I don’t know how it happened but that tiny dumpling of mine is fast approaching a year. A YEAR! I read some of the older entries, like this one on our early days, and my eyes get a little misty. In fact, Elliott is growing so quickly, I found myself checking out play groups.
When I was a kid, I don’t remember play groups. The earliest ‘formal’ education was Nursery or Kindergarten. These play group thingies did not exist then! Play was basically sitting around my grandma’s kitchen and messing up her uncooked rice pot, or running around with the neighbourhood kids at the playground.
These days, it is the norm to send young children to ‘interact and socialise’ at structured play groups. I know that the minimum age for play groups is 18 months but I am also concerned that as he grows older, he will need and want the company of other little people around his age.
We are blessed to have doting grandparents on both sides who care for him during the week. However, being around his doting grandparents may not be the best thing as I foresee him getting his way with not much of a routine going on in the day while I’m at work. As with many things, there are always pros and cons. The BFF says not to send him to ‘formal’ school too early while others, like Yann here, shares the benefits of school. I am adopting a wait-and-see attitude and will decide close to date to see if Elliott is ready for school.
I am also thankful that I have a childcare facility right where I work which means that should we decide to start him with play group, it will be convenient as I can simply drop him off in the mornings before work and pick him after. If we choose to start with a couple of hours, the in-laws live close by which means that they can pick him at midday.
I went about doing research on some of the play groups around where I work, as well as the ones near our homes. Oh my. It boggles my mind! There are so many options, so many reviews, so many things to consider. To be honest, it’s all a bit daunting.
On one hand, I want to keep it casual and not over-think about play group. I mean, it’s only play group, right? On the other, you hear all these words like ‘Montessori’ and ‘play-based curriculum’ blah blah blah being thrown about and I end up confused. I also discovered that the fees for such play groups range from the very affordable $200+ per term (with lots of subsidies) to well over a thousand dollars.
Many lament that it is expensive to bring up a child in Singapore and to be honest, if you choose these ‘famous’ and ‘popular’ schools with an impressive list of credentials, it is definitely going to cost you an arm, two legs and a few toes. However, if you are not fussed, you can easily enroll your little one in a mainstream, non-branded play group. To me, the quality of the teachers play a bigger role, rather than the school. Does reputation equate to good teachers? I’m not sure.
Seeing that we still have some months to go before Elliott reaches 18 month old, I guess we’d take our time to source around for a suitable play group. And I have to remind myself that it is *only* play group and he is, essentially, still a baby 🙂