Selecting the right school and education style for our children is an important decision. There’s a host of preschools and kindergartens in Singapore with countless learning opportunities, different curriculums and great facilities. But which one is best for your child? In this handy guide, 32 expat families recommend and talk about their experiences at these preschools in Singapore – to help make your decision a little easier!
White Lodge International Preschool & Childcare
Parents: Mellissa Szegedi-Saw and Bence Szegedi, Malaysian and Hungarian
Child: Maja (3)
“Our daughter Maja is currently attending White Lodge at Loewen Gardens and we absolutely love it! We enrolled her when she was 20 months old. We spoke with other parents who have kids at White Lodge and they had positive things to say. Aside from being close to our apartment and having reasonable fees, we chose the school because of the flexibility of starting off at two half days and increasing from there; also, how they allow kids to learn at their own speed, explore and have fun. We signed up for a trial class and we were sold – it just felt right.
Our first experience upon visiting the school was a sense of calm and warmth. The teachers were patient, caring and attentive. The classrooms were bright, neat, clean and, most importantly, the children were happy and calm. Our daughter loves all the activities, including guitar-playing Uncle Mo who comes each week. We also especially love the class presentation each term where we get to experience what the children get up to at school. The teachers are always sharing little snippets of Maja’s day and were very accommodating when we got into potty-training mode! The highlight of our day is at pick-up when Maja comes out with a big smile and tells us what she painted, read or sang in school. The Storypark App that shares pictures, messages and posts on school activities is also great.
Maja loves going to school and that’s what’s important. We have absolute peace of mind knowing she’s in good hands, and we’re very happy with how the teachers nurture the children to be independent, caring, confident and curious.”
Stamford American International School
Parents: Jeanette and Todd Andersen, American
Children: Holland (6), Andi (4), Jackson (2) and Beckham (3 months)
“Andi is currently in Pre-K at Stamford’s Early Learning Village (ELV). This is her first year. Our oldest Holland was there last year in KG1 (preschool age in the US) and is now in KG2. We toured the SAIS campus and were so blown away that we didn’t even bother looking anywhere else. Aside from all that Stamford has to offer, we love how much time is spent learning about other countries and cultures and how it is incorporated into the curriculum. Cultural differences are definitely celebrated in a very positive light at SAIS.
We’re in the middle of our second year at the ELV and couldn’t be happier. The campus and amenities are top tier. We love the layout of the classrooms and how they’re designed to integrate playing with learning. Each class has an indoor and outdoor space, which allows for lots of different sensory learning opportunities. There are also several outstanding playgrounds that have water play, musical activities, imaginative skills and old-fashioned play with bikes, sand and slides. Our girls are learning Mandarin and we’ve been so impressed with how much they’ve learnt in such a short amount of time. We are also grateful for how they’re able to work with so many dedicated and specialised educators, including Suzuki violin, art and music CCAs (our oldest is learning piano once a week).
The teachers go above and beyond to communicate with parents. We also appreciate how we can work with them when our children have challenges as well as how they cheer our children on when they succeed. We’re impressed with the quality of teachers and what our children are learning at such a young age.”
Parents: Dorota and Jean-Mark Couleru, Polish and Swiss
Child: Emilka (7.5), Ruben (5) and Leon (2)
“Emilka was the first to go to Little Skool-House in 2016. She has since graduated and is now in Primary 2 at a local primary school. Our other children are currently attending – Ruben in K1 and Leon in N1. Both started from the toddler level. We heard about the school through word of mouth, and the Principal Ms Gauri Savadi and teachers are the ones that kept us there. The teachers are very supportive and caring, and our kids adore them.
We speak Polish and French at home; at school, the kids speak English and Mandarin as part of the school’s bilingual programme. We like that the Little Skool-House offers a great bilingual programme so that our kids can become fluent and converse in both languages. In fact, a recent study by NTU mentions that 93% of children who graduate from Little Skool-House are proficient in both English and Mandarin. The school’s literacy-based curriculum also has a focus on reading in both English and Chinese. The children have a good choice of enrichment activities that they can sign-up for after school, too, making it easy for parents to have everything under one roof. There is a variety of activities on offer, from creative workshops to sport and regular outdoor play. We also wanted our kids immersed in local life, culture and environment. The Little Skool-House has a good balance of expat and Singaporean children, offering the opportunity for our kids to maintain long-term relationships with their local peers.
Without a doubt, Little Skool-House has and is preparing our kids well for the demands and vigour of local primary schools. Our oldest is doing well in Primary 2. When she started Primary 1, she was well prepared, without any stress in terms of social behaviour, reading, writing, maths and, of course, Mandarin. When she visits her old preschool to pick up her brothers, she would still hug and chat with her old teachers!”
Parents: Justyna Fleszar-Ananta and Fajarsah Ananta, Polish and Indonesian
Child: Kai (5)
“Kai has been attending the K1 group at Mulberry Learning since the end of 2018. The school was recommended to us by a friend whose child was already attending. After we paid a visit and learnt about the school’s vision, missions and curriculums, we felt safe and confident to entrust Kai to them. The location we choose is also very convenient as we’re working around that area.
