Whether you’ve been in Singapore for a while, you’ve just arrived on the island’s shores, or you’re contemplating a move here, selecting the right school for your child is, after finding a place to live, one of the most important decisions to make. A visit to a school is generally the best way to make an instinctive decision, but hearing the opinions of others about their experiences can be invaluable. These expat families recommend kindergartens and preschools in Singapore – it might help you make your decision a little easier!
Stamford American International School
Megan Fitzgerald and Josh McCloud, American; Connor (5)
Connor started at Stamford American’s Early Learning Village (ELV) in August 2020. Our search for the right school was initially driven by online research, but it was our conversations with parents that gave us a true picture of what the school was like and ultimately guided our decision. In short, ELV has surpassed our expectations.
We love the combination of approaches to early learning – merging the IB, PYP, Reggio Emilia and STEAMInn – and the focus on child-driven learning. The inclusion of SMART steps/PMP has also proven that learning via physical play is great for our son. It was the integrated teaching approach, parent communication and engagement that’s transformed what we thought we could expect from a school. The new superintendent has done a fantastic job of creating a culture of openness, honesty, inclusion and community. His regular communication has been so helpful. Right away, you can see that the school ‘walks the talk’ and truly cares about student wellbeing. What the specialist teachers have achieved while teaching remotely is also amazing. Their skills and passion are so apparent and we can see the impact at home. They regularly share details about their strategies and how they work, be it via music, language, art or PE, to address common learning outcomes.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t share how we’ve been welcomed, despite the challenges COVID presented – from our admissions experience to daily greetings from the nurses as we arrived each day. We’re happy to have found a home at Stamford American’s ELV and encourage parents to speak with other parents to help them decide which school is right for them.
White Lodge International Preschool & Childcare
Amy and Clarke Woodward, Australian; Ella (4.5) and Summer (3)
Our girls attend White Lodge West Coast; Ella is in Pre-K while Summer is in Pre-Nursery. A fellow Australian friend who moved at a similar time had highly recommended White Lodge when we were looking for a kindergarten. We did a tour and liked the attitude and friendliness of principal Miss Guganesh and the staff. It felt like home.
We initially chose White Lodge as it has a similar structure to our children’s preschool back in Australia. It has such a warm and welcoming environment and we were impressed with how the teachers made Ella and Summer feel comfortable in their new environment. Ella has heightened anxiety, but on her first day, the gentle guidance and warmness of her teachers made her want to participate. One of our big priorities regarding their schooling is that they continuously learn to be kind, resilient and inclusive and we believe that we’ve experienced it here at White Lodge. The girls are flourishing and love going to school. They come home telling us about the cultures they learn about and talking to each other about what their teachers said in class. They’re eager to read and be read to, sing songs and practise their Mandarin.
While 2020 was obviously a challenging year, we feel that the White Lodge team took it in their stride to be as engaging as possible. The end-of-year Zoom concert was absolutely adorable and was such a highlight. Summer’s teachers also greatly assisted with her potty training, using the strategy we used at home and communicating with us. Ella’s teachers have also been a wonderful help in addressing her anxiety. We continue to be impressed by the teachers at White Lodge West Coast and how they love our girls!
Koji and Yuko Yamamoto, Japanese; Anne (5) and Ryosei (2)
We’ve been living in Singapore for over almost two years. Anne started attending Alphabet Playhouse in September 2019 while Ryosei started in January 2020. Besides a solid curriculum, the school’s playground is well-equipped, with a sandbox and water play area. It looked to us like a well-balanced school where our children could grow both physically and mentally. Another reason we chose Alphabet as a preschool is for its cultural diversity; students come from not just Singapore but all over the world as well. We felt that it’s a good environment for our children to make friends of various nationalities and learn more about their cultures.
The teachers are very kind and respond promptly and flexibly to the children’s wants and needs. Thanks to that, our children look forward to going to school every day. The teachers are cheerful and positive; overall, it’s a lively school. If there’s a problem between children, they’ll notify us immediately. We’re really grateful for that.
Our children are taught English and Chinese songs and often perform them at home. The curriculum also offers them a chance to challenge themselves through various activities – everything from soccer to baton twirling. This allows them to train their dexterity and enjoy trying new things. (Currently, all activities except the playground are on hold due to COVID-19.) Japanese students can also attend Japanese lessons, learning about seasonal events and traditional customs through songs and picture books. It’s good that they get to learn about their country; and experiencing it with their friends also makes it special and enjoyable.
Jacquie and James Young, Australian and New Zealander; Henry (4)
We’ve lived in Singapore twice; first from 2012 for 2.5 years, and again from 2016 until the present. Henry has been at the Shenton Way centre for two years. We were recommended to the preschool by other parents in the condo we stay in. For N1 and N2, Henry’s had the same teachers (Teacher Kelly and Hu Laoshi) and will still be under them in Kindergarten – K1. We love this consistency and they are wonderful teachers whom Henry adores. I (Jacquie) often hear others say that the teachers often change but we’ve not had those issues at all.
The facilities of Mulberry Learning @ Shenton Way are wonderful. There’s a fantastic indoor playground, and the classrooms, bathrooms and play areas are modern and always spotlessly clean. There are extracurricular activities almost every day such as Busy Baker, Gym Kidz, car play, sand play and water play. Henry really loves these. The Habits of Mind curriculum has also been great as it helps his communication. He now structures questions and answers questions really well!
The communication from the teachers and school is wonderful, with weekly and monthly updates including pictures and learnings, twice yearly parent teacher discussions and a chat function in an app to speak directly with teachers. We also love the multiculturalism of Mulberry Learning. This was an important consideration for us; there’s a great mix in his class of Singaporeans, Americans, Russians, Japanese and, of course, Henry as Australian. Henry could also read Mandarin before English, despite him hearing and speaking English at home, and this is absolutely to be credited to Hu Laoshi.
