profit school with low registration numbers close by in case your kid does not win the lottery for the normal public preschool.
Registration times: 登記時間
Depends on the City/County. Usually, registration is only open for three days in May or June for the following school year.
Lottery Times: 抽籤時間
Usually, the day after registration closes. This refers to choosing which kids won the public preschool lottery.
Check-in Time 報到時間
Usually only two days after registration closes. If you fail to check in, you can lose your child's spot on the register.
Private Preschool and Non-profit Government Preschool Registration Timelines:
Varies according to each school.
For my first child, when she was three years old we enrolled her in the preschool lottery but she did not get selected. We also registered for a non-profit preschool close to my work, but it was just going to be a logistical nightmare.
That year, we decided to keep her at home. However, for the next year, we decided she needed to go to preschool.
We enrolled her in the lottery, and also put her on the waitlist for a local government-subsidized private preschool (zhungongyou) right next to our house, and paid the private preschool a 1000 NT pre-registration fee (placeholder fee) which was not refundable (or tax-deductible).
Luckily, she won the public preschool lottery and was chosen for the four-year-old class (zhongban), which had both three and four-year-olds, and we only had to pay about 1,000 NT per month for her tuition. If she had gone to a government subsidized preschool, tuition would have been three times as expensive (plus tuition for summer and winter break and random other fees).
The preschool tuition covered meals which were filling and nutritious. They included a small snack and drink for breakfast and usually rice and vegetables for lunch.
We also had to buy some exercise clothes which are like school uniforms and that cost about 2000 NT.
There is also a parent's organization that we had to pay a few hundred NT to. Also, we put her in summer and winter classes. Summer and winter classes for one month were roughly equivalent to a semester of tuition because those times are not subsidized by the government.
Our son, the second child, easily won the lottery when he was two years old because second children have priority. But we decided he was too small and kept him home for another year. Now he is three and he won the lottery again this year, and he showed an interest in going to school, so we let him go to the three-year-old class (xiaoban) which as both three and four-year-olds. I think he likes school less than his sister because he is less social, but they both have enjoyed it.
Luckily at our school near Academia Sinica, there are a lot of foreign kids and mixed-race children that go to the same public school, so my kids do not stick out as much.
Daily Routine at Public Preschool:
From what I have seen and know, the daily routine at public preschools is roughly as follows:
7:30 AM - 8:30 AM you can bring your kid to class anytime in this timeframe
8:30 AM The kids eat breakfast using one of their three bowls and a spoon
9:00 AM The kids go to a "learning area" and build blocks, play with Legos, read books, etc.
On exercise days, the kids will go do communal exercises or go on a hike.
11:30 For kids that choose to only go to preschool for half a day, they can go home at this time. In my experience, most kids go to preschool in Taiwan for the full day. Not only is it less stressful for parents, they also save time and money on lunch for the kids.
12:00 PM Lunch time. The kids will take out their second and third bowls for rice and soup. They also have second and third spoons.
1:30 PM Nap time. Everyone needs to bring a sleeping bag to school for nap time, and they sleep on the floor. The kids will need to go to sleep or they will be reprimanded (my daughter was often reprimanded by her teacher for not falling asleep during nap time).
3:00 PM Wake up from nap time and organize backpacks
4:00 PM Wait for parents to pick them up. This is usually when my wife would pick up the kids, and then take them to a local park to play until dinner time.
4:00-6:00 PM Extended class time for children who have parents that are working
After 6 PM: No support. You need to find another cram school or babysitter.
Go home, wash the three bowls in the backpack, dry them, fill up the water bottle, and put it all back in the backpack for tomorrow.
Note: From the three-year-old class (xiaoban) onward, the children need to be potty trained and cannot wear diapers to class. They also need to be able to go to the toilet on their own.
Overall, public preschool in Taiwan seems to be glorified babysitting. It will not prepare your kid for the rigors of first grade in public school (however summer school before first grade was very helpful for my daughter to learn Zhuyin). However, if you care about your kid having a happy childhood, learning to play and interact with others, and boosting creativity, then public preschool is a good fit for you.
I have seen foreign preschoolers who could not speak any Chinese. In public preschool this is not such a big deal because there is not such a big focus on academics and more on getting into a routine, playing, being part of a group, exercising, and physical activity.
