Choosing a preschool for your child is an exciting journey, but things can also get overwhelming as you look out for the perfect childcare centre. In the same way that we want the best for our children, the same applies when it comes to choosing a preschool for them too.
We are spoilt for choices when it comes to choosing preschools in Singapore as there are so many brands and centres to choose from. Along the way, you might have heard from other parents about their experiences with the childcare centre that their children are in. For sure, having access to personal sharings like this can help you narrow down the factors to look out for in a preschool in Singapore.
The Value of Putting Your Children in a Good Preschool
Early childhood programmes are designed to help children meet their learning and developmental milestones, as they gain skills that are important for life.
Being in preschool also helps to meet the needs of families with no help from other caregivers when both parents are working during the day. For all this and other reasons, zooming in to the best preschool that meets your needs and requirements can be an uphill task.
To help you navigate through this process, here are some factors to keep in mind as you look out for the best preschool for your children.
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
1. Class Size Matters
The ideal teacher-child ratio is available on the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA) website.
For playgroup children (18 to 30 months), the ideal ratio should be 2 teachers to 12 children. For older children in kindergarten 2, the ratio is set at 2 teachers to 30 children.
While some preschools may have the capacity to offer class sizes that are smaller than the recommended guidelines, most childcare centres follow closely the ratios set by ECDA. These guidelines were designed to allow learning to be interactive between the teachers and children, whilst allowing the little ones opportunities to interact with their peers which builds up their social skills.
2. Overall Environment at the Centre
For most of us, we usually take note of the decorations and classwork displayed on the walls when visiting a childcare centre. This display says a lot about the lessons that the teachers conduct with the children and the quality of learning that takes place.
Above that, do also take note of the centre’s overall organisation and setup as well. Do the classrooms look “too neat” – which could be a sign that children are not allowed the freedom to explore and learn from their messes. On the other hand, a classroom that is messy right from the start does not look good either.
As you walk through the doors of the preschool, you should feel a comforting sense of warmth as you scan the overall environment. Teachers and children should interact with ease and be familiar with each other – these are the things you would want your child to feel too every day that he/she enters the childcare centre.
While striking a conversation with the principal and teachers, note how they respond to your questions. Are they confident in their answers or are unsure about certain policies of the school? This says a lot about how much they know about the centre’s operations and how organised the entire school is.
3. Space for Learning and Play
Another area to consider is space available at the centre and how the learning areas are segregated.
Take note if there is ample space for children to move around and if there are clearly defined areas for different activities conducted throughout the day, such as lessons, nap and mealtimes, as well as play and exploration. Are the classrooms in individual rooms or laid out in an open concept style – decide which style you are most comfortable with.
For centres that have an outdoor area, is the space wide enough for children to run around safely and what activities are typically conducted in this area.
4. Daily Schedules and Menu
Your child will be taking meals and snacks several times throughout the day through the food that the school provides. In Singapore, all preschools strive to provide meals that are well-balanced, nutritious and healthy for growing children.
Ask about the source of the meals provided by the school – are they prepared in-house or catered by a reputable caterer? It is also helpful to ask to view a copy of the menu for an example of the food served to the children and if these are suitable for your children.
If your children have known food allergies, find out if the school is able to cater to your children’s dietary needs – or if they allow the flexibility of having you pack homemade meals for your children.
5. Cleanliness of the Childcare Centre
The overall cleanliness of the centre is another important factor as children are very susceptible to falling ill from viruses.
In view of the current pandemic, preschools in Singapore should also put in place higher standards of cleanliness to protect our children from falling ill.
Some health and safety protocols to find out include:
- The frequency of cleaning the centre and toys/learning materials
- Protocols for teaching children good personal hygiene (e.g. washing of hands before eating and in between activities)
- Availability of hand sanitizers for the children’s use
6. Discipline and Good Habits
Classroom rules are helpful for children to understand their boundaries in a learning environment and whilst interacting with others. Do find out how the teachers encourage positive behaviour in class and guide the children in situations of conflicts.
It is important for parents to work closely with teachers in this aspect as our little ones are going through different phases throughout their preschool journey and learning to relate to the people around them.
7. Staff Turnover Rate
The staff turnover in a preschool indicates if the teachers are happy with their work environment and how passionate they are in what they do. Take time to observe how the teachers interact with the children during the tour – are they actively involved in their lessons and do they maintain positive energy with the children?
Ready to take a closer look at your shortlisted preschoools in Singapore?
Go on and book a tour with a preschool of your choice!
With centres conveniently located in the heartlands of Singapore, Little Footprints Preschool may be a great choice for you. Here, learning is based largely on a thematic and experiential approach, along with specially curated programmes to develop your children socially and cognitively. Both half-day and full-day programmes are available for your selection, while infant care services are available at selected centres for little ones aged 2 to 17 months.
Come and book a tour at your preferred centre now!
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