By Susan Ho
With today’s rising costs of living, raising a child becomes particularly onerous and most childbearing couples find themselves in positions where both parents need to work to support the family and the child’s education. Especially when there are no grandparents around to lend a helping hand. This is when kindergartens and nurseries come into the picture.
In Ipoh, parents have a plethora of these day-care centres, kindergartens and nurseries to choose from. Which one to pick for one’s precious child is the dilemma that most parents face. Ipoh Echo carried out a survey of some of these as a guide for parents.
Price, Security, Educational Focus and Location Play a Big Role in Decision Making
Nowadays, you can always find a colourful painted building at most corners of Ipoh whether along the main roads or in a housing area. It is not easy to apply for a licence to open a kindergarten or nursery, especially when it comes to having one on the main road.
The safety of the children always comes first. Centres like these will have to fill in some forms from MBI, get a permit from the fire station and education department, then have an inspection on whether it is a suitable place to open a centre. Operators have to go through certification, social welfare department and have a basic course on child care or Kursus Asas Asuhan Kanak-Kanak (KAAK) certificate.
Most of the centres are equipped with CCTV in every corner, together with a guard to ensure the safety of the children. Teachers are qualified from Persatuan Tadika Malaysia or have attended courses from Kurikulum Standard Prasekolah Kebangsaan. Children from 18 months up to 6 years old are sent to such centres. There could be 10 to 25 students in a class, accompanied and led by two teachers.
Some centres offer only a half-day programme while others offer a whole-day course which involves children attending the day care programme. These are usually for those whose parents are only available to take them home after work. In the day care programme, children get to rest, watch TV, do some extra activities and take a shower before their parents arrive at the school gates.
Ipoh International School Early Years Centre (IISEYC), located in two locations at Tenby Schools in Bandar Meru Raya, which caters to children aged 3+ to 7 (must be toilet-trained), and Jalan Tun Dr Ismail, which caters to children aged 2+ to 6 (must be toilet-trained). The centre at Jalan Tun Dr Ismail is housed in a bungalow amidst large spacious grounds with shady trees. The centre provides hands on classes offering a holistic Early Years Programme. Two teachers to a class of 15 to 25 children ensures close individual attention that enables each to develop at his or her own pace. For four hours a day, they have music, PE, outdoor play and also language classes. The semester begins in September. The centre offers an after-school enrichment programme (which is optional) for the 2+ to 6-year-olds with structured activities in the afternoons. Parents can pick up their children at 3.30pm or 5.30pm. Fees range from RM2000 to RM2600 a term (3 terms a year). Fees for after-school enrichment are separate from regular school fees.
Tadika KinderJoy organises exciting, energetic events such as Sports Day and Graduation Concerts. They aim to educate children on the importance of self-confidence and good values. They strive to provide a balanced and rounded education experience. They believe in equality in both work and play to give the children fond memories of their early childhood days. When you enter the classrooms after work hours, you can smell the cleanliness and the smell of Dettol. They clean the classrooms thoroughly and also teach the children how to keep themselves clean. The children are trained to wash their hands before and after meals, playtime outdoors and indoors. There are basins in every classroom and every child has their own hand towel, with their names embroidered on it to avoid confusion. Their fee structure for children aged 18 months to 2 years old in the playgroup is from RM5400 for three semesters.
Fees for full day school care for children of 3 years and up range from RM700 a month and above. Children attend classes at 8.15am to 12.15pm. Those who stay on for day care would be there until 5.30pm.
Taska La Petite caters to 2-year-olds and above. Homemade halal breakfast, lunch and high tea are provided. They also provide holiday packages such as music lessons and music movements. They have public performances yearly, with parents’ involvement for outings with the children. Price ranges from RM450-650 per month. Their enhancement classes include smart reading, music and math classes. They have been in this industry for 20 years, giving services to parents and kids. They keep good communication between parents and teachers to know the progress of the children and make home visits frequently. They also have a toddler day care facility taking care of children from 11 months onwards.