Arts Kidz International Preschool
Aki and Hazuki Watanabe, Japanese; Ruto (11), Gento (8) and Cara (5)
All three of our children have attended Arts Kidz; Cara is currently in the K2 programme and has been at the school for three years. We found the school through a magazine listing as a preschool offering a Japanese language programme, and we fell in love after visiting the preschool and meeting the teachers. It was important for us that the school allowed the children to bring their own lunch, didn’t have the air-conditioning on all the time and that there was good ventilation.
We can’t say enough about the amazing teaching staff. Their creativity and passion is just incredible. Each child has had a unique experience because the teachers are able to come up with new original themes and activities each year. We always look forward to seeing the children present their artwork or have a performance; it always exceeds our expectations. We also love it when our daughter dances for us, there’s a touch of humour the teachers like to sprinkle in that works so well with children. Cara is part of the Japanese programme and the teachers are remarkable at exposing children to Japanese traditions while keeping up language skills.
We feel Arts Kidz has given our children a well rounded start to their schooling, with exposure to various forms of arts and performance in addition to the fundamentals of reading, writing and mathematics. Every teacher has been so warm and caring, and their passion shines through. Outside of first-day jitters, we’ve never had any child say they don’t want to go to school. They always look forward to each day because they know the teachers are always planning something new and exciting. The children can relax, be themselves and be nurtured and encouraged.
Australian International School (AIS)
Laura and Scott Chapman, American; Ethan (4) and Silas (2)
Both Ethan and Silas have been at AIS’s Early Learning Village for more than two years. Laura’s supervisor in the US, who was an expat in Singapore, highly recommended AIS. After our tour, we knew we’d found the right place for our family.
We also highly recommend AIS, for a few reasons. Firstly, the school makes a concerted effort to partner with parents. Teachers offer regular times to meet and chat, respond to emails and encourage us to share concerns. The preschool administration frequently organises educational sessions and webinars for parents on relevant topics. School leaders are also flexible and eager to try new approaches. Secondly, the school has a warm and welcoming community. We are always greeted with open doors, smiles and a chat. The children are the centre of the universe at AIS and this brings us great joy. AIS’s facilities are also custom-built for children and each classroom has a spacious play area. Thirdly, the school provides a highly personalised environment and supports children at all stages of development. One of our children is more advanced than most of his peers while our other child was lagging a little. We were so impressed with the strategies of their teachers and how they take note of both emotional and intellectual learning. Plus, during COVID, the school did a fantastic job of communicating with parents and launching online learning. Teachers sent out weekly home activities using common household items (even toilet paper!), developed engaging online lessons and created virtual small groups to interact with each child.
For parents who are looking for a first-class schooling experience, AIS delivers. We’re grateful that we took a recommendation to see the school, and we encourage anyone interested to sign up for a tour.
Blue House Nursery & International Preschool
Fumiko and Takuya Furukawa, Japanese; Heitaro (4)
Heitaro attended the Infant & Toddler Atelier (in the same compound) for a few months and formally joined Blue House in October 2018. During our preschool tour, it had just stopped raining and we saw beaming faces and cries of joy from children playing in the muddy sandpit. The scene stirred our souls, reminding us of what childhood is all about. We also liked the school’s philosophies; for instance, they don’t have a uniform because they believe clothing is an important means of self-expression. All spaces in the school are also beautifully decorated and full of warmth, with a welcoming and peaceful atmosphere. We knew that Heitaro would have a happy childhood here.
We like that the preschool uses the Reggio Emilia approach. Daily activities are led by the interests and curiosity of the children, with the belief that they’re capable and full of potential. Educators not only teach but also observe them and stimulate their curiosity by introducing relevant materials or asking questions. The school is surrounded by greenery, with bunnies and chickens on the premises and horseriding schools and a dog training centre in the neighbourhood. Children’s daily exploration takes place in nature and with animals. They also play at the sandpit and playground every day and enjoy nature walks. Their school life is truly full of wonder, exploration and the joy of discovery. The first thing Heitaro says when we pick him up from school is ‘I had fun!’ This is despite his separation anxiety and taking some time to settle in.
During this settling-in period, the teachers were sensitive to his needs and increased his time at school gradually. It worked and I’m grateful for their support. The preschool’s students are independent and mature for their ages as they know that they’re loved, cherished and respected.
Brighton College (Singapore)
Helen, British; Jake (5) and Jessie (3)
We moved to Singapore in March 2020 and were specifically looking for a British school as I (Helen) am British and a huge fan of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. There are so many amazing preschools over here so we decided to visit them all. But only one stood out and it was Brighton College. It was a risk as it hadn’t even opened yet but it felt right and I’m so thankful we took that risk. We see how happy our children are, how much they have developed and their enthusiasm for learning.
Jake suffers from separation anxiety but, within a week, he was happily running into class; it’s amazing to see as this had never happened before. The kids both flourished at Brighton College and it’s really no surprise. The environment feels warm, safe and welcoming. We love that it’s a small school so they get more attention and everyone knows their name. The staff are kind, patient and caring, and the Head Master Mr Wilson always makes an effort to walk around and get involved, showing the level of care they have.
We feel Brighton College is hands down the best preschool to start your little ones’ learning journey. We love the flexibility of days for Nursery; Jessie goes four days a week, which is perfect for her. They keep active every day with PE and plenty of outdoor play. Every class has a fluent Mandarin teaching assistant, so they are continuously learning words and songs. The co-curricular activities are fantastic, too – Jake wants to stay behind for every one! Phonics and Mathematics are also incredible. We’re excited and happy to watch our children grow here and cannot recommend it enough.
