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Overseas study tours for preschoolers
Published on: 2017-07-17
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061Chinese youngsters display drawings they created during a study tour last August in the Netherlands at local artist Ans Markus' art space.

Chinese parents are sending young children abroad to the US and other destinations for kindergarten programs that can last months

Zhang Feiyu may not even be five years old, but he is getting to learn about the world this year via an activity increasingly being experienced by preschoolers: an overseas study tour.

A few days ago, the Shanghai youngster flew for more than 15 hours with his mother and younger sister to his aunt's US home in Austin, Texas.

The boy, who is still two months from celebrating his fifth birthday, will attend a local kindergarten in the Texas capital for a couple of months to "broaden his horizons".

"I want him to go out and see the world... I wonder how he will play with others in an English-speaking environment," said his mother, Jamie Chen.

In a growing trend, one catching on quickly in the US as hundreds of thousands of Chinese students flock to study overseas each year, kids Feiyu's age are making short-term study tours abroad.

"More and more preschoolers, or kids aged between three and six, have taken part in overseas study tours in the past year, while international kindergartens expand and more bilingual courses are introduced during the kindergarten period," said Zhang Jie, director of study tour business at leading Chinese tour agency Ctrip.

Those kids make up about 10 per cent of consumers who have booked overseas study tours on Ctrip this summer, said Zhang.

This figure marks a considerable rise from the past year. According to a recent report by travel agent Tuniu.com, preschoolers accounted for 6 per cent of Chinese students who went on study tours in the same period a year ago.

The US is the most popular destination, followed by Britain, according to the report. The typical price range for such a tour is between 20,000 and 30,000 yuan per person, it said.

There are two types of tours in this segment of the travel market, according to Ctrip. One is summer camps organised by professional groups mainly in the US, Britain and Singapore, which sometimes combine with visits to places of cultural interest or lectures by education experts. The other is overseas kindergartens which kids can join for short periods as transfer students, with the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand being the most popular destinations.

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