To stay ahead of competition, Tadika & Taska M.M.S.B offers a different palette of educational options. They have e-learning, with students learning from a screen and other activities like robotic classes, where children learn to build things. They also have music classes using percussion instruments and their charges also cook in a little kitchen where they learn how to make sandwiches, banana pancakes and other food with the help of their teachers. There are also gardening lessons where they learn to pull out weeds, grow corn, lady’s fingers and other vegetables in the mini garden. Extra activities on Saturdays include swimming in the pool and playing in the playground or sandpit. Their prices range from RM360 a month for half a day packages to RM520 for day care services.
Pusat Jagaan Kids Choice Educare Centre, established in 2007 in Canning Garden, uses the Montessori teaching and flash card method. Montessori teachings are characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural development. Children are given freedom to move within the classroom and choose an activity from within a prescribed range of options. They have a nursery, kindergarten and a day care. They take in children from ages 11 months and up. Classes start at 8am and end at 12pm for half-day packages. Children have an option of staying back until 5.30pm for the full-day package. They provide transportation to and from school for an extra charge. They do whatever that is best for the children to assist in their emotional and intellectual development.. Prices range from RM200 up to RM400 per month.
Besides the regular kindergartens, there are many Christian-based kindergartens in Ipoh too. The first one I stumbled upon was Tadika L.E.O.W. which stands for Love, Enrich, Obey and Wisdom. They use the FUNGATES system which was originally from Alor Setar. FUNGATES means fun, unique, nurturing, genuine, accomplished, timely, empowering and systematic. Their teaching involves telling bible stories and they have interesting books, interactive cards with CDs for students to practise at home. Teachers, both Christians and non-Christians, have 7 to 8 days training every year at the Fungates Superflow Foundation. From each fee collected RM2 goes to organizations such as the Dialysis Centre, special schools, soup kitchens and they would donate food to areas with the poor and needy.
Mariaville is another Christian faith-based school. With a price of RM180 and above, they cater for 4 to 6 year olds. Food is not provided and children bring their own meals and snacks. Teachers are degree or diploma holders with training from the national preschool curriculum.
They have a total of 25 students in a class accompanied by two teachers. There are 14 classes in the school. Classes start from 8.15am to 12.15pm. They give education to the children to be prepared for Standard 1. They have both sand and water play in their area. They hold outings such as making their own pizzas at Pizza Hut, making burgers at McDonalds and also visits to fire stations for safety education.
Started in 1980, Mariaville’s profits go to the Good Shepherd Sisters, which in turn funds PKGS (Pusat Kebajikan Good Shepherd). The school is guarded and has a raised fencing for safety of the children. For security reasons, each parent has to present a card which indicates that they are there to pick up their child. No one else will be given the power to take their child without permission or presenting the card. They follow the Good Shepherd mission in running the school which includes the commitment to reach out with compassion and respect, empowering each person to wholeness and full potential.
Overall all schools are prepared to give the child the necessary care in the event of an accident. In my opinion, it is always safer for a child to stay in a kindergarten or day care than to stay at home alone, unattended. With all the qualified kindergartens in town, parents can trust the centres with their children while they work.
Ipoh International School Early Years Centre (IISEYC)(1) 47 Jalan Tun Dr Ismail(2) Tenby Schools, Bandar Meru Raya05 253 2500 www.tenby.edu.my Taska La Petite2 Jalan Lapan, Housing Trust.05 255 9792 Tadika KinderJoy221 Jalan Raja Permaisuri Bainun.05 253 5182 / 255 2282 / 255 1282 Tadika L.E.O.W88 Jalan Haji Eusoff, Housing Trust.016 544 5888 Mariaville Nursery and Kindergarten9 Jalan Francois (off Jalan Tambun).05 545 4344 Tadika & Taska M.M.S.B22 & 22A Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah.05 254 6685 Pusat Jagaan Kids Choice Educare Centre41 Pekeliling Tasek, Taman Ipoh.012 388 3778