The early years of learning at the kindergarten stage are so important. Children’s confidence can be knocked if development is rushed or forced. And the same can happen if they fall behind and aren’t in line with the learning programme of whichever ‘big school’ they go to. Getting kids straight into an international school in Singapore for preschool often makes sense. There’s less change and you can have the confidence that they will be learning what’s needed for later on.
When you’re choosing an international school, it’s also good to find one that suits you for term/holiday times. Look at the distance from your home, and consider the experiences and facilities that resonate with you – the amount of outdoor play time, the focus on art and music, and so on.
These six schools in Singapore have the most fantastic facilities and opportunities to prepare the little ones for the ‘big world’!
Canadian International School
Young ones at Canadian International School learn through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, which has an inquiry- and play-based approach. From Junior Kindergarten, students can also choose to be a part of the English or bilingual English-Chinese programme. There is a good balance between child-initiated play and focused learning, with kids getting to enjoy both planned and spontaneous activities. Teachers are constantly monitoring, engaging and when required, guiding the play, answering questions, building on their ideas and introducing new concepts.
The school doesn’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” learning approach. Instead, they take into account individual needs and interests. They also take lessons outdoors whenever there is an opportunity to do so. These classes take place in the school’s outdoor gardens, which are designed to facilitate fun learning in mathematical investigations, scientific exploration and interaction with living things. Parents are able to keep up with what their children get up to in school through weekly Friday parent blog posts and updates as well as parent-teacher conferences and student-led conferences.
Singapore American School
The Singapore American School takes a Reggio Emilia-inspired approach to early learning, with a focus on inquiry and project-based learning. Learning experiences are designed to encourage natural curiosity and provoke investigations that are meaningful to the children. The curriculum includes daily Chinese language classes, literacy, mathematics and units of inquiry with conceptual-based projects and motor skill development in “Move and Groove” classes. Learning isn’t confined to within classroom walls; for example, there’s a 1.6-acre rainforest for learning about nature and a high school robotics lab for exploring robots and engineering. Students also have two recess times each day where they can run and play at the playground and ride bikes.
Children can also expect experimental and exploratory learning through outings that are based on inquiry projects the class is working on. Past visits include trips to Marina Barrage and Sentosa, and seeing musicals. Besides parent-teacher meetings, parents can log onto Storypark that documents their child’s learning. They also receive weekly emails about what has been taught in class.
GESS – International School in Singapore
At GESS, the preschool programme is based on the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. The school places a big focus on the social and emotional development of children. Each class works with a preschool specialist teacher in the areas of art, music, sports, library and language (German and English), and young students go on regular field trips to support their current area of learning. Teachers design projects and learning experiences with children’s interests, questions and abilities in mind. Additionally, the school strongly believes that a play-based education is suitable for young children’s learning.
Besides learning in the classroom, students head to the digital studio and sensory room where they can explore other concepts. They also have time daily to play at the school’s outdoor preschool playground. The school communicates with parents through online platform Seesaw where they can see what their child gets up to at school; this can include photographs, videos and written work.
Dover Court International School
Children at Dover Court International School are taught a curriculum that focuses on active learning, creating and critical thinking. The programme follows the English Early Years Foundation Stage framework. There are seven main areas of learning: personal, social, emotional development (PSED), communication and language, physical development, literacy, mathematics, understanding of the world and expressive arts and design. The school’s curriculum and environment provide a balance between child-initiated learning and adult-led activities. Teachers take on the role of facilitators while children engage in independent and purposeful play and learning. Everything is adapted and personalised to meet individual needs and interests of students. This keeps the children engaged and lets them take ownership of their learning. The school also uses a range of stimulating activities and resources to engage and challenge its students. These all aim to support them to be lifelong learners.
Each school day includes dedicated time slots where students can choose to play indoors or outdoors. The outdoor environment mirrors the indoors in terms of opportunities and experiences. In addition to a daily communication book, teachers use an online observation tool to keep parents updated about their child’s progress and future objectives. A report of weekly observations are sent every two weeks.
Australian International School
Students at the Australian International School engage in inquiry-based learning experiences. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Australian Early Years Learning Framework ( EYLF) support these. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the programme features child-initiated play and hands-on learning. Teachers at AIS plan for a variety of experiences that can broaden and extend children’s learning. They also aim to make children feel safe and confident, develop self-regulation and try out new things. The Early Learning Village campus offers both indoor and outdoor exploration, with natural elements such as sticks, rocks, flowers, soil and water. The school also believes in developing physical wellbeing and the sensory-motor and cognitive systems.
Parents are updated about their child’s learning journey on Storypark, a private online sharing space, where videos, photos, learning stories and personalised observations are showcased. Not only can parents view them, but they can also add their own stories, and leave comments and feedback for children as well as teachers. Teachers also organise face-to-face meetings with parents each term.
UWC South East Asia
All young learners at UWCSEA are immersed in a programme that interweaves five elements in an age-appropriate curriculum; these include academics, activities, outdoor education, personal and social education, and service learning. In the Infant School, a child-centred and play-based approach is emphasised, encouraging children to talk, create and think about different concepts as they explore the world. Students are exposed to numerous avenues of creative expression such as drawing, dramatic play, puppetry, painting, music, ceramics, construction, digital devices and writing.
The school believes that play is integral to Early Years learning and that the physical environment plays a central role. The dedicated Infant School spaces at both campuses have flexible indoor and outdoor spaces, with furniture and resources organised to suit the needs of individual students in each classroom. All K1 classrooms have direct access to outdoor learning spaces and regular breaks offer students supervised access to indoor and outdoor play spaces. The school pays attention to all aspects of children’s development, from physical and emotional to social and intellectual. It aims to help children grow up to become happy, articulate, confident and passionate young people.
East Campus, 1 Tampines Street 73 | 6305 5344
Dover Campus, 1207 Dover Road | 6775 5344
Read more about international schools in Singapore.