HOW TO CHOOSE A PRESCHOOL

Expatriate Lifestyle - Essentials Education - - Contents - WORDS MELINDA ROOS PHO­TOS IS­TOCK­PHOTO

Start your kids on the right track from an early age by choos­ing the preschool that best fits their needs

Ask­ing the right ques­tions will help to en­sure that the preschool you

se­lect will be one where your young one will shine

Choos­ing a preschool for your child, or the foun­da­tion stage for ages 3 to 5 years is a cru­cial mile­stone for both par­ent and child. Chil­dren at this age are ex­posed to num­bers, shapes and let­ters. Through their in­ter­ac­tion with other chil­dren, your child will also be gain­ing an aware­ness of oth­ers, which will form the ba­sis for learn­ing so­cial skills.

As such, there are a num­ber of con­sid­er­a­tions to take into ac­count when se­lect­ing a suit­able place for them. We’ve out­lined some steps that will help you to make a de­ci­sion from the wide range of choices avail­able here in Malaysia.

BA­SIC CON­SID­ER­A­TIONS

he first ste is to identi y the asi needs of both your fam­ily and your child and work from there.The key as­pects to con­sider are:

- Lo­ca­tion

- Your child’s de­vel­op­men­tal and

learn­ing pace

- Cost

- Safety and clean­li­ness

LO­CA­TION

When it comes to lo­ca­tion, ask your­self what works for your fam­ily’s needs. Do you pre­fer the school to be near your home, or your work­place? Do you plan to drive to school, or do you pre­fer some­thing within walk­ing dis­tance. If your an­swer is “walk­ing dis­tance”, take into con­sid­er­a­tion that the in­fra­struc­ture in and around Malaysia’s cities are not al­ways pedes­trian-friendly, and side­walks are lim­ited. Safety on the road might also be an is­sue you want to con­sider. The weather in Malaysia is prone to rain and thun­der­storms in the af­ter­noon, and mostly dur­ing pick-up times.

Most pri­vate preschools in Malaysia of­fer their ser­vices for half a day, ei­ther as a morn­ing or af­ter­noon ses­sion. In­ter­na­tional schools’ preschool pro­grams usu­ally run from 8.30am to 2.30pm.

If both par­ents are work­ing, or you do not have a child-min­der at home, you will have to in­quire with the par­tic­u­lar preschool of your choice if they of­fer af­ter­care child ser­vices. Find out also if there are any nap times, and if potty train­ing is re­quired.

TYPES OF PRESCHOOL PRO­GRAMS

here is no one si e fits all hen it comes to any child’s learn­ing, there­fore, it is im­por­tant to fa­mil­iarise your­self which kind of learn­ing best suits your hild. ith this in mind find­ing o t a preschool’s ed­u­ca­tional phi­los­o­phy is ey. o ld yo r hild en­e­fit more from a discovery-based ap­proach, or would you pre­fer the tra­di­tional teacher-led meth­ods that are pri­mar­ily fo­cused on drills and prac­tices?

MONTES­SORI

Montes­sori is prob­a­bly the most com­mon pro­gram of­fered by pri­vate preschools in and around Malaysia.

It is a child-cen­tred ap­proach and teach­ers serve as guides, with chil­dren choos­ing their own learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties from a num­ber of pos­si­bil­i­ties in a pre­pared en­vi­ron­ment, and at their own pace.

t o ses on fi e ma or ar­eas o a child’s de­vel­op­ment, namely:

- prac­ti­cal life

a are­ness o the fi e senses - lan­guage arts

- math­e­mat­ics and ge­om­e­try, and - cul­ture

Some pri­vate preschools of­fer­ing this type of pro­gram would be Chil­dren’s House with sev­eral branches all over Kuala Lumpur as well as Pe­nang; Chil­dren’s Discovery House with branches in Am­pang, Bangsar and Mont Kiara ar­eas in Kuala Lumpur and Se­lan­gor; and Tree

Top House in Jalan U-Thant Kuala Lumpur.Th­ese pri­vate preschools of­fer a full day pro­gramme from 8.45am to 5:30pm, which is ideal for work­ing par­ents.