Mulberry Learning emphasises the importance of parent-teacher continuous collaboration. Teachers are honest, very open, committed, consistent and willing to double their efforts by making a tailored plan to ensure that Kai develops in both academic and soft skills. Zhang Laoshi and Teacher Starla are taking care of Kai now, and he loves them very much. Mulberry Learning’s Habits of Mind and Project Inquiry programmes are beneficial, teaching respect, awareness and compassion towards others and the environment. We can see Kai’s openness and resilience towards challenges; he’s always looking for a logical solution based on what he has learned from us, his school, his friends and from books. The school also teaches children to be flexible and adaptive, to face challenges and obstacles that might come in the future.
Apart from that, Kai enjoys almost all activities and programmes at school, including art and baking programmes, water play and gym kids. He’s also looking forward to another school trip with his friends once the pandemic is over. On top of that, he really loves to learn English and Chinese. He often sings English or Polish songs in Chinese and it always brings laughter and happiness at home. We’d recommend the school because of the special tailored curriculum, the focus on preparing children to be ‘future ready’, the parent-teacher collaboration and the transparency to help children develop and improve.”
Parents: Shreya Kapdi and Vimal Venkatram, Indian
Child: Antara (3.5)
We’ve been living in Singapore for six years and Antara has been at Alphabet Playhouse @ Somerset since March 2019. The school is walking distance to where we live. We enjoy the outdoor space and the fact that the school isn’t air-conditioned as a matter of practice but only when necessary. The music programme and the close attention paid by the teachers also keep us happy.
We’ve enjoyed being parents of an Alphabet Playhouse child. Antara loves going to school and misses her teachers when she’s home during the weekend or when she’s unwell. We love the campus for its natural environment, and the play equipment and sand pit; Antara particularly loves relay sports and water play. Her toddler class teachers Ms Sarah and Ms Chris provided an exceptional introduction to the school environment when she joined at age 20 months. Now, in her pre-nursery class, she’s taught by Ms Cat, who is extremely encouraging and helps her develop confidence and independence while ensuring resolution of any fears and shortfalls. The school has also honed Antara’s social and speech skills significantly.
We also love the way Alphabet Playhouse celebrates festivals and how closely they monitor all aspects of behaviour. Antara loves the cajon, which the school uses as a key in helping teach music and Chinese. We’d recommend the preschool for its strong focus on personal development and outdoor activities.
Arts Kidz International Preschool
Parents: Dustin and Iris Ramos, American
Children: Matilda (2), Makenzie (7 months)
“We’ve lived in Singapore for five years. Matilda began attending Arts Kidz at Raeburn Park at 18 months and Makenzie will attend as soon as she turns 18 months too. We heard about the school from close friends who also send their children there. We looked into and visited a few other schools with playbased curriculums, but there was something special about the Arts Kidz experience.
We’ve had a terrific experience so far. The teachers are amazing. Miss Judith along with her co-teachers are so nurturing. Especially at a young age of 18 months, we were worried about whether Matilda would be able to eat lunch on her own. We felt assured that she was in the best care. The curriculum gets Matilda excited and she comes home singing songs and saying phrases in Mandarin (that we later have to translate since neither of us speaks Mandarin!). The end-of-term programme showcases how much effort and pride goes into what the students have achieved. Above all, we can’t say enough about how phenomenal the teachers at Arts Kidz are. The school has created such a wonderful environment of learning through play where Matilda feels safe and loved by her teachers. The curriculum includes violin, language, water play and outdoor play. They even do yoga! The after-school programmes available to the students are fantastic as well. Matilda participates in both ballet and speech and drama.
With a focus on learning through play, we felt that Arts Kidz was the teaching environment that we’d want our children to start out with. If it’s something that parents are considering or even just curious about, we encourage them to schedule a tour or attend an open house.”
10 Raeburn Park, Block C #02-33
Australian International School
Parents: Cheri and Tobi Manners, Australian and New Zealander
Children: Finn (5) and Harvey (3)
“Harvey is currently attending preschool at AIS and has been since last year. Finn attended preschool last year before moving up to Prep. Upon learning of our pending relocation to Singapore, I (Cheri) started to do some research on international schools. I googled a lot, watched international school videos and then toured a few schools. AIS stood out, firstly because it felt like ‘home’ and felt right. Also, when we were touring the school, my husband and I had an ‘Oh my!’ moment. The facilities were astounding.
Once we enrolled the boys and they started attending the school, the ‘wow’ moments kept coming. The teachers also made them both feel welcomed and comfortable, which helped to ease my mind. We receive weekly updates on what the children have been up to in class, along with photos and videos. Sometimes, there’s an update about the whole class; at other times, it’s a personalised message about your child. The attention they give our boys is really appreciated. The kids are exposed to a wonderful curriculum that stimulates their learning and they’re also encouraged to have free play and express themselves. I think that balance is important.
I would definitely recommend the preschool to other families. The kids are given so many opportunities to do amazing things in their classes. Harvey has come home and told me all about baking, swimming lessons and PE classes with such pride. He can even sing a song in Chinese, courtesy of his weekly language class, which I think is incredible.”
