A colleague recently confided her predicament in deciding which childcare centre she should choose for her 4-year-old daughter. She was worried about making a wrong decision and I identified with her because I was in the same situation a year ago.
Indeed, it is a tough decision to make when choosing the right childcare school or day care centre for your child because it will either make or break him/her during these early, formative years.
So, I suggested the following criteria and factors she should consider:
Government run or private
The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sport (MCYS) oversees the setting up of childcare centres in Singapore. All childcare centres in Singapore must be licensed and must comply with all regulations stipulated by MCYS.
However, even though MCYS has stipulated requirements, do note that centres have the autonomy to adopt their own curriculum design.
Determine how much you can afford to pay for the services of the day care centre. Are you willing to pay more just to ensure your child’s needs are met while you are away at work?
Or are you working with a small budget? Be clear about this before you begin your search.
Location of childcare centre
Choose the area where the child care centre should be located. Should it be near your work place or near your home? Whatever you decide, it should be somewhere you can easily access that will be convenient for both you and your spouse.
Licenses of the centre
When you have identified the day care centres in the location that is most accessible or convenient to you, visit each one personally.
Look around carefully and ask the administrator if the centre has a license or is accredited by a government agency or organization that oversees child care facilities.
It would also be wise to ask how many children the centre is licensed or accredited to handle.
Reputation of the centre
Try to ask other parents about the reputation of the school. If possible, conduct a background check to determine whether there had been complaints or cases of negligence against the day care centre.
A simple Google check will reveal centres that have negative reviews.
You should ask the following questions from the daycare centre Manager to get a sense of their credentials and centre policies:
- What is the minimum qualifications of the teachers hired?
- What are their discipline philosophies?
- Are the child care providers in the centre trained in First Aid or CPR?
- Are the teachers certified?
- Are the administrators responsive to the needs of their staff, personnel and clients?
Keep reading for more important information on the next page.
When doing your research about a particular childcare centre, get to know more about the centre’s method of teaching children.
There are many different models of pre-school programmes offered to children such as Montessori, Project, Integrated and Whole Language.
So do gather information about the different curricula that will be suitable for your child, then find out whether he/she can benefit from the centre’s choice of curriculum.
Determine the pervading atmosphere of the play school or day care centre as you walk around. Is it a place where children are comfortable and taken care of?
Do you think it would be the best place for your child to spend his/her early days? Ask what type of snack is served to the children and how much time is allotted for naps.
Also try to visit the daycare centre with your child to ascertain if he/she is comfortable in the environment. Do also check if the school has CCTVs installed.
If you have to leave your child in a day care centre, you need find out its approach to child safety. Here are some questions regarding this matter that you should ask the Centre Manager:
- Does the centre have an emergency or evacuation plan in case of fire?
- Are cleaning materials and hazardous materials kept in appropriate places out of the reach of children?
- Are the classrooms child-proofed?
- Are there safety gates for dangerous areas such as stairs, kitchens, basements ora porches?
- Are the materials and equipment child-friendly?
- Will the children have fun and not be harmed while playing in the play areas and play grounds?
- Are there medical supplies in case of emergency?
Parents, do tell us about how you chose your child’s daycare centre — leave us a comment.