Childcare Centres 101 For New Parents In Singapore
Parenthood is, arguably, one of the greatest life-changing moments that many people experience. There are the joys, worries, anxieties, and hopes that start from the day of conception.
In Singapore and many other countries, parenthood is also an exercise in financial planning that can be a source of great stress and even self-doubt about whether or not you’re giving your child “the best”.
The truth is, giving your child “the best” usually mean higher household costs – from the best childcare to the best food and diaper. All of these cost money – a lot of it.
Childcare and early childhood education is one of the first minefields to go through as childcare can start as early as when the child is 3 months old. There are government and private childcare centres that vary greatly in their monthly fees and offerings.
Here is a basic guide on what you need to know.
Choosing your childcare centre
Whether it’s a government or private childcare centre that you’re looking at, you need to think about your own expectations and current financial budget for childcare.
It’s easy to get swayed by opinions and fellow parents who rave about premium private kindergartens which might either be way too expensive or far away from your work and home.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Do you quality for Government subsidies?
- Do you require full or half day of childcare?
- How far is the childcare centre from your home or workplace?
- Will you need to arrange for transportation?
- Do you have a particular set of philosophies when it comes to childcare and early childhood education? If so, is it important that the childcare centre‘s ethos be aligned with yours?
There are a few well-established childcare centres and pre-schools that have multiple branches.
|PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots||Largest pre-school operator here.
Infant Care: For infants aged between 2 months and 18 months
Childcare: For children aged between 18 months and 6 years old
Student Care: For children aged between 7 and 14 years old
|Skool4Kidz||One of the Anchor Operators appointed by the EDCA (Early Childhood Development Agency) with several branches. It will also run the first large child care centre in a park at Sengkang Riverside Park|
|NTUC MyFirstSkool||Has over 120 branches islandwide with almost 40 years of experience|
|Metropolitan YMCA||Has 31 centres mostly concentrated in the North and East|
|EtonHouse E-Bridge||The mass-market and affordable preschool programme of the prestigous EtonHouse International Education Group|
Differences between government and private childcare centres
Childcare is a highly lucrative industry these days, and there are many private childcare centres which position themselves as being unique in their pedagogy and charge a very high premium.
Here are a few factors that differ between a government and a private facility:
The most obvious factor would be the fees. Due to subsidies that government-run institutions get, the fees are significantly lower than private facilities.
The fees vary from about S$600 for a government childcare centre to way over S$2,000 per month if you’re eyeing the best you can afford at the premium Etonhouse childcare centres.
The anchor childcare centres as listed above would have fees within the S$600 to S$750 range, while private operators like Brighton Montessori could set you back close to S$2,000 a month. Private childcare centres may offer more services such as creative programmes as well as more teachers or different pedagogies.
2. Teacher to student ratio
Classes in private centres tend to be smaller than that in government childcare centres. The more exclusive private centres have a ratio of one teacher to five children, while the government mandate is one teacher for every 20 children for preschoolers between four and five years of age.
3. Pedagogy and philosophy
Parents get more options for pedagogy and philosophy in private childcare centres. You may have heard of the famous Montessori early childhood education system even if you aren’t a school-seeking parent.
The Montessori system is one that enables children to work and in some ways direct their own learning with their natural curiosity. It’s also very different to the typical Singaporean way of learning as there are no grade or tests, and specially designed learning materials are used in a mixed-age environment.
Children are developed in four areas – practical life, sensorial, mathematical, and language. There are only a few schools that can be considered a real Montessori school, so do your research and observe before committing.
In addition to Montessori, there are also other private schools with unique philosophies such as the Waldorf school which emphasises on creative learning and the arts, and Reggio Emilia which develops a child’s learning abilities through working together in projects as well as exploring the environment.
Location wise, Government childcare centres can be found island wide in heartland areas, whereas private childcare centres, especially the premium ones, tend to be centered around the downtown core.
Government subsidies for childcare
If your child is a citizen of Singapore and enrolled in childcare centres licensed by the ECDA, you will receive a Basic Subsidy of S$300 a month regardless of your income.
If your monthly household income is below S$7,500, then you qualify for additional subsidy, which varies from S$100 to S$440, according to your income. In order to qualify for the additional subsidy, the mother or single father needs to be working at least 56 hours per month.
If your family is large (five or more members) with more than two dependents, you would be able to get more subsidies as the calculation for large families is based on income per capita.
With the diversity in childcare centres in Singapore, doing your research and spending time to observe the centres will give you a greater peace of mind and confidence when you enroll your child.
The cost doesnt end there…
If you are planning to send your child to an international school, you better be prepared financially. Here’s how much it cost…