However, the language barrier tends to get harder the older they get because the local children will get better at speaking Chinese while the foreign children may fall behind. Some of them have learned to speak Chinese, but unless one parent can speak the language usually their Chinese will not be good enough to go to school full time.
By first grade, all the homework and schoolwork in Chinese and Zhuyin will be too much unless one parent can speak Chinese. At this point, there are a few options to consider:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What age range does preschool cover in Taiwan?
A: Preschool in Taiwan typically accommodates children aged 2 to 5 years old. From age 6, the kids have to go to first grade. Usually. all kids go to preschool by at least age 5.
Q: How many years of preschool are recommended in Taiwan?
A: Children usually attend three years of preschool in Taiwan, starting from the age of 3 (xiaoban), when they are required to be potty trained.
Q: What is the language of instruction in Taiwanese preschools?
A: Mandarin Chinese is the primary language of instruction in public and government preschools across Taiwan. However, some private preschools offer instruction in English.
Q: Are there different types of preschools in Taiwan, such as public and private?
A: Yes, there are both public and private preschools in Taiwan,. Private preschools may include international or bilingual options but are more expensive. Public and government schools are cheaper but may not have bilingual support or flexible class times.
Q: What is the typical daily schedule for preschoolers in Taiwan?
A: Preschoolers usually have a structured schedule that includes activities such as exercise, playtime, snacks, and naps. Private preschools may have more structured and rigorous academic courses.
Q: Do preschools in Taiwan follow a specific curriculum?
A: Preschools in Taiwan generally follow the national curriculum guidelines, which focus on early childhood development, creativity, physical activity, group activities, Mandarin language skills, and basic mathematics.
Q: Is there a specific admission process for preschools in Taiwan?
A: For private preschools, each policy varies by school. For the public and government school admission process, there is a registration and lottery every year. See the section above for more information.
Q: Are there any specific health requirements for preschool enrollment in Taiwan?
A: Yes, children are usually required to have up-to-date vaccinations and a health checkup for enrollment in preschools.
Q: Do preschools in Taiwan incorporate cultural or traditional elements into their curriculum?
A: Yes, many preschools in Taiwan include cultural and traditional elements in their curriculum, but also include Western cultural elements such as Christmas and Halloween.
Q: What is the role of parents in the education process at preschools in Taiwan?
A: Parental involvement is encouraged, and parents may be invited to participate in events, book reading, field trips, and workshops.
Q: Is there a standardized assessment system for preschoolers in Taiwan?
A: While there is no standardized assessment system, preschools conduct periodic evaluations to track a child's physical and mental development.
Q: Do preschools in Taiwan celebrate traditional festivals and holidays?
A: Yes, preschools often celebrate traditional Taiwanese festivals and holidays, incorporating cultural activities and events into their programs.
Q: Are there options for children with special needs in Taiwanese preschools?
A: Yes, some preschools have resources and programs to support children with special needs, but availability may vary. In my kids' school, there was a special preschool class just for special needs children.
Q: What is the average teacher-to-student ratio in Taiwanese preschools?
A: 2 year old class (Youyouban 幼幼班): Teacher to child ratio: 1 to 8, Maximum class size: 16 kids.
3-5 year old classes (Xiaoban 小班, Zhongban 中班, Daban 大班): Teacher to child ratio: 1 to 15, Maximum class size: 30 kids.
Q: Are there specific safety measures in place at Taiwanese preschools?
A: Yes, safety is a priority, and preschools typically have protocols for emergency situations, including fire drills, earthquake training and drills, security guards, and well-trained staff.
Q: Is there a standardized school calendar for preschools in Taiwan?
A: Private preschools and non-profit government preschools are year-round. However, Public Preschools follow the academic year, starting in September and ending in June, with breaks for holidays, but options for classes during holidays for an extra fee.
Q: Are there financial assistance programs for preschool education in Taiwan?
A: Some government subsidies and financial assistance programs may be available for low-income families. For more information see above.
Q: What resources are available for parents seeking information about preschools in Taiwan?
A: Parents can access information through the Ministry of Education, local public and private schools, and online. It is usually best to contact the schools that you live closest to.
There are many different options if you are a foreigner considering putting your child into preschool. You should consider what your options are, logistical issues, financial issues, and the best environment for your child. Hopefully, this blog has helped you along this journey.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
You can also check out our guide to having a baby in Taiwan here, or our guide to marriage in Taiwan here.
You can also check out our full Taiwan FAQ topics here.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.