Note: Some of the things mentioned in this post may be specific to the centre our child is enrolled in, please check with your centre before assuming they have the same practices!
Our child has been in infant/child care since she was 15 weeks old, and we still learn something new every so often. These are some of the things we never knew before she enrolled:
- Centres are allowed by Ministry of Social and Family Development to close for 6 days a year, and 3 half days on the eve of any 3 public holidays.
- Centres close once they hit the following triggers for Hand Foot Mouth Disease cases: (Transmission period > 24 days with number of cases > 16 ) OR ( Transmission period > 24 days with attack rate* > 23%). This just means that you may have to seek alternative care for your child more than 7 days a year. At this MOH link, you can also see the names of centers that had to close due to HFMD, so it can be a good indication of where not to send your kid to (if they are repeat offenders).
- In infant care, you get a summary sheet that tells you what time your child was fed, how much he/she drank, what time he/she bathed etc etc.. Once he/she moves to childcare, there is no such summary sheet, which scared me a little initially because suddenly I did not know anything about what my child had done in school.
- Once our child moved to childcare, she wasn’t allowed the use of a bib anymore. It wasn’t that she magically learnt not to use one, they just don’t allow it at all. I’m guessing logistic issues of ensuring that all 100 kids don’t lose their bibs may be a nightmare for the center. Ok, I exaggerated about the number of kids, but it does feel like that number when I pick the kid up daily, because of the volume of noise they make.
- Infant care and childcare are logistically different. When the kid enters childcare, she wears the school uniform most of the time and suddenly there isn’t the need to have so much clothes anymore. So our tip is to go easy on the clothes buying from 18months onwards.
- Childcare teachers can amazingly ensure that your child returns with a stain-free uniform if you just give them feedback. Our kid returned with a shirt full of food and ink stains on the first day which drove me nuts so I asked the teacher for her help. She amazingly has returned spotless most of the time ever since.
- As mentioned in Childcare 101, our centre did not allow breast milk after 18months, citing difficulty in handling the milk at the center.
- Once they move to childcare, they keep to a schedule. Ours is kind of weird with them having lunch at 10.45am and napping at 12.15pm, which wrecks our weekend plans because the kid gets cranky at OUR lunch time. The childcare can also be insanely military about keeping to the schedule too. Our childcare has barred the kid from having breakfast because she arrived at 8.32am and breakfast hours ended at 8.30am. They also ban kids from having outside food in the center which means arriving past 8.30am dooms me to watching the kid eat her food outside the center, chewing oh-so-slowly.
- Trying to get childcare/infant care subsidies can become a nightmare if you are temporarily without a job, or moving to become self-employed.
- On the same note about subsidies, I was told that you can temporarily suspend the kid’s enrolment if you are in between jobs or on maternity leave and want to keep your kid at home, but if you want to hold on to your subsidy, it’s easier to just keep paying and not suspend. I don’t know how that one works because I only heard this from a fellow mum whose kid was enrolled in the same school and she pulled the kid out of school during her maternity leave while paying full school fees monthly. She also mentioned that in order to get the subsidy, her child got to attend one day in the month. (For those who intend to do suspension, it is best to check with your childcare’s admin)
- Lastly, if you have difficulty enrolling in the centre near your house due to long waitlist, seek help from the authorities. They are amazingly helpful and we’re eternally grateful for it.