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 five 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.
Australian International School
Students at the Australian International School engage in inquiry-based learning experiences supported by the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the Australian Early Years Learning Framework ( EYLF). 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
The team at UWC South East Asia believes that a child-centred and play-based approach works best for young learners. To this end, it employs a holistic concept-based curriculum. The curriculum at the Infant School is interdisciplinary, and teachers plan learning experiences based on what they observe students doing and saying. The school places a huge emphasis on creative expression, with each child given opportunities to express themselves in different ways. These include drawing, sculpture, dramatic play, shadow play, puppetry, painting, dancing, music, ceramics, construction, digital devices and writing. Beyond academics, the school also looks at other aspects of children’s development including physical, emotional and social wellbeing.
K1 classrooms give kids direct access to an outdoor classroom space. There are regular breaks for them to interact and run about at the indoor and outdoor play spaces. Each child has an online portfolio documenting their learning on Seesaw, which is shared with parents, and can also be shared with grandparents. Parents are also welcomed into the classroom, given individual reports and are able to attend regular parent-teacher conferences.
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.
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