Punggol centre boasts plenty of room for learning and play

Kindergarten 2 pupils having fun at one of five play "pods" at the E-Bridge Pre-School centre in Edgedale Plains. The centre, which has 500 places, including 30 for infant care, opened in May last year and was the first of five mega childcare centres
Kindergarten 2 pupils having fun at one of five play "pods" at the E-Bridge Pre-School centre in Edgedale Plains. The centre, which has 500 places, including 30 for infant care, opened in May last year and was the first of five mega childcare centres being built by anchor operators to do so.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Bigger seems to be better for children at an E-Bridge Pre-School in Punggol. The two-storey campus in Edgedale Plains sits on 5,000 sq m of land, or the equivalent of four Olympic-sized swimming pools.

It has five play "pods" just outside the air-conditioned classrooms. These play areas are sheltered, with natural lighting and ventilation, and are similar to outdoor areas but shielded from rain.

It also has a rooftop garden. When The Straits Times visited on Tuesday, a Kindergarten 2 class was at the rooftop looking at clouds while learning about the water cycle.

The E-Bridge centre, led by EtonHouse International, opened in May last year and was the first of five mega childcare centres being built by anchor operators to do so.

The centres can take in 300 to 500 children each and were built on undeveloped state land, and in estates with a high demand for childcare services.

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Children had less exposure to sunlight there and had to cross the road to get to a playground. But it is very good here, because all the play areas are within the pre-school compound.

MR ONG PEI YANG, comparing his son's old childcare centre located in a mall with the E-Bridge centre he currently attends.

The E-Bridge centre in Edgedale Plains has 500 places, including 30 for infant care.

The centre was fully subscribed within days of opening for registration and still receives queries from parents almost daily.

One common question that parents have, said an E-Bridge spokesman, is about its measures in preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).

HFMD affects mostly children and is easily transmitted among toddlers, making pre-schools hot spots for the disease.

The E-Bridge centre conducts daily manual temperature taking and health checks, and has temperature scanners, similar to those used at airports, at the entrance.

Sections of the building can also be closed off in the event of a disease outbreak.

Since the centre started operations last May, it has had three to four HFMD episodes, with fewer than 10 children affected each time.

Project manager Ong Pei Yang, 44, whose six-year-old son is enrolled in the centre, said: "I got a scare initially when there was an HFMD outbreak. But E-Bridge communicated very clearly and regularly, so I was assured that they were managing the situation well."

His son used to be in another centre sited within a shopping mall.

Mr Ong said: "Children had less exposure to sunlight there and had to cross the road to get to a playground. But it is very good here, because all the play areas are within the pre-school compound."

Priscilla Goy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Punggol centre boasts plenty of room for learning and play'. Print Edition | Subscribe