Are you like any other working parent looking for after-school care for your kids? Are you searching high and low for an after-school student care centre near your kid’s school or home?
In Singapore, there are many dual-income families where working parents rely on domestic helpers, grandparents to look after their kids when they finish school. Some kids may even have to stay at home by themselves till their parents return from work.
However, there is minimal or no supervision on their school work when they are looked after by the domestic helper or grandparents. As such, the demand for after-school student care is getting higher nowadays, with parents having to fight long waiting lists just to enrol their kids into after-school student care facilities either in the school premises or private centres near to the schools or their home.
You can easily check up the student care centre near your residence here. But despite the competition for a place in after-school student care centres, parents will still need to ensure that the centres are suitable and good for the kids. So what are the factors to look out for in a “good” after-school student care centre?
Student care centres provide care and supervision to school-going children aged 7 years (Primary 1) to 14 years (Secondary 2). They are supposed to provide supervision of the kids’ homework as well as enrichment and recreational activities. Some centres will organise excursion trips and camps for children during school holidays.
School Based or Private?
Parents can choose to put their kids in the student care centre in the school itself or in private centres near the school or home. Click here to find out if your kid’s school has such a facility. Otherwise, the kid has to be placed in private after school centres outside the school. Take note that the student care centres in the school premises will give priority to low-income families or kids with challenging family situations. It’s on a first-come-first-served basis and usually these centres have long waiting lists. Some parents prefer the school-based centres as they believe the things taught are in synergy with the school curriculum and also for the convenience as the kid will not need to travel out of the school. However, it is very much subject to the vacancy and waiting list of the centre in the school. My friend was telling me that his daughter was in the waiting list of the school’s student care for more than 2 years and is still waiting. As he has no alternative care at home to look after the kid, he has to enrol the kid in a private student care centre which is near to the school.
Proximity of Student Care Centre
The best solution is to have the kid enrolled in the student care centre located in the school premises so that the kid does not have to travel to and from school to the student care centres. Not only is it more convenient, it also saves travelling time for the kids. More importantly, parents do not have to worry about the safety of their kids, especially if they are lower primary kids. But due to limited vacancies and priority of kids from the lower- income families, parents will have to consider placing their kids in centres outside the school and arrange for transport from school to the centres by school bus or other means of transport.
Quality of Teachers
Though the teachers in student care centres are only supposed to provide supervision of the kids’ homework, there are more and more student care centres that provide additional services such as tuition and enrichment. The centre will recruit volunteers, ex-teachers, retired teachers or qualified professionals with teaching or tuition experience. Some parents might even want to interview the teachers in the centre. This will assure parents that their kids’ academic aspects are also taken care of in the student care centre. Student care centres situated in the school will sometimes engage volunteers to help out in the centres.
Programmes To differentiate themselves from the competition, private student care centres offer programmes that are enhanced with tuition, enrichments, play and recreational activities. Some of the centres even have special holiday programmes where the kids will be involved in day and overnight camps and excursions to place of interests. As a parent, I will assess the student care centres based on the programmes as my kid will be spending most of his time in the centre besides the school.
Environment I guess the most obvious factor parents will look out for is the environment setup of the centre. The place has to look neat, spacious and have facilities for kids to shower, rest and relax which help in the general well-being of the kids. The type of kids currently placed in the centre is also a factor to be considered as parents will be concerned about peer influence on their kids and if they will be bullied by the more rowdy kids. Make an effort to check out the environment, especially on weekdays, where there are kids in the centre to better assess the centre’s suitability.
The school fees for student care centres vary depending on the programme. Fees for school-based centres are definitely lower as compared to private centres. However, you pay the additional fees for enrichment, activities and facilities that will not be available in school-based centres. Find a centre to meet your budget and needs here.
Subsidies The government provides a number of subsides for lower-income families with kids who need to attend the student care centres. The ComCare Student Care Subsidies is a subsidy for families with a total income of less than $3,500 to help working parents pay for after-school care for their kids.
For more discussion on student care centres, join our forum “Criteria for a Good Student Care Service (BASC)” here.