Blue House International Preschool
Parents: Eugene and Eileen Toh, Singaporean
Children: Edison (4), Elon (2) and Elias (3 months)
“Edison has been attending Blue House since he was one and a half. He also attended the playgroup for six months from age one. Elon has been attending since the end of last year and we’ll also be sending Elias there when he turns one and a half. We did some research on preschools and Blue House came up strongly on our list because of its play-based approach towards learning, and the outdoor environment. We registered Edison immediately after visiting the school because we knew this would be a perfect fit for him.
Blue House adopts the Reggio Emilio approach, which aligns with our philosophy in early childhood education. Children are the centre of focus, so the lessons are planned according to their interests. The school has a very nice outdoor environment and I love seeing my children doing water play and sand play. Blue House children typically start their day with close to an hour of outdoor play before moving indoors. The teachers are warm, genuine and caring, and responsive towards parents. They never fail to clear our doubts, especially when we want to find out how our kids are doing in class. Edison initially didn’t like sand, but the teachers were able to help him overcome that and sent us lovely videos and photos to show his achievement.
Blue House also places an emphasis on the community. Edison loves Uncle Raj who ushers the cars in the morning. We’ve also created new and close friendships with some of the parents.”
Brighton College (Singapore)
Parents: Helen and Bryan, British and New Zealander
Child: 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 schools over here so we decided to visit them all. But only one stood out and it was Brighton College (Singapore). It was a risk as it hadn’t even opened yet but it felt right and I’m so thankful we took the 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.
Brighton College is hands down the best school 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 everyday 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.”
1 Chuan Lane
6505 9790 | brightoncollege.edu.sg
Canadian International School
Parent: Alexandra Hot, French
Children: Edouard (7) and Maxence (4)
“Maxence started preschool at CIS in September 2019 in Junior Kindergarten. During our relocation to Singapore, we wanted to take the opportunity to learn different languages. We decided to enrol our kids in CIS not only for the programme it offered but because it allows children to learn, play, discover, share and nurture their curiosity. The school has fully met our expectations and in just a couple of months we can already see amazing progress in our children’s maturity and independence.
Our first positive experience was in the first week. We knew that we’d found the right school just by hearing the comments of our kids: ‘Mum, I love my new school!’ We like the philosophy of the programme and the play-based experience. We’re convinced that the programme is the best way to let children learn languages. They have Chinese classes daily and in preschool get to learn Chinese songs and games. Maxence has also developed a strong affinity with the Chinese language. Both boys enjoy playing with their friends and have been able to learn quickly.
We’ll definitely recommend the preschool to other families. It’s a place that helps to develop many skills and builds a strong foundation for education. We can see a high level of care from the teachers and a close community among the parents, who organise celebrations and birthdays across the year. It’s great that we get to participate in the life of the school.”
• Tanjong Katong Campus, 371 Tanjong Katong Road
• Lakeside Campus, 7 Jurong West Street 41
Dulwich College (Singapore)
Parents: Greg Roberts and Liudmila Mironova, Australian and Russian
Children: Nikita (10) and Daniel (5)
“Daniel attended the Nursery class at Dulwich College (Singapore) from January to June last year and is now in Reception. Daniel’s older brother Nikita has been attending the school since its opening, starting in Reception; he’s now in Year 5. A friend who had attended one of the College’s information seminars held by Headmaster Nick Magnus (and enrolled her two children) recommended us to check out the school. We went to an information session and were impressed by Nick’s passion and past commitment to the Dulwich schools in the region, and the school’s plans in Singapore. After some discussion with Nick, we enrolled Nikita. We were planning on Daniel starting DCSG in Reception too, but as he became more familiar with the school whenever he accompanied Nikita during drop-offs, pickups and school events, he became eager to join his brother. So, we started Daniel six months earlier than we’d planned.
During the pre-enrolment period, we were impressed by the school’s professional approach to understanding his capabilities and personality and recommending a suitable class. After some discussion, we agreed to start in Nursery. It helped Daniel to gain confidence and settle into his new surroundings. His teachers were also extremely supportive during the transition period.
Having Mandarin language and culture as part of the daily curriculum allows Daniel to develop his language skills and cultural awareness, while sporting activities in the pool and gym ensure that the children develop physically. The children are also involved in theatre performances, cultural celebrations and other school events that offer exposure to a broad and stimulating range of interests and activities. Also noteworthy are the outings, including visits to HDBs, hawker centres and theatre experiences. There’s also a good preschool library, a broad range of lunches and a reliable bus service. DCSG has a great supportive PTA in the form of Friends of Dulwich, which facilitates social events and support groups for parents and families. There are coffee mornings, class activities and playdates that help to reinforce relationships between parents and children. Nick Magnus, other Heads of Schools and teachers are also always available to meet informally. I often speak with Nick in the playground after school.”
Parents: Kristoph Baum and Pattareeya Chalakornkul, German and Thai
Child: Mika (2.5)
“Mika is our only child and he’s been attending the preschool since he was two months old. Initially, Pattareeya did a ton of research about various schools. In the end, though, we followed a friend’s recommendation. Having a recommendation from someone who has their kids already in the school is the best option – and luckily the location was perfect for us as well.
