We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing extracurricular activities for children in Singapore. Here, nine Expat Living families recommend their favourite after-school activities.
Carol Chua (Singaporean) and Colin Miles (British); Caius (9) and Caele (8)
“Both children started at Induk Taekwondo in 2012. Caele attends once a week and Caius three times a week as he’s now in the Induk Elite team. We definitely recommend Induk – the coaches make a difference, and my boys are clearly inspired by them.
The boys were three and four when we took them to enjoy a free trial session. It was recommended by a friend whose boy loves Induk as well. Five years later, they’re now ranked as Poom (Junior Black Belt) and have competed in national competitions in Singapore, and also joined an Induk demonstration event in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Watching their development from toddlers to “Taekwondo Terrors” has been a rollercoaster of emotion with no small amount of dedication from us, as their parents; ferrying them around, and urging them to work harder to practice and improve daily. This was all with the goal to attain the pinnacle of achievement: the illustrious Poom grade, with their names proudly embroidered in gold lettering on their two-tone belts.
They’ve also had fun at the overnight camps, Halloween parties and general mucking about when it’s time to let off steam in the dojang. But ultimately the hard work now means they have a passport to any country’s dojang worldwide. These are places of respect, where they can meet, bond and train with like-minded people – truly a valuable gift!”
Janet Sua and Michael Murison; Bergen (9), Singaporean/Eurasian
“I’ve loved painting from a young age. My technical skills have improved during my five years at Little Artists, as have my creativity and emotional intelligence skills. The teachers are supportive, and they indulge in my sometimes strange fantasies about what to paint. I like that I can make my own painting subject choices – rather than straight copying of other works, which is what some other schools do. The entire creative process incorporates my total participation, from the basics, all the way to the final stages. This has definitely enhanced my abilities. My work has been displayed at several art exhibitions in Singapore such as the Affordable Art Fair, and more recently at the Tatinis Art Show. This has helped improve my confidence in my work, and increased my passion for art.”
Christiane Kolberg, German; Hannah (12) and Sarah (9)
“My daughters commenced ballet lessons in March 2017. I came across Tanglin Arts Studio (TAS) by chance online, while looking for a studio for my daughters, and I was very impressed by the programmes on offer. Sarah dances twice a week in the Rubies ballet programme, and each session is 45 minutes. Hannah attends the two-hour InterBallet session twice a week. I absolutely recommend TAS; the staff are professional, and my girls are completely in love with attending the studio. They have been dancing since they were four. We have lived in Germany, Belgium and now Singapore, and my girls have said that they enjoyed classes at TAS the most. Finally, the annual dance performance is amazing!”
Elke Simon-Keller, German; Emma (13), Max (11) and Johanna (8)
“A German friend that I met in Shanghai sent her son to Little Mandarins and recommended it to us when we moved to Singapore. We checked it out and liked it, and now all three children are studying Mandarin there. Students are placed in classes according to their proficiency. Lessons not only focus on building up the children’s vocabulary, but also on applications of what they learn through daily conversation practices.
My children really enjoy the classes. The teachers are very warm and friendly, and the classes have the right mix of fun and practicality. They use games, songs and arts and crafts to make it fun to learn a foreign language so the kids don’t feel burdened. I also really like the holistic approach the school takes towards learning; they’re very supportive and nurturing.
I think that Little Mandarins is a great place to experience Chinese culture and to learn Mandarin. I hope that my children can continue taking classes there and that their language skills will continue to improve over the years.”
Ann and Haytham El-Ansary, Australian; Lachlan (10) and Ethan (8)
“We’re from Perth, Western Australia, and have lived in Singapore for three years. Ethan has attended tuition at All Hands Together for two years. His school, Integrated International School, suggested the names of two tuition companies to contact, and we chose All Hands Together. Ethan has tuition sessions twice a week. We had several choices about where tuition sessions could be held: at the tuition centre, at his school after classes finished, or at our home. We decided to have the sessions as soon as school finished, at his school.
I would definitely recommend All Hands Together to anyone looking for extra help with their child’s learning. We’ve had two or three different tutors over the two years, as they have changed to give Ethan the best possible help with each step of his learning. Each of the tutors has been great. They do seem to really care about their students, rather than just thinking about them for the 45 minutes they are teaching them. The tutors are caring, but also know how to make Ethan work, and get the best response from him.”
Rebecca and Richard Sinclair, New Zealanders; Lucy (7) and Alice (5)
“We have lived in Singapore almost 11 years, and our children have attended SWISH Swim School for over two years; Lucy is in the Strokers class and Alice is in the Rollers. They have a 30-minute session once a week.
Both my girls had started to lose interest in swimming and I was looking for a new school that would motivate them. I’d heard about SWISH through friends and thought I’d give it a go. My girls really enjoyed it so we signed up. Kristen and her team are great. They are passionate about teaching children to swim, and they create a fun environment for them to learn. I also love their complex in Dempsey; it has indoor and outdoor pools, which means sessions don’t need to be cancelled due to bad weather.
