Preparing Your Kids for Childcare or Kindergarten in Singapore

Are you preparing for your child’s first day at childcare on kindergarten? You must be feeling excited yet anxious at the same time. I understand, because that was how I felt when I was preparing my son when he started his first formal education at 17 months old. Yup, we appealed to let him enrol earlier because we had no other help, and both my husband and I are working.

In Singapore, kindergarten classes and childcare services are helpful for families, especially for parents who are working or have little or no support. For the kids, it’s a new milestone for them where their development is nurtured.

Starting preschool marks your child’s first formal years of structured education.

Difference between childcare and kindergarten in Singapore

Preschools refer to the institutions which offer structured learning during the early childhood education years.

Under preschools, there are childcare services and kindergartens in Singapore. Childcare usually operates from Mondays to Fridays, 7am to 7pm and some from on Saturdays (half-day) too. Kindergartens offer a 3 – 4-hour programme with 2 sessions (morning or afternoon).

In most childcare centres, a typical routine for the kids usually includes their meals, bath, and afternoon naps.

How can we get our little ones ready for a (hopefully) tear-free experience at school?

Tips on how to prepare your tot for preschool

#1: Choose a school that meets your child’s needs & family’s expectations

How do parents decide which preschool to send their kids to? Many consideration factors come into play, including proximity to home, teaching pedagogy and budget. During “school shopping”, bring your child along to get him comfortable with the idea about preschool and for him to see how school could look like. Read this article to find out how other mums and dads in Singapore select their preferred school.

Kids learn through play and being in school gives them the opportunity to learn with others in a safe environment.

#2: Talk to your child about this new chapter

Changes may be pretty normal in our life as adults, but for kids, that can be a big deal for them since they may not be developmentally ready to manage. It helps to talk to your child about what he can expect in school e.g. play toys, listen to stories, get to learn new nursery rhymes, make new friends etc. Mummies and daddies can also share about their own kindergarten experience when they were kids – how fun it was to learn and play with friends. Every positive experience counts towards giving your child a better idea on how school life could be for him too!

#3: Involve your child in getting things for “new school”

He is likely to need uniform (depending on the school’s arrangements), and some necessities such as a water bottle or a bag to pack his things in. Empower him with decision making by letting him choose them. It could even be other items like a new ribbon for your little girl to tie her hair and at the same time give her a boost of encouragement. When they’re involved in getting towards this new milestone, they will be more ready to accept the upcoming changes. Through this simple way of preparing bubba, it sharpens their awareness and gives them more confidence in tackling their new chapter too.

#4: Start the new routine on a positive note

It’s a new routine so try starting the day with a happy, chirpy “Good morning” peppered with hugs and kisses! Introduce the new routine by teaching him how to wear his uniform while telling him that his classmates are looking forward to play with him. To let the kids bond further, you may like to send him in before breakfast so he can enjoy some informal dining time with his little friends before curriculum time.

#5: Address any concerns your child may feel or are worried about

To be honest, not every child will look forward to being sent off to school. Afterall, being at home with mummy or daddy is their safe space. How would being in a new place filled with strangers for several hours be as assuring? We used to tell our son every morning that mummy or daddy will definitely pick him to go home together. When we picked him after school, we would reinforce and reminded him that we kept our word so that helps with giving him assurance. It is normal and expected if there is resistance from the child – signs such as crying when the topic of school is mentioned, tantrums/meltdowns are behaviour to look out for in response to this topic. It is important for parents to acknowledge and address how they feel and discuss about it.

At preschool, little kids scribble their way to sharpening their fine motor skills, which are important for dexterity and writing too!

#6: Prepare for separation anxiety – both parents and kids

After seeing each other for long hours over several years, the initial days (or months!) of being apart for hours is something new for the family to manage. Yup, that includes parents too, not just your munchkin! I remember my son walking into preschool with bright eyes on his first day, but he was all tears during the morning drop-offs for the next few days. That broke my heart and for a few seconds, I contemplated whisking him home with me. But I knew that this was just a transitional phase we were going through. Afterall, I want to raise resilient kids who embrace changes. I had to be that role model first. Eventually, my dear boy was excited to be in school and we enjoy our morning walks to school, with no tears at drop-offs.

#7: Manage your expectations and trust your child

Some kids take to their new school faster than others. Some kids might not like their school at all but are not able to verbalise it. I’ve learned that it’s important to work closely with their teachers in charge so we can ensure a similar approach of managing my boy, and that he can’t get his way by behaving a certain way. Truth be told, every child is different, as with the teachers’ approach to the kids and how other kids respond to them. It’s good to ask your little ones about how their school day was and keep an open communication flow with her. Being apart for several hours makes the heart grow fonder too. Should you also suspect anything that might be amiss if your child reacts strongly about going to school like fear, or has nightmares at night during this new period, trust your gut and address it accordingly.

Did you know that childcare subsidies are available for families in Singapore? Raising kids in Singapore can be a costly affair. If you’d like to find out how to manage your finances better, and how to ensure your family has sufficient insurance coverage, feel free to contact me!

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