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Questions Answered by Experts

How can my child benefit from being in a childcare centre? Can you briefly explain the social, developmental and emotional benefits?

The child will gain social skills through the interactions with other adults and children in the centre. This would include learning how to wait for their turns, sharing, how to listen to others’ viewpoints, how to resolve conflicts and how to care for their friends.

The child can also gain independent self-help skills, such as feeding, dressing up and packing up / taking care of their own things. In childcare centres, children are provided with many opportunities to practice these skills. Routine and transition times have factored in time for them to practise feeding themselves, bathing and dressing up. Even our very young 18-month-old toddlers go through simple home science activities which help to reinforce their fine motor developments which are essential to acquire the self-help skills.

Answered by: Ruth Chia
Senior Manager, Programmes
Child Support Services
NTUC First Campus Co-operative Ltd

How do I encourage my child to read Chinese story books?

Children are born curious. They are eager to find out how things work. They have a strong interest in identifying the different shapes, sizes and colors of objects they come into contact with. A person’s knowledge about the world stems from his or her interaction and perception about things. And these include visual, taste, touch, smell, motor and spatial awareness. Hence, it is important to select books that are in line with their life experiences and cognitive interest.

“Picture book” is books where the main focus is on the illustrations and words are complementary. In fact, some could be wordless. The content of the Chinese picture books should be as interesting as possible, with bright coloured illustrations. The storyline should be simple and preferably short.

It is recommended to select Chinese picture books without “Han Yu Pinyin” so that children can enjoy looking at the pictures and focus on the story content. Pre-schoolers could already be learning phonics. In light of that, there is a possibility that they would be confused with the “Han Yu Pin Yin”. An example would be 汉语拼音wo men我们--us vis a vis the English word of women which means ladies.

In selecting books for the young children aged 6 and below, the main idea is to look for books that pique their interest instead of focusing on literacy ability. To nurture their passion in reading Chinese books, we must respect the children’s choice of story books. We can also make it a practice to get them to choose a Chinese story book first before proceeding to the English story book section at a library or bookstore. Parents can set a good example by reading the story together with your child.

Answered by: Dr Connie Lum
Group Mother Tongue Languages Officer
Prof Practices & Development
NTUC First Campus Co-operative Ltd

I am thinking of visiting a few childcare centres to see which one suits my child best. What questions should I ask the staff?

Some of the things you may want to look out for:

Staff – Do the staff show warmth, care and concern to the children? Are the children comfortable and happy under their care? What about the qualifications of teachers? At My First Skool, we believe in the importance of quality teachers to provide the high quality of care and education for the children enrolled with us. Teachers should be warm and approachable, and yet firm when required. They should also be interacting with children in big groups, small groups and most importantly, individually as well. All our teaching staff participate in workshops and in-house training (every quarter) to further enhance their skills and abilities. We strongly believe in providing our teachers with the opportunities to further develop their knowledge so as to improve the quality of learning of the children in our care.

Physical / Learning environment – Is the place clean and pleasant? Does the environment have sufficient materials, toys and books for the children to engage in? Is the environment overly cluttered? Are the children’s learning materials aesthetically displayed for parents and children to view? My First Skool prides itself for the specially designed furniture to meet the needs of the children under our care. The design and the layout of the environment are carefully planned to facilitate the children’s activities throughout the day with us. The environment allows for big and small group activities, as well as quiet corners for the child to be alone when he / she needs to. A well-designed and planned environment will be able to engage, facilitate and reinforce children’s learning.

Health and safety – Is the centre clean, well-lit and well ventilated? Are there policies and procedures on how to maintain a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness? Do you see fire extinguishers, fire escape plans, first-aid kits and child-proof storage area? What about the kind of food the children get to eat? Children spend a full day with us in the centres and typically, they would have three meals with us. Thus, it is of utmost importance to us that we serve balanced and nutritious meals. We engage a consultant nutritionist to plan our menus, to ensure the food is well-prepared. Our cooks attend trainings to ensure a consistent quality of food served.

Make a comparison of the different centres you have visited and choose the one you feel is the best fit for your child’s needs and your expectations.

Answered by: Ruth Chia
Senior Manager, Programmes
Child Support Services
NTUC First Campus Co-operative Ltd

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