Thursday, January 10, 2013

Choosing the right kindergarten

I started looking around for a suitable kindy for Peanut in the second quarter of  2012. Was a bit kiasu as I was worried that the kindys i want later might be full. It happens right?

I first started off by identifying the location that I want her to be in and decided that she should be at least somewhere near where we and her Popo lives so it'll be easier on all of us.  One of the kindys that was on our shortlist was a christian kindy that was recommended by my MIL. I also went on forums and started reading up reviews on kindys near our house and shortlisted around 5 kindys.  After shortlisting those, I called each of them up. This is where I try to get a first impression of these schools. Out of these 5 kindys, 3 of them took their time to answer all my questions and was very welcoming when i said I would like to pay a visit to their kindy. The other two, however, were very short and curt in their replies and did not bother to elaborate on their activities. They sounded impatient and when I tried to make an appointment, I felt very unwelcomed so naturally, I cut these two kindys out. If they were already impatient with my questions (one sound like a pasar malam auntie) then how could they be patient with children?

My questions were pretty simple over the phone:
a) what methods of learning will they be using?
b) will the kids be well prepared for primary 1?
c) will  mandarin and malay be taught in school, and if yes, at what age?
d) are there any additional optional classes that they can choose to take up after school?
e) how many students are there in a class. 
f) school hours and if there's daycare, what are the latest pickup time

Armed with these answers, we then visited each of these potential kindys. The first kindy we visited was the Christian Kindy.

a) Christian Kindy

  • On first impression, i like this kindy. it's big (it's a 3 storey building of its own), though quite old,   with a playground,and has been around for around 20 years. 
  • Love the principal. She was very welcoming and showed me all the books that will be used in her classes. 
  • Teachers are experienced and seems loving. 
  • Montessori method of teaching 
  • Saw a chart where children are reminded to drink their water (good first impression haha) 
  •  They incorporate bible teaching in their lessons
  •  Very cheap fees - RM150 per month
  • Menu for breaks and lunches looks healthy. No sausages / nuggets / fries 
  • Classes are dark and looks a bit gloomy 
  • Though clean, toilets are all squatting kind, and it's dark and gloomy too, and old. Mirrors are cracked and have patches on it because it is too old. 
  • Maximum 25 students in a class - I think this is a bit too many. I don't know how the teacher and her assistant  are going to control 25 4-year olds, and get them to learn. When I passed by a 4 year olds class in progress, the teacher was teaching them reading with a big chart. I noticed that quite a number of students were looking disinterested and not paying attention but the teacher did not seems to do anything about it.
  • Outdated learning tools - the teacher showed me a cassette tape with an audio book that  they use in class. A cassette tape! I haven't seen this since.........17 years ago???
  • Much further from my house compared to the rest of the shortlisted kindys 
  • They only start  teaching mandarin when kids are 5 years old. Kind of disappointed in this. I prefer Peanut to pick up other languages sooner, as they pick up language faster when they're younger right?
  • No daycare
  • Kids temperature are not checked when they enter school
  • lots of stairs& hidden corners (kids can get lost easily in moments of emergencies i.e. fires?)
  • In case of fire, i can only see 1 possible exit

b) Kindy B

  • Principal was very warm and friendly over the phone. Took the time to explain. 
  • Can feel that the principal loves kids
  • Montessori 
  • Near our house
  • 15 kids max in a class
  • you can drop your kids off on Saturday mornings if you have errands to run and they can watch over your kids by giving them work to do / or do some reading 
  • They have day care till 630pm on weekdays, an option if you need to do so
  • Toilets and kitchen area are very clean

  • school is small and cramp
  • Walls are not so clean in the school, can see finger prints, some graffitti by the kids 
  • Lots of children's books in the house but all look so koyak 
  • Saw a stack of matrresses thrown haphazardly in a corner in one of the rooms for those daycare kids (doesn't give a good impression)
  • Principal is too easy going and cincai. When asked if there's school uniform, she said depends on parents (??) and since some parents say don't need, then she feels there's not a need to. Feels very unstructured.
  • She said she just decided to do this because she used to open a tuition centre, so as more parents asked her to open a kindy, she decided to open one. Sound so...random, and not thought out properly.

Kindy C

  • Principal was very warm and patient over the phone and took her time to explain everything in detail. Asked me to visit her school in the afternoon so that she can show me around fully since classes will have ended by then.
  • 12 students maximum in a class (i like) 
  • Bright, airy, has a facebook page where I can see tons of photos. Kids look happy, and there are lots of arts and craft / nature type of activities. Looks very well balanced and not too academic.
  • Montessori method. Can see lots and lots of montessori tools around the school arranged neatly
  • Lots of optional after-school programmes (need to pay additional fees of course but prices are reasonable) - mandarin, karate, art, Little Mozart music class, CMA mental arithmetic. Mandarin and Maths are already taught in their normal school hours, so these are additional if you wish for them to learn more. 
  • Mandarin and malay are taught to 4 year olds
  • Huge garden, with a  playground, and a vegetable / herbs patch 
  •  Kids are given hand sanitiser lotion and their temperatures are checked before entering the school 
  • Lots of shelves with their names on it to put their school bags / shoes / water bottles 
  • Fees are very reasonable. Daycare option is available if there's a need. School doesn't use mattresses, but uses cot beds instead which are light, airy, and easily cleaned.
  • School menu  looks home cooked and healthy. No sausages / nuggets crap.
  • Feels very structured.
  • Toilets are very clean. They have toddler sized toilets. 
  • Students need to wear uniforms. Might not be a necessity to others but somehow i feel that wearing uniforms are important; if not it doesn't feel like a school at all haha
  • Lots of exits in case of fire


Can't think of any yet so I guess you know which one I chose in the end haha

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