Our experience has been positive since day one. We were very nervous on Mika’s first few days as he was still so young. But the teachers did a really good job giving us regular updates on how he’s doing. Knowing we were new to parenthood, the infant teachers also shared best practices and gave us honest feedback when they observed something we could improve on. This immediately built up our trust in the teachers and the school. We felt and still feel that this is a great place for Mika to play and learn with his peers, which is especially important for us as he’s the only child. The school provides a wide range of activities for the kids. A recent example is the English drama class; we’ve seen his verbal communication and expressions improve significantly.
We would recommend the school as we trust them to take care of our child and also because Mika enjoys going there. When choosing a preschool, you can do endless research but you won’t know for sure whether you picked the right school until after you’ve done it! In our case, we were in the lucky situation that one of the schools on our shortlist was recommended by a friend who already trusted them with her own children. For us, this was the decisive factor.”
Three locations islandwide
GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
Parents: Meet and Jyotdeep Bhatia, Indian
Children: Dhyanaa (5) and Kianveer (3)
“Dhyanaa joined GEMS (Singapore) in 2018 and Kianveer has been attending the Little GEMS Nursery programme for one year. We came across many IB schools when we did a search online. When this one popped up, we immediately knew that we had to visit it, as Jyotdeep had studied at a GEMS school for five years while in Dubai.
Once we visited, we immediately fell in love with it. The one thing that drew us most to the school was the diversity of the students, which is an amazing representation of the culture of Singapore too. The school provides a great opportunity to interact with different people and to be more sensitive towards them.
Both children are thoroughly enjoying school. For us as parents, it’s important and satisfying to see the children come home happy, full of energy and with things to share at this age. They don’t want to miss a single day of school and this says a lot about the teachers and the school. The IB curriculum really helps them think outside the box. They’re able to pick up topics and units and implement them in their lives. I’m also seeing the children’s personalities shaping up in a very positive way and I can’t thank their teachers enough for that.
Another thing that I really like about the school is their language and culture week. The teachers and their teaching partners are very warm and friendly. The class sizes are small so the children get a lot of personal attention and the school takes parent feedback sportingly. The school also has amazing facilities, including a learners’ pool for little ones.”
Parents: Tony Estrella and Melissa Chan, Mexican/American and Malaysian
Child: Cataleya (5)
“Cataleya has been attending GESS since January 2019. We first learned about the school after visiting an international fair. After speaking to the admissions staff and subsequently visiting the campus, we were very impressed with the people, facilities and tuition costs compared to other options in Singapore. Our decision to enrol Cataleya became obvious after she participated in a trial class in German. She loved the experience. She acquired the new language within a year – she understands her teachers’ instructions and can respond in full sentences. Our desire for Cataleya’s early development is to expose her to people, activities and experiences that will allow her to become curious, kind and confident. And the GESS environment supports this.
We feel fortunate for having the teachers at GESS, Cataleya’s wonderful classmates and the thoughtful parent community. Everyone is supportive and caring. Perhaps the best example is when the kids are rock climbing in the gym. It’s a cute and touching sight to see all the kids physically supporting and verbally encouraging everyone to learn how to climb higher and higher! The preschool area has amazing structures, rope courses, swings, a sand-pit and football pitch. We’ve observed that the kids are trusted to freely explore the space without grown-ups. We feel that the kids are actually safer and become spatially aware as a result of being empowered and trusted to use their senses to navigate the space.
Overall, Cataleya’s time at GESS has been incredibly positive. Not only is she demonstrating the traits we hope to see, we also witness a wonderful level of independence and accountability highlighted by her frequent use of “I can do it myself” across many situations. GESS also has an enabling and supporting environment that encourages kids to explore their own interests, something that we passionately believe in too. We’re excited to see how she continues to develop with the school’s support, regardless of what path she chooses as she grows older.”
House on the Hill
Parents: Paola Barcacel and Jens Toepfer, Dominican and German
Children: Oliver (6) and Max (4)
“Max has been attending House on the Hill for over two years while Oliver attended for almost four years. After researching and visiting various schools, we chose the preschool for a number of reasons: location, curriculum (following the Montessori approach), experienced and caring staff, cleanliness and the importance they place on nutrition (balanced meals are prepared fresh daily).
The team at House on the Hill have been nothing but outstanding, providing a high level of care for our sons. It’s also a small school that helps kids feel welcome quickly. Our eldest Oliver was immediately drawn to his teachers. To this day, he remembers them fondly. He had a lot of fun every day and learnt so much during his time there. It was great to see his love of books blossom once he started to read and write, and the mathematics skills he learnt helped him tremendously when he started Primary 1 at the international school he’s attending now.
Max still attends the preschool and has had some of the same teachers. He enjoys his time at school, and is desperate to catch up with his brother in the reading department! His Mandarin teachers are also always praising him for his involvement in their lessons, which are fun and interactive.
The school also offers optional classes, such as English speech and drama, extra Mandarin, sports, science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) for preschoolers and even optional languages such as Japanese. We enjoy taking part in activities, mainly reading sessions where parents are invited to read books, in their native language if they wish.”
