If your child has special needs, you’re absolutely not alone in Singapore – yes it can be a long, challenging road to get a diagnosis and support – we know those waits to see local Child Development Units, paediatric specialists and good therapists too well. But day to day, we all want an inclusive, supportive education for our little ones: and all children deserve this. Singapore has some excellent special needs schools for kids primary age and above, but we all know early intervention is crucial. We’ve found the inclusive preschools that support toddlers of different abilities: if your child is on the autism spectrum or has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder or developmental dyspraxia, or has learning difficulties or a disability, these are the schools to reach out to…
KidzRock International Preschool
This is big news for parents with children with learning differences and extra needs: KidzRock International Preschool is opening in January 2017 at The Grand Stand, and enrolments are open NOW: you won’t have to suffer through a long wait to get your child the support they need! KidzRock will be a game changer, as children with different learning abilities age three to six years old can access a whole day of preschool – not just a few hours, like a traditional Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) – and study a regular preschool curriculum in a lovely, intimate setting. KidzRock utilises Applied Behaviour Analysis, a strategy based on reinforcement and visual supports, and the teacher-to-student ratio is kept low at 1:3 for personalised learning. KidzRock will be teaching a play-based and child-centred Creative Curriculum, and we love that both local and expat children are welcome. Another bonus? Kids can access speech and occupational therapists through the preschool, and their therapy sessions can be integrated into their school schedule.
The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road, #04-11, Singapore 287994; call98545699; email firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Excelerate Program
If you’re trying to balance preschool or Early Years Education with a roster of speech therapy and occupational therapy, or if your child is struggling in a mainstream school setting and would benefit from an intensive course to help get them school ready, The Excelerate Program is the answer. Run by speech pathologists and occupational therapists, consider Excelerate an integrated approach to preschool and therapy: the standard hour of OT or speech therapy your child gets once a week has benefits, but imagine the results if they could have customised support from their therapists throughout their entire school day (that’s three hours or six in this programme). It might take a while to snap up a spot as there are only 35 spaces, but the intensive approach here brings incredible results. Some children do stay enrolled long term, but many take time out from their current schools to join Excelerate for just a term or two to focus on school readiness. We spoke to director Pika Sen, who’s incredibly passionate about the work of the Excelerate team: the therapists are responsive to the needs of each child, and match children according to ability and personality rather than age – children with hearing loss are welcome too, and the newly renovated learning spaces include a special quiet room for optimal learning.
19 Tanglin Road, #05-29/31 & #05-10/11 Tanglin Shopping Centre, Singapore 247909; call 6235 0037; email: email@example.com
This inclusive preschool in Enabling Village opened in January 2016 and has gained a lot of attention for providing a haven for local children on the autism spectrum, or who have learning difficulties and developmental challenges: about 30 per cent of Kindle Garden’s spaces are allocated for children with special needs. Little ones from from 18 months up to age six are welcome, and the teaching team here is backed by occupational therapists and psychologists to give children specialist support. The space has been specially designed to provide accessible spaces for children: there are cosy spots for quiet time; open spaces to encourage social experiences; thoughtful design elements that help kids transition from one activity to another; and a sensory garden – all created with ease of use by kids of all abilities in mind (and that means wheelchair and pram access).
20 Lengkok Bahru #02-05 Singapore 159053; call 6511 7660; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kids with mild to severe developmental needs are welcome at Wee Care, which is located in Tanglin and recommended by child psychologists at NUH and KK Hospital. Wee Care runs a mainstream preschool alongside its Early Intervention services to encourage acceptance and allow children of all abilities to learn alongside each other. We’re impressed by the different options for families, from individual therapy (with parent or caregiver involvement encouraged) to group therapy and playgroups that work on attention span, self-control, language and communications, social skills, play and school readiness – all with the goal of rehabilitation and integration into mainstream schooling. If your little one is ready for a group setting, check out First Starts, its specialised preschool programme for kids with learning needs. You’ll need to begin with a consultation with one of the in-house therapists so an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) can be set in place.
56 Tanglin Rd,#02-03 Tanglin Post Office Singapore 247964; call 6836-1450; email: email@example.com
Mighty Oaks Learning Center
Mighty Oaks is the brainchild of occupational therapist Suvi Pitkola, director of Kaleidoscope Therapy Centre in Turf City, which many parents of kids in speech or occupational therapy will already be acquainted with. Open to little ones aged two to six years old, Mighty Oaks is ideal for kids who are very able and not quite suited to a special needs school, but face challenges in a mainstream school setting – if your child has speech delay, sensory processing issues, needs help with fine motor skills and has trouble with social skills or managing their emotions, this might be the place for you. The high staff-to-child ratio (a maximum of 1:3), parent coaching and lovely facilities complete with a sensory gym and outdoor terrace with water and sand play make Mighty Oaks well loved, but what really makes the school stand out is its use of the DIR/ Floortime model, which enables teachers to “investigate what is going on and provide nurturing interactions.” Each student at Mighty Oaks has an Individualised Educational Program (IEP), to set out academic and developmental goals, while speech and occupational therapists from Kaleidoscope visit each week, which helps lift you out of the eternal therapy-school juggle!
312A Tanglin Road, Phoenix Park Office Campus, #01-02, Singapore 247976; call 6736- 2663/ 8181- 8461; email: Info@MightyOaksLC.com