No matter what age your child is, you’ll notice that it proves beneficial to enrol them in a childcare centre. Additionally, more working parents have surfaced in recent years, so they will need to place their child in trusted care. Finding a good childcare centre in Singapore can be a challenging task, and many parents often face struggles while searching for and deciding on the best childcare centre for their child.
Childcare centres are responsible for looking after your children while you’re away so it is important that a key component is knowing your child can play in a safe environment.
Concerning the activities their children are participating in, parents also need to feel at ease. Children require a secure environment where they can actively and freely explore. Additionally, other aspects such as curriculum, nutrition and cleanliness form part of a child’s holistic development. This is the hallmark of a good childcare centre.
But what makes a good childcare centre so exceptional? Today we will share some key factors to help you find the best childcare centre for your child.
6 Important Indicators Of A Good Childcare Centre:
You will be able to tell whether the quality of a childcare centre is good based on the reviews it has received. Every good childcare centre has credibility and a solid reputation, including positive reviews from previous and current parents.
You can either check with your network of friends or request for a few references from the childcare centre which you can call for a casual chat on its quality. No childcare centre is perfect, but repeated complaints should be taken into serious consideration.
2. Happy Environment
In many situations, first impressions are everything. When you enter the childcare centre, does it look like a clean, safe, and fun space for your child? The school environment should be welcoming and reflective of the diversity as well as the children in the classroom.
Take a moment and observe the children. Do they look happy and engaged, or do they look anxious and uncomfortable? Are they given the freedom to make independent decisions or encouraged to explore the environment? Do they have access to diverse activities and projects? When you feel that the children are happy, responsive and comfortable, you can tell that their ideas and interests are respected.
3. Varied Curriculum
When you are looking for a childcare centre, you will need to take into account your child’s interests and the type of development that will be most appropriate. Would a more fluid and child-led curriculum to encourage creativity be more suitable, or would a more rigid and educational curriculum work better?
A good childcare centre curriculum would be well balanced, pairing important learning outcomes with the children’s interests. You can join in a collaborative partnership with the teachers to elevate your child’s learning experience. By building strong home-school relationships from the beginning, parents and teachers can work together to support the child, preparing them for success, be it inside or outside the classroom environment.
4. Passionate Caregivers
You are placing your child in a childcare centre for most of the day, so you will want to make sure their primary caregivers aka the teachers are qualified. By “qualified”, we mean they must possess the basic certification and training in the faculty of early childhood education. They should ideally be trained in CPR and other first aid procedures.
Besides qualifications, the teacher’s character also plays an important role so it will be recommended to make some observations. Listen to how the teachers interact with the children including their tone, mannerisms and body language. A qualified teacher will be speaking respectfully to the children at their eye level. Last but not least, are you comfortable with them and do they seem passionate about what they do as well as being keen in caring for your child?
5. Physical Safety And Cleanliness
This is one of the critical factors when choosing a childcare centre for your child. A good childcare centre goes far and beyond to ensure your child’s safety. Some best practices include childproofing, a well-kept and maintained play space with sets of clean toys, food safety practices as well as constant supervision.
A great childproofed space will include clean toys in good condition, cribs out of reach from blinds and windows, covers on every outlet, securing changing tables and chairs with straps as well as dangerous substances like cleaning supplies, the stairs blocked by a baby gate and more.
6. Established Policies And Continual Training
When a business is organised, you can be assured that they have established policies and continued training throughout their operations. They have standard operating procedures and up to date knowledge in place that cater even for basic activities like when they do circle time to more major ones such as handling sick children or emergency situations.
You want a flexible and fluid childcare centre that can pack a special meal for your child occasionally but not too loose that the rules and policies are confusing or make you feel your child is unsafe.
Questions Parents Can Ask Childcare Centres
1. What Is The Typical Daily Schedule?
Every childcare centre is different and has their own schedule. No two are the same. You may want to check with the childcare centre whether they have a structured schedule or an all-day free play model with meal breaks. Regardless of which type you choose, you will be aware of what your child is doing all day.
2. What Is The Approach To Discipline?
This is a top priority as it will be able to tell you about the childcare centre’s general philosophy by how they discipline the children under their care. You can explore this more by asking specific questions.