Canadian International School
Hannan and Azeem Meruan, American; Ayra (5) and twins Faiza and Faria (3)
We’ve been living in Singapore since December 2019. Ayra enrolled in Junior Kindergarten at the CIS Lakeside campus in January 2020, while Faiza and Faria joined Pre-Kindergarten later in August. All three of them are in the ChineseEnglish Bilingual Programme. Before moving here, we knew we wanted to live in the west so we started looking at schools there. The bilingual programme really attracted us to CIS.
We registered our girls in the Chinese-English bilingual programme to take advantage of the opportunity. I (Hannan) remember being very excited and somewhat anxious about how my girls would adapt to the bilingual programme. But I had no reason to be anxious as the teachers are so fantastic! Not only did they make the girls comfortable, they also reassured me that they were in good hands. Communication with the teachers has been a breeze. They believe in joint partnership with parents, which aligns with our value system. This was a great victory for the whole family! Children at this age are very adaptive and we believe that what they’re learning now will bring great results in the future. The CIS curriculum is also specially crafted towards helping young kids realise their potential and be curious learners. Our girls have shown great progress with their language skills; they enjoy singing Chinese songs and take great pride in teaching us colours in Chinese.
We’d definitely recommend the school to other families. The growth (both intellectual and emotional) of our girls for this short time is remarkable. Thank you to all the staff for making our CIS journey a smooth one!
Dover Court International School
Rachael and Kevin Gibbens, British and South African; twins Georgia and Hugo (6)
We’ve been living in Singapore for 13 years. Our twins Georgia and Hugo started attending Dover Court International School when they were four and a half. They did one whole year of Reception and they’re now in Year 1. We only looked at two preschools in Singapore – Dover Court was the second. We mainly loved the atmosphere and the friendly nature of everyone we interacted with. We also didn’t encounter any overly pushy corporate agendas that you can come across at other schools.
We’ve had a fantastic experience at Dover Court. There are great teachers and it’s a super fun learning environment for the kids. The facilities are great and we particularly love the outdoor play and the way it incorporates learning – we believe that children learn a lot while playing. We also like that there are weekly swimming lessons, even in Reception. The teachers are excellent; they’re really enthusiastic and encouraging to the kids. We had Miss Unsworth for Georgia and Miss Mayes for Hugo. We especially loved how Miss Unsworth staged a ‘break-in’ and a fun ‘whodunnit’-style exercise where the kids ended up interviewing the teachers, including the headmaster. The activity taught them about sizing, handprints and footprints, and forensics – all at age four!
We’d definitely recommend Dover Court to other families. The school fees are well priced and it’s an excellent place for the learning and development of our kids.
Dulwich College (Singapore)
Paula and Adrian Staiti, Brazilian and American; Siena (7) and Zara (2)
We’ve been living in Singapore for 10 years and both girls started Dulwich in August 2020. Zara attends the preschool programme, while Siena started in the Junior School. There’s a nice Dulwich community in Sentosa where we live and we only heard good things about the school. Hearing from Dulwich parents about their experiences was a big part of why we chose the school, in addition to the warmth from teachers and staff, and the facilities. We could feel the ‘life’ of the school and wanted our kids to be part of it.
Zara’s had a great and smooth start to her school life (considering she’s only two, a little crying is expected!). The teachers and staff are truly loving and patient, aware about her needs and worries. They were also very patient with me (Paula) when I was nervous on her first day. Head of DUCKS Mrs Woodward personally called me and reported how Zara was doing. The Early Years’ classrooms are on the ground floor, with sliding doors that open outdoors where children can enjoy fun activities prepared by the teachers or free play. They enjoy the best of both worlds: an amazing classroom with impressive digital boards (Zara’s crazy about doodling on them) and play-based corners and the porch with water, sand, mud and rideons. Zara also has a Mandarin teacher in class, interacting and working with the children all day. Mandarin songs are Zara’s favourite as she’s a music lover.
We’d definitely recommend Dulwich. The competence and commitment of the Headmaster, Heads of School and teachers and the top-notch facilities are just the beginning. Attention to individual growth and guidance are also a priority.
ELFA Chinese Preschool
Ong Chun Kiat and Kim Jin, Singaporean and Korean; Jonte (4) and Jovan (1)
Jonte has been attending ELFA Chinese Preschool since August 2020. We heard about the school from Chun Kiat’s sister as the school is well known for its focus on the Chinese language. We did a lot of research and visits to various schools for a few months, both popular ones and others through recommendations. However, there were always some areas of concern at these preschools, and often our expectations were not met. After a few rounds of conversation with Principal Tracy at ELFA, many of our concerns were alleviated and we felt very reassured that she and her team really listen to parents’ views and concerns seriously. This is why we decided on the school.
The teachers provide a lot of feedback, both on the app and in person daily. We get to see photos of our son’s time in the school, receive potty training updates, know whether he eats by himself at lunch and even how much he naps. A highlight is the curriculum where the school focuses on Chinese language and culture from Pre-Nursery, and adds English, coding, speech and drama from Nursery. Our son had not been exposed to Chinese as much since he was young because we mainly speak English at home. He was shy to speak Chinese at first but, within a short few months, he’s now speaking and singing in the language at home by himself.
ELFA is a preschool where the principal focuses a lot on the students, and this is carried through by teachers and staff. The principal and teachers also communicate with us very regularly and our concerns and feedback are always acted upon promptly.
Three locations island-wide
GESS – International School
Joshua Kramer and Miyuki Matsuda, American and Japanese; Asa (6)
Asa is in his second year at GESS (K1) and he’s attending the IB (English) track. We first learned about the school from our neighbours; there are a lot of kids in our area who attend. When we visited, we were not only impressed with the fabulous facilities but also the curriculum and the culture of the school. German is offered as a second or third language. The preschool offers a good mix of what I (Miyuki) am familiar with being Japanese, and also for my husband as an American.
