They say if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys, I always have the mum guilt, because the Youngest One left kindy not knowing how to count or read. If I had sacrificed more financially even though we were not well-to-do by then, and send him to the same kind of kindy his older siblings went to, perhaps he’d do better.

When the kids were young, I was not a very involved mother and I could give all sorts of excuses for myself for being so. My first three children were born in three years. I was also listing the company I founded and had majority shares in when my fourth child was born.

The easiest thing to do was just send them to the most expensive kindy I could find, and that saved me from a lot of guilt.

My first four kids did really well in the academic department. When we were in China, The Daughter shocked her teachers in the international school when she was already reading The Chronicles of Narnia when she was just five, while her friends were struggling with the alphabets.

Old Boy could read at 18 months old, and Sunshine Boy could read the university textbooks I teach from when he was ten. I am not sure if the expensive kindergartens I sent them helped, but I know that the Youngest One was eventually the youngest in our family to graduate from the university.

The kindergarten landscape will change drastically in Singapore, with the introduction of the MK or MOE Kindergarten. Children who attend MK with a primary school will have priority over children who don’t under otherwise same circumstances.

To me, it seems that the age of formal education has now lowered from the primary one to kindy since the choice of kindergarten will affect the choice of the primary school.

It also seems that the option of keeping the child at home to teach is less and less viable now.

In less than ten years, I would expect more than half of our kindergarten children choosing the MKs, which is a no-brainer, really, for it gives the child an almost guaranteed entrance to the primary school of choice. Many kindergarten will close their doors, and the range and choice of curriculum will narrow to a small band, making the preschool education experience of most children almost homogeneous. To some extent, it will be less vibrant. In addition, how the primary schools choose their kindy children going forward will be an interesting development to watch.

Given the lack of variety of curriculum in the near future, parents should be even more involved in their little ones’ education. My preschool team believe for children below six, these skills are important to build and impart: school readiness, playground politics, advanced reading skills in English, basic writing skills, numeracy, learning how to learn, self-discovery and awareness, sportsmanship and musicality.

A child’s brain grows the fastest below six years old. and it is urgent for parents to know the options and make wise choices for their kids.

Money can buy a great education. however, I think if we learn to teach them some very important skills ourselves at this young age, then no matter which kindy they go to, they will be well-prepared for a great future.

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