We’ve found some of the best early intervention centres and preschools in Singapore to help your little one get that extra support.
If your child has special needs, a developmental delay or learning challenges, you’re absolutely not alone in Singapore. Yes, it can be a long road to get the diagnosis and support you need – we all know too well those waits to see local Child Development Units, paediatric specialists and good therapists. But day to day, we want an inclusive, supportive education for our little ones. And all children deserve this. Luckily, Singapore has some excellent international schools providing learning support for kids primary age and above. But if you want to start even earlier? There are some great early intervention centres here in Singapore too.
If you are a Singapore Citizen or PR, you can contact SG Enable to find out more about the subsidised Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) at government-funded centres. However, EIPIC is a holistic program, so if you’re looking for a more targeted program, private therapy might be your best bet. If your child is on the autism spectrum, has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder, language delays, developmental dyspraxia, or has learning difficulties or a disability, these are the early intervention centres and dedicated programs and schools you’ll want reach out to for your child…
Early intervention centres in Singapore
This Early Intervention Centre in Tanglin works with children age two to 12 years and is small but strong, with incredible support. A therapy-based program that runs five days a week in a school setting, we’ve been impressed by the lovely team of specialists, which includes education experts, a speech therapist, behavioural expert and occupational therapist. Therapy is provided consistently and intensively throughout your child’s week – and if you’ve attempted multiple private therapies on top of preschool or school, you’ll know how life-changing this can be. Children can join KidsFirst on a short, intensive period to assist integration into a mainstream school setting, or for long-term support. School readiness and life skills are a strong focus here: from helping your child potty train, to eating independently and learning how to socialise. The KidsFirst team works with children for who they are, with the real interest of the family at heart.
Where: KidsFirst, 19 Tanglin Road, 5th Floor Tanglin Shopping Center, Units 08-11, 33-37 Singapore 247909
2. Thomson Kids Specialised Learning
Thomson Kids Specialised Learning is a learning centre that supports children with learning difficulties through its structured educational programmes derived from research-proven teaching methods. The centre strives to help children maximise their learning potential and equip them with the skills to participate and progress in the mainstream educational environment. Thomson Kids offers a variety of diagnostic assessments – for autism, school readiness, ADHD, dyslexia, and intelligence. This way, both the teachers and parents can have a clearer picture of a child’s ability and achievement level, and suitable interventions can be chosen to address their needs. All of Thomson Kids’ specialised learning programmes are based on the Ministry of Education’s syllabus and requirements. These are developed in-house by a dedicated team of experts, including child psychology specialists, curriculum writers, and special needs teachers. As every child is different, the centre’s teachers adapt the learning tasks for each student based on their unique learning needs.
Where: Thomson Kids Specialised Learning, 101 Thomson Road, #02-08 United Square Shopping Mall, Singapore 307591
3. ABC Center Singapore
Parents who want to get serious about an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Intensive Behavioural Program should definitely have a look at ABC Center Singapore. This US-based globally recognised program has been in operation for over 30 years and provides a broad range of services. There are ABA services and early intervention programs for infants and toddlers who are on the autism spectrum (or look likely to be diagnosed as such), as well as a focus on school readiness and the teaching of independent living skills for teens and young adults. Kids are encouraged to apply the skills they learn in therapy to their daily lives, and with ABC Center Singapore having three Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) on hand, no matter how old your little one is, there is expert guidance all the way.
There’s also the EarlyPreps program: an early intervention preschool for children aged three to six years which is held in small groups in a lovely classroom-based setting, designed to help kids build the skills they need for future self-help and independence. We also love that ABC Center Singapore understands that parents and caregivers need support too: they are also given plenty of guidance by way of a free eight-week training program that also includes one home-based session.
Good news for Singapore citizens and PRs who have been referred to EIPIC: you may well be eligible for subsidised early intervention through the Enhanced PPIP (Pilot for Private Intervention Program) scheme.
4. The Growing Academy
By incorporating principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and TEACCH into its programs, The Growing Academy helps students from as young as 12 months to six years and beyond master skills and complex tasks through teaching methods like Discrete Trial Training (DTT). With its blend of academics and therapy being key in helping your child thrive, The Growing Academy is actually the first therapy school in Singapore to also offer childcare and therapy services under one roof. Its unique curriculum focuses on helping small students garner the skills they need to be able to happily transit back into a mainstream school, and with its small teacher-student ratio, you can be assured that your tot is getting lots of attention and care, while also having fun! Choose from a variety of programmes including Play Group for tiny people age 12 months to 24 months, the Kindergarten Programme for little learners aged two to six years, or its After School Club for older kids age seven to 12 years.
