For past couple of months, we have been busy looking for a child-care centre for G&G to enter next year. We have been warned that for some popular child-care centres, the waiting time can be as long as half year to a year. Like any first-time parents, we started to ask around for tips on shortlisting good child-care centres and reviews on the child-care centres.
What to ask and look out for when choosing a Childcare Centre?
Below is the list of questions to ask and observe which I have consolidated. Depends on the policy and openness of the child-care centres, answers to some of these questions or areas of concern may not be easily identifiable. Also, it depends on individual parents’ priorities and requirements, some of the questions may be relevant but not important to you. Obviously, you must be comfortable with the centre, principal and staff. And, do visit the centres couple of times at various timings to get a better grasp of their activities and handling of kids.
You may adopt the same list for shortlisting pre-schools or kindergartens.
LIST OF QUESTIONS TO ASK / OBSERVE
1. Teacher:Student Ratio
2. Turnover rate for teachers (over past 1 year)
3. Nationality of teachers
4. Qualification of teachers
5. Length of working in the centre: Principal
6. Average length of working in the centre: Teacher
7. Do the teachers exhibit strong passion in educating the kids or simply going through the motion? (to display caring and loving attitude)
8. How often does the staff get their training?
9. How many HFMD cases and when?
10. Any closure of centre due to HFMD?
11. Apart from HFMD, what other illnesses lead to closure of centre?
12. How does the centre decide when a kid should go home and not allow to attend class?
(III) Environment, Safety and Hygiene
13. Is the environment including classrooms and napping area clean? Dusty? (check the toilets and fridge as well)
14. Is the playground safe and clean?
15. How often does the centre sanitise the premise, sleeping mats and toys?
16. Is the premise child and safe proof? (check windows and doors for safety guards, and if the main door is always locked)
17. Any closed circuit television (CCTV)? And where are they located?
18. Who has access to the footage of the CCTV?
19. What is the procedure for fetching the child home? Is it only designated person and how does the centre determine in urgent cases?
20. Is the environment a vibrant and learning one?
21. Do they have happy and confident kids in the centre? (Some may greet you automatically or strike a conversation)
(IV) Programme and Curriculum
22. Do they toilet train the tots? How do they do it?
23. What is the curriculum and what is it based on?
24. Is their curriculum focused on academic or play? Do the kids need to do worksheet or homework?
25. Is the curriculum the same for N & K students?
26. How do they prepare their K1 & K2 kids for primary one?
27. What is the daily programme? (Obtain a copy of their lesson plan)
28. How much play time is being allocated?
29. Any outdoor activities and outings?
30. How often are the outdoor activities and outings?
31. Does parent need to accompany for the outing?
32. Does the centre use laptop, iPad or television as teaching tool?
33. How often does these electronic devices being used?
34. What is/are the purposes of using these devices?
35. What is the duration for each session of using the device?
36. How do they handle kid who does not want to nap during nap time?
37. What types of meals are given? (Obtain meal plan)
38. What is the nutritional value?
39. How do they cater to or ensure kid with special diet is being taken care of?
40. What is the number of milk intake?
41. What is the frequency of parents updates and communications?
42. Able to talk to the principal during visitation?
43. Does the centre practise drying the kids’ hair after shower? (for Air-conditioned centres)
44. For non-air conditioned centre, when do they switch on the air-conditioner?
45. How long do they allow parent to stay in the centre when the kid first starts class?
Happy hunting for a suitable child-care centres for your kid. There are several links which you may refer to:
Early Childhood Development Agency (Child Care Link) – https://www.childcarelink.gov.sg/ccls/home/CCLS_Home.jsp
Ministry of Social and Family Development – http://app.msf.gov.sg
Ministry of Health – http://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home.html
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