Choosing Daycare in Covid Times
Updated: Aug 2, 2021
Where to even begin? This was the question that was going round and round in my mind. As we found ourselves in Singapore for the first time as residents and parents, how were we going to find a daycare for us during a pandemic, now that Work From Home (WFH) is the default!
Before moving to River Valley, our newly found friends through NMSG told me not to worry about childcare in the area and that we would be spoilt for choices. Our overriding concerns (not necessarily in that order!) in my search for daycare for our then 12-month-old were - What is finding childcare in Covid times like? Were the schools open? Could we tour them? What can and can't be done, and will my child be safe?
After hours of Google reviews, Facebook reviews, message board searches, and drawing up a fees comparison chart to show my husband, we finally narrowed our search down to a couple of child care centers, and the Superland island-wide chain was at the top of our list for several reasons. Our next hurdle… could we tour during heightened restrictions and spend enough time on-site to get an accurate feel for the place? Once I called the school and told them my worries about having a baby in Covid and now looking for child care during Covid times, they couldn't have been more reassuring. They invited me to tour the school at 4 pm (the time of day that my child is the moodiest and cranky.) I thought.. oh, this could be interesting. I went on to tour without my husband and child due to restrictions. I felt like the pressure was on me to make the right decision all on my own. The school did it's best to reassure me over Covid safety, child safety, and their curriculum. I left the tour impressed, but the sense of calm, despite touring during the stereotypical witching hour, stood out to me. I wanted my child to be in this calm environment, despite everything going on in the wider world right now. In this situation, I found that the notion of going with your gut really played a significant role in making our final decision too. An NMSG mum residing in the Bugis area of Singapore also faced the same challenges and worries of finding child care in the Covid times. She shared her tips on how she chose the right daycare for her baby.
Her thoughts were:
Firstly, extended opening hours 7am-7pm;
Secondly, proximity to our condo, just one block away;
Thirdly, kids' behavior/manner during our visit."
Another River Valley mum, mother of a toddler, added, "Our daughter started Preschool at age 2.5 years. We visited four schools, and the deciding factors for us were:
Firstly, location, we wanted to be able to walk to the school within 15 minutes;
Secondly, outside space, because we don't have a garden, we were especially keen that our daughter had access to the outside area and could do muddy play;
Thirdly, food, we wanted a healthy menu;
Fourthly, instincts! Did the school ethos feel right for our daughter and the way she likes to play and learn?".
Another NMSG mum residing in Newton shared that she did several Zoom sessions but finally selected a daycare that she could visit on a Saturday or after school hours only (Safety precautions before Phase 2 alert kicked in). Her deciding factors were the vibes she got:
Firstly, People caring for her child. The Principal had a rich experience of 25 years and long-serving staff. Even the janitor and cook were compassionate towards the children.
Secondly, Parents review. Mothers were full of praise for the school's personalized approach and yet it not being exorbitant.
Thirdly, Instinct. During the tour, she saw an excellent display of fun, exploratory and eco-friendly activities, and lo behold, there was a gym too! (we all know what it is to have a child putting himself to sleep at 730pm :)
While the sample size might be small, the overriding feeling in choosing daycare was instinct. Unfortunately, I only ended up touring one campus due to the current pandemic. However, I eventually attended a tour with my husband and another soloist trip to make sure I was making the right decision. Two months into our daycare journey and we definitely made the right decision for our family, and gut instinct was right all along.
Written by Kate Czarnecki