Three locations islandwide
International Community School
Parents: Valerie Terekhova and Kos Terekhov, Ukrainian
Children: Diana (9), Ros (5) and Taras (2)
“We’ve been living in Singapore for six years. Diana’s classmate parents from childcare told us about ICS, so we signed up for a school visit and we liked what we saw. Diana joined the school four years ago and Ros started last year from K4. We like the teachers and all of the staff. The school is relatively small and everyone knows everyone. We also like the way that the teachers teach our kids. The children have enough time to be outdoors and take part in sports activities. They also have PE every other day, which we like. We also love that the school is a Christian one and they also maintain good discipline among the children.
In fact, we like everything about preschool at ICS. We can see how passionate the teachers are. Our son Ros started attending school with very little knowledge of reading and mathematics, and now he’s able to read independently and solve simple maths problems. For us, it’s also important that all of the teachers are native English speakers so that our kids learn English well. The kids also get to go outdoors during recess time and it’s great that the K4 kids still get time to nap at school so they can recharge their batteries during the day. ”
International French School (Singapore) (IFS)
Parents: Erica Marcellan and Lorenzo Zanirato, Italian
Children: Indigo (6) and Gregorio (7 months)
“Indigo has been attending IFS since January 2018, when she entered Kindergarten. She’s currently following the bilingual FrenchEnglish stream in Primary 1. Being at the school has been great so far. Indigo started without knowing a single word of French as she came from a local childcare centre. We had a very smooth transition.
We were looking around for a school that’s more aligned to what we grew up with back in Italy, while making the most of being in a foreign environment. We weren’t keen on the British system or an Italian school as we weren’t expecting to go back to Italy any time soon. We wanted to take full advantage of living in a multicultural environment. We had the chance to go to one of the school’s open houses in October 2017 and were impressed by the facilities, campus, curriculum, teachers, principal and IFS’s huge network with other schools worldwide. So, we decided to enrol Indigo and we haven’t looked back. We also appreciate that the school is not-for-profit and that the fees are quite competitive.
We like the events organised by the school, particularly the Fête de l’école (school fair) and the Walkathon. The school is also opening up to other nationalities, which is good in our opinion. We constantly meet parents from all around the world. The foreign language offerings are also growing; Italian, for example, was recently introduced as an extracurricular activity.”
Maple Bear Singapore
Parents: Alexandra and Dominik, German
Children: Victoria (4) and Maximilian (4 months)
“We’ve been living in Singapore for nearly four years, and Victoria has been attending Maple Bear Bukit Timah (Horsecity) for over three years, since the age of ten months. When we first came to Singapore, we were looking for a place where she would be motivated to both learn and be creative. The preschool is close to our home and we were really grateful that Victoria could start soon. The principal, teachers and the entire staff are very friendly, keeping us well informed and responding to inquiries quickly. The Founder of Maple Bear Singapore, Ms Patricia Koh, visits the preschool regularly, speaking to parents and staff.
Victoria has always enjoyed going to Maple Bear as all the teachers are very supportive, particularly in teaching both English and Mandarin. The school has helped her master the two languages! With German as our home language, she’s now proficient in three languages.
What we value most is that Victoria is in an inspiring environment where she is motivated to learn without pressure. For example, she sometimes just grabs a piece of paper to write letters and asks us how to spell different words. Same goes for her picking a math book to learn about numbers; we often have fun counting and looking at numbers when we are out shopping.
She also loves other programmes such as music lessons, outdoor play and pony riding. We believe the curriculum is very balanced. The outdoor environment is enriching – Victoria loves rain, walking in the puddles, watching butterflies and smelling flowers. Once a term, the class gets to go on a school excursion to places to experience different cultures, food and people. Various festivals like Chinese New Year and Deepavali are celebrated in school, too, helping her to learn about different cultures.”
More than 40 locations islandwide
Marlborough College Malaysia
Parents: Susan Hii and Darren Tan, Malaysian and Singaporean
Child: Isabella (4)
“We moved back to Malaysia in June last year having lived in Australia for 15 years. Isabella has been attending Nursery at Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) since September last year. I (Susan) got to know the school through word-of-mouth, and social media and research online. We want the best for our daughter and for her to blossom into a fine young lady. We hope that she’ll be able to learn through play rather than just a focus on academics.
Our experience has been extremely delightful and impressive from the start, from the open house and meetup with the Headmaster to enrolment and assessment. The Admission team were very helpful and prompt with our queries while we were still in Australia. The whole process of transitioning into the school was seamless and trouble-free. What further impresses us is the dynamic of the teachers, including Isabella’s form teacher Mrs Lennard and her team. They genuinely care for the wellbeing of the little ones and you can have the assurance that your child is well looked after. This is coupled by the wide selection of curriculum options (phonics, literacy, numeracy, design and construction, science and arts) as well as physical activities (ballet, garden play and PE lessons). Not forgetting the nutritious meals carefully prepared by the kitchen team.
The school ticked all the boxes for us. You can rest assured that your child is in a nurturing and safe environment. We as parents couldn’t be happier knowing that this is the best decision we’ve made for our child. Seeing is believing, so come to the open house, go on a school tour and, most importantly, see all the happy faces of the children.”
