Rooted in Chinese culture but with an international perspective and an inclusive community, YK Pao School is made up of students coming from over 15 countries enrolled in primary school through to high school.
A question we are often asked at YK Pao School is, “What is the experience like for international families who want a global education, coupled with a strong emphasis on Chinese language and culture?”
To gain some insight into this, we spoke with three international families at YK Pao School.
Heather and George Kaye
Originally from New York City, the Kayes have lived in Shanghai for 12 years. Daughters Charlotte (10) and Matilda (7) were born in Shanghai and attended Jianguo Preschool, a local Chinese kindergarten, before starting primary school at YK Pao School.
What the family says:
Having our kids in a Chinese-speaking environment was our main priority for primary school. We love that YK Pao School not only emphasizes Chinese culture, but also embraces a global perspective to prepare students to become global citizens.
YK Pao School is fairly unique in that local and foreign children attend classes together, which in our minds, is ideal. We like that each year, there is very little turnover among the students. Many of the families and teachers at the school are able to communicate in English, so my husband and I have become very involved at school. It’s as if our entire family attends YK Pao School – we all have a meaningful role to play at the school and we are very engaged with the wonderful community of YK Pao families.
There is undoubtedly an atmosphere of academic excellence at YK Pao School, but with an equal mission of building true character. We have focused our efforts on the unique and amazing Character Education program, which we absolutely love. A group of parents go into the classroom for 30 minutes each month to explore one of the school’s core values with the children – it’s a fantastic program and kind of amazing that the school gives us this platform.
As parents, we definitely feel welcome at the school and the communication between home and school is outstanding. We have a weekly newsletter that is full of information and updates about everything happening at school, it also keeps the tight-knit community on the same page and jointly invested in the school’s success.
We also love that there is a big emphasis on art, music, sports and all things creative – all teachers are excellent educators and committed to helping the children be courageous and take chances. The school itself is decorated top to bottom with the kids’ artwork, book week costume photos, murals, inspirational sayings and posters – it's a very open, diverse and creative place that honestly keeps us here in China. We feel right at home!
YK Pao School takes pride in being 'an exceptional work in progress' and everyone seems to be in lock-step on the journey to build a world-class school for our kids. The school really treats parents as partners, and we all love their ‘learning attitude’ and openness to new or different ways of doing things. Nothing seems set in stone aside from the mission and vision of the school. Because YK Pao School is only 10 years old, it is still very nimble and dedicated to inquiry and constant improvement. I can't think of better qualities to embody than those for educating children of the future.
Claudia and Stephen Dyckerhoff
Originally from Germany, the Dyckerhoffs have been living in Shanghai for 13 years and have five children aged 4 to 17. One of these children, their son Benjamin, who is 9, attends YK Pao School. Benjamin attended Soong Qing Ling kindergarten (Chinese section) before coming to Pao School. The family speaks German at home.
What the family says:
Because our three older boys attended international schools that follow the British curriculum, we were looking for a school where Chinese language and culture played a more dominant role. We were also eager to find a school with a caring environment, not too big but still able to offer a range of sports and other extracurricular activities. We chose YK Pao School because we liked the educational aspiration of supporting children to feel at home within Chinese culture and language, while at the same time following many aspects of an international curriculum. We like the values and character education at the school and the dedicated teachers, who are always trying to support the development of the children. We also love the community of parents who have become a very important part of our Shanghai life.
The first weeks were certainly challenging as Benjamin could not write or read any Mandarin or English. He took it step-by-step, supported by teachers and a Chinese tutor and, despite the initial challenges, he loved going to school every day. He quickly decided that the teachers and his classmates was what he loved at YK Pao School. He has developed wonderful friendships across classes in his year group, along with older kids at this school and his football teammates. Break time is for sure one community building aspect. Beyond the classroom learning experiences, he loves his extracurricular science classes as well as swimming practice before school. Benjamin clearly has significantly more homework than his brothers who are attending another international school, but he has found a way to manage his time and to appreciate the deeper learning. And we as parents watch that there is always enough pure playing time.
We love the teachers and the community – the fact that this community clearly aims at a holistic education, not just Chinese, Math, English – but also the character and value-focused education. The kids I meet at YK Pao School are curious, they love to experiment, they have fun together, respect differences and are quite conscious of their environment – socially and nature wise.
Alok Somani and Arsheya Devitre
Twins Leyla and Jai (10 years old) were born in Texas and moved as a family to Shanghai when they were 2 years old. They attended the Montessori school on Dong Hu Lu and started primary school at YCIS. They joined YK Pao School in their second year of primary school.
What the family says:
We chose to move our children to YK Pao School because we loved the community feel, openness to parent involvement and the stated mission to balance academics, arts, sports and character building. Also, we wanted Leyla and Jai to be in a school with both a strong Chinese and English language program. When we moved Leyla and Jai to YK Pao School from YCIS, we were worried about how they, as international students, would adjust and whether the homework might be overwhelming. The school community proved to be supportive – which made for an easy transition. There is usually 1 ½ hours of homework a night, but it is not overwhelming by any means and because we are not native Chinese speakers, they do have a Chinese tutor twice a week.
What we like best about YK Pao School is that the school actually does manage to balance academic rigor with an extensive arts and sport program. Both of our children have chosen to participate in the activities that interest them - both dance on the hip hop team, both swim in the morning swim program, Leyla sings in choir and Jai plays basketball.
Because YK Pao School is a small school with a tight-knit community, parent involvement is welcomed. We feel a part of and involved in our children’s education. All teachers have been warm, and welcome interaction with parents. More importantly, our children like their teachers and feel connected and supported by them and the administration team at YK Pao School. They are growing up well-rounded, with a solid foundation in Math, Chinese and English.
About YK Pao School
Founded in 2007, YK Pao School is a private, non-profit, co-educational Chinese school for day students in year 1-7, and day and boarding students in year 8-12. The school is committed to building a world-class facility for tomorrow’s China; educating future leaders on a foundation of academic excellence, firm values and strong character. Its mission is to develop the whole person, pass on traditions of Chinese culture and foster an international perspective in students.
To learn more about the school, visit our website or contact (+86) 21 6167 1999.
See listing for YK Pao School, here.