Asa really enjoys school life at GESS. The school provides a variety of activities. We were impressed by the ‘end to end project’ where students learn to work together to plan, make decisions and execute their ideas as a team. Cooking, art, sports and music conducted by specialist teachers also offer great fun for the children. Asa’s teachers provide regular updates to us parents about how he is doing and the current focus of the class. This allows us to feel involved in his education and be more supportive outside the classroom. We also like the concept of ‘play to learn’ to build teamwork skills that kids will require when they grow up.
We’re also very happy with the effort by the school to create a community for parents, which is more important now than ever given COVID precautions. We’d definitely recommend the school to other families, with its international community and high-quality and new facilities.
Global Indian International School
Sajith Kumar and Neethi Sajith, Indian; Satvikk (3.5)
Our son Satvikk has been attending the Global Montessori Programme at Global Indian International School’s SMART Campus since July 2020. The proximity to home and the preschool’s infrastructure were primary factors in sending him there, while the dedicated teachers and good academic performance were others. The school’s preparedness during the pandemic further impressed us. This included not allowing parents inside the campus, providing easy access to virtual classrooms, doing constant temperature checks, wearing masks and face shields, amongst others. The school easily and effectively transitioned to virtual teaching and learning.
The teachers provide many opportunities for children to play and have fun. Through activities such as planting seeds, outdoor play and exercise, children gain a love for nature and their surroundings. Satvikk’s teacher in-charge Ms Shilpa, who has a passion for dance, effectively integrates movement for a more engaging and meaningful classroom environment. The teachers’ love and patience also makes the children emotionally secure and helps them build self-esteem and gain confidence. Satvikk mentioned that when one of his newer classmates cried, the teacher lovingly comforted the child. The Global Montessori Programme focuses on multifaceted development among preschoolers, helping them become confident for the next stage in school, and develop a love for learning and an inquisitive mind. Apart from academics, the children are also exposed to arts and crafts, song, dance and free play. These activities promote a real love for learning and creativity. For example, the children recently went on a fun virtual zoo visit. There’s never a dull moment at the school!
We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this preschool as it’s a happy place to be at. Caring teachers, an academic curriculum and an inclusive environment are some of the outstanding factors, in addition to the infrastructure and vibrant learning environment.
International Community School
Jared and Jenni Stackman, American; twins Josephine and Hazel (7) and Holden (5)
Holden has been attending the preschool at ICS since the beginning of the school year. His sisters have been at the school since we arrived in Singapore last October. We wanted to send our kids to an American school and one that could support our girls starting kindergarten after a big move across the world, where they wouldn’t get lost or have to move to another campus for middle or secondary school. Pre-K to Grade 12 are all together here and it’s a fantastic place. The school has been our kids’ home away from home in Singapore – they love ICS.
The ICS Pre-K programme is amazing. Miss Svoboda is great, upbeat and so caring. She takes the time to get to know the children so she can help them navigate the big emotions of being four and being away from home. She keeps an open dialogue with parents so we know what struggles and milestones need to be addressed or celebrated. A word to describe the ICS community is ‘family’. The entire staff is invested in the success of each student and they welcome every child with warm hearts. The school runs on a traditional American curriculum and schedule, which was a large factor in our decision, in addition to the small neighbourhood feel. It offers a wide variety of after-school activities for all grade levels – social, educational and athletics. Holden is super excited for his after-school playground session to start next. All of our kids also love the playground, especially the swings!
We highly recommend this preschool as well as the rest of ICS to other families. The educators are top-notch and there’s an unmatched warm and welcoming environment for kids to grow and learn together.
International French School
Xueying Wang and Yohan Beal, Chinese and French; Elliott (6) and twins Michelle and Hannah (4)
We’ve been in Singapore for over three years. Our son Elliott spent three years in the preschool and is now in CP (Grade 1). Michelle & Hannah joined two years ago in the Petite Section (N2) and are now in the Moyenne Section (K1). We decided to enrol our children at the IFS because of the excellent results achieved by the students every year in their Baccalaureate exam. Based on our colleagues’ and friends’ experiences, we’ve seen that IFS students are able to join the best schools and universities.
Our biggest concern was the transition from home to school on a full-time basis. Our children have really enjoyed going to preschool and bonded with their teachers and friends. Obviously, the bilingual learning and multicultural environment of the school is very important to us but what’s most key is that they feel comfortable and happy and that they miss their teachers and friends when they’re on holiday.
We would recommend the preschool to other families because it makes the transition from preschool to school (CP) very smooth. On top of what you would normally expect from any preschool, there are numerous activities that are very important for the development of the children such as swimming, cycling and outings (Bollywood Veggies, Chinatown, Indian temples, plays and more). Some of those activities are suspended due to COVID-19 but we hope the children will resume a normal programme as soon as possible.
Heather and Jeff Doherty, American; Finnegan (5) and Aidan (3)
Both Finn and Aidan have been attending Kinderland at Pandan Valley since March 2020. Finn is in K2 and Aidan in Nursery. We searched for well-regarded kindergartens near to our home and found Kinderland by chance. We’re fortunate that the school is walking distance from our Mount Sinai neighbourhood.
What we love most about the school are the caring teachers, comprehensive curriculum and the relatively high representation of local children attending. We were settling into living in Singapore just as the pandemic hit – it was quite stressful and isolating. The Kinderland teachers and Principal (Vivian Hun) were so caring and sensitive to the fact that our boys were experiencing a major transition, on top of the looming health crisis. We also experienced a loss in our family last year and Vivian reached out to check on our family’s wellbeing. That kind of care made us so grateful to be part of the school community. The teachers also did such a wonderful job pivoting to HBL and creating a virtual community. Our boys were so delighted to celebrate their birthdays in online class with their friends!
