In Australia, there are numerous choices with regards to caring for a child outside the home, the toddler’s first exposure to other people besides the family. There are numerous options to choose from including kindergartens, playgroups, infant and child care centres. Each has its own set of advantages, depending on what the parent is looking for, what the child needs and can handle.
Some of the more popular options include kindergartens and child care centres. Although both terms are sometimes interchanged for one another, each has something different to offer. For parents, being able to differentiate between child care centres and kindergartens will help them make better choices for their young child or preschooler.
There are numerous differences between kindergartens and child care centres. For one, child care centres are not structured around a definite academic curriculum but are geared more towards looking after and taking care of the child and improving various skills in place of the working parents. These include enhancing motor skills, language and problem solving skills and teaching them how to interact with others. Child care centres are geared for children ages 7 and below. Some centres include infant care for infants aged from 2 to 18 months or programmes for preschoolers aged 3-6 years.
One of the main differences between kindergartens and child care centre is the number of hours they are open. Centres are normally open between 7 am until 7 pm during weekdays and until 2 pm during Saturdays. Being open for longer hours allows busy parents to be able to leave their child for several hours a day while they are at work. Local child centres can provide a number of programmes. These include full day care, half day care, flexible child care or student care programme.
On the other hand, kindergartens or schools for preschoolers, are open for much shorter periods during the day with a more rigorous academic program for preschoolers. Regular operating hours are between 8 am until 4 pm, with the day split into two sessions, with preschoolers coming into class for 3 to 4 hours a day for five days a week.
Parents have the option of choosing which of the sessions they choose to put their preschooler in. The normal age for admitting preschoolers is between 4 and 6 years of age. These preschoolers are put through a daily routine which involves improving their language, basic math and science skills, social interactions, problem solving skills as well as improving their creative side.
Preschoolers are taught English as the first language with an option of Malay, Tamil or Chinese as the Mother tongue language. The 3 year programme for a preschooler is charged for every term. Cost for sending a preschooler to kindergarten in Singapore is around $1200 for a 10 week term without subsidy, but is still mainly dependent on the name of the preschool.