If you are a parent, you probably heaved a sigh of relief when you saw that preschool is being addressed as one of the cornerstone in PM Lee’s speech in this year’s National Day Rally.
We know that because child care cost in Singapore has been on a steady rise in the past few years, with a median cost of $856 and an average of $1,004.
This meant that the average parent will be paying $60,000 for 5 years of preschool education for their child! But is it really necessary, as a parent, to pay top money in order to get quality early childhood education for your child?
Does an Expensive Preschool Equals to a Good Preschool?
Does expensive automatically equals to quality? As with many things in life, we say it’s not necessary the case when it comes to selecting preschool.
Dr Chen, from SUSS, stressed that there is “no reliable correlation” between fees and quality, and said, “Parents should look for the match between their child’s personality and individual needs as well as their own beliefs and values, and the structure of the pre-school programme and its philosophical approach.”
It’s not just the fees and quality of environment that you should be looking at. Make an effort to know more about the school’s leadership, teachers and parents interaction, and their current engagement with parents.
For example, PCF Sparkletots teachers actually sends regular learning updates in the form of a Communication Book to parents.
Besides updating their child’s progress, the book also act as a channel of communication between parents and teachers. Parents can choose to write question in the book, which will be answered by teachers on the next day.
Another good tip would be to bring your child to the preschool open houses and let your child roam around and interact with the teachers. On first impression, does your child like it there? — that can be a pretty good indication.
Seek Out Financial Aid and Subsidy to Make Childcare More Affordable
But… you are probably still pretty worried about paying around $700 per month for your child’s early childhood education right?
Well, not to worry too much because the government has plans to help parents with this. To aid you and to ensure your children get a fair start in life, the government plans to increase spending for preschool to 1.7 billion in 2022, and increase the number of partner operators.
This meant that there will be more affordable preschools by 2022, and 2 in 3 children will get access to government-run or government supported school.
Besides that, you will also be eligible for a basic subsidy of $300 per month for your child’s school fees. And if you are a working mum that works >56 hours per month with a household income of <$7,500, you will also be eligible for additional subsidies.
These schools have committed to maintain quality education while ensuring fees at capped at a certain range.
E.g. most partner operator preschool cost about $800 per month, from as much as $1,100 per month.
Plan Ahead Financially and Logistically for Your Child’s Education
But the best way to prepare financially for your child’s education is to plan for it.
Note down your saving goals and seek out financial vehicles that can help you to grow the money. If you are risk-averse, go for fixed deposits or saving plans. Even those 1-2% are way better than keeping the money in the bank for nominal interest rates.
This is also a good time to be kiasu. If an anchor operator or partner preschool is opening up near your home, take a day to queue up to secure a place for your child. This is one of the instances where queuing up brings about future benefits — e.g. travelling time, convenience, etc.
Hopefully this helps you to understand and plan the financial needs of sending your child to a preschool in Singapore!