Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kindergarten vs. Child Care Centre for Toddlers

I used to be the kind of parent who was very adamant of not rushing my toddler to go to school before she turns 3. I was even anti putting my child to a child care centre no matter what. I always had believed that child care centres are meant for very busy working parents or lazy parents.

To top it off, I had these ideals of giving my child the freedom of play and fully receiving our care 24/7 at home, that includes home-cooked food, comfortable bed for sleeping and a room full of toys just for herself before she officially enters the schooling world. Further, I was literally very concerned and scared with the possibility of exposing Naomi to germs, bacteria or virus that other kids may spread to Naomi at school. I thought Naomi should grow older and build better immune system first before going to school.

Naomi, 2 years and 4 months old.

Recently, my ideals about sending Naomi to school earlier than 3 y/o were slowly turned upside down. My husband and I were more than eager to send her to school or child care centre now when she is not even 2.5 y/o. Why, you wonder?
  1. We don't see any significant improvements on Naomi's speech until now. We think that now is the time to make her socialize or mingle with other peer kids, on top of the speech therapy that she is going to do next month, so she can learn speaking our language faster. Naomi is often frustrated in conveying her message or intention to us and we too, are frustrated, in understanding her baby language. 
  2. My husband and I are both busy working on weekdays; hence these days we need to resort to MIL to take care of Naomi during the day. At night, we are pretty much flat out to provide our kid with interesting activities to keep her busy for hours so she usually watches some cartoons or kiddie songs on TV before bed time. My MIL doesn't mind taking care of Naomi but we both thought it's better to place Naomi in an environment where she can get proper kid and learning activities as we aim to reduce her daily dose of TV time as well. Naomi loves watching TV a tad too much if none of us accompanies her to play or does kiddo activities with her.
  3. Nowadays Naomi catches flu, coughs and runny nose quite frequently due to weather changes or virus from God knows where. Like her paediatrician said, kids getting virus from other kids at school is a matter of sooner or later. Naomi will still have to go to school anyway and the most important thing now is to encourage her to speak. There's a kernel of truth from his advice, right? Naomi stays at home most of the time, yet still gets sick too. Therefore, we might as well send her to school earlier than planned for much better reason.
Painting with Naomi on weekend.

As such, this morning, my husband and I went to check a kindergarten and a child care centre around the neighbourhood area. Convenience plays a key role in selecting school for Naomi so we only considered these two since both are not located far away from our house.

Kindergarten (Tadika)

At first, we checked out a kindergarten that is just few blocks away from where we live. This kindergarten is one the franchises of a well-known kindergarten brand in Malaysia. I have certainly known its brand very well because my nephews went to one of its branches when they were younger and I've read their brochures few times before. I have no doubt of this kindergarten's quality because my nephews are doing exceptionally well now in their primary school after graduating from this kindie.

Since we visited the kindie during schooling hours, we were not allowed to look around the inside of the kindergarten but had brief discussion with one of the teachers. She said the school usually accepts 3 y/o kids but nowadays their youngest students are the 4 y/o kids. Since Naomi is younger then she will have to join the 4 y/o class which means she will have to slowly follow the 4 y/o activities or learning modules. The school uses 3 languages to educate the children. This kindergarten is quite new and they only have about 10 kids and 3 teachers in total. Naomi can start going to this kindergarten any time after CNY. The teacher convinced us that all of the students there are all healthy and they seldom fall sick so I should not worry.  

The monthly fee for half-day school is very affordable but realizing that Naomi will have to join the 4 y/o kids for her first school - I think I am gonna give this kindie a pass for now..

My toddler brushes her teeth, often on her own will.

Child Care Centre or Nursery (Taska)

As planned, the three of us checked out another kindergarten we knew that is even closer to our home. I've never heard of this place anywhere else in Seremban before nor received any brochure about it. To be honest, this place was really not in my priority.

When we arrived to this kindergarten, a lady who opened the door told us that she is actually not operating a kindergarten. They are running a child care centre. Hearing this, my heart sank a bit and I thought of going home immediately. Child care centre was not in our plan. However, her colleague, came out from the centre, greeted us and invited us to come in. 

