When it comes to choosing a preschool, how do parents pick the “right” childcare centre?
While every family may decide differently when picking a preschool, one of the key factors that parents look out for is the SPARK accreditation. This endorsement is synonymous with quality standards and differentiates the various childcare centres in Singapore.
What is the Singapore Pre-School Accreditation Framework (SPARK)?
Introduced by the Ministry of Education (MOE), this assessment is an initiative to raise the standards of local preschools.
You may have seen these ‘SPARK-certified preschool’ banners at some kindergartens and childcare centres in Singapore too.
To achieve the SPARK certification, preschools voluntarily undergo a rigorous assessment to examine the 4 parameters of planning and administration, curriculum and pedagogy, leadership, staff management and resources.
Preschools are assessed against the 4-tiered SPARK Framework towards accreditation:
1. Registration and licensing
The 1st tier is a mandatory regulatory effort to ensure that the centre has adopted a minimum standard of operation (SOP) expected and as outlined by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).
From the 2nd tier onwards, they are completed on a voluntary basis. At this point, the preschool team is required to carry out yearly self-assessments after registration is completed and accepted.
3. Quality rating
Moving to the 3rd tier, this is where the preschool is certain of its quality standards and is ready for self-evaluations to be validated and assessed by an external assessor.
Reviewed across various criteria, the results will be shared with the school. Only those centres that meet the required quality standards are awarded the ‘SPARK-certified’ accreditation as a testament to the excellence that they uphold. This certification has a 6-year validity.
SPARK-certified vs SPARK-certified (commendation) award
So, what’s the difference between a SPARK-certified childcare in Singapore versus one that attained the SPARK Certification (Commendation)?
Preschools undergo the same assessment process for both certifications. SPARK Certification (Commendation) is given to preschools that have a higher quality in teaching and learning practices, as compared to preschools that receive SPARK Certification.
How do kids benefit from attending a SPARK-certified preschool?
Parents can be assured that SPARK-certified preschools embrace and extend a well-developed curriculum that integrates strong teaching pedagogy and a conducive environment to support learning.
After working towards keeping to stringent standards, these schools will be spurred to maintain their certification or commendation through the years. This heightened commitment from the accredited centres means that the teams have to ensure that their centres continuously uphold that distinction to their names. In turn, this gives parents further confidence that their children are in good hands.
Choosing the best preschool for your child
Besides excellence in a holistic curriculum, there are also practical factors for parents to think about. Such as the location of the preschool – should it be near home or the office? Will my child feel safe in a new environment where she would be spending long hours with new friends and other adults?
One of the best ways to find out is to visit your shortlisted preschools with your child. The ideal period to book a school tour would be during curriculum time, so you can observe the interaction between teachers, children and the principal.
It would also give you an opportunity to speak with the educators, check on the school’s hygiene standards, view educational materials as well as the classrooms and other spaces within the centre.
Looking for a SPARK-certified childcare in Singapore for your tot?
38* of our Little Footprints Preschool centres are SPARK-certified. Check out the nearest Little Footprints Preschool to learn about our programmes and curriculum.
*Information is accurate as of 20 March 2023
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