When it comes to childcare options in Singapore, we are often inundated by the unlimited options presented to us. Being able to shop around for the best preschool for your little ones is a privilege as you search for a school that fits all your criteria.
Is the environment nurturing and stimulating?
Are the teachers caring and loving?
Do they satisfy your children’s curiosity for learning?
Can you afford the fees that come with the package?
It may surprise you to know that in Singapore, preschools are categorised into three main sections:
(1) private childcare and partner operators;
(2) anchor operators;
(3) MOE kindergarten.
Each category has different factors for your consideration. Let’s have a quick look!
What are the differences between private childcare, anchor operators and MOE Kindergarten?
Private childcare and Partner Operators
Most private childcare operators are licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). They cater to 18 months and above, with some centres offering infant care services for 2 months and above.
Private childcare centres are required to operate from 7am to 7pm to cater to working parents, and some centres may open for half-days on Saturdays for parents who work on weekends.
Government subsidies are available to help parents in Singapore ease the load on their children’s preschool fees. The basic subsidy for childcare starts at $300 per month for full-day childcare and $600 per month for full-day infant care, with additional subsidies to avail – based on household income.
To date, a growing number of private childcare operators, such as Little Footprints Preschool, are on ECDA’s Partner Operator (POP) Scheme which supports childcare operators to improve the quality and affordability of preschool programmes.
Childcare operators who are under this scheme are required to keep their fees for Singaporean citizens at a cap of $760 for full-day childcare, and $1,330 for full-day infant care.
At Little Footprints Preschool, we have 42 centres island-wide – with most of our centres operating under the POP scheme.
For private childcare centres that are not under the POP scheme, there are no fee cap restrictions – and fees on average typically start from $800 onwards.
There are only five brands of childcare operators under the Anchor Operator scheme – My First Skool, PCF Sparkletots, MY World Preschool, Skool4Kidz and E-Bridge.
Under the Anchor Operator (AOP) scheme, the school fees are capped at $720 for full-day childcare, $1275 for full-day infant care and $160 for kindergarten.
Anchor Operator centres operate from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and 7am to 2pm on Saturdays, which is ideal for parents who work on weekends.
MOE Kindergartens only accept 5- and 6-year-old children who are Singaporean citizens or Permanent Residents (PR) for their Kindergarten 1 and 2 programmes.
Registration for MOE Kindergarten is open the year before your child turns 5 for K1, while admission for K2 programmes is subject to the availability of places in your preferred MOE Kindergarten.
Online registration typically commences in the first week of February every year (do check the MOE website for exact dates).
MOE Kindergarten sessions run for four hours, as per kindergarten requirements in Singapore. However, they are two sessions available – morning or afternoon.
Before/after school care, called Kindergarten Care (KCare), can be an option for working parents who require their children to be cared for the whole day.
The programme covers the hours before and after the MOE Kindergarten session and is inclusive of meals and activities that allow children to play, explore and discover through indoor and outdoor play and activities. Some examples of activities included in KCare are tinkering, cookery, gardening, dramatic play, as well as sand and water play.
Fees for KCare are capped at $415 a month.
MOE Kindergarten's Partnership with Anchor Operators
To provide continuous access to quality and affordable preschool education for children, MOE has piloted an MK-Early Years Centre model by partnering with PCF Sparkletots and My First Skool in Punggol.
Under this model, all eligible Singaporean and PR Nursery 2 children who are enrolled at the My First Skool and PCF Sparkletots Early Years centres in Punggol will be guaranteed a Kindergarten 1 place in a nearby partner MOE Kindergarten in the year they turn 5.
This will provide a smooth transition to K1 for all children enrolled in these Early Years Centres.
How do you select the best preschool in Singapore for your child?
If you are looking at your options for the best preschool in Singapore for your children, these factors may help you decide as you weigh your options between an MOE Kindergarten and private childcare.
Primary school affiliation
One advantage of enrolling your child in an MOE Kindergarten that is co-located with a primary school is that they receive priority in Phase 2A2 for Primary 1 registration. This may be a huge weight off your shoulders if you are concerned about getting your child into a primary school.
Private childcare centres do not provide any advantages for primary school affiliation. Parents can consider becoming volunteers with their preferred primary school, or use other routes such as the 1km proximity rule or alumni connections to gain priority into primary school.
However, rest assured that all children who are Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents in Singapore are guaranteed a space in a primary school in Singapore.
MOE Kindergartens only offer a 4-hour programme in two sessions: morning from 8am to 12pm and afternoon from 1pm to 5pm.
For working parents who require additional care for their children, they will have to enrol their children into Kindergarten Care (KCare) which is an onsite childcare facility.
Private childcare centres run on a 12-hour cycle, from 7am to 7pm, to cater to working parents. Some schools operate half-days on Saturdays.
In 2022 and 2023, the monthly fees for MOE Kindergarten are as follows:
- $160 for Singapore Citizens
- $320 for Singapore Permanent Residents
Although MOE Kindergartens may be closed over the June and December holidays as they follow the primary school calendar, your fees are still payable in those months to secure your spot.
Families with a gross household income of less than $6,000 can apply for the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS).
KCare costs $415 a month on top of your school fees and it is payable during the holidays as well.
At Little Footprints Preschool, the school fees for full-day childcare programmes at our POP centres are set at $760 per month, while fees for our Non-POP centres range from $900 to $1,200, with a complimentary enrichment programme included.
Both half-day and full-day programmes for infant care (at selected locations) are available as well, at $1,330 for POP centres and up to $1,500 for Non-POP centres.
Singapore Citizens are entitled to use their childcare and infant care subsidies to defray some of the costs.
All MOE Kindergarten centres conduct the same curriculum across the schools. This curriculum follows the Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) framework and is applied by all preschools across Singapore as well.
Private childcare, on the other hand, can offer additional learning experiences to children by incorporating a variety of learning approaches that best suit your children. For example, at Little Footprints Preschool, we focus strongly on theme-based learning through an integrated approach, where our children engage in multi-sensory, hands-on activities.
As lessons are planned around the children’s abilities, interests and needs, they enjoy opportunities to learn through play, observation and exploration of their environment as they discover how things around them work.
MOE Kindergarten does not provide extra enrichment programmes outside of their 4-hour curriculum.
However, most private preschools in Singapore do have curated enrichment programmes for their students. For some centres, additional enrichment programmes are extra out-of-pocket costs for parents, so do enquire with your chosen preschool for more information.
Little Footprints Preschool offers a variety of enrichment programmes to provide a holistic learning experience to children. Participation in the enrichment programmes is subject to a fee top-up for POP centres, while Non-POP centres enjoy one complimentary enrichment programme included in the school fees.
Currently, there are 43 MOE Kindergarten centres that are running at full capacity, with another 14 locations to be added between 2023 to 2025.
Little Footprints Preschool has 42 centres, all designed to offer your child a safe, conducive environment for learning and staffed with caring, dedicated teachers.
Infant care services and facilities are available at selected centres.
What is the best way of getting yourself acquainted with the school premises and their staff? Open houses, of course!
MOE Kindergartens usually conduct an open house once a year before registration begins.
Most private preschools have their own schedule for open houses, with some conducting them more than once a year. Little Footprints Preschool holds three open houses a year to encourage parents to view the premises and speak with our friendly staff before enrolment.
While you are weighing your options between a private preschool or MOE Kindergarten, why not visit our Little Footprints Preschool centres for more information? Come and take a look at our learning and care environment, and speak with our friendly staff. We have all the answers to your questions!
Click here to book a tour at your preferred centre – we look forward to seeing you soon!
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