Friday 24 August 2012

Don't confuse childcare with preschooling

Two different issues

READING SENIOR Minister of State for Education Lawrence Wong's views in last Thursday's article ("'Risky' to formalise preschool learning"), I am unclear as to whether the Government regards preschooling and childcare as a single issue, or two separate ones.

Childcare facilities are needed when both parents work and they want their children to be cared for. If Singapore wants to grow its population, the State must help the working parents to look after their children.

Of course, some parents may prefer to enrol their children in childcare centres even when they can be looked after at home.

The reasons may include a lack of trust in the minders at home and the expectation that the children will develop better at the childcare centres.

If it is the latter, I do not view it as the State's responsibility.

The focus in childcare centres is care giving, and not development.

Preschooling is different. First, we should agree whether children should start formal education at Primary 1 or when they begin preschooling.

If children start formal education at Primary 1, then preschools are a choice by which parents seek to enhance their children's advantage at P1.

It should not be the State's responsibility to provide and to formalise the curriculum.

If children are required to begin formal education prior to P1, the State must then redefine the requirements and children should begin schooling at age five or six, instead of at age seven now.

So, the issue that requires a decision is whether we think our children require six years of primary education as is currently the case, or seven to eight years.
Ang Miah Boon
ST Forum, 23 Aug 2012

Learning development a crucial component in childcare
MR ANG Miah Boon wrote that the focus in childcare centres is care giving, and not development

("Don't confuse childcare with preschooling"; Thursday).

But quality childcare incorporates a proper curriculum within the 12-hour programme.

The curriculum of many kindergartens and childcare centres is designed to meet the requirement of the Kindergarten Curriculum Guide provided by the Ministry of Education, as well as the Early Years Development Framework provided by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports for

children from birth to three years old.

Typically, a total of three to four hours of programme time is devoted to activities and lessons, usually in English and a second language.

Routine care and play time also provide opportunities for teachers to engage with the children, and are critical curriculum components.

Care and education is regarded as inseparable in childcare which is aimed at supporting children's holistic development. Many studies have shown that the first six years of a child's life are critical in creating a positive impact on his growth and development.

In shaping the child's learning disposition, and inculcating core skills during these important foundation years, the child can be better prepared for school and for life.

Hence, it is incorrect

to take the development component out of childcare.

In fact, in addition to custodial care, quality childcare can play an instrumental role in the social, cognitive and emotional development of a child, supplementing and complementing the role of families.

We advocate a more holistic and encompassing definition of early years development and education, that is from birth to six years old, and urge the Government to place equal emphasis on the early years' development, and continue to invest in this area.
Lynn Heng (Ms)
Group Professional
Leadership Officer
NTUC First Campus Cooperative
ST Forum, 25 Aug 2012

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