We love the multidisciplinary curriculum; the kids have access to a computer lab, music programme, extracurriculars and daily Chinese lessons. The Chinese teachers are incredibly encouraging and supportive of their learning. We’ve also been impressed at how much the boys are learning with their maths and reading skills. Finn’s favourite activity is the ‘dramatic corner’ where the kids get to dress up as police officers and detectives, and look for clues. Our younger son loves singing and dancing, story time and playing with playdoh. We’ve been very impressed at how much our kids have learned, and how much they love their days at school.
15 locations island-wide
Stephen Clark and Jerilyn Moon, Australian and Singaporean; Emmett (8) and Ella (14 months)
Both our children have attended or are currently attending MapleBear. Emmett started at age three and went through to graduation and Ella has been there since she was four months old. We wanted a preschool that aligned with our values – one that prepares children for life and helps them build confidence. We could have picked a school closer to our home but we felt MapleBear was the best option. Seeing our children grow and blossom has been the greatest joy for us.
Emmett still talks about his MapleBear teachers and friends and how much he misses the school, doing experiments and performing on stage. He was an incredibly shy boy and we watched him come out of his shell with those stage performances – it brought tears to our eyes. Today, he’ll start performing in our living room, singing and dancing to his favourite tracks, something he never used to have the confidence to do.
Ella has been attending infant care since we went back to work. We were worried at first since she is so young but our fears were very quickly eased when we realised how much school became a part of a routine she loved. She started to sleep better and even learned how to sleep in a crib on her own early on. She’s been starting to use simple words and to walk, and we attribute it to the stimulation and opportunities to practice in a safe environment at school. Ella leaps out of our arms to her teachers each morning and when we pick her up in the evenings and her friends are still at school, she won’t want to leave. This shows us how much she enjoys her time there.
More than 40 locations island-wide
Elizaveta and John Winsell Davies, Russian and American; Barbara (6) and Winsell (3)
We’d always believed that when we had the chance, we’d want to benefit from the system of education here in Singapore. After attending a playgroup-style preschool, we decided to enrol Barbara in a new preschool for her final year that would help her get ready for the local school environment. We did a lot of research on the internet, talked to other parents and concluded that MindChamps would be the perfect choice. Since we didn’t want to separate Barbara and Winsell, Winsell also started his N1 class at MindChamps Paragon.
Ever since our children started going to MindChamps, we’ve noticed positive changes in their development. It was especially clear in Barbara; she learned to read within the first couple months in K2 and was soon able to comfortably read all words, even long and complicated ones. Her Chinese has also improved greatly; by the time she started Primary 1, she was quite confident in the language. Barbara now attends St Margaret’s Primary School and we’re not worried that she’ll fall behind other girls because of the strong foundation that was built in MindChamps. Winsell is also doing great in Chinese and his proficiency is very impressive. Our children’s favourite activity at school is cooking healthy snacks and enjoying them together with friends and teachers.
There is a friendly and family-like atmosphere at the school. From the start, we felt welcome at all events and activities. Other parents are also happy to share tips about schools and local education. In short, we highly recommend MindChamps to any parent who wants to ensure that their little ones are ready and prepared for primary school.
Alen and Karla Mischkulnig, Austrian and German; Annika Kim (4) and Fiona (1)
Alen has been working in Singapore since January 2020. Annika (Anni) started attending Mosaic Preschool in June 2020 as a Little Innovator and is now a Little Mosaic Junior. We learnt about the school through its website. We then had a chat with Mr Aizat in June, followed by another Zoom call with Mr Aizat and Ms Crystal (both principals). These conversations were so friendly and forthcoming that we decided to enrol Anni. We approved of the play-based approach and considered that this would be the right environment for Anni. We were looking for a kindergarten that would be flexible in allowing Anni to attend on the days on which Alen has to work and not to attend on off days. The fact that Mosaic Preschool offers this flexibility was one determining factor for us.
Our experience has been positive. Anni’s daily curriculum has a good balance between play and play-based learning – ideal for preschool children. Also, we’ve been very impressed with the different activities such as art – it’s been fun for us as parents to follow. We also really like the different courses in the afternoons, from cookery and acting to gym. What’s more, Anni couldn’t speak any English before she started at Mosaic and now she feels more comfortable speaking English than German – and she can even count and sing in Chinese! Anni’s personal teachers and the others involved in taking care of her and the children have been wonderful. A huge shout out to Anni’s former home room teacher Natasha, her new home room teacher Syafiqah and also her Chinese teacher Zhang Lao Shi! We’re also appreciative of the weekly newsletters that document the progress of our daughter, capped off with an end-of-year report book.
We would definitely recommend this preschool! The teachers are amazing and the principals are extremely responsive.
Nexus International School (Singapore)
Luca Innacolo and Giusy Nicosia, Italian; Thomas (7), Matthias (5) and Chloe (4)
Our youngest two children, Matthias and Chloe, have been part of the Nexus community since August 2020, where they attend Kindergarten and Nursery, respectively. Our eldest child, Thomas, started in Year 1 at Nexus’ previous campus in Ulu Pandan. We started sending our kids to preschool when they were two years old as we believe that integration at a young age is beneficial. We decided that once both Matthias and Chloe were eligible (Nursery at Nexus starts at three years old), we would send them to Nexus as we saw first-hand how Thomas blossomed in his learning. Attending a tour of the amazing new campus at Aljunied only simply confirmed our decision to enrol them!
Life really changed for our kids after they joined Nexus. We’ve never seen them so happy to go to school; sometimes even on the weekends, they’ll ask us to take them to school! Nexus’ Nursery and Kindergarten programmes have both exceeded our expectations. Matthias has had a fantastic relationship with his teacher Ms Karen since day one – she’s really able to bring out the best in him. He loves telling us about what he learns at school. Chloe is also super happy in the morning. She keeps telling us how many ‘best friends’ she’s made, her vocabulary is increasing tremendously and her confidence is amazing. She loves her teacher and always smiles when she sees her. Seeing our kids happy and well-integrated is the most important aspect for us.
