Is your tot ready for preschool? Here's how to pick the curriculum that best suits your 'lil one...
Are you ready to send your child to preschool? On top of it being a nerve-wracking time for everyone involved, it can get really overwhelming with all the choices out there. To make the school selection process even more difficult, preschool curriculums can be so different from each other! Some have mixed-age groups while some are play-based — where to start?! If you need help, you’re in luck. We’ve consulted experts from some of the top international schools in Singapore to get the lowdown on how to choose a preschool curriculum for your kids. Here’s what they had to say…
Choosing the right preschool curriculum in Singapore
Got a curious kid?
Tanglin’s Nursery is the first in Asia to achieve the Curiosity Approach™ Accreditation. It embeds a culture of curiosity in the learning environment, taking inspiration from Reggio, Steiner, Te Whariki and Montessori approaches. “Children are thrilled to come to school every day, looking forward to opportunities that nurture inquisitive minds, capture imaginations, and ensure that the innate characteristics of children – curiosity, awe and wonder – flourish,” explains Jo Osman, Deputy Headteacher at Tanglin Trust‘s Infant School.
Want a school with smaller class sizes?
“Compared to other large international schools, we have small sizes so we’re able to better personalise the learning experiences for each student. We greet all of our students by name from day one and give them opportunities to talk about their days,” shares Kendal Svoboda, Junior Kindergarten teacher at ICS (Singapore). The school also encourages smaller groups of students to work together based on their abilities, so the teachers can focus on the group’s strengths. Each student creates their own goals and family projects are also encouraged.
Looking for a preschool with a child-centred approach?
At NLCS (Singapore), every child is considered unique. “We take the time to get to know every individual child and work in partnership with parents. We support each child in ‘running their own race’ offering a bespoke Early Years curriculum that focuses on each individual child’s needs,” says Kathryn Hemming, Head of Junior School at NLCS (Singapore). Worried that your child won’t be getting enough academics? NLCS (Singapore) is committed to providing an academically ambitious preschool curriculum that includes focused daily English and Maths lessons from the earliest stages of learning onwards.
Prefer a play-based curriculum?
Sure, literacy and numeracy skills are important, but at SJI International Elementary School, the Early Years program places specific emphasis on learning through play experiences. “The learning environment melds indoor and outdoor spaces with learning and play centres, purposeful in design to stimulate discovery, creativity, independence and social interaction,” reveals Kat Kendon, Head of Early Years at SJI International Elementary School.
At My Learning Haven, the syllabus is uniquely centered on learning through play, via the PlayRoom Concept. It is the first preschool in Singapore to incorporate Finland’s renowned Hei School Curriculum Toolkit in its lessons and aims at supporting children to be active agents in their learning journey. Instead of classrooms, it has playrooms! Children will be engaged in different and unique play experiences as they move from one room to another.
Says founder and director, Wendy Tan: “My Learning Haven believes in cultivating the natural curiosity of children and that children learn best when they are motivated and content. We allow children to learn things at their own pace, while taking into account “must-to-learn” things at the same time. The main thing is to strengthen the weaknesses and cultivate the strengths to prepare for life-long learning.”
What will they learn at pre-school?
At ICS, kids can get involved with hands-on activities. “Pre-Covid, we did a lot of baking and cooking, but we still focused on allowing students the opportunity to connect their learning and play with physical objects, like painting,” explains Kendal Svboda from ICS. “We give students lots of open-ended creating time for them to expand their creativity and try new things.”
To love learning!
From an early age, the children at Tanglin Trust are nurtured in the prime areas of learning, focusing on communication and language, personal and social skills, and physical development. “Through this, children are given a solid foundation for every other aspect in the preschool curriculum,” says Jo Osman. “This really helps them thrive and learn to be independent, become confident and treat every challenge as an adventure.”
To be challenged!
Although the youngest students at NLCS (Singapore) learn through play, they still understand that there are expectations. “They will be continually challenged in their learning as we provide a ‘floors but no ceilings’ approach. There is also a strong emphasis on trans-disciplinary learning. This allows children to make links across the curriculum and to discover their own interests in an atmosphere which encourages independence, personal responsibility and care for others,” explains Kathryn Hemming of NLCS (Singapore).
To be children of character
Although academics and play are important for preschoolers, putting emphasis on character development is also a priority. At SJI International Elementary, the Early Years students are empowered to be curious, inquisitive and most importantly, have an understanding of self, others and the world around them. “We encourage them to become compassionate global citizens, through their commitment to service, the environment and community,” says Deidre Hazlewood, Vice-Principal of Curriculum at SJI International.
Everything they need to be ready for primary school
At My Learning Haven, kids learn various academic subjects by monthly themes. “For example, on the topic of environment, we will engage our kids cross discipline (i.e in the language room, we will teach them terms like global warming, in the math room, we will learn to measure things like rain fall levels, in the sensory lab, we create small models of ‘icebergs’ to show how its melting due to cause and effect of environmental factors). All these little experiments and illustrations are meant to help our children be experiential and visual learners,” shares Wendy Tan, founder of My Learning Haven.