EXPENSIVE DOES NOT EQUAL QUALITY
“The first preschool I enrolled my older son in was highly recommended by an acquaintance. I didn’t think to enquire about the curriculum, and since the fees were a pocket-busting $1,500 a month per child, I blindly assumed that it was an excellent school.
“After more than a year – yes, it took me that long – I realised that my son wasn’t learning a whole lot. I transferred him to another school, but he struggled for a while as he had a lot of catching up to do. Had I reviewed his first school’s curriculum to start with, he wouldn’t have been at such a disadvantage.” – Collette de Souza, 37, stay-at-home mum with two kids aged nine and seven
IT IGNORED BULLYING
“One of my son’s preschool mates kept kicking and hitting him. Instead of bringing the problem to the attention of this boy’s parents, or making it clear to the boy that his behaviour was inappropriate, the teacher did nothing. Before you enrol your child in preschool, ask how the staff handles problems like these.” – Catherine Tan, 39, events director, and mum to a four-year-old
LOCATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK
“Always, always, pick a preschool near your or your spouse’s workplace. My husband and I didn’t know that our son was allergic to peanuts. So when we enrolled him in preschool, we told the staff that he had no allergies and that they could give him whatever food was on offer for his meals.
“Then one day we received a call from the school, saying that his eyes had swelled up. We were worried but, luckily, his school was near my then-workplace and I was able to pick him up and get him medical attention right away. I shudder to think what would have happened had I arrived just a minute later.” – Agnes Gerrits-Lim, 44, stay-at-home mum with two kids aged 10 and six
Related story: How to prepare your child for preschool
THEY WILL SETTLE IN
“It’s not easy watching your child cry during his or her first few days at preschool. I wish I had prepared myself for that, because seeing my daughter cry was positively heartbreaking. But you have to find a way to be strong and walk away from them. It’s tough, but you have to get it into your head and reassure yourself that they will be fine on their own – in fact, more than you expect.” – Dawn Cheng, 41, business owner, and mum to a two-year-old
IT DIDN’T COMMUNICATE ENOUGH
“For the first two weeks, we were allowed to observe our kids going about their day-to-day activities. After that, we received only quarterly reports on their progress. This was fine, but I would have preferred more frequent updates. I was expecting the teachers to be more proactive with regards to communication.
“I also wish that parents could be more involved in their kids’ school activities. My kids’ school has Parent Day once a year, where the kids and parents team up and do something together, like go for an excursion. I really enjoy these opportunities to bond with the kids and wish more preschools held such events more frequently.
“Most schools tend to just focus on the parent-child relationship or the teacher-child relationship. However, I think it’s the child-parent-school connection that is most important.” – Sher-Li Torrey, 38, business owner, and mum with two kids aged seven and three
THERE’S ONLY ONE INTAKE
“I didn’t know that kindergartens follow the Ministry of Education’s admission dates, meaning that their only intake is in January each year. This is different from childcare centres, where kids can start any time of the year, as long as the centre has a vacancy. My daughter, who was born in July, can therefore attend one only at 2½ years, when I would have preferred her to start when she turned two. I am now looking for enrichment classes for her to attend in the interim.” – Delia Kng, 36, stay-at-home mum with two kids aged seven and two
Related story: Which preschool is right for Junior?
THE TEACHER LEFT SUDDENLY
“I wish I’d known from the start if the teachers were committed to their jobs and were planning to be there for the long haul. For instance, I had just transferred my older son to a new kindergarten. He had a wonderful teacher who helped him adjust to the school, and he adored her. A month later, however, she left the school for good. I think I was more disappointed than my son was. I felt terrible for him!” – Rosemary Tan, 40, stay-at-home mum with three kids aged 12, eight and three
MATCH THE KID TO THE SCHOOL
“My daughter gets overwhelmed when she is in large groups, but I didn’t consider this when I enrolled her in preschool. She struggled for a while, and it was only when I transferred her to a school with smaller classes that she began to thrive.” – Irene Chia, 38, sales manager with a three-year-old