Jalan Marlborough, 79200 Iskandar Puteri, Johor
Parents: Cindy Bernadette and Anthony Hernandez, Italian/Chinese and Spanish/French
Child: Liam (2)
“We’ve been living in Singapore since 2012. Liam joined MindChamps PG class in March 2019, and he’s now in Nursery 1. I (Cindy) took my time to search and decide which preschool would be suitable for Liam when he was just 18 months. I found out about MindChamps, learnt about their history and what they focus on. I also read testimonials from other parents on social media. From there, I decided that it would be the right place for Liam, and I do not regret the decision.
First of all, I had a good feeling when I first came to the school. The curriculum they use is suitable for Liam’s age and I love how they apply the S.M.I.L.E.S. approach, which stands for sensory, motor, intellectual, linguistic, and emotional and social. It’s not easy to keep children of this age excited! There’s a good combination of fun activities and learning, including songs, gym, dance, Chinese language, storytelling as well as the teaching of patience, calmness, how to socialise, sharing between friends and being disciplined in class. Bringing them together, it’s perfect for Liam. There are also excursions to parks, markets, aquariums and other places, which I think are good for children’s outdoor exploration and added fun.
The teachers are very caring but also firm. They take their time at the end of each day to briefly share with us how our child’s behaviour has been. I appreciate it very much. There are many good teachers – I appreciate Liam’s teacher Miss Eunice Chan, plus Wu Lao Shi, Fan Lao Shi, He Lao Shi and others who’ve been involved in Liam’s education.”
Parents: Maria Pak and Dmitry Demeshkin, Russian
Child: Makar (7)
“We’ve been living in Singapore since May 2017 and our son Makar has attended Mosaic Kindergarten since June of that year. He’s now in Primary 1 at a local school. We found the kindergarten by accident when we moved to the condo next to King Albert MRT. It was a convenient location for us. When we moved to Singapore, Makar had no knowledge of English or Chinese language. He was reluctant to go to kindergarten since he’s never been to one due to our extensive travels. The teachers at Mosaic found out that he liked one specific quest game so they printed out the characters from the game and introduced him to the new languages through familiar heroes. The patience and empathy of the teachers was amazing. It took around only three months for Makar to start speaking the languages.
We really like that the kids have various play zones in the kindergarten. The curriculum at Mosaic is also very engaging. We were surprised by the experiments, fun facts and artistic experiences that the kids get up to every day. The school takes an individual approach for each child and the teaching methods are modern and fun. As Makar started Primary 1 this year, we can see how comfortable he feels there with his set of skills from Mosaic Kindergarten. He recognises the tonal differences in Chinese, reads and understands pinyin, and can engage in a simple conversation in Chinese. Team Mosaic is still a part of our life. We keep in touch with the teachers and our son speaks of his kindergarten years very fondly.”
Nexus International School
Parents: Taichi and Hiromi Kurmochi, Japanese
Children: Kai (10), Fuka (8), Seika (3)
“Seika has been attending Nexus since April 2019. We knew the preschool as our older children, Kai and Fuka, attend the primary school. Our whole family loves the excellent education system and atmosphere of Nexus! All the teachers are very kind and supportive. Seika wasn’t able to speak English when she first joined, but she has significantly improved due to the excellent support from her teachers. The preschool encourages learners to show their creativity and interests through drawing, painting, music, sports, clay and paper crafts. One of the activities that Seika loves is painting, which she can do anytime at school.
The teachers’ first priority is the students. They create various activities based on the children’s interests and ideas, and encourage them to make their own choices and learn proactively. The school is also an excellent place for Seika to play with children from different countries and learn about other cultures. It was also very fun for us to attend the Sneak Peak of the new school last November for parents and the Christmas party where the children sang a song using handmade musical instruments. We also made Christmas cards, decorated cookies and made Christmas decorations together.
The best thing is that Seika enjoys school life and loves all her teachers and friends. She tells us stories about her experiences at school, showing that she really enjoys Nexus!”
One World International School
Parents: Jenna Hoffman and Alan Wood, Scottish
Children: Jake (10), Dex (6) and Harper (4)
“Alan has worked here on and off for 14 years and our family made the permanent move six years ago. All our children currently attend OWIS: Jake is in Grade 5, Dex in Early Childhood 3 and Harper Early Childhood 2. This is our second international school for the children – they’ve been going to OWIS since August 2019. After communicating with the staff and touring the campus a couple of times, we felt it was the right place for our family.
Alongside an impressive curriculum, there were many things that stood out at OWIS. The school’s focus on kindness and open mindedness is evident from the minute you enter the grounds. From the staff to students and parents, there’s a community spirit and a close-knit atmosphere. We also feel that the communication between the teachers and the parents is second to none, and I truly believe that each of my children is treated as an individual, with their needs being considered and identified. The children quickly bonded with their teachers and teaching assistants and it’s evident that they feel comfortable and safe in the OWIS environment.
Besides academics, there’s also a focus on global issues and concerns. This is important for the children – it gives them a well-balanced and well-rounded learning experience. The best advocates are the children. Hearing happiness and excitement in their voices after each school day has provided great comfort and a reassurance that the move to OWIS was the right one. For all of these reasons, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.”
