Should I send my child to a Playgroup, Child Care Centre, Preschool, or Kindergarten?
The early years are crucial for learning and development, but when should you start thinking about your child's first school experience? Should you bring her to a play group, child care centre or a kindergarten programme? When should you start registering? We answer some frequent questions that first time parents have:
1. Is it mandatory to put kids in pre-school?
In Singapore, education is only compulsory from Primary 1 (at the age of 6 or 7). That means you can decide what kind of programme to enrol your kids in before that age, depending on your child's needs, your parenting philosophy, and also your and your spouse's schedules.
2. What is the difference between Kindergarten, Child care, Infant care, Pre-school, and Playgroups?
In Singapore, pre-school is a general term that encompasses any institution that provides early childhood education for children aged below 6 years. There are two types of pre-schools: kindergartens and childcare centres. Kindergartens are typically have a more academically focussed curriculum set on preparing your child for formal education and does not incorporate childcare services. On the other hand, childcare centres can offer academic or play based learning programmes on top of childminding services which working parents may need. Some child care centres also specifically provide infant care services for children aged between 2 months and 18 months. Playgroups are another type of programme that are usually short-term and parent-accompanied and are usually geared toward kids aged 18-30 months.
Do note that the costs of child-care and infant-care are subsidized by the Singaporean government, but not kindergartens.
Here are some more differences:
3. When should I register my child for pre-school?
While you may have heard of some parents registering their kids for pre-school as soon as they get their birth certificate, there's no hard and fast rule for when you need to register your kids! Earlier is better if you have your eyes set on a brand-name preschool, or if you plan to enrol your child in a pre-school where there are a lot of babies in the neighbourhood which may have a 1 - 2 year waiting list. If you're willing to cast a wider net in terms of location, or have more flexibility in timing, you can enrol just a few months before you intend for your child to start pre-school.
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