From The Singapore Straits Times
16th February 2001

Best of both worlds?
Kids benefit from different teaching styles, parents claim. But
schools believe children may be confused

By Sandra Davie

ONE kindergarten is not enough for some pre-schoolers. A Straits Times
check has found that some parents are sending their children to two
kindergartens - one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

Kindergarten operators say that while they do not keep track of the
figures, this practice is becoming more common.

In most cases, parents combine an alternative programme like the ones
offered by Montessori schools where children learn through activity,
with one that is more formal and structured, like those offered by the
PAP Community Foundation kindergartens.

These parents, who are mostly English-educated, spend on average $400
per month on privately run pre-schools and another $75 to $100 for a
PAP Community Foundation-type kindergarten.

But pre-school operators said that they are against the practice.

Some Montessori schools, such as Casa de Bambini Montessori for
Children and Bridges Montessori Kindergarten, warned that children
will be overloaded and confused by the dual schooling.

Said Miss Irene Toh, director of the Bridges kindergarten in Punggol:
'Here, we teach them reading through phonics. Imagine if the child
then goes to another kindergarten in the afternoon which teaches him
reading using a completely different method.'

A spokesman for Casa de Bambini said parents who send their children
there are strongly advised against enrolling them in other programmes,
including enrichment courses.

Said the spokesman: 'When a child comes to us, we undertake full
responsibility to prepare the child for primary school. Parents should
trust us to do our job.'

Major operators, such as the PAP Community Foundation and NTUC, said
that they too advise parents against sending their children to two

Said Mrs Laura Khoo, chief executive of the PAP Community Foundation:
'Two years ago, we did a survey and some 149 parents out of the 80,000
admitted to sending their children to two centres. Since then, we
don't know what the numbers have gone up to.

'If parents ask us, we tell them that six to seven hours a day can
kill the joy of learning in a child.'

But parents who send their children to two kindergartens say that one
is just not enough to prepare their youngsters for Primary 1.

Mrs Mary Chen, a housewife, said that the Montessori school her child
attends does not provide enough exposure to Chinese Language or

'I learnt this the hard way,' she said. 'I enrolled my older daughter
in a Montessori kindergarten, and she gained from it in many ways. But
she is struggling with her Chinese. So I thought I would combine two
programmes for my younger girl.'

Another parent, Madam Shirley Lim, an administration manager, said her
son needs two programmes.

Her explanation: 'The Montessori programme teaches him to be creative,
independent and sociable.

'But in primary school, he'll be expected to sit behind a desk and do
work. And the PAP kindergartens are good at teaching that.'

Her son has a one-hour break between his two sessions and has to eat
his lunch in the schoolbus.

'He gets tired. But I'm just trying to get him off to the right
start,' she said.