Nexus has changed how our kids view school. They’re constantly exposed to various learning activities and to children from many parts of the world, which we believe will be a great advantage to them when they grow up.
Odyssey The Global Preschool
Fred and Batsheva Hersch, Canadian Australian; Isabelle (3) and Jacob (22 months)
We’ve been living in Singapore just over five years. Isabelle started at Odyssey in 2019 and Jacob started in February 2021. Isabelle started at 21 months, when we enrolled her in the school’s Chinese Immersion Programme. Neither of us speaks the language but the teachers always made sure that we understood what was happening in our child’s classroom.
The staff has also given us a level of care and understanding for each unique child that is beyond expectation – when both children started school, we received daily email updates and had long personal chats with the teachers.
Both of our children have been empowered to explore and learn in truly unconventional ways, which has enriched our experience as parents and as a family. Isabelle’s class does project work each term where they explore ideas from inception to completion. Nothing compares to seeing the excitement on her face when the project begins to come together!
We couldn’t recommend Odyssey more highly. One of the most outstanding parts of the school has been seeing how it embraces a truly diverse set of teachers and students. We’re constantly engaging with families from all over the world, and our kids feel a tremendous sense of belonging. We chose Odyssey after extensive research because of the thought and care with which the founders have combined the IB curriculum with language learning opportunities, and a creative way of allowing kids to learn freely. The school has helped us mould our children into thoughtful, dynamic and kind human beings.
One World International School
Rosanna Trigg and Rhys Spencer, British-Mexican and Welsh; Cuali (7), Nico (4) and Sol (3 months)
My husband and I have a long history in Singapore, with mine dating back to 1997 when I did middle and high school here. Our older children are part of OWIS’s early childhood programme; Cuali joined EC3 last year and Nico is now in his second year in EC2. We had been trying to find a school with a strong educational focus that was more budget-sensitive for the early years. The priority was finding a place where the kids could fall in love with learning. When we took the school tour, we were impressed by the interactive classrooms, the use of technology in learning, and the facilities for that price point.
The teachers and school staff are lovely. Our children went from a small day-care to what we call ‘big boy school’ in our house; but it has never felt like a big school. We wanted a school where the children feel like part of a community and OWIS does a fantastic job of delivering this, from individual attention students receive to regular communication and feedback for parents. The Early Years block is very warm and inviting, and communal areas between classrooms promote interaction and socialising, which the children love. Since joining EC1 last year, Nico has really found his voice and personality and has transformed into such an inquisitive and sociable child. His teacher Miss Eileen was a real inspiration for learning and exploration.
The learning environment is more than what we could hope for and, most importantly, our children love going to school every day. When choosing a school, it’s important to acknowledge how the school has supported its students during lockdowns and COVID restrictions. At OWIS, the communication, feedback and weekly insights into our children’s learning has never wavered.
Nanyang Campus: 21 Jurong West Street 81
East Coast Campus: Block G, 231 Mountbatten Road
Overseas Family School
Carolina Fica and Felipe Espinosa, Chilean; twins Valentina and Josefina (5)
Both kids have been attending OFS since August 2018; they started in Pre-K2 and are now in K2. We visited Singapore one month before moving and we just fell in love with the school! Valentina and Josefina are outgoing kids but could only speak Spanish, so we wanted a warm and welcoming school where they could learn and grow while feeling safe and supported. It was absolutely the best decision. The girls made friends quickly and after a couple of months, they were able to communicate in English fluently.
Our experience at OFS has been great – we all love the school! The principal, teachers and staff are absolutely amazing. They are caring and supportive towards the kids, helping them when they face challenges and also cheering them on when they succeed. The Mother Tongue programme is excellent; there are 14 different options and we love that our kids can continue to develop their Spanish skills (our mother tongue) while they learn English. The International Early Years Curriculum is wonderful; it’s play-based and covers all areas including personal, social and emotional development. It encourages the kids to explore and be curious, and be confident and happy as they learn. The diversity in nationalities also allows the kids to celebrate and learn about different cultures, developing an international mindset. There is a great choice of enrichment activities to explore interests and learn new skills, from sports and languages to music and science. Our daughters love the artistic gymnastic class and holidays programme.
We would definitely recommend the preschool to other families; it’s a happy and exciting place for kids to learn and develop, and for parents to participate in their children’s education and school activities.
Rain Trees International Kindergarten
Iveta and Stephen Lynch, Latvian and Irish; Scarlette (4) and Siena (4 months)
We heard about Rain Trees from a friend. From the moment we arrived there, we felt welcome and we knew it was a great school. More importantly, Scarlette wanted to be there and the teachers and Principal Rohini helped to make her feel at home. She started in January last year and is now in the Busy Bee class. Siena will also be attending the parentsand-toddler class when she’s old enough.
Both Scarlette’s and our experience of Rain Trees has been wonderful. Our daughter looks forward to going to school and we know that they’re building an exceptional foundation for her. She loves to meet her friends and her amazing teachers Ms Gail, Ms Praxie and Angie Laoshi. The curriculum at Rain Trees is varied, and includes traditional schoolwork and other activities such as baking, show and tell, outdoor play and mystery readers. Ms Gail is very approachable and willing to provide feedback on Scarlette. She communicates clearly with us parents and to the kids about how things work and what to expect as the term goes on. Angie Laoshi has also done a really amazing job teaching Mandarin – Scarlette’s pronunciation and speaking has been complimented by our Chinese friends. When her best friend was relocating, we were worried to see how she would deal with it. But Ms Gail prepared Scarlette by keeping her busy with fun activities and the other kids. Any parent would appreciate this in the unique times we live in.