• 21 Jurong West Street 81
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Overseas Family School
Parents: Avaly Chan and Peter Lam, Portuguese
Children: Nicolas (17), Peony (16), Chinny (5) and Hayley (3)
“Our children are all attending Overseas Family School. The experience at school feels like a family. The school campus itself is large, giving the children more space to have fun. There are lots of facilities, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool, gym, music rooms, black box theatre, basketball courts and football fields. The teachers are friendly and caring towards the students, always trying to understand how they feel, helping them achieve their goals, and offering them a happy and positive learning experience. Plus, the children are in good hands as the nurses at the school’s Health Centre are very supportive.
My younger children in kindergarten constantly interact with teachers and classmates. They enjoy the many activities like field trips and baking classes. The kindergarten curriculum also really supports their development, allowing them to become confident and happy children as they learn. My highlight as a parent is being able to be a part of the community; I’m able to join field trips, help in events and meet other parents during coffee mornings held by the school’s Parent Association. Also, OFS has kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school all in one campus. So if you have children across different ages, you won’t have to worry about separating them as they graduate and move on. I definitely recommend the school; it’s extremely student-oriented and always keeps students’ health and happiness in mind.”
Rain Trees International Kindergarten
Parents: Jo and Stefan Friedhoff, British
Children: Magnus (5) and Rosa (2)
“Both Magnus and Rosa joined Rain Trees when we returned to Singapore in April last year. Rosa is currently in the Fireflies Class with Ms Alba, attending five mornings a week and staying for the optional lunch sessions twice a week. Magnus, who just finished the Busy Bees Class with Ms Gail, has moved on to an international school. The school has been a brilliant start to their school life.
Many of our friends gave the school rave reviews. I (Jo) made a quick recce visit to Singapore before we moved, to tour preschools and international schools. Rain Trees felt the most aligned to the preschool Magnus was attending in the UK. What stood out was the homely feel and nurturing environment, with small classes where children are given lots of individual attention. This was a priority for us given our children’s ages.
Rain Trees offers a balance of play-based and academic activities, following the best parts of the British Curriculum. And it’s also a very creative preschool – our home is overflowing with arts and crafts that Magnus and Rosa have brought home and the classrooms are filled with their creations.
The highlight of the week for Rosa is Splash Time where she and her friends play in the paddling pools, slides, hoses and water toys in the garden. The standard of teaching is amazing. It has been magical watching Magnus start to read and write thanks to Ms Gail’s fantastic teaching. Now Magnus reads us his bedtime story! The communication between teachers and parents is also excellent. There is flexibility on days, lunch sessions and afternoon sessions and they even offer additional Mandarin and Spanish. There’s also a bus service and informal parent and toddler groups.”
Repton Schoolhouse Singapore
Parents: Simone and Tom Brend, British
Children: Olivia (3) and William (1.5)
“We learnt about Repton Schoolhouse Singapore from a friend and enrolled Olivia last October, and will be sending William there in April. What stands out for us is the focus that the school places on each child. We were initially concerned about Olivia settling into a new school. Teachers took note and Olivia was able to visit Repton multiple times before starting, making settling in a breeze. On her first day, she hugged and waved goodbye to Tom and ran straight into her classroom without turning back – she still does it to this day! It’s a real testament of how her teachers make her feel so comfortable. The school has become Olivia’s second home and she regularly asks during the weekend about when she can go back.
We love how the school incorporates plenty of outdoor activities, making the most of its green setting. Also, the teachers at Repton encourage the children to express themselves and set their own pace for learning. There is more flexibility and the children have the opportunity to explore their way through the curriculum. We think that this freedom is a big reason why Olivia loves it so much – she really is in her element at the school! Both the virtues programme and the blend of British and local curriculum have impressed us and played a big part in our decision to enrol William.
It’s rare to find a school that has great facilities, an enviable environment, and an excellent curriculum and teachers. You’ll normally end up compromising on one of these but that’s not the case at Repton. The fact that Olivia runs into school happy and laughing every day speaks volumes!”
St. Joseph’s Institution International
Parents: Constance and Pierre Paul Jacquet, French
Children: Petronille (9), Apolline (7) and Leopold (4)
“We’ve been in Singapore for nine years and all our children are attending SJII. Our eldest started back in January 2015. We learnt about the school from other parents; they were very positive about the school, both for its international curriculum as well as the pastoral care. We didn’t visit many schools as we were really enthusiastic after our visit at SJII. For us, it was the perfect mix between a strong focus on academics as well as values, plus an international mindset with kids from all around the world. Being a Catholic school was definitely a plus for our family, with the possibility to have Catechism classes.
We also appreciate the smaller size of the school, which creates a family-friendly environment. With only three to four classes per grade, the kids know everyone in their grade level and beyond. It creates a very nurturing environment for them. They also have many opportunities to meet the other students during school trips, sports days and different types of activities on campus during House competitions.
We absolutely recommend SJII to others, in particular for the Virtues Project, which is core to the school. We see our kids grow with these virtues every day and it definitely helps them build their character. Also, we appreciate the balance between pursuing academic excellence and allowing them to enjoy their childhood. The school supports each student’s needs. The sports and extracurricular choices are also extremely broad – our kids even complain that they can’t do more of the available activities, but instead have to choose between the swim team, football team, gymnastics and tennis and more!”