Soon, one of the teachers explained us about the child care centre that they are running and how it is different from normal kindergarten. This child care centre only accepts kids aged 1-4 y/o. The teachers are very specialized in handling toddlers. Kids older than 4 y/o will have to go to kindergarten.

The following are some interesting points that I found really surprising about sending toddlers to a professional child care centre instead of kindergarten. I made the below comparison based on the particular child care centre that my husband and I went to this morning as we have not surveyed other child care centres that are not in our neighbourhood (assuming that other child care centres in Malaysia run their business pretty standard/similar to the one we checked out as I think child care centres operations in Malaysia are governed by law).
  1. Child care centres promote more freedom and relaxed child caring experience than kindergarten because they don't want to stress kids with complicated or demanding study syllabus. Hence, they don't teach toddlers to read or write when they are still 2+ or 3 years old and don't bombard toddlers with assignments let alone homework. 
  2. Child care centres provide a more individual approach in caring each kid. The teachers carefully observe our kids development every day. They'll notice whether our tots are behind certain developmental milestones or require special care thus giving them different treatment.
  3. Child care centres teach toddlers to do self-care and daily routines, such as toilet training, holding a cup, eating without assistance, taking the pants off, putting on clothes, etc.
  4. Child care centres maintain certain ratio that is in accordance to the government regulation on the number of certified teachers to teach a group of kids. For example, 1 teacher for 5 kids.
  5. All of the teachers generally have passed certain courses to teach in the child care centre. Kindergarten teachers are trained to teach kids academically but they do not have trainings on child psychology to ensure kids' psychological welfare or development.
  6. The toddlers' early education program and activities are grouped based on their age and they cover areas such as social, emotional, language, early literacy, mathematical concept, creativity, physical, etc.
  7. Sometimes the teachers bring the kids out to get some fresh air and explore nature in the neighbourhood.
  8. Their discipline methods for toddlers are usually time-outs (standing in the corner) or a gentle hit on the hand palm while telling them the mistakes they just did. Teachers will then reconcile with them shortly after disciplining the naughty ones.
After personally checking the hygiene of the child care centre and listening to the teacher's explanation on the above and other things such as their facilities, timetables and daily food provided to the kids, my husband and I are keen and more excited in sending Naomi to child care centre instead of kindergarten. We feel that a child care centre will provide Naomi a more well-balanced environment with activities, learnings, care and knowledge that are truly tailored to her age, abilities, developments and needs so we, her parents, have lots less things to worry about her spending her days there.

The teacher also assured us that any milestone developments or happenings take place will be reported to the parents accordingly. This child care centre even asks the parents to check the centre's Facebook page so parents can view the kids activities at the centre. Not bad, huh? Or maybe this is a common practice in today's kindergarten world - I am just too novel to all this. In addition, we noticed that every kid who just arrived to the child care centre was given hand sanitizer before joining the other kids - this practice scores a plus value indeed. 

Before this, my husband and I never intended to put Naomi to a child care centre full day because we found no reason of why we must make her nap in a mattress in the day care while we have a nice King Koil bed at home and we live close by? However, the teacher advised us that if parents would like to seek the teacher's assistance to toilet train their kids, then we'd need to put the kids in the child care centre full day; else their potty training efforts will not be consistent and wasted. For this reason, I was even more confident in putting Naomi in the centre full day, at least until she is well toilet trained.

The only drawback is that child care centre's monthly fee costs more than double than the kindergarten's. Nevertheless, after thoroughly considering the costs and the benefits that we get from each, my husband and I are more comfortable in sending Naomi to child care centre first before sending her to normal kindergarten.

Anyway, now that we've made up our mind to put Naomi to the child centre we checked out this morning, I was told this afternoon that this centre's children quotas for the coming months are already full. SO UNFORTUNATE! The centre's principal didn't tell the teacher we spoke to this morning that there are few more kids coming to their centre. The child care centre here in Malaysia, by law, cannot take too many kids more than their allocated quota and a government officer checks on their premise every three months.

What a shame! I was already super excited about sending Naomi to this child care centre instead of kindergarten this year or even next week if possible... Now Naomi is in this child care centre's waiting list instead. Sigh.

So how?!

:( :( :(

**P/S: The above information on child care centre was based on my conversation with the centre's operator/teacher, not from online sources.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving your comment here!