The experiences your child gain during the early years are critical. A rich experience with the right learning stimuli also form the foundation of his or her future cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and physical development, helping your child reach the developmental milestones.
Formed in 2013, ECDA raises the quality of preschool education in Singapore. Preschools like infant care, nurseries, kindergartens and child care centres in Singapore are governed by ECDA.
There are infant care centres in Singapore that provide infant care services for infants and toddlers between 2 to 18 months old.
Beyond 18 months, depending on your preference, you can choose either Singapore playgroups, nurseries and preschools that offer 3- to 4-hour kindergartens or half or full-day child-care childcare programmes for children between the age of two and six years old. Some kindergartens even offer emergency care.
The MSF’s infantcare and childcare subsidies differ according to the time your child spent in the childcare and the mother’s total working hours per week. In addition, you can offset school fees from your child’s baby bonus account. MSF is the restructured from MCYS.
Another good news is that several infant care centres have childcare licences. This allows infants to have a smooth transition to a child care once they reach 18 months of age.
Most preschools in Singapore offer English as the main teaching language. Mandarin comes second, and then sometimes another Mother-tongue language. A few kindergartens pride themselves with effective bilingual programmes, offering children equal exposure to English and Mandarin programmes. The Childcare link provides some interesting information on this. You can check vacancies in preschools in ECDA’s Registration Management System (RMS). Most preschools require a one month waiting list deposit.
Child Care/Infant Care Subsidy: Making Childcare Affordable
There are many subsidies and financial assistance schemes available to make child care services more affordable for parents. These include Basic and Additional Subsidy for centre-based infant and child care, and the ComCare Student Care Subsidies.
All parents with Singapore Citizen children enrolled in child care centres licensed by ECDA will continue to be eligible for a Basic Subsidy.
In addition, families with a monthly household incomes of $7,500 and below are now eligible for an Additional Subsidy, with lower income families receiving more. Larger families with many dependents can also choose to have their Additional Subsidy computed on a per capita income (PCI) basis. For the latest information, you can check this link or find out from your child care centre.
Parents whose gross monthly household income is $6,000 and below and have a Singapore Citizen child enrolled in kindergarten, nursery or pre-nursery (K2, K1, N or pre-N) programme in kindergartens operated by Anchor Operators (e.g. PCF kindergartens) or the Ministry of Education (MOE kindergartens) are eligible for Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS).
To make kindergarten education affordable to parents, the government introduces the Partner Operator Scheme (POP) in 2016 to reduce their current fees, keep to a monthly fee cap of $800 and $1,400 (excluding GST) for full-day child care and infant care respectively, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents.
Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK). SPARK Certification was introduced in 2011 to recognise preschools for their continued efforts in providing quality preschool education.
Preschools that wish to participate in the SPARK assessment must meet all licensing/regulatory requirements, and should be in operational for at least one year. Child care centres must have license tenures of at least 12 months and to go through supervisory checks upon their application for SPARK assessment.
Kindergartens will also go through regulatory checks upon their application for SPARK assessment. 7 criteria on health, hygiene and safety, which were formerly part of SPARK assessment, have been integrated with licensing and regulatory checks.
The Association of Early Childhood and Training Services (ASSETS) recognises preschool employers who have demonstrated commitment to their staff through excellent workplace practices, programme and operations management and service excellence. This award is open to all licensed child care and registered operators in Singapore. Criteria include Human Resource Policies and Practices (50%), Operational Excellence (30%) and Service Excellence (20%). Sending you child to a school with ASSETS is assured of a school with high quality working processes.
Integrated Child Care Programme (ICCP) is an inclusive child care programme for children with special needs who require special education. It provides a natural learning environment alongside peers in mainstream child care centres and prepares the child for entry into mainstream primary education. See this link for the list of preschools that offer the ICCP programme.
There are different teaching methodologies and curriculum adopted by the preschools. Here are a few key methodologies for kindergartens and child care centres:
Heguru is an effective early childhood education method that has been studied and developed by Hirotada and Ruiko Henmi for over 30 years. While conventional education methods mainly focus on how instructors teach children, the Heguru method focuses on how to grow children’s ability to acquire education.
The Shichida method emphasises that before any right brain training can be done, the parents’ task is to make their child feel that he/she is loved. The child's mind can only be unlocked if there is a strong bond and a loving relationship between the parent and the child. Shichida advocates the parent as his/her child's best teacher.
Right- and left-brain activities can be reproduced at home. The parent is taught how to conduct home activities (or ‘home practice’). There are also additional right-brain activities, which are not done in class, but are encouraged to do with your child at home, like the math dots program.
There is ready-made material which parents can buy for home activities.
The pace of the class is a little slower compared to Heguru, as most of the activities are carried out at a pace which parents can replicate at home.
There are more hands-on activities, which is a better format for parent and child bonding.
One parent is an active companion in the child’s learning.
The Reggio Emilia Approach (REA) is an educational philosophy with the belief that people form their own personality during early years of development. It also believes that:
Children are endowed with ‘a hundred languages’ through which they can express their ideas. The aim of this approach is teaching how to use these symbolic languages (eg. painting, sculpting, drama) in everyday life.
Children are capable of constructing their own learning. Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others
Children are communicators. They ask questions using language as play. Playing with sounds and rhythm and rhyme; delighting in the process of communicating.
The Environment is the Third Teacher . every material is considered for its purpose, every corner is ever-evolving to encourage children to delve deeper and deeper into their interests.
The adult is a facilitator, allowing the child to lead the learning. The projects aren’t planned in advance. Instead, they emerge based on the child’s interests.
An emphasis on documenting children’s thoughts. there is an emphasis on carefully displaying and documenting children’s thoughts and progression of thinking; making their thoughts visible in many different ways: photographs, transcripts of children’s thoughts and explanations, visual representations (drawings, sculptures etc.), all designed to show the child’s learning process.
Also known as Steiner education, the Waldorf Education is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. Its pedagogy emphasises the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils.
Steiner's division of child development into three major stages is reflected in the school's' approach to early childhood education. Each stage focuses on practical, hands-on activities and creative play.
Montessori learning emphasises learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, or reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own, individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities.
Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely different approach to education.
A good first step to search for the right preschool in Singapore for your child is to browse actualyse.com’s comprehensive school directory with powerful filtering and shortlisting functions. These will allow you to compare fees and view authentic reviews of the preschools to help you find the right one for your child.
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