The first time I decided to put my girl, XX, in a childcare centre, I had lots of mixed feelings. On one hand, I know she gets to interact with new friends of her age, she gets to learn new things, learn to share and build up social skills, enjoy art and craft, speech and drama and music lessons among other things.
On the other hand, I couldn’t bear the thought of sending her away from the house for such long hours, couldn’t bear to imagine she had to bathe and sleep there together with other kids on the floor mattresses. It just seemed cruel and sad. Or maybe I should have just left her at home with the grandparents.
But, I knew and we all knew, if she had stayed home, she’d probably do nothing much and watched tv the whole day without me in the house to play with her or guide her in learning. She would have wasted time and learnt nothing. Since I had to work full-time, I had little choice but to enrol her in a childcare centre where she would have plenty of adult and children interaction.
Choosing the centre was rather easy. There weren’t much choice in my neighbourhood. There were only 2 to choose from. I wanted somewhere near our house. So, kel and I went to check out both centres together one day.
There’s a few things that we looked out for to determine which centre is suitable for our dear princess.
Proximity to our house is top priority. I have to think of the person who’ll be fetching her to and from the centre everyday rain or shine.
2. Speak to the principal
This is important to check out what are the principal’s direction and beliefs. The principal is the one who steers the school to its mission. We have to judge if that is in line with our expectations. We asked many questions including teachers and staff experience, curriculum, the daily meals and even asked about their approach to welcome kids on their first day.
We asked for a walkthrough to check out the centre facilities. Most childcare centres have an indoor playground, music room and individual play areas for pretend play. We also noticed the centre was not air-conditioned, except for the music room. We preferred a non air-conditioned centre as we knew that germs spread easily in the recycled air. Kids do fall sick easily in childcare centres.
4. Observe the curriculum
On the day we visited the centre, there were no children except for the principal and teachers. The centre was closed for 2 weeks due to exceeding number of hand foot mouth disease (HFMD) spreading among the children (in Singapore, it is common for centres to close for 2 weeks due to HFMD). The teachers were sterilizing all the toys, utensils and seen preparing for curriculum activities. Hence, we asked to bring our princess XX again on another day to join in the nursery 1 class so that we could observe the curriculum and her response.
5. Bring your kid to open house or join in for a trial
On the day of the trial lesson, XX held my hand tight as we entered the class together. We knew she was really nervous. I went in with her and allowed her some time to warm up to the new environment. Kel stood outside the classroom and observed from the window. 10 min later, with the encouragement of the teacher Mdm Chia and some outgoing kids, she became more at ease much to my relief. Her feelings about the centre were important to us. Although she did not show much enthusiasm as we had wished, she did not show any averse reaction. That, confirmed our decision in enrolling her in this childcare centre.
This is an important consideration. There are many childcare centres out there that charges from $500 to $1800 per month. There are definitely differences in what each centre offers. As there were only 2 centres in our neighbourhood, and we were not prepared to go a distance for probably a better one which may include Montessori teaching, we were happy with the fees. In fact, after the working mother subsidy of $300, it was really a bonus to us.
Fast forward 5 years now, we are happy with this childcare centre. XX had graduated and gone to Primary school. Whenever she meet the teachers in the childcare, the teachers always welcome her with warmth and enthusiasm. My boy is in K2 class and will be “graduating” this November. In fact, I wrote a thank you letter (you can check this out in my previous post) to all the teachers who took great care of my kids. On top of the above considerations in choosing a childcare centre, I would say my guts feelings do come into play. Always trust the mummy’s instinct.
What factors do you consider in choosing a childcare centre?