I would definitely recommend this swim school to others. The coaches and staff are approachable and fun, the pools and facilities are lovely, and my children have really improved their swimming skills. It’s a friendly and welcoming environment. Fun events such as the Swish Jam, held twice a year, include swimming races, games and other activities.”
Trampolining and more!
Lekan and Efe Ogundowole, Nigerian; Boyede (8) and Dipo (5)
“We’ve been regulars at BOUNCE since 2016. We heard about it opening and loved it from the very first visit. There are several reasons: it’s central, it’s fun and the ambience is awesome. We visit every couple of weeks for trampolining. We’ve also hosted two birthday parties there for the children.
We recommend BOUNCE to others because it’s one of the best activity centres for kids in Singapore and they never get tired of it. We love the colourful surroundings, the helpful, friendly and energetic staff, the variety of bouncing activities and the location. It’s a happy place and really, who doesn’t love to be happy at every chance they can?”
Singing, dancing and acting
Natalie (Austrian/South African) and Stefano Ghersi (Italian); Ilaria (12) and Isabella (16)
“Ilaria has attended Centre Stage School of the Arts since April 2014. Isabella recently stopped attending classes due to school commitments, but prior to that she finished preparing for the Trinity Speech and Drama exams at Centre Stage. Ilaria attends Onstage Musical Theatre once a week for two hours. She would go more often if she could!
We were looking for a comprehensive programme with singing, dancing and acting – similar to the classes our daughters had attended in London. Centre Stage ticked all the boxes with professionally trained and committed teachers, and a varied programme with a good balance between teaching skills and fun.
Initially, I heard about it through word of mouth from friends whose children were very happy there. There was also an ECA drama class run by Centre Stage at school; we decided to attend Centre Stage itself where we could continue for as long as the girls wanted.
We highly recommend the school. It’s literally the highlight of Ilaria’s week and she always looks forward to it. It has given her a huge confidence boost and is a great outlet for her energy, creativity and fun. The performance and audition skills she has learnt there were instrumental in her being chosen to perform in the current production of The Sound of Music.
The highlight for Ilaria is the annual musical production. Each child is given a role and the main roles are double cast so that all the children have an opportunity to perform and shine. Ilaria enjoys meeting children from other schools who share the same interests as she does. For us as parents, the best thing is the quality and care of the teaching and the ability to bring out confidence in the children.”
Andrea Felker and Chris Haigh, Canadian; Arlo (5) and Roland (2)
“Arlo began attending the Waddlers programme at My Gym when he was just a year old. He attended the adult assisted classes until he turned three, when he joined the independent Playgroup class twice a week. Roland also joined the Waddlers programme at around one year of age, and is now participating in the Playgroup as well.
My Gym was recommended to us by a friend whose two children had gone there. Waddlers is one session led by a teacher and one session of free play per week. The schedule works in with nap time. We really liked that our children were introduced to new equipment and songs – for example, once a week there was an Open Gym session, where we could run around and explore the equipment on our own.
Playgroup is twice weekly for a two-hour drop-off session. We weren’t ready for preschool five days a week when the kids were only two-and-a-half, and My Gym offered just what we were looking for: two-hour sessions, two to four days a week, and a good transition between being home with parents full-time to being at preschool. The low student teacher ratio and the loving, caring, attentive teachers meant that we were comfortable leaving our children (even though neither of our kids were happy to see us go). This also made it easy for our potty-training children to feel comfortable asking for what they needed: trust.
Lastly, My Gym encourages children to get active, run around, sing, and play. The equipment is well taken care of, clean, safe and age-appropriate.”
Vanessa and Greg Mittman, Canadian; MJ (12), Rae (10) and Fred (7)
“My girls attended two weeks of Inspired Arts art camps over the school holidays and my daughter received an Inspired Arts gift voucher for her tenth birthday from a friend. She already knew Mr Betts and several children who recommended camps or classes, so she was eager to use the voucher asap!
There are holiday camps plus à la carte after-school and weekend programmes available for all ages, including adults, as well as team-building sessions. I enrolled my 10- and 12-year old into the Senior Holiday Camp (for children aged nine to 13), from 12.30 to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. The first week they explored how to use jewellery-making techniques to design imaginative creatures with beads, wire, haberdashery and natural materials. They also learned about different types of weaving and knotting. The Steampunk programme was more intensive during the second week. In Steampunk, the kids repurpose objects to design elaborate futuristic sci-fi costumes and art. The results were amazing.
Mr Betts is a fantastic teacher. He is an experienced educator and passionate artist with an excellent subject knowledge. I was fully confident that my kids would have fun and learn – which they did. Overall, I saw a huge sense of pride and achievement when they completed a project, boosting their confidence and self-esteem. Most importantly, they keep asking to go back!”
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