When it comes to preschool and childcare education in Singapore, parents these days are spoilt for choice with a wide variety of childcare services available to them. Do you go for the neighbourhood kindergarten just round the corner? Or do you go for the centre with a bigger outdoor play area, but further away from your home?

Among the four mothers we spoke to, each mother had their own set of criteria when selecting a preschool or childcare centre for their child.

Choosing a Preschool in Singapore What matters most

Proximity, Cleanliness and Structure

For Mrs. Pamela Ng, 36, mother to 20-month old girl, her main considerations were proximity of the location, cleanliness of the premises, and whether the school have organised systems in place for the day-to-day running of the centre.

Cost

Mrs. Alice Hee, 37, mother to 4-year-old girl Hee was concerned about cost in her choice of school for her daughter Ashleigh, now in Nursery 2. “The school fee has to be something which I am comfortable to be paying monthly, for the four years of preschool life. Also, I should be prepared to pay the same for her younger sister – that would mean eight years of preschool fees to take into account.”

Quality of School Life

The quality of school life was the defining factor for Mrs. Dawn Poh, 35, mother to 4-year-old boy. She and her husband decided to transfer her son Noah, who is in Nursery 2, to another childcare, despite a less convenient location, as they wanted to ensure that he had adequate opportunities and space for outdoor play. Their son Noah fell in love with the school’s big playground when they first brought him to visit the centre.

Teacher-Student Ratio

Choosing a preschool what matters to parents

The teacher-student ratio at Noah’s school is also kept low, which allows children to receive more attention from their teachers. This, along with the school’s philosophy of fostering play with academic development, gave Mrs. Poh and her husband the confidence to enroll their son there, despite the higher-than-average school fees.

Balance of Work and Play

Mrs. May Chan, 46, mother to 6-year-old boy, Tjun Hei, settled for a school because of its balance of work and play. She had always wanted her child to have a fun childhood, and disliked the idea of sending her child to enrichment classes before primary school.

“My concern is not so much about my son losing out to his peers academically, but about him losing self-confidence. The first criteria I had in selecting a preschool is really about balancing between academic and fun. Much learning can be achieved through fun,” May explains.

Strong Character Programme

Mrs. Chan also looked for a centre where the teachers would seek to build good character values in the children with love and care. She wanted her son to be under the care of teachers who are responsible and proactive in engaging with parents.

Teaching Style

Mrs. Chan noted that it would be important to consider the school’s teaching approach. Finding a school whose learning style fits your child would be beneficial to him or her. In her case, a balance of English and Mandarin programs at her school has helped her son adopt both languages quickly and well.

By Dorothea Chow

This was first published in The New Age Parents Enrichment and Preschool Resource Guide 2018.

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