Pre-schools are generally free to devise their own approaches to teaching and learning for their nursery years. Hence, there is a diverse variety of styles, philosophies and methods available to cater for every need or fancy. To narrow the selection, we shortlisted one or two pre-schools from each “category” based mainly on location (proximity to our home or our workplaces).

First category - pre-schools set up by churches. On our shortlist were St. James Church Kindergarten (SJCK) (Harding Road branch) and Barker Road Methodist Church Kindergarten, both of which are near to home.

The attraction of these church pre-schools was the idea that our son would be in a Christ-centred environment. However, after some inquiries, I found out that the pre-schools accept children of all religions and neither actually emphasises Christian practices or beliefs, apart from saying grace before meals. So, the church factor is not a true plus-point.

Barker Road Methodist Church’s nursery classes for Ryan’s year were not yet open for registration when we called up in March (only open in April 2011 for 2009 babies) so we put that on the backburner [edit: we've since lost interest in Barker Road Methodist Church due to the non-emphasis on Christianity and upon hearing that the traffic congestion is so bad around there that it can take up to an hour to fetch your child from school]. As for SJCK, I was attracted to them because their grounds at Harding Road look quite inviting for little children. However, upon closer inspection, the rabbits in the small rabbit run are always sleeping and the water in the fish pond is so green that I can’t see the fish. I’m not convinced that the children are actually given time and license to go out and play with the rabbits and fish (how do you play with a rabbit/fish anyway?). More likely, the children will just play with the playground equipment in the playground next to the classes. The swimming pool on the grounds does not belong to SJCK (it belongs to Aquaducks).

Reading the forums, I was not able to find any specific “plus-points” about SJCK.  Happy parents just say "no complaints". Negative comments? One parent complained that the teacher spoke English like an “aunty”, whatever that means (I’m not too bothered about this). One parent mentioned that the K1 and K2 classes can go up to 30 children in one class (this comment does worry me a bit).

Anyway, I had good feelings about the school so Richard and I went down to its office. The people at the office were polite but not welcoming. We got the impression that it didn’t matter to them whether or not I signed my son up. I suppose this is understandable given that, for their 2012 nursery class, the waitlist was already in its fifties for the morning session and in the late twenties for the afternoon session (the total cohort is 70). However, I would really like to believe its motto that “every child matters”, so the polite but cool treatment was a teeny weeny bit disappointing.

Ok, I’m not too fussed about that. I was more interested in finding out more about the curriculum. From what I read on the forums, SJCK fulfils the academic requirements, but no star students here. The core curriculum seems to be a mish-mash of different models of teaching and learning, with no consistent and holistic approach. Their "selling point" is not their core curriculum but the enrichment programmes conducted by various outside parties for their students (Kinderart, Helen O’Grady Drama, Ednovation, The Mapping, etc). I find that a little bit strange, that the enrichment can overshadow the core curriculum but I guess that’s a matter of perspective.

More importantly, the branch at Harding Road will have to move out in 2012 (possibly 2013 if they get a one-year extension on their lease). At the moment, they do not know where they will move to. Plus they can't say whether they'll take the sleeping rabbits and the mystery fish with them.

The Leedon Road branch is still under construction and will be ready in time for Ryan but it's a bit further away than we would like. Also, given that these will be new and improved premises, I expect the school fees to be "improved" as well.  After all, they are non-profit.

Well, from an outsiders’ point of view, I think that this is an average pre-school. I think it fulfils the basic requirements of a pre-school, as all pre-schools should, but nothing more. It’s a pleasant place, and certainly a one-stop centre for enrichment courses. A significant negative factor for us is that the campus at Harding Road will expire in 2012/2013, so we’re quite hesitant about betting on this horse.

The search continues.


Kenny Leow said...


You strike the bull-eyes!!! Ya, the key selling point of SJKG is the enrichment activities they have, which other kindergardens don't have.

In fact, SJKG can be considered one of the cheapest kindergardens around if we compare the school fees with all the enrichment classes they have.

When come the research and reports, can always count on you.


Unknown said...

V's classmate just registered for barker road 2 days ago.. she is a dec bb

daddy had to be there at 6am and he was number 20th.... just to "chope" the child a morning session ...

gd luck on ur search :)

Pinkie Pirate said...

Thanks for letting me know! Yes, I called up last month and they said they would open their registration in April.

After discovering that the church schools are not really Christ-centred, they have sort of lost their attraction for us... sigh.

Yes, the search continues.

Pinkie Pirate said...

Flo - have updated the post. Thanks!

Carol Mei Mei said...

i would like to send our boy (born May 2009) to a christ-centred pre-school as well. hope to read more research feedback from you. thanks!

PS Don't really buy into all the hype of SJKG myself...

Anonymous said...

Hello, just stumbled across your blog. I have 2 children at BRMCK and find it to be a very Christ-centered kinder. It's much more than just grace before meals. They learn/memorise bible verses, listen to bible stories, have praise and worship during assembly and pray together too. All the best in your hunt for pre-school! cheers, Amanda

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