Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Childcare for Jayvon

With the birth of Jayvon, I was really blessed to be able to bring him into the office nursery. In fact, whenever I am asked who takes care of Jay when I am working and I answer that I bring him to work with me, and that the office has a special area carved out for staff’s babies (below 2 1/2 years old), the usual response is “Wow! That’s so nice!” And I must say, it is really a great blessing! To be able to work and still be in close vicinity in case your baby needs you… it helps in the transition of learning to be a full-time employee and mommy.

However, all good things must come to an end.

And as Jay is already 19 months old, his “stay” at the Suntec Nursery will end when he turns 2 1/2 years.
And full-day childcare facilities in Singapore come in a wide spectrum and range… both in terms of price and quality.

So it was really a tough decision for us. Thank God for good friends who ‘paved’ the way before me and they gave really good advice. One advised me to first plan my budget and then look for a childcare within that budget. Another shared her experiences with some childcare centres. And yet another shared about the various curriculum and ‘learning techniques’ employed by the various centres.
If, like me, you are exploring into childcare centres for your toddler, these links might be useful for you:

Nic and I personally went to visit some of the centres too. Here’re some of my thoughts. (Disclaimer: This is what I gathered and saw from a visit that lasted about 30-45 minutes.)

Shaw’s CDLC, along Mountbatten Road
If you follow me on Twitter, this is the dreaded place where a LIZARD fell on my head as we were waiting at the entrance to enter the school. So forgive me if I have my misgivings about here!
Pros: They have a large outdoor play area! Huge playground! And the price was about $600+ (after the working mother’s subsidy of $300). So it is really an affordable mid-range centre.
Cons: For non-drivers like myself, this is quite an inconvenient place and I can imagine when it rains, it would be quite dreadful!

Brighton Montessori along Fort Road
I adored this place. Very rustic-looking, and the person who attended to us explained the Montessori learning to us well. Unfortunately due to the H1N1 outbreak, we weren’t allowed to see the classrooms.
Pros: The whole ambience of the centre was welcoming. I especially loved the teachers, and also the teaching methodology.
Cons: Another tough place to travel for non-drivers. Also, when we were there at around 5 p.m., we noticed a lot of parents already picking up their children. With our work schedule, it would be likely Jay would be the last lone child there by the time 7 p.m. comes along! The centre offers busing, but which would bring the total monthly expenditure to $1,200 (after subsidy)!

Little Big Creativity Centre, along Lorong Stangee
The first childcare centres we visited! This is a new centre, so all the facilities were spanking new!
Pros: The centre has a music room – one of the rare ones we saw. With drums, guitars, bells to more ‘exotic’ instruments like flutes and all… Jayvon was really excited and contented in that room! This was a definite ‘push’ factor for us!
Cons: Not too convenient for non-drivers again… Sigh…

Carpe Diem @ Tampines St 24
Situated at the bottom floor of the HDB flat, this is one of the many childcare centres littered in the Tampines area (where my house is). My colleague recommended this place as one to consider, as her sis-in-law sent her kid to this centre, in another location.
Pros: At $300+ a month, this is really affordable! And did I mention it is a stone’s throw away from my flat?
Cons: All seemed well, and they even had a pet rabbit (which Jay adored and kept poking!). However when we left the centre, almost out of ear-shot, we heard one of the teachers shouting at a student, “Hannah, keep quiet!” Also, the students generally looked bored, and a few of the older kids wore tops that were stained (probably with paint).

A particular childcare centre
I won’t reveal this name, cos I don’t have very nice things to say (hahaha!)
Apart from bored-looking students and poor classroom layouts, I disliked this centre for a few reasons:
Con #1 – the toilets were SO smelly! OMG…. my smile literally died when the teacher brought us to the toilets… even from a distance, the smell wafted to our noses.
Con #2 – the centre also offered infant care. While I adore cute babies…. I saw one cute baby boy – who had a huge reddish welt on his left eyelid… and another girl who had woken from her nap, and was peering up from the top of her cot, and for the good 3 minutes while we were at that part of the centre, no staff noticed or attended to this poor girl!
Con #3 – Due to the classroom layout, the kids would not get a chance to ‘move’ around much. While the centre offered sandplay and waterplay, the facilities weren’t impressive.

And so? Which childcare centre are we sending Jayvon to?

MindChamps PreSchool

Cons: Expensive! It will cost about $1,200 a month. *faint* Pardon us while we go on a strict austerity drive… for the next 4 years!
Pros: I love the spaciousness of the centre. We visited the centres at East Coast and Tampines Point, and both centres were outfitted in a bright white and cheery red. With its extensive curriculum and more importantly, the bright-looking kids that greeted us, it really stood heads and shoulders above the other centres. The centre offers music, gym, cooking – on top of the usual English, Chinese and Mathematics classes.

We’re really glad to start on this whole new chapter of parenthood. As we balance giving our best to our boy coupled with affordability, we do need and depend on the grace and wisdom of God! We want Jay to grow up strong, wise, sharp… but more importantly enjoying and loving his growing up years!

Update (August 2012)
We were all prepared to go and make the downpayment the following Monday, and even contacted the MindChamps rep to meet us to collect the cheque... until what I can only describe as a "God-intervention" which made me pause, think and well, basically decided to not go ahead with this.

Nothing against MindChamps - but Jayvon was enrolled in Little Big Creativity Centre for the Christian environment and loving teachers. Now, 2 years on, he is a bright boy, interactive, loves to laugh and giggle and doing well academically (as well as any N2 boy).

Plus... with all the sky-rocketing childcare prices since I first wrote this post in 2009, this $1,200 isn't really valid now. On hindsight, I am glad my pocket was spared (especially that now I have a second boy who will be entering preschool in the next few months as well!)

I usually don't update backdated posts, haha... but I think this is important cos I've had some email queries asking how Jay is in MindChamps. :P


Karen said...

Ouch to the cost! Guess you better cut down on 'unnecessary' spending for the next FEW years!!

Klessis said...

I'm sure Jayvon will learn lots from his new school! Finally your search is over!!!!! =D

San said...

San-Karen: Yeap! Hahaha! No more spree-ing! :P

San-Kless: I am so relieved too! :)

龙哥 said...

San, congrats on concluding your search! I think Jayvon will enjoy his stay..

grace.tan said...

Oh man.. dat lizard... eeks!

BAS said...

Dropping in from SITS!

San, you have had some great advice on seeking out your next childcare place.

Good Luck with the search!


Shelley said...

Over from SITS. Too bad the office day care can't be extended up till they go to Kindergarten. Good luck in your search.

San said...

San-BAS and Shelley: Thanks! ;)

Anonymous said...

Decision Decisions huh? Hope you figure out the perfect place for your son!

Anonymous said...

Dear Author !
Many thanks for the information, now I will know.

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