Checklist – 9 Things to Look out for In a Student Care?
With more before- and after-school care centres offering better services these days, it is important to spend some time considering a good student care programme for your child. Before you even start the Primary 1 Orientation, it makes sense to spend time exploring your options on how you can better plan your pre-schooler’s after school hours. If you have yet to confirm a student care programme, here is a checklist to help you choose the best care for your child.
1) Consider the options
The basic purpose of student care centres (SCC) is to provide care and supervision to school children from Primary 1 to Secondary 2, aside from meals, naptime and enrichment programmes, excursions and holiday activities.
There are two main types of SCC available: school-based or community-based centres. Many parents prefer school-based centres, as they do not need to plan for transportation. However, school-based student care centres cater to families with financial difficulties and often have a long waiting list. For community-based centres, many offer much cleaner facilities, better programmes and even a lower teacher-student ratio.
2) Alignment of Values
Therefore, it is essential to find a centre that shares the same belief system as you. Find out more about the values and beliefs of the centre before committing: What is the school’s approach to discipline? What is the school’s approach to supervision of work? How do they encourage children? Does it sit well with you? As parents, we have our own unique beliefs of what works, this is normal. What is more important is to manage both values in order to work out what the best style is for your child.
3) Getting to the centre
The most important factor when choosing the best student care centre usually comes down to convenience. It’s best if the centre is close to either your home or your child’s school. If your child needs to travel from school to the centre, an SCC that offers transportation is ideal. Alternatively, you can also consider the school bus service to drop your child off at the centre. Otherwise you would have to arrange for transport, often a school bus to ferry them there. Sending your child there on your way to work or fetching them after is also easier if the centre is near your home.
4) Align your schedules
SCC serve to meet the needs of working parents. Hence, the standard opening hours are 7:30am to 7.30pm. There might be changes depending on the centres. Most, not all, also run for half a day on Saturdays. Some, again not all, operate during school holidays. Make sure the potential centres you are considering meet your requirements. Another crucial factor to consider would be the programme fees. It varies between service providers and holiday surcharges may apply. Eligible families can apply for Student Care Fees Assistance (SCFA), which helps subsidise SCC fees.
5) Ask, Search and Evaluate
It’s a good idea to do some homework before you decide on which the best student care centre to settle on. Ask friends, relatives and neighbours who have children for recommendations. Even if they don’t have children enrolled in an SCC, they might have heard something on the grapevine. You can also search for reviews on potential SCCs’ Facebook pages and parenting forums.
6) Value-Added Services to Consider
Apart from the standard schoolwork guidance, different SCC may offer different activities during the day. These may include art and craft, outdoor play or speech and drama. Some SCC offer a range of optional value-added programmes that you may like to consider, if your budget allows. These might range from piano and math enrichment to cooking and swimming lessons, and even robotics coding. Some centres also organise special programmes where they might take the kids on educational excursions or holiday camps.
7) Screen the Team
Beyond the qualifications, a good student care teacher plays an important role to provide emotional and mental support. As your child goes through primary school, they go through multiple physical and emotional changes. Having an adult figure to empathise and relate to them is far more important in raising healthy and happy children. To achieve this, it is good for teachers to have the support systems within the school to ensure sustainable support for your child as they move on to various stages of their education journey.
8) Tour the facility
Once you have identified the centres that you would like to visit, it would be good to visit the centres. This will give you a glimpse into theto the environment of the centre. The environment plays a huge role as this affects your child’s mood when they are at the centre. Keep a look out for the lighting, ventilation and safety when sourcing for a student care centre.
9) Develop a good partnership
Choosing a student care centre is never a one-off tour and registration. It is a partnership over a good six years or more. Every child is different and so is every student care centre. Giving everyone time to adjust helps build routine and structure in your child’s life – this is highly beneficial for your child in the long run. For parents, the time will help you adjust to the different logistical arrangements. For children, the time will help them understand and appreciate spending their afternoons at the SCC.
If you wish to tour at PlayFACTO School’s student care centres, click here to book a tour today. We are happy to have a chat with you and show you around.