You arrive in Singapore. You have to find a home, your way around, friends, create a new ‘life’ and of course, find a school for the children. Navigating the world of Singaporean preschools can be overwhelming. There are over 500 preschools in Singapore ranging from the local preschool at the end of the road to preschools incorporated into the larger international schools. Where do you start?
We have compiled these 5 Top Tips to help you steer through the world of preschools and come to the best decision for your family.
1. What do you want your Pre-schooler to learn?
Before you start you may want to think about what you want for your child now and consider what you may want in the future too. The learning environment you want for your two year old may change when that child is four years old. Always ask a preschool which curriculum they use and make sure this is in line with your thinking as parents. There is a difference between ‘child care’ and preschools that are based on established early year curricula. Some preschools are not based on any definable curriculum or learning methodology. If you believe your child is ready to engage in early literacy and numeracy, ensure you find a preschool that actually introduces this in an age-appropriate manner.
2. What are the qualifications of the teachers in the classroom?
Clearly, young children benefit from access to qualified, caring educators in the classroom. Always ask details about the qualifications of the teachers. Some preschools employ only one professional teacher and the other adults in the classroom are not fully qualified educators. This can mean a reduction in quality of professional care, teaching and learning.
3. What is the ratio of teachers to students?
Young children need a lot of attention and the ratio of teachers to children is a good indicator of the quality of education provided. Linked to the point above, investigate the teacher-student ratio. As a guide, some preschools have a ratio of 1:12+ and others have a ratio of 1:8 or smaller.
4. What is the ‘learning environment’ like?
The learning environment of a good preschool should facilitate learning in every way. In quality institutions it is considered ‘the third teacher’ in the classroom. It should be organised in such a way that the children will develop their independence and be encouraged to work at their own level.
5. Do the children look happy? Is there a happy atmosphere?
Ultimately we all want our children to be happy. On your tour, always take a moment to review the classroom, resources and atmosphere. Do the children seem happy and engaged in their activities? Are the teachers interacting warmly with the children? Look at the work on the walls and check for a variety of fun displays. Take a moment to notice if the teachers know the names of the children. There are lots of indicators but ultimately it is important that you get a sense of structure and enjoyment from the students and the teachers.
Lastly, it is a common misconception that Preschool is simply not that that important. However, studies show that a quality early years education has a beneficial impact on a child’s ongoing development. A quality preschool education provides children with opportunities to build self-confidence, learn social skills and develop positive learning dispositions. These are the building blocks for children’s future learning. It is important to make the right choice.
We invite parents to visit our Preschool at Avondale Grammar School. We warmly welcome visitors and ensure all parents receive a personal tour. We look forward to meeting you!
Ms Florida Dulce is the Preschool Lead Teacher at Avondale Grammar School.