Choosing a preschool for your child is an exciting, yet daunting process for many parents. You want to give your child a great start in life by sending them to the best preschool possible – one with a quality curriculum and outstanding facilities. But with so many choices, how can you determine which preschool is best for your child?
These are 7 important factors to consider when making this life-defining decision!
#1 - The preschool’s curriculum and programme
When choosing a preschool, look closely at their curriculum, programme and teaching methods. These are important as they affect how – and what – your child will learn in school. Preschools that deploy an academic curriculum tend to favour an approach that focuses heavily on completing worksheets. Meanwhile, a play-based curriculum stems from the belief that children learn best through play – so children spend time exploring and engaging in open-ended activities that invoke their imagination. This play-based approach is shown to help children develop independence, as they have more opportunities to interact with one another – honing their social skills. Facilitated play also encourages children to reason, reflect and solve problems using creative thinking.
At NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool, our relationships-based curriculum focuses on building positive and trusting relationships between teachers and children – and this has proven to improve focus and engagement in children aged 0 to 3 years.
For children aged 4 to 6 years, our Inquiry-Based Curriculum encourages young minds to ask questions about things that interest them – prodding for answers as they develop an inquisitive and analytical mindset that’s ideal for their primary school years.
#2 - Qualifications and Awards
If you’re concerned about choosing a preschool with unqualified teachers, don’t worry. In Singapore, it’s mandatory for all preschool teachers in Singapore to have (at least) a certificate or diploma in early childhood education.
But qualifications are only the beginning of an early childhood educator’s journey. Continual development can be what differentiates teachers with modern and innovative teaching methodologies, from those who stick to traditional methods.
Find out what continual development programmes your shortlisted preschools have for their teaching staff. Generally, the larger a school’s network, the more resources it has to help teachers grow and improve.
Awards are also a good indication of a preschool’s quality. Look out for distinguished industry awards, such as the Singapore Pre-School Accreditation Framework (SPARK) Award and the ECDA Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Development.
Here at My First Skool, we are proud that our brand has been recognised with numerous ECDA Awards – and that 100% of our centres that are eligible for SPARK certification, have been certified. See our complete list of awards here.
#3 - Discipline and conflict resolution
As a parent, you know that even the best children misbehave and get into arguments with friends – after all, it’s a natural part of growing up. What you need to know is how your preferred preschools manage these behaviours.
- Are children given “time outs” and other types of disciplinary actions when they misbehave?
- Are they encouraged to resolve arguments independently?
- Do teachers help to facilitate conflicts resolutions? (And are they skilled in doing so?)
By the time your child is ready to attend preschool, you probably already have a preferred method for disciplining your child. Be sure that the preschool you choose, shares the same values and approach to discipline that you do – so any disciplinary behaviour will be reinforced both at home and in school, helping your child to more quickly (and confidently) understand what they should and shouldn’t do.
#4 - Measuring your child’s development (and effective parent-teacher communications)
This is one factor that parents often overlook during the preschool shortlisting process – only to realise its importance after the semester starts. If there’s one takeaway you get from this article, it’s that your child’s preschool needs to measure – and accurately communicate to you – your child’s development.
When evaluating a preschool, ask if the school sets any specific learning and developmental goals for your child. Then, find out how these goals are measured. The school should regularly track and report your child’s progress – highlighting any areas of concern in a timely manner.
Be sure to ask exactly how this information (and other happenings in school) will be communicated with you, and how frequently.
Parents with children at My First Skool get access to these updates 24/7, thanks to our user-friendly parent portal that provides parents with timely updates – so you can feel assured of your child’s safety and development while you’re away from them.
#5 - Safety and hygiene
If there’s one good thing 2020 has taught everyone, it’s the importance of safety, cleanliness and hygiene. And considering the amount of time your child will spend in preschool every day – on the feet, hands and knees – you need to choose a preschool that’s equipped to provide your child with a safe and clean environment that’s conducive for learning and growth.
Well before the pandemic, My First Skool has been an industry leader in safety and hygiene standards at preschools. We take the well-being of every child very seriously, that’s why all our centres – big and small – are equipped with commercial-grade UV sterilisers.
What’s more, every piece of equipment and furniture – and all our materials and toys – have been specifically designed and selected with your child’s safety in mind. Learn more about our safe, hygienic learning environments here.
#6 - Meals and nutrition
Often, children’s food preferences form during their preschool years. So, it’s important that your chosen preschool serves food that’s both healthy and tasty – so whether it’s meat, fruit or vegetables, your children will enjoy eating healthy dishes!
What type of food will your child be having at preschool? Depending on the school, food will either be prepared by in-house cooks or delivered by caterers. For preschools, the advantage of having an in-house cook is better control of the cleanliness and nutritional value of the food – such as using less salt, sugar and other types of unhealthy seasoning.
You should also check if your selected preschool is accredited under the Health Promotion Board’s Healthy Meals in Preschools Programme (HMPP). HMPP ensures that preschools provide healthy meals to children, and encourages schools to teach children how to choose healthy foods.
Remember, if your child has allergies or special dietary requirements, tell their preschool – so their food can be chosen appropriately.
Children at My First Skool enjoy their tasty, well-balanced and nutritionally-optimised meals – specially planned by our in-house chefs to deliver all the nutrients growing bodies and developing minds need. Keen on learning more about our in-house chefs and cooks – like Mr. Bernard Lim, a former sous chef at a three-Michelin-starred French restaurant? Read about them in this Straits Times interview.
Also, 84% of our centres are accredited with HMPP certification, and 78% of our preschools are accredited with the Platinum Tier for Healthy Preschools (HPS) recognition. Keen on learning more about the meals provided at our centres? Take a look here.
#7 - Reviews and references
Before finalising your decision, check in with parents who are sending their children to your preferred preschool. Ask about their experiences with the school, their children’s development, and their communications with teachers. What better way to find out how a preschool is really like, than hearing it directly from parents?
These are a few helpful questions you could ask:
- What do you like about this preschool?
- What do you dislike about it?
- How does your child feel about going to school there?
If possible, you could also visit your shortlisted preschool and ask for additional information. Some questions you can ask are:
- What’s a typical day like for children here?
- How are their meals like, and how is the food prepared?
- How do your learning spaces look like for children of various ages?
- Is outdoor play a part of your curriculum? If so, how is outdoor play conducted?
- Are the learning materials here purchased commercially, or are there also teacher-made materials? (Note: Teacher-made materials are usually better customised for each child’s unique learning needs.)
Clear up any questions you may have, then make the exciting decision!
A Day at NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool
My sons enjoy going to school every morning and that gives me and my husband peace of mind at work, knowing that our little ones are in the good care of the teachers & caregivers. My husband and i appreciate the efforts of the Principal and teachers in ensuring that the centre is always kept safe and clean, thus providing a happy enjoyable, healthy and conclusive learning environment for our children's development. – Marie, Parent of Lucas & Pierre, My First Skool at Blk 82 Strathmore Avenue
Give your child a head start in life at My First Skool! Registrations are now open.