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Extra classes for kids in Singapore: Languages, dance, music and sports

Finding the right place for your child to learn a new skill or hobby in a fun and supportive environment can be daunting, especially in Singapore where options abound. For a bit of guidance, we asked for tips and insights from a handful of Expat Living readers.



Christine van Heerden, South African
Ariella (3)

Course enrolled in
Chengzhu Mandarin Centre’s PlayClub, which teaches basic Chinese and aspects of Chinese culture.

Reason for enrolling
I did a Google search and went to have a look at the facilities. I really liked the fact that they were conveniently located in Rochester Mall where parking is easy. The classrooms were very impressive and the whole centre seemed very organised but fun. I also liked the fact that they run many classes almost every day so you can easily attend a class that fits in with your schedule.

Achievements so far
Ariella is now singing Chinese songs, and she has learnt to count to 10 in Chinese!

Biggest challenge
It was difficult at first, since the teachers hardly speak any English so I didn’t always understand what was going on. After a few lessons I got the hang of it quickly and learnt to communicate with them in different ways.

Tips for readers
My advice would be to try to start taking your child as early as possible. The younger they are, the easier it is for them to learn a new language. Chengzhu teaches in a really fun way, so the children don’t even realise that they are learning a new language.

Chengzhu Mandarin Centre
35 Rochester Drive
#03-01 Rochester Mall
6737 5348



Shonda Leonard, American
Christopher (11), Sam (9)

Course enrolled in
Both of my sons enjoy classes at Tanglin Arts Studio. Christopher and Sam both participate in a weekly boys’ jazz/hip hop class, while Sam also takes other classes. (I’ve also taken a few of the adult conditioning classes, to try and get in shape.)

Reason for enrolling
Sam routinely danced in the house for fun, so I stopped by Tanglin to see what they might offer for boys his age. Much to my surprise, they offered a boys-only jazz and hip hop class. Initially, Sam was a bit hesitant to go to a trial class. However, his reservations disappeared within the first half-hour. He came out of class for a quick water break and exclaimed, “Mommy! We’re doing the Michael Jackson ‘monster dance’ – I have to get back inside!” It was clear he was hooked.

Achievements so far
Both of my boys are developing coordination, learning to appreciate music and enjoying the opportunity to work as part of a team as they prepare for performances. It’s also been wonderful to watch their confidence grow.

Biggest challenge
The boys really haven’t had any difficulties. Their teachers and fellow students are incredibly supportive and encouraging. Sam’s biggest “problem” when he started was that Tanglin only offered one boys’ class each week, and he wanted to dance more frequently. But the studio was happy for him to take classes with the girls, so the following term he started ballet, tap, jazz and acrobatics.

Tips for readers
Try a class! Dancing is for everyone, and Tanglin offers classes for any member of the family. The teachers are amazingly talented, patient and caring.

Tanglin Arts Studio
100 Turf Club Road
Horsecity Block M
8123 6770




Jo-Anne Chang-Mulvihill, Irish
Amber (6)

Course enrolled in
Junior on Keys at Intune Music. The course exposes Amber to the keyboard, an instrument she has shown great interest in. Amber likes popular music and the keyboard is a great way for her to learn about rhythm, beats and other aspects of music.

Reason for enrolling
I had approached a music broker and explained to her what I was looking for, a music class for Amber that would cater to her interests, age and capability. The broker then put us in touch with Intune Music.

Achievements so far
Amber has gained confidence and has been able to further her interest in popular music.

Biggest challenge
Amber was impatient and immediately wanted to be able to play pop songs on the keyboard. She did not realise that she had to first learn the basics. Her teacher was very patient, kind and understanding, and taught her to slow down and appreciate what she was learning.

Tips for readers
It’s important to ensure that there is a good fit between your child and the music school and teacher, to ensure that the lessons are enjoyable.

Intune Music
1 Selegie Road
#02-12/13 PoMo
6336 0335



Bernard & Fatima Terrill, Australian
Kira (6), Aiden (3)

Course enrolled in
Spanish for Native Speakers classes at Las Lilas. Being a native speaker myself, it was imperative for my young children to be able to continue with the Spanish foundation they had been getting at home since birth.

Reason for enrolling
On our arrival in Singapore, it was pretty much the go-to school for learning Spanish. Everyone we asked recommended Las Lilas to us.

Achievements so far
Meeting new friends is an obvious one – and not just the kids, but me too. It has been a place to socialise; we recently travelled to Spain and caught up with two families we met through Las Lilas. More importantly, it has nurtured the kids’ interest in Spanish. Kira reads and writes not only in English and Mandarin as taught at her school, but also in Spanish, thanks to Las Lilas. The other positive aspect of Las Lilas is the dedication, passion and sunny disposition of the teachers.

Biggest challenge
A constant challenge for me is to maintain my children’s interest in Spanish. Las Lilas supports this in the way it inspires children to take an interest in the culture, history and nature of the language.

Tips for readers
Start early. Spanish is a widely spoken language, so you have tons of opportunities to practise it when travelling. And whether you’re a native speaker or not, the school and its staff make it a fun experience for both children and adults.

Las Lilas School
180B Bencoolen Street
#08-01/02/05 The Bencoolen (Office Tower)
6333 3484



Siobhán Cool, Australian
Harry (8), Jack (5)

Course enrolled in
Originally, both children started in the Marsden Swim School infants’ water familiarisation class (each from age six months). I wanted them to learn water-safety skills and confidence. Now they’ve progressed to the learn-to-swim class (Jack) and the stroke class (Harry).

Reason for enrolling
I had read positive testimonials about MSS and, when Harry was old enough to start lessons at six months of age, we wanted him to learn from teachers who were accredited by AUSTSWIM, the Australian national council for swimming teachers.

Achievements so far
Learning proper stroke style, swimming endurance and fitness, confidence in the water, and a love of water-play.

Biggest challenge
The transition period (when parents are no longer required to be in the pool during the classes) was hard, as my boys would not always focus on the teachers, having too much fun duck-diving under the water! With patience and appropriate discipline, the teachers made them understand that the lesson was about learning as well as some fun at the end of class.

Tips for readers
Start training your child to be happy in water almost from birth. We used Olympic swim coach Laurie Lawrence’s technique at bath-time – cueing the baby with smiles and gentle words before tipping warm water from a cup over the baby’s face. This method can take away any distress a child may have at being in a big swimming pool when formal classes can begin at six months.

Marsden Swim School
113 Holland Road
6473 8353