Choosing a preschool is a big moment in a parent’s life. After months, or years, of nurturing this little person, watching their every move, and knowing every detail of what they’ve eaten/thrown/laughed at/cried over/kicked/broken each day, it’s a big deal to drop them off and remain sight unseen for the rest of the day. Every day. Then, when you turn to the task of deciding which school is going to be the lucky recipient of your little guy or girl’s food missiles, it’s no mean feat. There are hundreds of options, all promising the best for your child. So, in an effort to help you wade through the long list, we’ve whittled things down to five criteria for you to consider. And don’t forget to check out our handy school comparison tool: School Selector!
This is possibly the toughest part of the decision-making process, because there are so many teaching methodologies out there. A simple way to look at it – recognising, of course, that every family has different priorities – is to find a curriculum that firstly, nurtures curiosity, encouraging an inquisitive nature and hands-on exploration (ie. Make sure they get to play with stuff and get their hands dirty rather than just sitting and listening). Secondly, the curriculum should develop your child holistically, so it’s not just about academics. Kids in the early years should start to thrive socially, emotionally and cognitively, so ask about the activities your child will spend their time doing to get a sense of where the focus is.
If you don’t see any certificates on the walls, it might be time for an early exit! Don’t be afraid to ask about the school’s standards in curriculum and pedagogy, health, hygiene and safety. If a preschool has SPARK (Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework) certification it means it’s been properly assessed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and met the baseline quality standards.
3. Caring educators
It’s hard enough to leave your precious little person in the hands of another, so leaving them with someone who doesn’t feel nurturing or passionate about their job just isn’t going to cut it. These people are at the heart of your child’s early learning, so make sure you meet the principal and teachers personally. Check that they’re well qualified and experienced, suss out whether you feel you’ll be in partnership with the teacher (rather than at war!), and find out the teacher-child ratio. You need to be comfortable with the level of attention your child is likely to receive.
4. Comfortable environment
Would you like to spend your days in a dump? No? Neither would the little folks. Environment serves as the third teacher in a school setting, so ensure you feel comfortable that the space is safe, clean and stimulating. Look for child-proofing, lighting, space, colours and textures so kids can learn through spontaneous play, exploration and experimentation. Culture is also a crucial part of the environment, so try to establish whether this is a place that fosters support and respect for others. It’s never too early for kids to learn how to build respectful and engaging relationships.
5. Convenient location
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get distracted by a school that ticks all the above boxes and forget that walking 25 minutes in Singapore’s humidity with a tired and hungry toddler every afternoon is no one’s idea of fun. Make sure the preschool is close to home or work, and VERY importantly, within easy reach in case of an emergency.
One sought-after preschool in Singapore that might tick all the boxes for you is Learning Vision. It’s a well-established preschool with 22 centres across the island catering for infant care (2-17 months) and childcare (18 months-6 years). Registration for 2017 is now open, and will definitely fill up quickly (we know from previous experience!). Give them a call to see if one of their centres will work for you and your little one!
This post is sponsored by Learning Vision.