Choosing a preschool for your child
Parents only want the best when it comes to their child’s early education. But do you know what to look out for when you visit the preschool of your choice? Here are the top 5 factors to consider when it comes to choosing a preschool for your child.
Although I still have a long way to go before deciding on which preschool to put my daughter in (she just turned 6 months recently), I’d say it is never too early to start looking at the choices available out there. So, when I was invited to do a review at Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis, the timing couldn’t be better.
On the day of my visit, I was welcomed by the centre’s senior principal, Dorothy Lim. A cheerful and friendly lady, Dorothy took me around for a tour of the centre while explaining about how the centre is run and the programmes and activities available.
This visit allowed me to think about the issues to consider when it comes to choosing the right preschool for my daughter. With this, I’ve compiled a detailed checklist of 5 things that parents should look out for when touring around the preschool that they intend to put their child in.
1. Background of the school
Here are my first thoughts on the centre as I walked in: cheery, cosy and clean. The parents’ waiting area was brightly lit and filled with pictures and artwork of kids who study there (what a nice personal touch!). Guests are required to remove their shoes. I also got to know from Principal Dorothy that the centre conducts temperature checks on all the children when they arrive in school, which avoid the spread of illnesses among the kids.
Dorothy shared that Learning Vision is one of the leading early childhood education providers in Singapore, and has been around for more than 20 years. Learning Vision has received several awards over the years, including the Outstanding Programme Award 2010 conferred by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the Singapore Workplace Development Agency (WDA) for doing consistently well when it comes to providing high quality childcare services at all their centres.
2. Profile of teachers
When it comes to early childhood education, young children need dedicated attention from their teachers to help them get more out of the learning process. This can be achieved when class sizes at the preschool are kept small.
As I was walking around the centre with Dorothy, there were a few classes in session. I was delighted to see that at Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis, child-teacher ratio is kept low as the centre believes in keeping their classes fun and interactive for the kids and teachers. According to Dorothy, the size of toddler classes are kept at 6 toddlers to 1 teacher, while nursery classes (for kids aged 30 months to 4 years) assigns up to 12 kids to 1 teacher. This gets slightly bigger in kindergarten classes with older kids, with a classroom size of 18 kids.
Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis is staffed with teachers who are highly qualified in early childhood education. The teaching team is given ample opportunities for training and professional development (e.g. overseas study trips and international conferences) to help them keep up with the current trends and practices in early childhood education.
3. What’s a typical day in preschool like?
The centre sets out a daily schedule of activities for their students throughout the day, with specific timing for meals, activities and lessons, as well as bathtime and naptime. I believe this helps to establish a routine for kids and gets them used to preschool life. There is also a planned menu for kids at the centre every day of the week, with healthy and nutritious offerings such as brown rice noodles, pasta with mushroom and veggies and steamed carrot cake. Arrangements can also be made for kids with special dietary needs and food allergies.
Options for playtime activities are plentiful, with a wide range of age-appropriate play accessories such as tricycles, a mini sand pit and playground equipment. These allow kids to have fun with their classmates while they develop essential motor and sensory skills and explore the world around them.
4. Lessons in session
There are various classroom settings available at Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis which allow teachers to conduct lessons with their students in the right environment. There was a Chinese lesson going on at the Chinese Lab, while a toddler class was having some quiet activity time in a designated room. I also noticed a few units of Apple iMacs placed in the preschool classrooms. It seems that these were part of the centre’s initiative to introduce e-learning to kids to make lessons more interesting and give them an edge when it comes to technology.
The classroom environment is kept warm and friendly with displays of curriculum materials, pin-ups of children’s work and documentation of their learning journeys that come with snapshots. Soft copies of the documented learning journeys are emailed to parents each week to keep them updated on their child’s progress at the centre.
Lessons at the centre are conducted according to the various age groups: Toddler (18-30 months), Nursery 1 (30 months – 3 years), Nursery 2 (3-4 years), Kindergarten 1 (4-5 years) and Kindergarten 2 (5-6 years). Emphasis is placed on building up the confidence of each child while exposing them to language, arithmetic, reading and writing skills.
Madam Ng Wan Ting, a mum that we met while walking around the centre, said that she feels the toddler class at Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis encourages kids to be independent by letting them take the lead in decisions during activity time. But what I love most about the lessons at the centre is this: Every month, the centre will classify each class after a good emotional value (e.g. ‘Sharing’, ‘Joy’ and ‘Filial Piety’), and kids will be taught on how to apply these values in real life. It’s good to know that the centre takes the lead to teach good life values as part of the lesson plan.
Children on the full time programme also enjoy core enrichment programmes like Apply Bytes, Environment Crusaders, Junior Explorer, Junior Puppeteer, Mind Over Music and The Culinarian.
5. Location and fees
For parents, location plays a pretty important role when it comes to deciding on a preschool for their kids. Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis is situated within the Solaris Tower at the Fusionopolis research hub. I’d say that this centre is ideal for parents who are working in the area or staying not too far away. This makes it easier for them to drop off the kids at the centre in the morning before work, and to pick them up in the evening.
The fee for a full day programme is priced at $1,200 per child, and eligible parents can apply for subsidies from the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to enjoy fee waivers every month. Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis is able to accommodate up to 125 students, and parents can enrol their kids at the centre anytime of the year.
I walked out of Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis with a great feeling about the centre. It’s good to know that while I’m at work, my daughter will be kept occupied with interesting activities and enrichment programmes that allow her to learn, interact and pick up essential skills. I’d definitely keep Learning Vision @ Fusionopolis in mind, as I continue my search for the right preschool for my daughter.