Do the staff yell at the children to reprimand them, and do they use a different strategy based on the age and personality of the child? Are time-outs used, and if so, what do they look like? Are there penalties or repercussions for bad behaviour? Every parent approaches discipline differently, but the childcare centre’s general approach to discipline should be aligned with yours.
3. Are Children Divided Into Groups By Age?
If the childcare centre cares for children from a wide range of ages, it is recommended to find out what system and/ or policies are in place to help the staff manage diverse needs so no child is neglected. The needs of a 2 year old are different from those of a 5 year old so it is important to know how they will manage when the children are varied in age.
4. How Have The Staff Been Screened?
Other than the usual criteria that qualify an early childhood educator, such as educational background and experience, it is advisable to check with the childcare centre whether the staff’s background has been checked.
The staff should meet and have completed the required education and training according to the nation’s early childhood education standards. Most importantly, they must have been screened for criminal behaviour because you will want to be sure that your child is in safe hands.
5. How Do They Comfort Upset Children?
A responsive caregiver is mandatory, and it will be recommended to go into detail about the specifics of how the staff spots and soothes a distressed child. Do they give a few routine pats on the back and walk away? Do they hold and hug a wailing child until the tears have stopped? An ideal caregiver should be one who is compassionate toward any child having a hard time.
6. What Is The Protocol When A Child Is Sick Or Injured?
Communication about minor injuries should be negotiated between the parent and childcare centre. When your child scrapes his or her knee, do you expect to be notified immediately, or is that going to cause you unnecessary stress?
Is a bump on the head considered a major injury, and should you be notified immediately? Or do you trust the childcare centre’s judgement when it comes to assessing the state of your child’s injury? Ask about the details of the sick and injured policy so you will know in advance to prepare for a situation, whether it is going to be an early pickup or a missed day at school for your child.
7. What Is The Policy In The Event Of A Late Pick-Up?
Unforeseen circumstances can happen, so parents should be prepared for such cases when they can’t reach the childcare centre in time to pick up their child. Knowing the childcare centre’s policy on late pick-up is helpful.
Additionally, you can check whether they charge an extra fee when a late pick-up occurs and whether you can give permission over the mobile phone to send a trusted friend or family member to pick up your child in case you are running really late.
8. Do The Staff Provide Potty Training Support?
If your child is attending school near or around the potty training age, it will be good to know whether the childcare centre provides potty training support. It will prove much easier if the staff can help because for most children, potty training requires consistency and more than a two-day weekend. In many cases, the average length of time taken to master potty training is about 6 months.
Tots & Teddies
Tots & Teddies is a multi-award winning preschool and childcare centre. We have been featured in The Straits Times, Sassy Mama, The Business Times, and ParentsWorld. Located in the CBD, we cater to discerning parents who want the best quality care for their infants from 2 months through kids under 7 years old.
Our aim is to ensure that every child in the loving care of our centre feels important, heard, understood, and protected by limiting teacher-child ratios and class sizes. Providing a safe, clean, and inviting environment, we use a holistic approach in our curriculum so the children can be P1-ready by the time they reach 7 years old.
Additionally, the curriculum is designed to help the children flourish into well-rounded, inquisitive, caring, and confident individuals. We also partner closely with the parents so the children can develop holistically inside and outside the classroom environment.
We believe that nutrition is critical to a child’s growth. Thus, we infuse different superfoods into our menu so the children get optimum amounts of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients to enhance their immunity, growth, and development. Some of them include fresh salmon and barramundi, Greek yoghurt, antibiotic-free chicken, and cage-free eggs.
We constantly source for quality ingredients; our meals comprise whole grain carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, dairy products, and healthy fats with the minimal use of added sugar, salt, saturated fats, and processed foods. Our menu is designed by a paediatric nutritionist, with food freshly prepared every day by our in-house professional chef and our experienced as well as warm teaching team.
In summary, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right childcare centre for your child. You need to ensure that the childcare centre’s values and philosophy are aligned with yours. At the same time, your child must be interested in the curriculum they offer and be able to grow holistically at the current stage of life and into the future.
It is also important to have backup plans should you be unable to pick up your child in unforeseen circumstances. Some childcare centres have an approved list of people given by parents for picking up their children in such cases, so if you are unable to pick up your child on time, they will check their system to see whether the person who came to pick up your child is on the approved list.