What are the things to look out for when searching for the ideal childcare centre for your child? TNAP rounds up some important factors.
Round 1: Meeting the Basics
All childcare centres in Singapore are licensed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, under the Child Care Centres Act (Cap 37A) and Regulations. All childcare centres are required to obtain a license before starting operations. This license states the tenure for which the license is valid and it would be displayed in the centre.
Subsequently, the Ministry will conduct unannounced visits once every two years to ensure that childcare centres meet acceptable standards of care in the following areas:
- Safety, health, hygiene and nutrition
- Staff training, qualifications and requirements
- Programme and curriculum
- Centre Administration
Here are some guiding questions to help you through when visiting the centre:
- Is the physical environment warm, inviting and safe?
- Does the centre practice good health and hygiene practices?
- What does the school feeding the children?
- Are the teachers certified?
- Do they have at least a certificate in Early Childhood?
- How are the other children behaving in the school?
Other quality indicator: SPARK Accreditation
The Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK) is a quality assurance framework introduced by the Ministry of Education to raise the quality of pre-schools in Singapore and was implemented since January 2011. After 3 years, centres will have to be screened and checked again to renew their certification. The framework supports pre-school leaders in their efforts to enhance their teaching, learning, administration and management processes. It provides pre-schools with a blueprint for planning and carrying out both immediate and long-range improvements.
Here is the list of SPARK certified pre-schools.
⇒ Related Read: Finding The Ideal Childcare Centre
Round 2: Choosing Your Curriculum
After you feel the childcare has met the needs for the checklist above, the next thing you can ask yourself is, what sort of curriculum does the school adopts? Are you looking for a play-based curriculum? Or something more creative that focuses on the arts?
Here are the different types of curriculum you can find offered in various centres:
- Learning Centre Approach
- Play Approach
- Montessori Approach
- Reggio Emilia Approach
- Project-based Approach
- Waldorf Approach
For more information on the various learning approach, read Parent’s Guide To Choosing The Right Preschool.
Round 3: The ‘Heart’ and Culture of the School
This is not something stated in the books, but is something you have to observe and discern for yourself as parents. Yes, it’s no easy feat to be on a lookout for so many things all in one walk-in. Here are some tips:
- Attend Open Houses or other events organized by the centre
- This will help you get a feel of the culture of the school
- Speak to existing parents and new parents at the event
- Find out about their thoughts and experiences and shares with them
- What sort of external events does the school organize: Any fund-raising or charitable events? Is this in line with the school’s philosophy?
- Any informal or formal collaboration with parents and teachers?
During your preview or walk-in session:
- How do the children respond or greet you when you appear in their classroom; how do the teachers respond or greet you?
- How do the non-teaching staff and teachers interact with one another?
- How do the teachers interact with the children?
Although the above factors are important, there are also other considerations such as the locality of the school and the cost of school fees.
Here are some insights on how parents can cope with the rising cost of fees, and what help they can tap on provided by the government.
What other factors do you look out for in finding the right school for your child? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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