HOW TO CHOOSE A PRESCHOOL
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.
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:
- Your child’s developmental and
- Safety and cleanliness
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 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.
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.