Some in­ter­na­tional schools of­fer­ing preschool pro­grams for ages 3 to 5 years are Gar­den In­ter­na­tional School, which has an early years en­tre lo ated fi e min­utes drive away from the main cam­pus in Kuala Lumpur. The In­ter­na­tional School @ Parkc­ity of­fers both Nurs­ery and Re­cep­tion, un­der their Early Years pro­gram and base their cur­ricu­lum on the Early Years Foun­da­tion Stage (EYFS) from the UK, while in­cor­po­rat­ing best prac­tices from Ear­lyYears ed­u­ca­tion through­out the world. Eton

House Malaysia is also a pop­u­lar in­ter­na­tional school which of­fers in­quiry-based learn­ing that is child-led and in a child-cen­tred en­vi­ron­ment.

TERM FEES, OTHER COSTS AND WAIT­ING LISTS

While most in­ter­na­tional schools of­fer preschool and pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, not all ex­pat or em­ployee pack­ages are alike. Some com­pa­nies may cover the pre-school ed­u­ca­tion of your child, while oth­ers may not.

One aca­demic year in a high­lyranked in­ter­na­tional preschools can cost be­tween RM62,000 to RM95,000. In ad­di­tion to the term fees, a non-re­fund­able reg­is­tra­tion fee start­ing from RM10,000, and a de­posit equiv­a­lent to a one term fee are also ap­plied. The de­posit is re­fund­able when a child leaves the school, ro ided the s hool is gi en s fi ient no­tice, usu­ally one term in ad­vance. Most schools have three terms in one school cal­en­dar year, and each term’s fees range from RM12,000 to RM15,000.

To as­sist you in your long-term plans, bear in mind that in­ter­na­tional school term fees in­crease each school year and in ac­cor­dance to year level. If you en­rol your child in an in­ter­na­tional school with a nurs­ery term fee of RM12,750; re­cep­tion term fees will be slightly higher at around RM14,200 and so on.

If the cost of an in­ter­na­tional school ed­u­ca­tion is not an op­tion, there are a num­ber of qual­ity pri­vate preschools to choose from.

Term fees are slightly lower and range from RM7,000 to 8,000 per term. Reg­is­tra­tion, de­posit fees and other add-ons still ap­ply, but fa­cil­i­ties and sizes of pri­vate preschools do vary from those of in­ter­na­tional schools. Other costs to con­sider are whether snacks and meals are in­cluded, and those of uni­forms and trans­porta­tion.

WAIT­ING LIST

Once you have ze­roed in on your school of choice, it is ad­vis­able to get in touch with the school as early as pos­si­ble as most in­ter­na­tional schools have a wait­ing list.You may not al­ways be able to regis­ter your child in the s hool o yo r first hoi e so ha e a sec­ond and third op­tion ready.

Lynne Malan, a South African for­mer preschool prin­ci­pal and owner turned ex­pat mum, now based in Kuala Lumpur gives the fol­low­ing ad­vice when choos­ing a preschool.

“The Montes­sori and or any pro­gram that is struc­tured and planned with many dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties within a day is good, but it is ideal if play is in­te­grated in the learn­ing. Chil­dren are not al­ways in the mood for learn­ing, and a good teacher is e i le ill eel the en­ergy and is able to cre­ate more space for play, de end­ing on the hil­dren s s e ifi needs on that day.”

“I be­lieve each par­ent knows what is best for their child and the par­ent has to be com­fort­able leav­ing their child at the school. When look­ing for a school, go to a few dif­fer­ent ones and I prom­ise you, you will feel a dif­fer­ent en­ergy in each one. Check the safety, clean­li­ness, and the fa­cil­i­ties. Go with the school where you feel a ‘yes, I can leave my child here’.That is your school. Trust your­self that you know what is best for your child.”

For a com­pre­hen­sive list of in­ter­na­tional and pri­vate preschools, please visit the Ex­pa­tri­ate Lifestyle web­site at www.ex­pa­tri­atelifestyle.com/ ed­u­ca­tion.

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