If you’re enrolling your toddler in a Singapore preschool, you’ll probably be shocked by the huge variation in childcare fees.
Childcare fees can range from about $700 to over $2,000 a month.
Take a look at the infographic below, which shows you the day in the life of a child in a premium preschool (Chiltern House) versus one in a neighbourhood childcare centre (My First Skool).
The schedule doesn’t look very different, so what accounts for the disparity in Singapore childcare fees?
Anchor operators keep fees low because of government subsidies
As part of the anchor operator scheme, their fees are capped at $720 a month.
There are also centres under the partner operator (POP) scheme, which cap their fees at $800.
(Also read: How to choose a school for your preschooler)
What you get at centres that charge $700 to about $800
While their fees are lower, anchor operators say they offer quality education, according to the ST report.
In fact, while parents pay about $770 in childcare fees a month before the government subsidy, the cost of that education is worth $1,200, NTUC First Campus chief executive officer Chan Tee Seng tells ST.
Star Learners: Many of its centres fall under the POP scheme, so fees are capped at $800. The chain is sought after by parents who like its character-building focus. Parent Gwendolyn Tan found that her youngest child, now age two, picked up life skills faster than her older sisters, who had attended three-hour kindergarten. Read Young Parents’ interview with Star Learners’ founder, who gave up his high-flying jobs for his four kids, here.
What you get at premium childcare centres
A preschool with a swimming pool? Or how about an omakase-style lunch menu for tots, just like in a fine dining Japanese restaurant?
These are just some of the details that set apart premium childcare centres, says the ST report.
Chiltern House: Parents pay more than $2,000 a month before subsidy. The preschool chain (pictured above) is well know for its speech and drama lessons and it also offers an Oxford Reading Tree programme from Britain.
The teacher-student ratio is kept small, with two teachers to 14 children in Kindergarten 1 (ECDA’s mandated ratio is one teacher to 20 students) .
Kids here can also join enrichment classes in Chinese cultural arts and creative writing, and learn about mindfulness.
Mindchamps: This preschool group (pictured above) charges over $1,500 a month for full-day childcare, including enrichment programmes.
Mindchamps’ draw is its trademarked programmes, which were developed with world renowned experts in psychology, neuroscience, theatre and education.
Its teachers also get up to 200 hours of extensive training and accreditation on top of their existing qualifications.
International preschool offerings
The perks at some international preschools are even more incredible.
Integrated International School: Its Little Tykes programme is billed as a “toddler drop-off boutique programme” for ages 18 to 36 months. It costs $6,000 to $14,000 a year, and fees later increase to over $31,000, according to the ST report.
And what do you get for such fees? A “purpose-built Ocean Snoezelen Room” – a multi-sensory space with bubble tubes, fibre-optic blankets and a colour-switching infinity portal.
Early Learning Village: How about a swimming pool (pictured above) for your little one at preschool?
You’ll find a 20m pool at this centre, which is a collaboration between the Australian International School and Stamford American International School.
It also houses a parent cafe, and library and inquiry centre. Fees are over $30,000 a year and there is also a facility fee of $1,675.