PCF opens second-largest childcare centre at Hillion mall in Bukit Panjang

PCF opens second-largest childcare centre at Hillion mall in Bukit Panjang
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, speaks to a child at the new PCF Sparkletots @ Cashew. Photo: PCF
It offers full-day childcare and infant care services for up to 287 children
Published: 10:00 AM, August 12, 2017
Updated: 6:05 PM, August 12, 2017

SINGAPORE —  Pre-school operator PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Sparkletots opened its first childcare centre in an integrated development at Hillion Mall in Bukit Panjang on Saturday (Aug 12).

PCF Sparkletots @ Cashew, the PCF Sparkletots’ second-largest childcare centre, offers full-day childcare and infant care services for up to 287 children from the age of two months to six years old.

On top of the Sparkletots curriculum offered at all PCF Sparkletots centres, the new facility, which occupies over 21,500 sq feet of space at the mall, also places an extra emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.

For instance, children get to engage in constructive play with water and sand to learn about art, and  explore nature through snails they discover at the centre’s “green” garden wall. They also learn about maths concepts, such as estimation, and how materials like flour change its form to dough during baking sessions, said lead centre principal Doreen Lim.

More than 160 children are currently enrolled at the centre, with the projected enrolment for December expected to reach about 220 children, or 77 per cent of the centre’s total capacity.

Speaking to reporters during a media briefing on Friday, PCF chief executive officer Victor Bay said that with such a larger childcare centre, it would allow for a “greater free play of space”, compared to the typical void-deck model. 

Noting that PCF Sparkletots is due to open its largest childcare centre in Punggol by mid-2018, he added: “Whether big or small, we want to ensure that PCF education services continue to be affordable, accessible and high quality.... We want to focus on upgrading the professionalism and competence of our teachers, constantly reviewing our curriculum to give our children the best possible start and creating the right learning environment.”

Bukit Panjang resident Zhang Man Er, 35, who recently enrolled her two-and-a-half-year-old son at the centre after a four-month wait, welcomed its opening. 

Said the housewife in Mandarin: “I think this centre is good because it has more space for the children to run around and offers hands-on activities.”

Another Bukit Panjang resident, Bhuvi Sridharan, enrolled her 2-year-old daughter at the centre, because of its location in the shopping mall. "I like how it's a new concept (of being large and in an integrated development)," she said. 

Nurshahida Mohd Rashid, 37, observed that her six-year-old daughter's confidence had grown since she started attending the school. 

She cited how the school's "hands on", interdisciplinary learning approach helped in nurturing creativity and "leaves a bigger impression" on young children, such as how her daughter getting to learn how a volcano erupts with baking materials and videos screened, and trying her hand at architecture through building blocks. 

"It's not just about learning through pen and paper but through activities like these, it (cultivates) a love for learning at an early age," she said.

The centre, which began its operations in March, was officially opened on Saturday by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, who is also a Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

PCF Sparkletots is currently Singapore’s largest pre-school operator and employer, with more than 360 preschools offering over 40,000 kindergarten and childcare places.