Under $600/month

Imparting values through incidental learning at PCF Sparkletots

Childcare centres can charge anything from around $600 to more than $2,000 a month. Do the programmes differ greatly depending on cost fees? Priscilla Goy recently spent three hours each in Nursery 2 classes at four centres to find out.

Teacher Salina bte Kasimon conducting outdoor lesson with her Nursery 2 class at PCF Sparkletots Preschool@ Fengshan.
Teacher Salina bte Kasimon conducting outdoor lesson with her Nursery 2 class at PCF Sparkletots Preschool@ Fengshan. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

The pre-school is in an HDB void deck, but has open-concept classrooms on the second floor of the block too.

The walls inside are filled with things such as the children's artworks or posters, vastly different from the mostly bare ones at the Brighton Montessori centre that ST also visited.

For instance, there are 20 to 30 clear folders stuck on the walls in an area where the Nursery 2 (N2) class is held. Each holds a worksheet - or "activity sheet" as the teachers call it - of every child in the class.


Examples of activity sheets include one in which children pasted drinking straws of different lengths on paper, to learn what is considered long or short; another in which children pasted the tags found on packs of bread, and they had to count the number of tags and write the corresponding number.

Said principal Nyo Cheng Cheng: "The activity sheets are meant to document their learning journey. Kids also take pride in their work and take ownership of their class environment when their work is displayed."

Also on display are children's artworks and an ST article, put up under a "current affairs" section. The article is about how more parks are being set up to save an endangered monkey species from extinction; and next to the article are pointers such as "Do not scare the monkeys".


Everyday items in the class - such as the air-conditioner, the fan and the clock - are labelled too, in English and Chinese. Class rules - such as a poster with a picture and words to tell children to sit cross-legged - are also pasted on the wall.

Children in the N2 class seemed to have learnt the class rules well. Many raised their hands before answering the teacher's question of what English words start with "G".


  • WHERE: Block 115, Bedok North Road

    FEES: $578.50/month for full-day childcare, after GST, from July

    RUN BY: PAP Community Foundation, an anchor operator which gets government grants

    STAFF: 16 teachers, including 14 with a diploma in pre-school education and two with a degree or higher in the same field

    CAPACITY: 126 childcare places

A Malay teacher did the English lesson with 15 children, with a Chinese teacher sitting nearby.

Later on, when some children rushed forward to get their chance to take part in an activity, a teacher praised a pupil at the back who raised her hand while waiting quietly for her turn.

Ms Nyo said: "We emphasise core values, like respect and integrity, through incidental learning, and the current affairs lessons held every two weeks, for instance.

"The topics discussed are usually those in which we can impart values and good habits such as recycling."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'Imparting values through incidental learning'. Subscribe