The search for Z’s childcare has begun! Just when I thought the infant care might be a challenge, the childcare search is worst!
So after the infant care (which is up to 18months), Z will have to move to Playgroup (PG) – which will be for age groups 18 months -24 months. Thereafter, it’ll be Nursery 1, Nursery 2, Kindergarden 1 and Kindergarden 2.
I’ll start with desktop research first. I personally believe that the best way to start is to work on a list.
Thanks to the Ministry of Social Family Development. They started this portal to help us desperate parents to look for schools.
Notice the search function on the right hand side? It’s my favourite tool:
I’ll put the fee range (price before subsidy), types of Service (full day, half day), age (which is a compulsory field, this sieves out all the other non- age appropriate childcare services).
From there, it will churn out a list of childcare centers that fall within the category. The good thing about this list is that it includes things like SPARK accredited, cases of HFMD centers and even licensing.
Next step? Look out for the postal codes and work with google maps. Location plays a big part when you’re a working family with no help. So we try to choose locations that are near home/ office. Having google maps helps us measure the distance required to travel and time since childcare closes at 7pm sharp. Anything that’s under 30 mins of traveling time on bus, would be sieved into my next category.
Start calling. Though the list includes which age group has available slots, there is a high chance that they haven’t update it.
Here are some questions I’ll ask the teachers:
- Are there available slots for Playgroup in the month of June (that’s when Z turns 18 months)?
- What are the fees for full day childcare?
- When can I view the childcare?
If the above criteria fall within your needs, then it’s probably worth viewing.
Some other considerations when you choose your childcare:
- Is it SPARK accredited? SPARK accreditation looks into the programme, pedagogy, health, and hygiene. Basically, the government gives out these certifications only if the school puts in the efforts to make sure that everything is tip top.
- Huge play area, play ground? I believe in that. Since Z loves to head out, I’m also hoping that he’ll have enough room to roam about.
- Curriculum: I’ve visited expensive schools (e.g. $1300 and above per month) and they do provide really good curriculum| schedule. These include sand play, water play, cooking lessons, all on a weekly basis. I’m blown away. But of course, the affordable range ($500-$700) has their limitations with space and size, hence their activities are limited.
- Hygiene: we definitely look out for this. Is there dust on the shelves, are the floors dirty/ grimy? Does the place smell bad?
- TV time. My only pet peeve is this.KM and I have avoided screens for Z for the longest time. But ever since I went on this childcare search, I realised that most places let their kids watch TV from 5.30pm onwards to 7pm. For a child who has no screen contact, him watching TV for 1.5 hours EVERYDAY is something I can’t compromise. So I’m still on my childcare search.
Currently, these are some of the tips for parents looking for childcare centers. If you have any other tips, please feel free to comment below.