Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm very happy today. Gabriel finally can start child care on Monday. He's going to Pat School House. 

Actually, Gabriel helped to decide on the school as well. This is the only centre which he does no cling on to us. He was having a fantastic time in the indoor play area and did not want to go home. So I guess he feels really comfortable there.

Before we stared the "BIG" search, I had no idea choosing the right child care centre is so tedious, so much to take into consideration. Silly mummy just thought that nice and friendly teachers with clean environment will do.

Oh no, I was so wrong. After talking to friends, I realized that we have to find out how experienced the teachers are, what's the ratio of the teacher to child, curriculum, menu, air-con etc....

One important fact I learned....NEVER trust the reviews from forums. We have to view the centres ourselves. I guess, different mummies have different expectations. But if you read some of the horrid stories below, I don't think our expectations was too high.

To let you know what I mean......We have visited a total of 7 child care centres......yes yes...we have done quite a bit of homework. Monthly fees of the centres ranges from $300 to $1000 and of course all with good reviews from forums. But when we visited the centres, most were totally different from the reviews.

Would like to share some of our experiences during the visits....

Experience 1
This is one of the centres in HDB viod decks. Review was this school follows closely to Singapore educational system, so we can just settle Gabriel there all the way to K2.

Actually, we quite like the centre. It was organized and clean. Fees were also very reasonable. The downside was the playground just outside the centre. Gabriel had some time in the playground and when we carried him up, his hands smelled of vomit. My god!! That was a total turn off. First of all we never had a good impression of the playground with all the vandalisation and cigarette buds around. 

Furthermore, children in the centre gets play time everyday out on this same playground....that was a immediate no for us.

So it's important to check out not just the school but the outdoor facilities they will be using as well.

Experience 2
This centre has quite a few good reviews, you know the usual, bright and airy, teacher was friendly and so forth.

But when I visited the centre, the teachers were the least impressive of all the centres that we have visited. 

I'm not sure how the children are able to concentrate when just by a partition of teacher was just sitting and trying to control the screaming kids and another side the teacher was trying to do music and movements with toddlers. 

So many things I saw in this centre was a NO for us. First of all the teacher did not take off their shoes when they walk into the the floor was actually dirty and dusty. I was wondering, why did they ask the kids to take off their shoes in the first place???

When we reach the free play area, there was this lady that sits just outside the area and she just shouted....."xxxx!! don't climb the window grille!!" and "xxxx don't fit him!!" furthermore there was a girl with the mucus flowing out of her 2 nostrils down to her mouth and this lady that just sits down and shout doesn't even bother to reach out with a tissue to clean the mucus for the poor girl.

I asked if the lady who just sits there is one of the teacher and the principal said that she's an assistant teacher. Not qualified to teach but just helps out with the classes.

You start asking yourself how does this centre choose their teacher or assistant teacher, the lady is suppose to help but she doesn't even lift her butt to clean up the girl. 

Experience 3
Generally, this centre is rather ok. Except that it's in those private area which means that Gabriel has to climb up and down the stairs and rather often too with the way the centre is structure.

Toddler's class was on the 2nd floor, mealtime and music time was on ground floor. So you can guess how many times he has to go up and down and stairs. Funny thing is that the centre only has a gate to block the bottom of the stairs. 

This set up is not ideal for active child like Gabriel. The principal did mentioned that the stairs is good for them to train up their motor skills but Gabriel is already climbing up and down the stairs by himself. I can imagine him trying to run down the stairs and what more with the teacher trying to catch him, he will try and run down the stairs. That's really dangerous for him. 

All the centres above have vacancies available. There were only 2 schools which were better MMI and Pat School House. But both had waiting list.

For MMI, waiting list was until May. For Pat School House, we managed to squeeze him in as it so happens that one girl was pulling out of the class and I promised to start Gabriel immediately in December.

I'm anxiously waiting for Monday. Hopefully, Gabriel will cope well with the change. 

Stay tune for more on FIRST DAY IN SCHOOL........

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