The school’s programme is second to none and Scarlette’s getting a great foundation in her young life while having fun. We couldn’t be happier that she is attending Rain Trees.
Repton Schoolhouse Singapore
Marissa Yuniarti and John Gerard Ginty, Indonesian and Irish; Conor (9) and Rory (3)
We have been living in Singapore for almost 10 years now. Our second child Rory is currently attending the Nursery programme at Repton Schoolhouse – he’s been enrolled in a full-day class. When we were researching for suitable schools in Singapore, we found Repton to be the right fit for Rory’s needs. Rory is a shy boy and when we first visited the school, a teacher approached him to do some activities and he willingly followed. It was amazing to see him feel so comfortable there. So we felt that it was the right choice.
We like Repton because the atmosphere is really good and there is a warm community. The classrooms come with large spaces for the children to play in and the children have many opportunities to learn to express themselves. Rory likes playing on the tricycles and in the sand pits. His favourite lessons revolve around writing, painting, colouring and exploring new things. We speak English and some Indonesian at home and now we even hear Rory speak and sing in Mandarin! The curriculum at Repton is also quite unique as it combines British and Singaporean systems of learning – this is what we were looking for. They also let parents get involved with settling their kids into school; this flexibility has been very helpful for us. Rory really looks forward to going along every day!
We would definitely recommend Repton as a great school for children to start their lifelong journey of learning. The teachers are amazing; they’ve allowed Rory to become a brave boy who can speak in full sentences. We’ve seen a lot of improvement since he joined Repton.
321 Alexandra Road, #03-11 Alexandra Central Mall
70 Bukit Tinggi Road
Randy and Sheryl Szuppa, German and Filipino; Adrian (5) and Clara (2)
Adrian is in K2 and has been with Shaws Preschool for more than one year, while Clara started N1 recently. We were walking around the neighbourhood and chanced upon the Braddell Heights campus. It has a big lawn with a playground and as our family loves the outdoors and we want our children to have a lot of time outside, we were immediately interested to find out more. We scheduled a visit and spoke to the principal, who was very cheerful and accommodating. We were drawn to the space, daily activities, pleasant and smiling teachers, and how much the students seemed to be enjoying their time there.
The teachers are great and genuinely care about the children. They’re upbeat and engaging but also very gentle and kind. We love the big outdoor play area where they also spend their Messy Play days, which the kids love! There’s Little League sports every Thursday and Friday, where a sports coach comes and lets the kids explore different types of sports activities fit for their age. This keeps them active and helps to develop coordination skills. We love the Little Chefs (cooking) – Adrian talks a lot about it at home – and also all the special events such as Sports Day, United Nations’ Day, Chinese New Year and Christmas parties.
Our children love going to Shaws every day and they enjoy their time with teachers and friends. There’s never a boring moment, with all the activities planned day to day. There is a warm, home-like atmosphere where everyone is welcome and loved. Overall, Shaws gives our kids a sense of belonging and improves their confidence every day.
Singapore American School
Whitney and Mark Smith, American; Graham (7) and Claire (4)
Claire joined the preschool at SAS in August. Since we moved here in July during the pandemic and only days before the school year began, we weren’t able to visit schools and had to rely on online research. We were drawn to the Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum and felt a connection with seeing children as unique and capable learners. We were also encouraged by the professional support teachers receive and the low teacher turnover rates. If teachers are happy, it’s a good sign. We initially looked into preschools closer to home but decided that having both children on the same academic schedule would be best.
We’ve been very happy with our decision so far – and extremely impressed with the preschool. Our daughter is happy to go to school every day and her curiosity and love of learning is encouraged. During weekends and school breaks she asks, ‘Do I have school tomorrow? When can I go back?’ She’s learning so much about the world around her, while having the time of her life riding bikes, building fairy castles, exploring, painting and enjoying her daily Move and Groove class. There are Chinese classes every day and we’ve been amazed at how quickly she’s picking up the language through songs and games.
There are many preschools in Singapore so it can be overwhelming. We’d encourage families to tour SAS and see for themselves whether the school is right for them. Distance from home seemed like a huge deal but turned out to be a non-issue for us and definitely not a reason to miss the opportunity to attend an amazing school like SAS. It’s a very special and magical place.
Sir Manasseh Meyer International School
Chanelle and Nathaniel Farouz Crosby, American and French; Oriana (4)
We’ve been in Singapore for two years now and Oriana has been attending SMMIS since March 2019. We heard about the school from the Jewish community in Shanghai when we moved here. After visiting many schools in Singapore, SMMIS stood out from the rest. The teachers are very involved and the campus has outstanding facilities, well-lit classrooms and a covered outdoor playground for all types of weather.
At SMMIS, the staff welcomes you and your child as if you are family. The preschool has incredible teachers – they’re nurturing, fun and always pay attention to each child’s needs. They interact so well with the children through song, art, language and even dancing! They also teach the kids with so much energy and joy. The preschool follows the student-focused Reggio Emilia approach, which we love.
We highly recommend the school; our daughter is so happy at SMMIS. The administrative team and the teachers take great care of the children. They listen and respond promptly to any feedback we share with them. When many parents requested a Mandarin teacher for the preschool, they even hired one. At SMMIS, you’re not sending your child to just another international school but becoming part of a welcoming community. It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or not. Our daughter’s classmates are from different backgrounds and the children are taught under the guidance of Judaism’s universal values – justice, healing the world, charity and kindness to others. The school’s motto encompasses these ideas as ‘pursuing wisdom for a better world’.
St. Joseph’s Institution International
Britta and Matt van der Gaag, German/Dutch; Luna (8) and Kaia (4)
Kaia started Prep 1 in January this year. Luna also entered when she was four, and is now in Grade 3. SJI International is one of the few schools in Singapore that has an equal local and international student population ratio in high school and also an excellent academic curriculum with a focus on the ‘virtues framework’. We also like that the school is big enough to offer a wide range of activities, but small enough for our children to feel part of the community.
