Choosing the right pre-school is really a personal thing, what is good for one family may not be good for another. The right pre-school may not necessarily be the most popular nor
the most expensive one, you want a school that is able to provide your child with a wellrounded, holistic education as a basis or foundation for her/his future education.
Here are a few steps / thoughts that may help you in the decision making process:
1) Know your child’s needs and interests
You know your child best, what they need from a formal education setting, what are their interests, strengths and weaknesses. For example Montessori philosophy of learning may be the most appropriate if you want your child to learn leadership skills and independence, whereas Waldorf philosophy of learning may be the most appropriate if you want to develop your child’s individualism. There are other philosophies or approaches that you may want to consider apart from the traditional education system, besides those already mentioned above, such as Reggio Emilia and High Scope.
2) Make sure that the preferred education system for your child is well aligned with your family’s long term plans
If you are local Singaporeans then you should have a clearer picture as to what and where you and your family are going to live in the next few years, but if you are nonresidents/expats, you will need to plan ahead. When I was going through the process to pick a school for my daughter, I had to do my research about the education system back home in Australia. I made sure that the school we chose has the same or very similar curriculum to that offered back home to ensure an easy transition for her when she goes back to Australia. Another example, the school term/semester or the age requirements to enter certain level of education here in Singapore may be different to else where. For example, the Southern hemisphere school year generally starts at the beginning of the calendar year, whereas the Northern hemisphere schools generally start mid-year. Another thing that you may want to plan ahead is your financial position. Schools these days aren’t cheap we all know that! You may want to think about how you can afford these costs over your child’s entire schooling period.
3) See them for yourself!
So now you know what you want for your child’s first education, you can start making appointments to visit the schools. If you don’t know where to start you can visit the Ministry of Education website to check schools in your area (www.moe.gov.sg). Make a list of questions you want to ask during the school visits. Don’t forget to bring your child along to visit the schools, you should be able to see if they like it or if they can adjust well to the school’s environment.
4) Second opinions
If you know for sure which school you and your child like the most after the school visits, that’s good! But if you have doubts or have more than one option, no harm in asking your mommy-friends or mothers group forum about their view and experience with the schools you desire.
5) Enroll early to avoid disappointment
If you have been living in Singapore long enough I’m sure you have heard how “kiasu” the parents here are (including myself!). Some popular schools even have a multiple year wait list. Once you decide which school you desire, enroll early to avoid disappointment.
6) Get involved!
Once the school confirms a placement for your child, make sure you are well informed about the school’s activities, events, future plans, etc. by subscribing to their latest updates via school websites and/or newsletters. Maintain good relations with the headmaster/principal, teachers, school staff and the parent teacher association....trust me, you gonna need them!
-please stay updated for the next articles more about the philosophy of learning and what to ask and observe during the school visits-