Singapore education starts when the child is 3 years old, there are kindergartens operated by government organizations like NTUC and People Action Party, or religious group and welfare organizations. Fees varies for different kindergartens.

The child can enroll to Singapore kindergarten as international students if parents do not have a valid pass in Singapore. Students with Singapore kindergarten education can enroll to Singapore government primary school without admission test. Mother or grandmother can apply for long term visitor visa to stay with the child in Singapore.


A Preschool Programme
In Singapore, preschool is used as a general term which refers to any institution providing early childhood care and education services. The Singapore pre-school landscape today comprises both kindergartens and child care centres.

Kindergartens provide pre-school developmental programme for children from about 2 years to below 7 years of age. The programme consists of at least Kindergarten 1 and Kindergarten 2. It can further include Playgroup, Pre-Nursery (or Nursery 1), Nursery (or Nursery 2). Most kindergarten sessions range between 2 and 3 hours for Playgroup and Pre-Nursery, and between 3 and 4 hours for Nursery to Kindergarten 2 for 5 days a week. Kindergartens were previously registered by MOE, but have come under the oversight of ECDA since 1st April 2013.

Child Care Centres
Child care centres provide child care services and pre-school developmental programmes for children aged between 18 months and below 7 years old. Several centres also provide infant care programmes for infants aged between 2 and 18 months old. Centres may offer full-day, half-day and flexible programmes to cater to the different working schedules of parents. Child care centres were licensed by MSF, but have come under the oversight of ECDA since 1st April 2013.
Statistics that were updated as of July 2015 shows that there are 1,196 childcare centres and 499 kindergartens in Singapore (Source: ECDA).

So how do childcare centres and kindergartens differ? In the list that follows are some factors that differentiate childcare centres and kindergartens:
1. Age Group of Children
Childcare centres: Typically cater for children from 18 months to 6 years old. Some childcare centres also provide infant care services for babies from 2 months.
Kindergartens: Enrolment in kindergartens is only open for children between 3 to 6 years old.

2. Class Timing
Childcare centres: The type of services offered by childcare centres varies from centre to centre. Most childcare centres offer the option of a full-day programme which operates on weekdays from 7am to 7pm, and a half-day programme which runs from 7am to 1pm or from 1pm to 7pm. Some childcare centres may also operate on Saturdays from 7am to 1pm. On top of these common programme structures, there are a handful of childcare centres which offer flexible programmes as well.
Kindergartens: Kindergarten programmes usually last for 3 hours a day on weekdays and can run either from 8am to 11am or from 12pm to 3pm. The exact timing may vary from kindergarten to kindergarten.

3. Education Approach
Childcare centres: Some childcare centres follow a specific early education approach (e.g. Montessori, Reggio Emilia or Waldorf), while the rest adopt a mixed approach with the addition of local elements to give pre-schoolers a smooth transition to primary school. The focus of the programme could also range from an academic to a play-based one.
Kindergartens: Kindergarten programmes are generally academic-focused, with the objective of preparing children to meet the challenges of formal education.

4. Closure of Centre/School Holidays
Childcare centres: Childcare centres are closed on Sundays, half-day of any 3 public holidays and an additional 5.5 days in a year (2.5 days will be used for staff training).
Kindergartens: Kindergartens follow the same school terms and holidays as primary schools, based on the dates released by MOE.

5. Meals
Childcare centres: As childcare centres offer comprehensive care, children will be given 2 meals (breakfast and lunch) and 1 to 2 snacks (morning/afternoon, or both).
Kindergartens: Due to the short duration of the kindergarten programme, children will be given light snacks in between lessons – no meals will be served.

6. Government Subsidy
Childcare centres: Singapore citizen children whose mother/single father works 56 hours or more per month qualify for subsidies on their childcare fees. The subsidy amount is dependent on factors such as household income and type of childcare programmes that their children are enrolled in.
Kindergarten: School fees for kindergarten are not subsidised. However, families whose household income do not exceed $6,000 may apply for financial assistance. ( Source: Mindchamps Preschool)

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