Three Top Tips & List of Nursery, Preschools and Kindergartens in HCMC
Top Tip #1: Location Location, Location
Ask anyone who has lived in the city for a little while what their least favourite part of life in Saigon is, and many will respond with a complaint about the traffic. If you have just arrived in the city it may seem amusingly chaotic but if you are responsible for taking your child to and from school each day, the journey can soon become a very unenjoyable task, particularly when you factor in rush hour and rainy season!
Our advice is to minimise travel time where possible, even if the school you have your eye on offers transportation. Nobody enjoys sitting in a traffic jam, least of all young children, so make the daily school run as easy as possible by prioritising schools that are close to home.
If you live in Thao Dien, you are lucky to have many excellent early years schools on your doorstep, perhaps even within walking distance. District 1 and Binh Thanh also have excellent choices although walking around may not be as enjoyable with fewer wide, tree lined boulevards to stroll along.
The important thing to remember is that there are well over a million students in Ho Chi Minh City and whilst not all of them are attending pre-school or nursery, they will be making their way to campus as you are trying to get your kids to school too.
Top Tip #2: Think about your child’s character
When you first look for a kindergarten/ nursery school, you will see that there are a number of different curriculums and teaching styles on offer in Ho Chi Minh City. With early years schools following British, American, Australian, Finnish, French, German and Vietnamese programmes, plus different methodologies such as Montessori or Reggio Emilia, it is inevitable that some schools will follow a very structured lesson plan whilst others will offer more freedom.
Knowing which one will suit your child best is hard if they have never been to school before, so our advice is to think about how they behave at home. If your child needs a little encouragement to explore or prefers to have direct attention and communication from an adult when doing so, schools that offer an interactive curriculum but with teacher lead activities may be more appropriate.
If your child is a little more confident and already enjoys playing independently and would perhaps enjoy more freedom, schools that have more holistic approaches (Montessori, Reggio Emilia inspired) may be more suitable.
Even if your child is a little older and has spent time in nursery or preschool before, allow them the opportunity to visit the school and experience a class before you decide to enroll them in a school in Ho Chi Minh City. Things may be different to what they’ve experienced in the past and taking the time to sample a lesson can save a lot of hassle further down the road.
Top Tip #3: Research from home and talk to other parents
One you know which area of Ho Chi Minh City you’re interested in and what type of school you are looking for you can start researching the kindergarten / nursery school options online (our guide is a great place to start!) Once you’ve got a short list of desirable schools, start asking around for people’s own experiences with the schools and see what pros and cons are identified by those in the know.
If you talk to your friends, your colleagues and your neighbours you are likely to hear honest reviews about the schools their kids go to. After hearing their comments, you can start to remove the schools that may not be suitable for you.
If you are relocating to Ho Chi Minh City from abroad or from elsewhere in Vietnam, you can reach out to friendly social network groups to ask for their comments. There are many friendly groups on Facebook where members are willing to offer advice on a variety of subjects.
Remember, of course that every child has different needs so you may not find the perfect choice just from talking to other people but by getting honest feedback from people that have experienced the schools you are looking at first hand, you can certainly narrow down the list of schools to see!
Hopefully our top tips have made the task of choosing an early years school for your child a little less daunting. Having decided where you need to be looking, and what type of school you are looking for, it’s now time to look at our list of top kindergartens, nurseries and preschools in Ho Chi Minh City.
Montessori International School of Vietnam
Budget: Fees for students vary significantly depending on age and whether they enrol for half day lessons or full day. School meals are also optional extras, as is transport to and from school. However, as a guide, fees for a full time nursery or kindergarten student range from VND 222,000,000 to 290,000,000 for a year. For full details click here.
Languages: English instruction. Some classes in Vietnamese
Curriculum: MIS follows the Montessori philosophy and is accredited by the American Montessori Society. Students are encouraged to become independent learners via free exploration.
Unique feature: In addition to following the Montessori philosophy, MIS is an advocate of ‘Resources for Infant Educarers’ or RIE®. As a result the school is very well placed to provide parental support for parents who wish to adopt the Educaring™ approach. MIS is also able to offer a variety of learning environments at each of their 3 HCMC based campuses.
Budget: Application fee of VND 25,000,000 VND and annual fees starting at VND 210,000,000 in early years, rising up to VND 349,700,000 for Kindergarten. For more information please see this fee sheet.
Languages: English instruction.
Curriculum: This school is a part of Cognita Schools Group, which follows the American Core Curriculum which focuses on teaching core values such as honesty, caring, respect, responsibility and wisdom.
Uniform: The school’s uniform is a red short-sleeved polo emblazoned with the school’s logo at the front. Depending on the student, the shirt is complemented with either blue shorts or a blue skirt.
