1,000 KIDS IN ONE PRESCHOOL What you must know about the trend of large childcare centres in Singapore.
Would you enrol your little one in a large childcare centre that can hold up to 1,000 kids? EVELINE GAN reports on this hot trend in estates with high demand.
Finding and securing a childcare spot for your little one can be a frustrating, hairtearing affair.
But with large childcare centres sprouting up in the heartlands over the last few years, parents can look forward to more affordable and quality preschool programmes.
Since 2016, these megasized centres, some of which can take up to 1,000 kids, have opened in estates with more young families. This is part of the Government’s efforts to ensure that every parent who needs a preschool place for their little one will be able to have one. Here, we ﬁnd out more about this new preschool experience.
What are large childcare centres and how are they different from regularsized preschools?
In a large childcare centre, your little one may have as many as 999 schoolmates attending school at the same time.
About three to ﬁve times the size of childcare centres that are located at HDB void decks, these larger centres can each accommodate anywhere between 300 and 1,000 children, according to the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA), the regulatory and developmental authority for the early childhood sector in Singapore.
“The larger space allows centres more scope to design stimulating learning environments, such as age-appropriate play areas, garden spaces, art and teacher resource rooms,” says ECDA’s spokesperson.
For example, My First Skool (MFS) at 2 Punggol Drive, which opened its doors in May, boasts ﬁve exciting outdoor playscapes across its sprawling 94,561 sq ft campus, including an outdoor playground as well as themed water, land, mountain and forest play zones.
Children enrolled at the Skool4Kidz campus at Sengkang Riverside Park, which also started operations this year, enjoy ample opportunities for outdoor learning, thanks to its location nestled amid the lush greenery of the surrounding park.
It features facilities that regular-sized preschools do not have due to limited space, such as an indoor garden atrium with skybridge, a butterﬂy lodge, an atelier loft and reading space, a unique dining space that will serve food from garden harvests, as well as themed outdoor play corridors.
Where are they located?
Large childcare centres are located in areas of high preschool demands, such as estates with many young families.
Young Parents’ checks revealed that nine of these jumbo-sized childcare centres have opened in Sengkang, Punggol, Yishun, Woodlands, Jurong West and Bukit Panjang. Together, they have created 5,000 preschool places.
Another ﬁve new ones are slated to open in Sengkang and Punggol by 2020, according to ECDA. Details for registration for the ﬁve new large childcare centres will be announced in the ﬁrst half of next year.
How is the quality of childcare and education kept consistent in such a large preschool setting?
While the campus size is larger, the quality of care and education remains a key priority, as in all preschools and childcare centres here, says ECDA’s spokesperson.
Similar to a regular-sized preschool, large centres offer a comprehensive series of programmes that are designed to cater to the development needs of young children from two months to six years of age, says Teri Teo, director of communications and capability development at School4Kidz.
These large childcare centres are also run by anchor operators, which are appointed by ECDA. Each centre is subjected to the same regulations that the agency has for smaller centres, such as teacher-to-children ratios ranging from one educarer to ﬁve infants 18 months old and younger, to one teacher to 25 children in Kindergarten 2, Teri explains.
With so many kids on campus, will my little one get easily distracted?
Built for greater access to nature and more opportunities for outdoor learning, many of the newer large childcare centres feature open spaces and shared communal facilities.
But would this, as well as having so many other chatty preschoolers in the same space, inadvertently end up distracting your little one from learning well?
Educators say it won’t. For one, teachers provide materials and activities that occupy the children and engage them throughout the