'Children's companions' emerge as a growing profession in Hangzhou

(People's Daily Online) 13:40, May 06, 2024

Photo shows a training session for children's companions. (Qianjiang Evening News/courtesy of the interviewee)

In Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, a new profession known as “children's companions” has quietly emerged.

The majority of these children companion practitioners are born in the 1990s and 2000s. Unlike tutors, babysitters, or nannies, these professionals do not engage in household chores or providing extracurricular training. Instead, their role focuses on participating in activities with children such as learning, sports, and playing, while also observing their habits and suggesting necessary improvements.

Liu Qian, a mental health teacher, exemplifies this new role as one of these children's companions.

Born in 2000, Liu recently co-founded a company specializing in childhood companionship in Hangzhou with several like-minded peers. The company and team have expanded rapidly, growing to nearly 100 members within just a month.

Parents seek out children’s companions for various reasons. Some parents work as teachers in training institutions, devoting their time to educating other children and consequently lack the time for their own. Others simply desire more personal downtime to unwind after work. There are also parents who frequently travel and worry about their children getting bored at home. Additionally, some families are concerned about grandparents who may excessively spoil their children. For these reasons, parents have begun to seek external assistance.

When Liu first became a children's companion, she experienced similar challenges as parents who often find themselves on the verge of an emotional breakdown while assisting their children with homework.

Liu's role and experience involved spending three hours a day with a fourth-grade girl, assisting her with homework, engaging in physical activities, and ensuring she stayed on track. Every moment for Liu felt like a struggle as the fourth-grade girl would procrastinate on homework, often working on it until 9 p.m. Liu not only had to supervise the assignments but also guide the girl in reading extracurricular books. While she wanted to encourage more physical activity, safety concerns lingered.

Over time, through consistent effort and communication, guiding the child in improving her habits, and an unwavering commitment to the task, Liu noticed significant improvements in the girl's homework completion rate within one month. After three months, her efficiency and focus also showed noticeable improvement. By the six-month mark, the once introverted girl had become much more outgoing and confident.

Recently, several videos by Liu and her colleagues have garnered considerable attention on social media. This emerging profession has caught the interest of many, with parents seeking guidance and others expressing a desire to join.

Liu sets specific criteria for hiring children's companions. She looks for candidates and graduates with backgrounds in early childhood education or those with teaching experience, valuing those who are open to new ideas and methods. Candidates with special skills and talent in music, sports, art, dance, and other areas are particularly desirable, as they can cater to the unique needs of certain families.

Hua Hua, born in 2003 and a soon-to-be graduate in preschool education, recently joined Liu's team. "This job aligns with my major, offers a relatively high income, and has shorter working hours," she said.

The services provided by children’s companions are not only specialized but also financially rewarding. According to reliable sources, the fee for after-school homework assistance starts at 4,000 yuan (about $552.07) per month. However, if additional services such as transportation and overnight care are required, the costs may exceed 10,000 yuan.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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