Difference between Kindergarten and Childcare

Both kindergartens and childcare centres are types of preschool education establishments found in Singapore.

Currently, the government agency Early Childhood Development Agency – ECDA, oversees the regulation of both kindergartens and childcare centres.

The goal of this article is to provide you with an accurate description that allows you to clarify the difference between the two. This way you can make an informed decision on what works best for you and your baby.

Key difference

Kindergarten is a type of preschool that educates little children through the means of fun games and fun activities. Child care centres are intended to look after a child for the time until its parent returns from his/her work.

But whether you choose a childcare centre or kindergarten, the aims are the same: to prepare children for the next stage in life.


Childcare centres are for children that are more the 18 months old. But some also provide services for infants that are just 2 months old.

Kindergartens in Singapore provide a more formal and structured preschool programme for children aged 3-6. They provide a preschool environment for children to learn to interact with others.

Preschool Activities

Activities in a kindergarten include learning language and numbers, social skills, games, music and outdoor play. Children can learn two languages, English and their official mother tongue (Mandarin, Malay or Tamil).

Popular Kindergarten or Childcare in Singapore

• PCF – 251 centres
• MOE Kindergarten – 15 centres
• Odyssey – 4 centres
• Pat’s Schoolhouse – 18 centres
• Learning Vision – 22 centres
• Maple Bear – 20 centres
• Small Wonder – 4 centres

Questions asked when looking for a kindergarten or childcare

There are some particular questions that parents can ask when looking for a kindergarten:
• What is a typical day like?
• This school keep parents informed of school information and activities?
• What type of enrichment classes are offered?
• How do you discover special interest and talents of the child?

The preschool year

Childcare centres do not have vacation breaks, but they’re allowed to close for up to seven days a year for the staff to attend courses and other events.

Kindergartens, on the other hand, mirror the primary school calendar, with four 10-week terms beginning in January. They typically operate on a five-day week (Monday to Friday), and for shorter hours (three hours a day), which may be from 8am to 11am or from noon to 3pm.

Preschool fees

Fees for childcare centres span a wide range of budgets. ECDA’s website states that those for a full-day programme can range from approximately $300 to $2,600 a month. If you’re working, you can apply for a government subsidy of up to $600 for childcare and up to $300 for infantcare.

There’s no standard fee structure for kindergartens either, but a check with MOE-registered ones on the Preschool Connect website (preschool.edu.sg) revealed that they cost from $48 to $1,800 per month.


In kindergartens, teachers are assigned to look after the children, while in childcare a nanny or a baby sitter can take care of the child.

Read more about healthy environment for children.

Now you have enough information to understand the difference between these 2 types of preschool education establishments. This information will aid you in taking the best decision.

Read more about Factors to consider when choosing a childcare centre.