SJI International’s preschool curriculum is well-rounded and focuses on playful learning in an inclusive environment. The virtues framework forms the foundation of all interactions at the school and is really lived out by everyone. We like the enthusiasm of teachers and support staff, the friendly and constructive approach towards learning and the balanced programme on offer. These are challenging times but the school has done a great job for online learning, particularly during the Circuit Breaker. It was also important to us that our children learnt both English and Chinese from a young age (we don’t speak these at home). SJII has a great Mandarin programme, with an Englishspeaking teacher and a Chinese-speaking teaching assistant in preschool. It’s become natural for the kids to fully understand things in both languages.
Our girls’ teachers throughout the past years have been absolutely lovely, making the transition into ‘big school’ smooth, fun and easy. Both girls enjoy borrowing new books from the library every week and interacting with the lovely librarian. Kaia loves the outdoor play time, especially the pirate ship playground and earning WOW cards by displaying virtues. We’re very happy with our choice and would happily recommend the school to other families.
Tanglin Trust School
Aga and Kristin Veriga, Polish and Australian; Jasmine (13), Mia (12), Max (5) and Lily (3)
Max is in Reception 1 (Giraffes) and started Nursery (Dragonflies) in the previous academic year. His older sisters joined the school last year and his younger sister is entering Nursery in August. We’ve always been great supporters of the British and IB curriculum, so we couldn’t miss Tanglin Trust School, which appears at the top across various criteria and reports.
When we first visited the school, we fell in love with the look and feel of the preschool block. We really liked the interconnectedness between the classes, providing a smooth transition between different environments and stimulus points. We also appreciate the philosophy behind the calm colours and naturally derived furnishing. The school promotes environmentally-friendly solutions, too – for example, by replacing plastic toys with natural and ‘real’ tools, thereby bringing adult life into the lives of little kids.
Max’s favourite activity is the mud kitchen, where he enjoys ‘cooking’ with silver pots and pans and making cakes and soups from the soil, sand and water. Even though there’s always a learning target to be achieved, the children are free to choose the activity they want to engage in. Structured and ambitious learning through passionate play – that’s how we’d describe it. The school promotes independence and it was amazing to see Max’s immense development and progress. It was also great to see the level of support of the teachers. This was particularly evident during the sudden lockdown – the school quickly started remote learning, providing the necessary tools and guidance for daily studies across all topics.
With full confidence and pride, we’d definitely recommend the school to other families. The fact that we’re sending our fourth child there is evidence of our great belief in the school’s curriculum, ethos and approach.
The Little Skool-House Singapore
Marie Carime and Stephane Nézot, French; Tom (6) and twins Marc and Paul (3)
Our children joined The Little Skool-House in November 2019, as soon as we relocated to Singapore. Tom graduated in December 2020 after joining the K2 programme that year. He’s strong in English and scores well in mathematics too. Marc and Paul joined N1 in the same year. A Belgian family recommended the school for its high-quality programme and teaching methodologies. The school left a positive impression when we visited and we found the staff to be welcoming and dedicated. There’s also a good mix of local and expat families, and the school hours (7.30am to 7pm, with optional Saturday mornings) are suitable for us.
As we mainly speak French at home, we wanted a school where our boys could speak and learn both English and Mandarin. It offers a full immersion programme – English in the morning and Mandarin in the afternoon. During our first visit, we were impressed to see a non-Chinese-speaking family playing in Mandarin! In a short span of time, our boys were able to speak English fluently and now it’s their preferred language. We hear much more Mandarin at home too. We’re highly satisfied with the school’s literacy-based teaching approach and methodologies for learning through play instead of rote learning. Besides academics, the boys love the cocurricular and extracurricular activities such as sports, and English and Mandarin speech and drama. The school team is also highly dedicated and professional and shows genuine care towards the students. We’re grateful to the school for developing Tom to become an independent learner with high-achieving academics.
We would strongly recommend The Little Skool-House for its professional and caring teachers. The staff supported us as we settled down in Singapore and they are educating our children in the best way possible.
UWC South East Asia
Braydon Barcham and Jennifer Koo, Australian; Lily (10) and Sarah (7)
We moved to Singapore in 2012 after previously living in London. Lily started attending UWCSEA East in K1 in 2015 (now in Grade 4) and Sarah started in K1 in 2018 (now in Grade 1). We learned about the school mainly through word of mouth in the expat community, as well as online (plus Expat Living, of course!). The school’s reputation for service, the IB curriculum and a learning style that teaches children how to think rather than what to think are all reasons why we enrolled Lily and Sarah. We’ve noticed the girls’ genuine curiosity and awareness about the world around them. The successes of UWCSEA alumni in diverse endeavours also speaks volumes about the school.
UWCSEA is a very special school that instils a strong sense of community and offers a diverse range of after-school activities, in addition to the IB curriculum. The facilities are second to none, from the sports and music facilities to the classrooms and playgrounds. The teachers come from a diverse range of countries and are committed to the school’s mission. There’s a strong focus on personal development, too; our daughters have learnt skills like mindfulness and an appreciation of different cultures. Special mention should go to the school’s service activities, including the trips offered (pre-pandemic) as well as the amazing swim programme that both girls enjoyed.
The school ticks just about every box – amazing facilities, engaged and enthusiastic teachers, a great school community and well-rounded curriculum that doesn’t just focus on academics but also on activities, community service and developing skills like critical thinking and collaboration. We’ve seen our girls evolve and develop as a result of their UWCSEA experience, and would certainly encourage other parents to consider the school.
This article first appeared in the Preschool Mini Guide in the March 2021 edition of Expat Living Singapore. Subscribe now!
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