This is one of the hottest topics right now at the moment, and especially since it is an area of focus that is highlighted by our Prime Minister at the recent national day rally.
With a preschooler in the house, we read with interest on the developments in the sector, and are definitely heartened by the fact that the government acknowledges the importance of the pre-school sector, and are pulling in money and funds to provide quality, yet affordable pre-school education for the masses.
On a personal level, Ally has been going to a childcare centre for more than a year. We started her on a half day basis initially and like many parents, we had our fair share of juggling with all the separation anxiety in the morning, incessant occasions when she fell sick but yet at the same time, heartened by her growing independence (toilet trained, eating by herself).
So how did we come to choose her preschool?
Well, we did it by distance and the cost was also a factor. The preschool that she attends is only a 3 min walk away from her grandparents’ place. We rely heavily on her grandparents to pick her up after school, especially since both Dave and I work are not able to pick her up by 7pm. In addition, her preschool is pretty affordable, $400 for half day and $600 for full day.
Why not somewhere near our workplace? Well, both of us work in town and there are not that many options available. Even if there are, they are the really “branded” schools and easily cost more than $1,000 a month.
Well, there are also school buses available, some might say. Well yes that might be the case, but the thing is these services are not cheap. And plus, we are not that particular that she has to receive a “Montessori” type of education or something that offers the “Reggio Emilia” method.
It is then with great interest that I read an article published by The Straits Times this morning, where a parent paid $4,000 more, just to hold a place for his daughter. The monthly fees themselves, are not cheap, costing around $1,900 after subsidies. Apparently, not only is the centre is fitted with air filters and purifiers, it also uses organic soaps and shampoos.
Well the operating costs for the centre should be pretty high, consider the rental at such a prime location in town, plus all the peripherals that they are selling as their unique proposition.
As in typical Keysian theory: where there’s demand, there’s supply.
For families with multiple preschoolers, that just well, multiplies. For the sake of convenience, most parents would choose to send the siblings to the same preschool, rather than in different locations. Consider the logistic nightmare behind it!
A friend of mine is due with her second baby in a few months time. As such, they recently started sending their elder kid to a branded full-day childcare. The good thing is that the elder kid is adapting well and doing well at the centre, and even the teachers gave pretty positive reviews of his performance in school. However, when I asked them about the possibility and the collective cost of sending both kids there subsequently, she shrugged and said…. “we will work it out somehow”.
The thing about been parents is that as parents, we get emotional. As parents, we always want the best for our kids. As parents, we will try to plan the best route for our kids. And with that, we might not end up making the most pragmatic nor practical decision. I would go so far to say that parents sometimes end up making financially unsavvy decisions because of that obsession of providing “the best” for their kids.
How do you define best? Is a brand name a best? Is it the more expensive it is, the better it is as well?
It might be sometimes.
It might not necessarily be so in all cases and it is entirely subjective.
And as for us, that extra $1,300 savings a month is an extra $78,000 that I could save over 5 years! Personally for Dave and I, we would use the money differently.