A preschool is a learning ground for children who are between 18 months to 6 years. Preschools play an essential role in nurturing a child’s confidence, social skills and character. Many early childhood experts emphasise that the early, developmental years of a child play a key role in shaping his/her growth. As a parent, this means that choosing the right preschool for your child is a very important decision to make.
In Singapore, we are fortunate to have a plethora of preschools to select from, but with that also comes the difficulty of choosing the best preschool for your child. What are some tips to look out for when choosing a preschool?
1. Visit the Preschool
Preschool administrators often have many positive things to say about their institution and its teachers. That is why seeing the preschool for yourself is necessary. Pay them an impromptu visit so that they don’t have time to make the setting look different. Ask to see the toilets, the eating area, the classroom, and the play area. This will give you a better idea of the environment in which your child will learn while you are away. Pay attention to the children’s noises. Do you hear chattering, laughter, and conversations? It is also important that the environment is clean with enough room to play and interact with other children. This will improve your child’s communication skills and make learning more fun.
2. Low Student-to-Teacher ratio
The number of children in a class directly affects the quality of teaching. Children who learn in smaller class sizes have more time to spend with teachers and can get help with issues affecting them personally. This is why a private preschool may be the best option for your child.
3. The curriculum
Preschools in Singapore are not obligated to use a specific curriculum or pedagogy. Different preschools adopt different styles of teaching. You are probably familiar with the widely known pedagogies like Montessori, Play-based learning and Reggio-Emilia. Some preschools such as Little Shepherds Schoolhouse incorporate an Education in Virtue® curriculum, which focuses on instilling in young children crucial values like empathy and compassion. This helps them live the virtues in their daily lives centered on Christ teachings. Contact the preschool administrators or the website to know what pedagogy they use and the programmes they offer. This is important if you have a preference.
Additionally, some preschools teach children in more than one language which is proven beneficial for the children in the long run. Check the preschool’s website to know if they offer this option and which languages your child will be taught in. The benefits of sending a child to a bilingual or multilingual preschool are that it gives them more opportunities and helps them associate better with others.
It’s one thing to find a good preschool in Singapore but it’s another thing to find one that is located near your house or place of work. Choose a preschool that will be easy to reach in case of an emergency. Sending your child to a preschool that is far away may prove difficult without making additional transportation arrangements..
5. The teachers and school culture
This may seem like an obvious point but it isn’t. Preschoolers have to be trained by well-educated teachers who have experience dealing with children and are willing to learn new ways to make teaching/learning more fun. Are they friendly? Do they use harsh or soft words when talking to the kids? Are they empathic and compassionate? Watch or ask questions about how they treat children in the absence of parents and their work ethics. Catholic private preschools are renowned for their inclusive culture of making all students feel loved and accepted. This will let you know whether or not you are choosing the right preschool for your little one.
6. The cost of the preschool
Of course, you want the best preschool around but can you afford it? Most preschools in Singapore are private-owned and so, prices vary from one to another. Ask vital information such as the fees per term, the number of terms, government subsidies, if they offer classes during holidays, and if the fees are included in the regular term fees.
7. Special Needs
Every child is different and some children may require more attention than others. If your child requires additional care and attention, it is important to enroll him/her into a suitable preschool that has the sufficient resources to meet your child’s needs. Check with preschools if they are able to make special arrangements for your child.
8. The preschool’s values
Values here refer to what the preschool holds dear and will eventually instill in your child. The right preschool has values you are comfortable with. It should be in line with your beliefs of what is good or bad because our child will pick it up swiftly. For example, a private preschool such as Little Shepherds Schoolhouse that is run by the Catholic Church has high moral values and instills virtues into each child. Discussing the school’s values eases understanding between guardians and parents and helps the child learn better.
9. Check reviews
Other parents or guardians are usually your best option to decide what preschool is good for your child. Ask them questions about what meals the children are served, the school culture, the teaching and learning style, and what they loved/hated about the preschool. Also, ask them about the background of the children in the school and whether it promotes learning in a fun and interactive manner. Their honest answers will help you determine if the preschool is right for your child.
The best preschools are those where children learn empathy, kindness, the value of human life, and how to work towards their purpose in life. These preschools not only build children educationally but also help them become better people. As a private preschool under the Catholic Church, we ensure that children become educationally, morally and emotionally fit.