More help for parents in pre-school parenting, from picking schools to dealing with kids

SINGAPORE - The national pre-school accreditation scheme is being fine-tuned to help parents distinguish the best pre-schools.

From next year, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will introduce a new Commendation category to the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (Spark). It will be awarded to pre-schools with the best teaching and learning practices. The revamped accreditation framework, which is voluntary, was announced by Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Education and Law Indranee Rajah at an early childhood conference on Saturday.

For parents, Spark serves as a guide to identifying good quality pre-schools. It evaluates education programmes catering to four- to six-year-old children in kindergartens and childcare centres. About 360 pre-schools are expected to be Spark-certified by the end of the year.

For pre-schools who wish to obtain the commendation tag, they need to have outstanding classroom observation processes as well as monitor and facilitate children's play well, among other criteria.

Ms Indranee also shared the findings of the first national early childhood parenting study that polled 3,800 parents since last year. It found that parents in Singapore are knowledgeable about child development. Most said they consider the physical, social and moral development important for their child.

However, parents have also indicated that they needed more help in supporting their children's social and emotional development, such as managing their behaviour. One third of them said they needed help coping with their children's tantrums.

In response to these findings, Ms Indranee said ECDA will work with pre-schools to roll out hands-on workshops for parents and develop more online resources. "These workshops will add to existing platforms for parents and educators to collaborate," said Ms Indranee at the conference held at Singapore Expo. "Studies have shown that the more parents and educators share information about their children's learning, the better the children do."