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…
How to choose the right preschool curriculum in Singapore
Is a welcoming learning environment important for your child?
There’s a good reason why the Singapore American School’s (SAS) Early Learning Centre calls itself “the happiest place on the little red dot”. Besides respecting the child as a capable, curious, and competent learner who can express themselves in multiple creative ways, SAS provides a fun and effective physical space for them to learn and grow. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the preschool environment is intentional, flexible, and reflective.
What do kids learn? To collaborate and to wonder.
With an effective Reggio-inspired space like SAS’ Early Learning Centre, your child will be empowered to form relationships with their peers, communicate and collaborate, as well as feeling comfortable to explore and learn from their surroundings. There are also ample resources and tools for your child to express themselves with, be it in the form of a painting, music, or dancing. The centre’s daily schedule is flexible as well, which allows time for your child to be curious, play, wonder, and learn all within the same day!
Is play-based learning important to you?
Play comes naturally to children, and it’s also one of the ways in which they learn about the world around them. You’d be surprised how kids learn about the concept of weight through a session at the sandpit, or the concept of safety at kitchen pretend play! It’s also through play that children develop their gross and fine motor skills. When it comes to play-based learning, Little Paddington Preschool is an expert. The preschool combines both play-based and hands-on learning approaches to encourage children to follow their natural curiosity. Creative play equipment, inspiring outdoor spaces, as well as specialist ateliers are available on campus to engage children and let them explore.
What do kids learn? To ask questions, discover, and engage.
The focus of Little Paddington’s play-based and hands-on learning is on exploration, acquisition of content, skills, and concepts. Children learn language, numeracy, science, creative arts, and physical development through hands-on project works and dramatic play. They also develop confidence, teamwork skills, and independence through these integrated learning experiences. Play is also vital in Little Paddington’s preparation for primary programme. Structured activities and activity sheets help children master the required skills in reading, writing, Math, and Mandarin to thrive in primary school and beyond.
Got a curious kid?
Tanglin Trust School’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,” a representative from Tanglin Infant School explained.
What do kids learn? To love learning.
From an early age, the children at Tanglin 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 the rep. “This really helps them thrive and learn to be independent, become confident and treat every challenge as an adventure.”
Want a preschool or kindergarten with small 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,” a Junior Kindergarten teacher at International Community School (Singapore) said. 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.
What do kids learn? Open-ended fun.
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,” an ICS teacher eplained. “We give students lots of open-ended creating time for them to expand their creativity and try new things.”
Do you prefer a child-centred approach?
At North London Collegiate School (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,” the Head of Junior School at NLCS (Singapore) said. 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.
What do kids learn? 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,” a teacher from NLCS (Singapore) explained.
Need more help with picking a preschool curriculum? Here’s more information on curriculums for international schools and a preschool readiness guide here. We’ve also got a handy list with the benefits of sending your kids to preschool!