The Growing Academy also offers additional support to children with its School Shadow Services (a collaborative working relationship with school staff and families to ensure your little one is getting all the support they need in the classroom). We love that The Growing Academy really does understand that each child is completely unique, and so a one-size-fits-all approach is not what this friendly group of experts provide. They will take the time to get to know your child AND you, and advise on the best course of tailor-made action for maximum success.
Where: The Growing Academy, 206 Ponggol Seventeenth Ave, Singapore 829680
5. KidzRock International Preschool
KidzRock offers a programme that’s a game changer. 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 offers both the Nurturing Early Learners Curriculum by MOE as well as the Carolina Curriculum for Preschoolers with Special Needs intervention programme for children from birth to five years old with mild to severe disabilities. We love that it teaches using a play-based and child-centred Creative Curriculum, and 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.
6. Think Kids
Think Kids is an affiliate of Think Psychological Services and an advocate of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which focuses on reinforcing good behaviour so that it’s repeated. Made up of behaviour therapists, registered child psychologists and specialists in counselling, Think Kids only uses tried-and-trusted treatment methods to help kids from as young as 18 months to early adulthood reach their maximum potential. It offers group social skills training using age-appropriate structured activities, such as therapist-guided games, role-playing and discussions so that children are better able to understand themselves and others around them. One-on-one intensive ABA intervention can also be held in the privacy of your home. Consultations are strictly by appointment, so call ahead.
7. Bridge Learning
As the first private one-stop diagnostic learning support and specialised early intervention centre in Singapore, Bridge Learning provides specialised early intervention for children aged two to 12. The centre prefers not to use a label-focused approach and uses a cross- or non-categorical approach instead to help children who have mild or hybrid difficulties. If your little one has a range of learning challenges, Bridge Learning will be able to assess them through a pro-rated Dynamic Diagnostic Assessment (DDA). Its curriculum consists of core and elective programmes which target different areas of learning and makes use of adaptive technology to improve early literacy and school readiness. Parents can keep track of their child’s progress through the Bridge Early Intervention E-Portal (BEE) where they can view learning assessments and recommended intervention activities they can do together with their kids.
This therapy centre runs a play-based early intervention programme called, READY LET’S GO, that runs three mornings a week (Tues, Wed and Thurs). Children from two to four years-old are grouped according to their learning ability. Each session is supported by a speech language therapist, occupational therapist or special education teacher who will help the kids develop skills needed for school readiness. Psychologists are also on hand for a consultation if the child encounters significant challenges. Parents are encouraged to participate in the program through individual therapy support. Suitable for any child, whether they’re already attending a mainstream preschool and facing social or developmental challenges, or if they’ve been diagnosed with a developmental disorder, this program aims to support the child and help them develop the ability to participate in a group learning environment.
9. Kindle Garden
This inclusive preschool in Enabling Village 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 too).
10. Wee Care
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.
11. Nurture Pods
Nurture Pods believes every child has a right to access the mainstream school curriculum by teaching them how to function independently at home, as well as in a structured learning environment. Kids with learning difficulties will receive an individualised education plan based on the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) structured teaching programme by the University of North Carolina. This programme helps to develop their social, logical and developmental skills. There are also options for both individual and group-based learning of up to six in a group to help kids get accustomed to being taught together with their peers. Nurture Pods also offers occupational therapy services, as well as home based ABA therapy and art therapy. Parent participation is highly valued here, so the centre provides sessions that allow parents to get involved. Parents are also given plenty of support, including one-to-one training, plus reports and journals of each session. Staffed by qualified professionals, Nurture Pods is one of the few private early intervention centres that is certified by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as an Approved Institution for provision of Early Intervention Programs. If you have one, you can also make payment through your kiddo’s Child Development Account (CDA).
