19 May 2022
With more than 1900 different childcare centres and kindergartens, choosing a preschool in Singapore can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for first-time parents.
So what’s the secret to finding the best preschool? Here’s a tip: choosing a preschool should be more about finding what works best for your child than finding the “perfect” school.
Having so many choices can be overwhelming, so here is a handy guide to help you make the best decision in your little one’s life.
Why is preschool important for your child?
Let’s start with WHY preschool education is vital for your child.
The early years of a child’s life are crucial for cognitive, social, emotional and physical development.
In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success.
Our children are born ready to learn. They are like little sponges absorbing all the information around them and actively making sense of it. Children grow and learn best in a safe environment with plenty of opportunities to play, explore and learn.
A preschool environment is carefully designed to teach children how to be learners- it nurtures their creativity and curiosity and improves their cognitive skills. Children also pick up language skills through exposure to different mediums such as text, music and public speaking opportunities- it helps them communicate effectively.
Our children develop valuable social skills in preschool- they learn how to make friends, share, cooperate, listen, follow instructions and build conversation skills. They also develop self-regulation and conflict-resolution skills- skills that make them future-ready.
Preschool also fosters independence in children- they learn to take care of themselves, wash their hands, wear shoes on their own etc.
Research shows that children who attend quality preschools display greater self-regulatory behaviour and academic skills than their counterparts who don’t attend preschool. This is especially significant when considering the rigorous education system in Singapore.
Things to consider when choosing a preschool in Singapore
Here are some essential factors to consider when it comes to choosing a preschool in Singapore:
Pick a preschool that suits your child’s personality. What kind of environment does your child thrive in? What makes them nervous and uncomfortable? Do they need more play opportunities? What will be most challenging about preschool?
If you have any specific concerns, talk to preschool principals and teachers. Find out more about their teaching styles and how they interact with the children.
As parents, we really want to know what our kids are doing all day at preschool. We don’t want to miss out on their little milestones and achievements. Find out how the preschool tracks your child’s development and progress. How will this information be communicated to you?
For instance, at PCF Sparkletots, parents can view announcements and pictures or videos of their child participating in class activities through a parents’ engagement portal. You can also communicate your concerns and gain more insights into your child’s behaviour, preferences, and progress through parent/teacher conferences held at least twice a year.
It is also a good idea to visit open houses to get a sense of the preschool’s culture and environment. Try to get some feedback from other parents as well on their child’s experience and progress and their communication with the teachers.
While we all want the best for our child, you should choose a preschool that fits your budget. Having a budget in mind also helps to narrow down your search considerably.
Choosing a preschool close to home, your parents or in-laws’, or office can save on time and travel costs. It makes pick-up and drop-off easier and allows you to get to the centre quickly in case of emergencies.
A big advantage of PCF Sparkletots is their accessibility and affordability. With almost 360 preschools island-wide, you can be sure to find a centre near you.
Do you need a half-day or full-day childcare programme for your child? This is an important factor to consider too, depending on your need and whether you have support from other caregivers such as grandparents.
Preschool education should be holistic and developmentally- appropriate. It is crucial to select a curriculum that meets your child’s learning style and personality. Find out more about the preschool’s teaching approach and whether their curriculum is play-based or inquiry-based. Also, check what activities are available and whether they offer enrichment programmes. Today, preschools have shifted from rote learning to a more holistic curriculum. The aim is to ensure that our children grow up to be effective communicators and are future-ready.
You might want to check out some highlights of the curriculum at PCF Sparkletots:
You might want to know how long the preschool has been around and what awards it has received. Awards are a good indication of a preschool’s quality, and for us parents, it is reassuring to know that our children are in good hands.
PCF Sparkletots preschools and educators have been constantly recognised with national-level awards, as such the ECDA Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education and the Ministry of Education’s Outstanding Preschool Mother Tongue Language Teacher Awards.
About 90% of eligible PCF Sparkletots preschools have also attained the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA) SPARK accreditation, a mark of endorsement for quality preschools and their programmes.
Does your child need extra attention and help to be at their best? Does he or she have different learning abilities and/or developmental needs that may require support? Talk to the preschool’s principal about their support services, such as early intervention programmes, including specialised therapies.
Do note that PCF Sparkletots has a dedicated PCF Inclusive Education team that provides direct support to selected children with developmental needs and guidance and coaching to the teachers so that they can provide a more positive experience for the children.
Selected PCF Sparkletots preschools are also a part of the Inclusive Support Programme (InSP) pilot that aims to enhance inclusion and support for children with developmental needs.
It’s important that our little ones are provided with healthy, nutritious meals. Also, it would be best if you informed the preschool in case your child has allergies or special dietary requirements.
PCF Sparkletots provides well-balanced meals and participates in the Healthy Meals in Preschool Programme (HMPP) endorsed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
HMPP empowers preschools to provide healthier meals and encourages them to educate children on eating right.
Your child will be spending a considerable amount of time at preschool every day. So it’s all the more important to ensure that the preschool environment is clean and hygienic, and protocols such as regular cleaning and sanitising of toys and common surfaces are followed strictly.
For instance, every PCF Sparkletots is equipped with a UV Steriliser for sterilising toys and shared items, on top of the regulatory safe management measures.
You might also want to pay special attention to the hygiene of areas such as toilets and shower rooms.
Check what measures the preschool has taken to curb the spread of diseases such as HFMD and COVID-19. Are there daily temperature checks? Do they ensure that children wash their hands before meals?
Every child deserves the best possible start in life
Our childhood experiences are the foundation on which the rest of our lives are built. Giving your child quality preschool education will set them up for greater success in every area of life. It gives them a strong foundation for learning and helps with their physical and social-emotional development.
For more information on PCF Sparkletots, or to locate a centre near you and register interest, head over to https://openhouse.pcf.org.sg
credit: The Asian Parent
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