Unique feature: ISSP is now the only international elementary and early years school (18 months – 10 years of age) in HCMC to have the prestigious accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Budget: Anne Hill International School accepts students from 18 months old. For preschool students taking half day tuition for 5 days, annual fees are around VND 162,000,000. Tuition fees at Anne Hill International School cover the costs of core subjects, meals, uniforms and transportation. However, a VND12,000,000 registration fee still applies. See this sheet for more information.
Languages: English instruction with options for Vietnamese and Chinese Mandarin as a second language.
Curriculum: Montessori Inspired. International Primary Curriculum member, pursuing Cambridge accreditation. Cambridge International Primary Programme is followed for key subjects such as English, Maths and Science.
Uniform: The school uniform combines a light green t-shirt or polo shirt with neutral coloured shorts or culottes.
Unique feature: Anne Hill International School is an independent school offering brand new facilities for their students. For those looking for a truly international school experience, the school currently has students from more than 40 different nationalities enrolled, making it one of the most varied student bodies that we have come across.
Budget: A non refundable application fee of VND 4,500,000 is payable at the time of application and an acceptance fee of VND 32,000,000 is also required. Expect to pay upwards of VND 199,000,000 each year from kindergarten enrollment. Click here for full details
Languages: English instruction. Vietnamese instruction for all students up to Year 6
Curriculum: IB PYP.
Uniform: The school has a variety of uniform options all based around the school colours of blue and white.
Unique feature: Australian International School (AIS) has three Kindergarten campuses in Thu Thiem, Thao Dien (Lotus School) & Xi, each of which strives to celebrate the ’individual child’ and the values, beliefs, gifts, talents and diversity of experiences that each one contributes to our school community. Children are most certainly the focus at AIS and all decisions are made with the students in mind.
Budget: For annual enrollment at Eton House you can expect to pay between VND 200,000,000 – VND 250,000,000 per child. However, sibling discounts, payment plans and seasonal promotions are available.
Languages: English instruction, Vietnamese and Mandarin available as additional languages.
Curriculum: The Inquire-Think-Learn, Reggio Emilia Inspired International Curriculum from Singapore, is a well-rounded, holistic and integrated curriculum that encourages children to stretch their imagination, think independently and be inspired to learn.
Uniform: School uniform is a bright and cheerful red and green plaid dress or shirt or red polo shirts and beige shorts.
Unique feature: Housed in a beautiful colonial villa in Thao Dien, EtonHouse offers a tranquil environment amidst lush greenery. Students here not only benefit from being classmates with students from over 30 nationalities at school but EtonHouse families can also connect with 12,000 students in EtonHouse 120 campuses around the world. The utilisation of the ‘Keptme’ app is a key feature. This innovative platform ensures that parents are kept up to date with what their child is doing throughout the day and allows learning achievements to be shared and witnessed easily and efficiently.
Budget: Registration and administration fees are applicable for each child but prices vary depending on the age of the student. French students can expect to pay around VND 150,000,000 annually in kindergarten with other nationalities paying around VND 161,000,000
Languages: French, Vietnamese and English
Curriculum: Boules et Billes is accredited by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) meaning that the curriculum provided is in line with te French national education system. A variety of enrichment activities are also provided.
Uniform: No specific uniform
Unique feature: Boules et Billes priority is ensuring their students develop proficiency in French. However, both nursery and primary students also study English using the ‘Emile’ educational approach. This multi award winning resource is a game based range of resources, approved by the UK Department for Education.
Budget: At just under VND190,000,000 for a year’s tuition, fees at Kinder Academy are one of the most reasonably priced options in District 2. Percentage discounts are provided for siblings attending at the same time. However, additional fees are required each year, as is a one-off enrolment fee so it is worth checking the full details here.
Curriculum: Kinder Academy applies Reggio Emilia inspired and EMS (English, Math and Nature Sciences) philosophies to a curriculum that prioritises STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Unique feature: Kinder Academy focuses on keeping class sizes small so there are never more than 15 students in a class. This helps staff to provide engaging and flexible lessons where the whole campus is utilised to inspire and educate children, rather than remaining based in one classroom throughout the day.
Budget: Different fees are applicable for Nursery students depending on how many days a week they attend. However as a guide, attendance for 3 days a week starts at VND 104,500,000 per year. Full details are available here.
Languages: French and English.
Curriculum: La Petite Ecole follows a French National Education curriculum and has been accredited by the French Ministry of Education. The school is also a member of AEFE (Agency for French Education Abroad), ensuring a high quality of bilingual tuition.
Unique feature: La Petit Ecole focuses on providing an exceptional learning environment for its students. This means that the facilities are not only well maintained and modern but classrooms are fitted with air purifiers and outdoor play spaces are fitted with pollution control monitors to ensure students stay safe when playing outside.
Hopefully, this list of Early Years schools in Ho Chi Minh City has helped you narrow down some of the options and you’re feeling more confident about finding the best school for your child. Our list will be updated throughout the year so feel free to check back to receive the latest updates!