12. All Hands Together
Founded by close friends and mums Yasodha and Gayathri, All Hands Together provides multi-sensorial learning experiences through its various programmes. In addition to the learning programmes, All Hands Together also has a playgroup for kids aged 18 to 36 months old and an early interventions programme offered to children of mental ages of three to seven years old. The lesson plans are based off mainstream preschools, but differentiated to suit each individual child. Students will be encouraged to be more comfortable in a group learning environment through a combination of one-to-one personalised learning, small groups to develop social skills and larger groups to develop school readiness skills. You also have the option to have speech and occupational therapy at the centre as well as holiday camps.
13. SES Preschool Programme by Dyslexia Association of Singapore
Specialised Educational Services (SES) is a division of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. SES programmes are tailored to fit the learning needs of students with a learning difference. Since 2006, DAS has helped many preschoolers with early literacy difficulties overcome barriers through the SES Preschool Programme. The SES Preschool Programme is a published evidence-based programme, which has been consistently found to have a positive effect on learning outcomes. The programme integrates Orton-Gillingham (OG) Instructional Approach, along with early childhood pedagogy and is guided by the MOE’s Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Language and Literacy Framework. The aim of the SES Preschool Programme is to help preschoolers who are potentially at risk of having dyslexia or developmental delay in early literacy, develop the love of learning, skills and strategies to become confident achievers when they enter primary school.
Where: Dyslexia Association of Singapore, various locations all over Singapore, p. 6444 5700, e. [email protected]
14. Dover Court Preparatory School
A pioneer of its time, Dover Court Preparatory School was the first school in Singapore to offer both mainstream and a Department of Supportive Education under one roof. With a cohort of up to 100 students, the higher functioning children enrolled in the DSE are integrated for music, PE, art and drama with the mainstream. With an enviable ratio of up to 10 students with 3 adults in one classroom, therapies available on site are Speech, Occupational, and Physiotherapy.
15. Genesis School
Genesis School offers both an academic learning environment for those students who can access curriculum and vocational training programs for students requiring life skills. Curriculum goals are derived from extensive research-based sources, and cater to each child’s development individually. With children aged 4 to 18, Genesis is one big extended family, boasting great family events and parent volunteering efforts. The founder, Lisa Barron, has determination that every child can reach their maximum potential, and she is often there with them every step of the way.
16. Integrated International School
The Integrated International School (IIS) is a contemporary, boutique school located in the West of Singapore, offering two educational approaches — mainstream and support — into one holistic learning environment, the only school of its kind in the country. It provides students with an intimate classroom setting with a 1:6 teacher-student ratio. Classes at IIS are customised to foster individual and collective strengths, and the rigorous yet flexible New South Wales curriculum, a core socio-emotional curriculum is offered to supplement academic learning / behavioural support to enhance children’s abilities and skills.
We love the school’s one-of-a-kind Ocean Snoezelen room. It provides a multi-sensory experience for kids and becomes a backdrop for regular meditation, imaginative play, group therapy and yoga! The students at IIS can also use the school’s Occupational Therapy jungle gym for OT sessions. IIS also has speech and behavioral therapy suites and private counselling suites on campus.
17. Melbourne Specialist International School
If your child is differently-abled, struggles with a developmental delay or learning challenge, Melbourne Specialist International School (MSIS) offers a balance of Foundation to Year 10 Australian academic curriculum framework with a visual and performing arts curriculum, plus therapy services, to help each child. Set in the lush greenery of Dempsey, MSIS’s small class format, with an exceptional student-to-teacher ratio of 1:3, makes individual attention readily accessible and guarantees that its students reach their full potential.
Where: Melbourne Specialist International School (MSIS), 75C Loewen Road, Dempsey Singapore 248853
18. Mighty Oaks
Mighty Oaks is the educational arm of Kaleidoscope. It’s a preschool-like, early intervention centre targeted for children aged three to six years with challenges or delays in language, attention and sensory processing and school readiness skills. Mighty Oaks is the only program in Singapore that is based on the DIR/ Floortime method, a relationship-based method formed around interaction. Speech and occupational therapy is also scheduled twice a week for the children during the three-hour daily program.
19. The Winstedt School
Offering the International Primary Curriculum (mainstream) from Reception (age four) to Year 5 (age 11), students at The Winstedt School benefit from smaller class sizes (maximum 12), but dynamic enough for group work and activities. Speech and occupational therapy, as well as counselling, are all integrated into the program with after school activities ranging from pottery to soccer.
Looking for more support for your child? Check out these international schools that offer learning support too.