A guide to choosing a preschool in SingaporeLifestyle
Choosing the right preschool for your little one in Singapore can be a little scary, especially for first-time parents. After all, this is going to be a huge leap for your child; it’s going to be his first time in a new environment meeting new people away from his main caretakers.
There are no lack of fantastic preschools in Singapore, so it really depends on your preferences. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some factors to perhaps take into place when choosing a preschool in Singapore for your child. You can also find out more about preschool in Singapore at https://ourfirststeps.com.sg/yishun/.
1. Kindergarten or childcare?
In Singapore, there are two main types of preschool. For children 3 to 6 years old, they can choose between kindergartens or childcare centres. Kindergartens usually offer 3 to 4 hour programmes, with some that come with an after-school care option for busy parents. Childcare centres on the other hand come with full day programmes that run from 7am to 7pm. Depending on whether you have support from other caregivers while you’re at work, schooling options are something you need to keep in mind.
Is location something that matters? Some parents prefer a preschool nearer to their home, office or other caregivers’ home, as they can drop their child easily before and after work. For others, the location doesn’t matter as long as other factors are more important to them. However, keep in mind that daily long commutes might be undesirable for the child, so maybe a place that’s within two MRT stations or just a 10 minute drive away would be good.
Some parents might not know this, but every preschool subscribes to a certain school of thought or curriculum. This might be the Montessori approach which emphasises independence and discourages conventional measures of achievement; or the Reggio Emilia approach, which believes that children form their own personality in their early years and children must have some form of control over their learning.
Once you pick an approach that you’re comfortable with and believe in, the next step is finding a suitable preschool. Different preschools have different ways of executing those beliefs into their curriculum, so finding out more through school visits or speaking to school leaders would help you gain a better understanding of the curriculum. To add, many preschools offer bilingual curriculums too. Depending on the child-teacher ratio, there are teachers who use different languages to communicate with children. This usually happens in classes with 12-25 children. For families with monolingual backgrounds, bilingual classes could be helpful with early language acquisition.
4. School fees
Most preschools in Singapore are privately run, so school fees can range from as low to $160 a month to $2400 a month. Here’s the good news — all Singapore citizens are qualified for basic subsidies at childcare centres, and families with a household income below $12,000 get additional grants.
Higher fees usually come from reputable brands that include a lower child-to-teacher ratio with more attention on your child. These schools likely also come with bigger spaces and more materials. With that said, paying less does not mean the school is of lower value; it could just mean the school enjoys more government subsidies which translates to lower school fees. So a tip here would be to first decide on a curriculum you’re comfortable with, and then narrowing down a few schools that fit within your budget.
5. Teachers, school culture
The best approach and curriculum won’t mean anything if the teachers can’t nurture, guide and perform. Visit the school while a class is in session, and observe the teachers. Are they caring and enthusiastic? How do they communicate with students? Speak to the principal if you can, and ask questions about the school’s culture.
With the current situation now, it’s more important than ever for preschools to practice good hygiene, especially since viruses can spread very fast in preschools. In this case, it might be better if there is fresh air circulated, meaning a non-air conditioned classroom. Of course, that might be tough given Singapore’s climate and air pollution like haze issues. Some parents might prefer air-conditioned classrooms too due to their children’s eczema or sensitivity to pollen.
In any sense, just ensure the environment is clean and hygienic, with regular protocols like sanitising of toys and common surfaces put in place.
7. Outdoor play spaces
This depends on each parent, but generally outdoor play is quite important to a child’s learning and vestibular development. You can’t expect children to be confined indoors all day! Check out if the preschool has a playground — if it’s outdoors, great. If the outdoor playground makes use of natural elements like a garden or park, that’s even better. For preschools who do not have such facilities, they should at least make use of public spaces nearby for play.
First Steps Preschool @ Yishun
6 Yishun Industrial Street 1 #01-07/08