Wing Yee Choo
7 questions you should ask when choosing a kindergarten program in Singapore
Updated: Feb 19, 2022
Is your child over 1-year old? Then you should start looking for a kindergarten program in
Singapore because the sooner they enrol in an educational program, the more sociable they’ll be. If you’re a new parent, you may have no idea what kindergarten to choose.
First, you must know what these centres are.
Kindergartens in Singapore are education facilities with 10 or more kids. They provide
structured, compendious, and integrated preschool education programmes for children
between 18 months and 7 years old. All centres must include two kindergarten programmes, but most of them also offer pre-nursery and nursery programmes. All programmes are 40 weeks long and parents can take their children to the centre from Monday to Friday. Depending on the specifics of the facility, the duration of daily sessions may differ from 3 to 4 or even more hours.
Now, you know what the average kindergarten offers, it’s time to decide which one meets your kid’s needs. And what better way to find out, than asking yourself some questions?
What are your institution’s philosophy and values? Before choosing your kid’s kindergarten make sure their values, beliefs, and philosophy are aligned with yours, and they encourage your children’s education. Decide if you prefer a centre with a curriculum based on academics or play, and filter the results according to your preference. Do you want the school to involve you in activities? Then don’t forget to ask them if it allows the parents to support their children in the learning process. You can volunteer for some activities (aka. PVG - Parent Volunteer Groups) or attend some classes as a guest speaker.
What teaching methods do you focus on? The best Singapore kindergartens not only stimulates but also challenges your child’s intellectual, social, physical, emotional, and linguistic skills. So, it’s essential to check what methods they use to determine if they are suitable for your kid’s skills and aptitudes. You must decide if the curriculum meets their personality and learning style. Check how much they teach through hands-on exploration and pupil-led activities, how much through learning centres, and how much through other methods. Ask if you and your child can attend one of the classes or have a trial lesson, to better understand their teaching methods.
Will you record my kid’s progress? It’s important for the teacher to monitor your child’s progress and share it with you, so ask if they track their progress and they provide feedback. The preschool should always inform you when the kid’s struggling with some areas of the curriculum, so you can help them improve their skills. Make sure you understand why they’re having a hard time with a certain subject, and find ways to help them improve their skills.
Do you have any health measures? Don’t enrol your children to a centre before finding what systems they have in place to face disease outbreaks. It is used to be mainly Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) that was on top of parents' minds in the past. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there are even more worrisome diseases. With the onset of the Omicron variant which is now prevalent and easily transmittable, even among young children, now parents have even more to contend with. Does the facility check the children's temperature daily? How do they disinfect the space to prevent health problems and keep it hygienic and safe? Do they encourage the pupils to wash their hands every time they use the bathroom and before meals? Are the teachers trained to identify disease signs and symptoms? Checking the preschool’s policies for emergencies it’s crucial when looking for a kindergarten because it tells you if they’re able to help your child if they fall, get injured or have an allergic reaction to something.
How do you ensure children are safe? Supervision is another aspect you should check when choosing a kindergarten program in Singapore. When you shortlist schools to find the right one for your child, ensure they have enough teachers to look after all pupils, especially in the classes for young kids. You need to know you can have peace of mind when you drop the little one at the kindergarten in the morning. Ask the centre manager some questions: ● Is there someone stationed at the centre’s entrance at all times? ● Do you secure the doors when the children are inside the facility? ● How do you "guarantee" the children’s safety during off-site activities?
Does the educational environment support creativity and learning? You should already know what your kid’s skills and interests are, so inspect the centre to understand if it fits their needs. Are they proud of the children’s artworks, and expose them around the facility? The way they promote their pupils’ progress shows how committed they are to supporting their creativity. Make sure that the facility is comfortable and features well-maintained equipment and furniture. Do they have outdoor play spaces and areas where children can exercise and explore their interest in sports? The learning and exercises areas tell you how devoted the staff is to children’s social, physical, and educational development.
What qualifications do their teachers have?
Preschool teachers must have a diploma in childhood education, at the very minimum; but most kindergartens ask their teachers to have some extra qualifications. Check if the teachers from the preschool you select have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree because they prove they are experts in the domain if that's important to you. The experience the teachers have is also important because it shows how dedicated they are to their job. Alongside the educational qualifications, teachers should also hold training in hygiene and health to teach children how to protect themselves from health risks. Don’t forget to check the teacher-child ratio because it influences the quality of the education your kid gets. The average ratios are 1:8 for the playgroup (PG), 1:12 for pre-nursery (N1), 1:15 for nursery (N2), 1:20 for kindergarten 1 (K1), and 1:25 for kindergarten 2 (K2), but many centres have lower ratios and you should choose one of those because they provide increased attention for pupils.
Other small details: Alongside the above questions, also ask what your child will be fed during mealtimes (types of food, portion sizes, and custom dietary requirements). If your child is allergic to certain foods inform the kindergarten and ask them if they can prepare a special menu for them. You should also ask them if you need to pay extras for learning materials, outings or other similar activities. These are all hidden costs that would easily add up to the total education bill.
What other questions would you have? Do comment below.