Article by Puja Chandra Nanda
Looking for a Preschool for your precious one in Singapore?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Q. Am I looking for a childcare or a kindergarten?
The obvious factors deciding this question is whether you or your partner have the flexibility to work from home so you can look after your child. Or alternately do you have any means for childcare at home- for example grandparents living together or close by or an experienced helper?
Q. If looking for a childcare, am I looking for a full day programme or a half day one?
The factors again availability of childcare at home after the child is home and cost of half day vs full day programme.
Q. How far is the preschool from my home or office?
The location and accessibility of the preschool is very important, especially in the initial years. Many parents prefer a location close to their office so they can reach quickly in case required.
Q. What is my budget?
It is good to fix an upper limit to how much you are willing to spend on your child’s preschool education and this factor usually helps to narrow down choices.
Exploring preschool options:
You can begin by listing out the most promising preschools as per your requirements. Explore them virtually first to have an overview about the school so you can shortlist. All schools sport websites where you can learn about their vision, teaching pedagogy and methodology and also their fee structure. You can usually drop them an email for inquiries or call up to learn more.
Don’t forget to check out online reviews, feedback and parent testimonials on their website and social media pages. This is a good way to judge what existing parents feel about a school’s environment, teachers and learning processes. Many parenting websites and blogs also run comparative charts and share lists of best preschools every year highlighting the school’s unique strengths. Check out Parents World list of best preschools for 2020 here.
Seek appointment for a tour of the shortlisted schools for a first hand experience of its environment. It is good to keep a list of questions handy to ask during the tour/ meeting with school staff to help you with this difficult decision.
7 Questions to ask a potential preschool:
Q. What is the Curriculum offered by the school?
The common curricula offered at preschools in Singapore include the hands-on ones such as the Maria Montesori, Waldorf Steiner or the Reggio Emilio models. Another popular curriculum is based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences propounded by Howard Gardner.
Some preschools strictly follow one model while some customize their own curricula loosely based on either one or more models. It is worthwhile to read and understand the curriculum type of your preferred school(s) and match with your expectations and the child’s learning temperament.
It is also important to find out if irrespective of curriculum offered, the school has a robust programme that prepares the child for a smooth transition to primary school.
Q. Is the preschool offering full bilingual immersion in letter and spirit, for example by using both languages in classroom settings?
Experts stress on the importance of introducing languages early in life to the child for him to be able to master it, so this is an important consideration for most parents.
Q. What are the enrichment classes offered, and at what cost?
For an all-rounded development, schools offer various enrichment classes that complement the curriculum and build necessary life skills, soft skills and future-ready skills in children. It is worthwhile to find out if the school charges separately for the enrichment classes which can effectively drive up the total cost.
Q.What is the teacher-student ratio?
This will determine the amount of personalized attention your child will get which may in turn impact his or her confidence in social interactions. Some children thrive in smaller settings, especially those who may need special care while some love being part of bigger groups.
Q. Does the school allow parent involvement? What is the mode and frequency of feedback?
For first-time parents, this can be a deal breaker as they want to be kept abreast of their child’s growth and participate wherever possible.
Q. How is the quality of teachers and whether the school invests in them?
There is no one who influences a child as the teacher does. Teachers are instrumental in shaping a child, and thus their quality is a decisive factor. Schools conduct periodic training sessions for their teachers so they can keep up with changing requirements and methodologies. Talk to the school to find out how they ensure their teachers are the best!
Q. How is the learning environment?
For young children the preschool is a home away from home as they spend most of their waking up hours here. Some questions to ask include:
- Does the school have enough outdoor space?
- In case it doesn’t, does it plan frequent school excursions to allow children to form connections with nature and the outside world?
- What kind of food is served? Are they flexible about special dietary needs of the child?
- How particular is the school about maintaining safety and hygiene on premises? Post Covid-19 scenario, hygiene and sanitation has taken centerstage and the school has to convince you that your little one is safe with them.
Needless to say, to decide on a preschool that is the best fit, you have to know your child and understand his or her needs. Finally, while deciding on the perfect preschool for your precious one, listen to your heart! A parent’s intuition is sometimes the most luminous guiding light on matters related to their children.
Best Preschools in Singapore 2020 at https://parentsworld.com.sg/category/award/best-pre-school/