A lot of children are forced by their parents to take pre-school classes in order to get admitted to a good first grade class, which effects the education quality at schools, said Pham Xuan Tien, who is the head of the Hanoi Education and Training Department’s Primary Education Division.

“Last year, my sister’s daughter joined a first grade class and could not catch up with her other friends because they already knew how to read and write,” said Nguyen Thi Xuan from Giang Vo apartment building.

Afraid of this situation, Xuan wonders whether she should take her daughter to pre-school lessons before first grade.

Attending pre-school has also become a popular topic on some websites. At www.webtretho.com.vn, a lot of mothers share their experiences about finding pre-school for their children.

One mother said: “In most first grade classrooms, there are about 50 to 60 students, so a teacher is not able to spend time with each child. If I do not let my kid go to pre-schools then he will lag behind and get bored.”

Due to the high demand, prestigious pre-schools had full enrolment before Tet.

“I had to register for my daughter two months before Tet. If parents start looking for a school now, it is too late,” said Nguyen Thu Huong.

At Doi Can kindergarten, Ba Dinh district, before Tet some children stopped going to school to attend pre-school lessons.

Pre-school often offer good services to children. Boarding fees cost about 800,000 VND per month and tuition fees normally cost about 300,000 VND (15.7 USD) to 500,000 VND (26.3 USD) per month. Some centres on Ha Hoi street charge 2 million VND (105.2 USD) per course.

Most teachers agree that forcing children to take pre-school classes before first grade is the parent’s responsibility.

“We do not agree with parents, but we cannot do any thing to stop them,” said a teacher from Kim Dong primary school in Ba Dinh district.

“Another reason why children attend pre-school is in doing so they have a better chance of passing entrance exams to prestigious schools, which require that they are good at pronunciation and have the ability to respond,” said Tien.

In order to solve this problem, parents must be informed about these issues.

“Parents should know that it is not necessary for their children to attend pre-school classes. At kindergarten, children can get basic skills to be prepared for first grade, which include pronunciation and learning the alphabet,” said Pham Thi Tam, principal of Hoa Sen Kindergarten.

“Forcing children to study at an early age might make them tired and stressed,” said Truong Khanh Ha, Vice Head of Psychology Department, Hanoi National University .

However, parents like Nguyen Thu Huong still hold firm to their beliefs.

“I know letting children attend pre-school class is not good, but a lot of parents are doing it and I do not want my kids to be left behind.”/.