Editor’s Note: This information about CRADA first appeared on this post about Yongsan preschool options. In order to keep the conversations more coherent, we’ve closed comments on that original post and separated all school reviews to their own posts. If your child has or is currently attending this program, please feel free to leave your input here so other parents can make an informed decision. Thanks!
CONTRIBUTED BY KELLY GARCIA
Crada seems to be the most popular off-base option for the preschool set. Although it caters to Korean kids who are learning English, CRADA also happily accepts native speaking English kids into their program and gives English speaking families a deep discount in tuition. Consequently, it’s the most affordable of the English language schools off-base. While it’s a little far away, in Gangnam, they have buses that go to both Yongsan and Hannam. No outdoor playground.
Parent take: PROS (My 4 yo) He really enjoyed it. He did really well and he excelled in Kindergarten (after Crada). In fact, he was a little bored because he was so far ahead of his classmates… I did not have much interaction with the teachers. They would call me if there was anything going on. They sent home monthly reports.I really liked the reports. They gave me an idea of how he was doing academically and socially….CONS: You can not just stop in and check on the classroom. That kind of threw me off at first…
And this from another Crada parent: PROS My child is learning Korean and English. While only 2 she is aware of proper conversational greetings in Korean thanks to this school and the children she attends with. I can only imagine it is going to get better!….The structure they have is amazing and they make sure there is a wide variety of pertinent activities for the kids for their specific age groups. This also includes brushing teeth after lunch, sitting at the table and learning for extended periods of time and of course the material they are learning. My daughter has never been so eager to brush her own teeth or sit still at a table…They send pictures home during the month and the crafts they did during class– frequently.
Ages: American ages 24 months – age 7
Hours: 8:35-2:40pm M-F (But one mom I know picks her kid up early, so I guess that’s okay!)
Cost: May vary according to their enrollment needs, but currently around $500/mo (I’ve heard between $400-$600 though) plus registration fee.
Class-size: Preschool 8-12 students, Kindergarten 12-14 students, Elementary School 4-8 students
A comment from this post, left by Sarah on 5/23/2013:
“I’d like to give another, perhaps less popular, opinion on CRADA. My son attended there for just over a year. I really wanted to like it. I really wanted him to like it. Neither happened.
When I pulled him (it was actually a mutual decision as the school wanted him gone too), I almost immediately saw a light return to his energetic, often naughty little self. CRADA was stifling for him, and I really wish I would have listened to my instincts and pulled him sooner.
I really hate to bash on CRADA too much, because it might be a good fit for some people. Please know that my opinion is just that–an opinion based on my own personal experience. Whether or not CRADA works for you depends on what you’re looking for and what your child’s temperament is. Some people are really happy there and their children thrive. Academically, it was good for my son; but every single day was a battle. He simply didn’t like it.
I initially thought he just had to tough it out, and it would get better. Lots of kids don’t like school, right? But it never did get better for him. I wish I would have pulled him sooner. Admittedly, he is a challenging kid, so someone who is more easy going might not have any issues at CRADA. However, my son in a rigidly-structured, foreign environment with very little playtime and NO jumping/running/playing time was a bad combination.
They say they’re English-speaking, but it is probably 80% or more Korean. In his class last year, there were only two English-speaking kids. Of course the Korean kids are trying to learn English, and the school work is in English, but the Korean kids speak Korean to each other, Korean teachers speak Korean, most field trips are only in Korean, etc. Some kids might be able to tune this out, my son was easily distracted and annoyed when he didn’t understand what was going on. I think this was a trigger for bad behavior.
The lunch they serve is Korean, and my son refused to eat it. He didn’t even like sitting next to the Korean kids after lunch because he said the way they smelled gave him a headache (little stinker, but really . . . poor kid).
There is no playground and not enough physical activity. This is hard for little bodies with lots of energy. My son was often in trouble, which only made it worse for him. Incidentally, my son has a summer birthday (he’ll be 6 this June) and could have gone to kindergarten; but I held him back hoping it would help him mature and be ahead of the game for next year. So he was definitely ready for a school environment, just not the environment CRADA offered.
There are very few English books, and often curriculum materials come in late so the teachers are forced to come up with their own material. Last I heard, they were understaffed, and at least one class was left without a teacher so other staff was just filling in all day. Of course CRADA will deny this vehemently, but my friend who told me used to work there and still keeps in touch with other teachers.
The admin is very secretive and weird–this drove me NUTS. They don’t like you to visit, and it’s hard to ever get a straight answer out of anyone. When I was considering pulling my son several months ago, I wrote something in his little notebook. His teacher emailed me from her personal email account, but said she could have been FIRED for doing so. Teachers are not allowed to call parents without a Korean admin person in the room–they don’t even have access to the children’s personal information. When I ultimately pulled my son after talking with one of the admin people, they didn’t even tell his teacher. She didn’t know he wasn’t coming back until I emailed her.
My friend (the one who used to work there) said the American teachers are treated really poorly. She also said American kids are used as marketing tools to get the Koreans to pay more.
I just found out from a neighbor that it is illegal for CRADA to accept our payment in dollars. They will ask you to pay in cash monthly for tuition. This is because none of it is reported. Perhaps other schools in Korea do this too, I’m not sure. The really legit schools will have you pay at a bank or something.
CRADA has a pretty good reputation among military families here; and like I said, it might be a great place for some. As for me, I think they’re corrupt and dishonest with the families–all to boost their image and make more money.
What it boils down to is the administration. I REALLY don’t like how they run things. I think it’s a toxic environment. The director (Rana) is horrible to the teachers–makes all kinds of promises to lure them into a contract, then doesn’t deliver. After my son started, I realized two girls from our church were teachers there. One of them quit after only a month or so, and she is the one who clued me in to how the school is run. When she was ‘released’ from her contract (because they can’t legally fire you with the visa, I guess), she had to really fight to get what was rightfully hers (unpaid salary, deposit on the housing). As if that wasn’t enough, Rana wasn’t going to sign the proper paperwork allowing her to find another job. So here was this poor 20-something year old American girl, stuck in Korea, without a job, without pay, without housing, and with a director who wasn’t cooperating to help her move on. It was ridiculous.
If I had it to do all over again, I would NOT have put him in CRADA.”
For all you parents looking for a preschool that suits your kids, we’re hoping to add a little something to aid in your search. Parents of children who attend various preschools here in Korea have filled out a series of questions about the schools for the benefit of the rest of us. We welcome more than one voice on each school since everyone has a different experience, so please feel free to add in your two cents in the comments.
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