Parents: Jamey Weingaertner and Davina Yeo, American and Singaporean
Children: Carly (12), Lauren (9) and Axel (5)
“Axel has been in for Shaws just over two years, while Lauren was there for two years and Carly for five. We found the school when searching on the internet for preschools that had the philosophy of learning through play and making learning interesting and fun.
The teachers know the kids’ strengths and weaknesses and teach each child differently. They prepare the children for primary school and how it will be very different than being in kindergarten. Besides standard mathematics and English, the children also learn different things through modules, like recycling and the life cycle of a butterfly. They learn independence as well. There are water play, messy play, and sports coaching days as standard, plus extra options for the older kids to do Water Confidence and Chinese Drama. There are also regular Chinese classes.
The school offers plenty of opportunities for parents to see their children perform. We recently had the K2 students from all branches perform lion and dragon dances and some Chinese songs. The school also hosts Grandparents’ Day, when the children perform a song for their grandparents. The school has such a good environment for the kids. They’re very well taken care of and we feel that they are helped individually on their learning journeys. You can also see how good the school is by how many families send three or four of their children there. We still see mums and dads whose kids were in school at the same time as Carly or Lauren, bringing their younger child to school.
The teachers and management staff are great and we still see the teachers of our older children. Both girls also like to visit when we pick up Axel. They want to say hi and update their old teachers about what they’re up to now.”
Six locations island-wide
Singapore American School
Parents: Nikhil and Meghna Mehta, Indian
Children: Rian (8) and Vedanshi (5)
“Our younger daughter Vedanshi has been in preschool for six months now. Our son joined the school in Grade 3. After reading tonnes of reviews online, talking to friends in Singapore and finding out about the experiences of existing SAS parents, we shortlisted this preschool. The inquiry-based, concept driven curriculum and Reggio Emiliainspired approach also really caught our attention. The preschool is designed to foster curiosity and exploration among young learners and enable them to follow their interests. Each child’s personality is respected and treated as unique, something that quelled the initial anxieties we had about cross-cultural differences. The school’s approach has enabled Vedanshi to play, wonder and learn what interests her the most.
Our experience so far has been exceedingly satisfying, and our preschooler looks forward to attending school every morning. The staff, from the reception to class teachers, are exceptional and provide personalised care and learning. Ms Yukako, Ms Lynsey, and the instructional assistants, just to name a few, have all been exceptional! The emphasis on exploring each child’s interests through inquiry, languages such as Chinese, and motor skill development through ‘move and groove’ has provided a plethora of possibilities for Vedanshi. We were particularly impressed with the school’s seemingly endless resources, including experienced counsellors, an impressive library specially curated for preschoolers, learning hubs and an expansive outdoor field.
SAS has been a positive environment where our daughter has been able to share her thoughts and ideas freely and have the confidence to develop her own personality. The diverse cultural backgrounds in the school have enabled her to develop an international outlook, too.”
Sir Manasseh Meyer International School
Parents: Yuval and Rachel Illuz, Israeli
Children: Tahel (9), Lavi (7), Nerya (5) and Shaked (2)
“We came to Singapore a year ago, and all of our kids currently attend a full day at SMMIS. Shaked just started a month ago and she is very happy to join her older siblings there.
We heard about the school through the Jewish community. The school’s team helped us throughout the initial process before we even got to Singapore. When we arrived, we arranged a meeting and did a preliminary tour. We were very impressed with the structure of the school and the warm welcome of the staff. We didn’t feel the need to visit other campuses after that. We felt it was home, and we followed our hearts.
The school accommodates kids from different countries and encourages diversity, exposing students to different cultures. In addition, a Jewish education is offered, which is very relevant for us. From the moment you enter SMMIS, you can feel a sense of belonging. The school is fully equipped with the latest technology and maintains a high academic level. Everything is accessible and convenient for students. The students also get personal attention regardless of their age.
As an Orthodox Jewish family, it was very important for us to emphasise our Jewish culture, and this is something that we’re able to do at the school. Our children attend prayers in the morning, though others may choose mindfulness meditation to start their day. We’ve opted for Hebrew language lessons that ensure that our children maintain their language and culture; but there is also Mandarin and a World Religions curriculum, reflecting the diversity of the school community. In addition, there is a kosher dining room where fresh, tasty and nutritious food is served each day. What is so amazing about the school is that it celebrates your culture, whatever that might be.
At the bottom line, you can see it in the kids. If they’re happy and excited, it demonstrates how much they enjoy the school.”
Parents: Sue and Richard McArthur, Australian
Children: Kristian (26), Anastasia (24) and Archie (5)
“We’ve been living in Singapore for over two and a half years and Archie has been attending Superland Pre-School since March 2018. I (Sue) walked past Superland during our week of arriving in Singapore. I walked in and spoke to the principal who gave me a tour on the spot. We returned a week later and she remembered Archie by name! It was the principal’s caring and loving nature that made me choose the school.
We loved Superland as we have found the teachers to be lovely and extremely accommodating to our needs and expectations. They tailormade learning to Archie’s individual capabilities. The outdoor playground and riding of the trikes is what Archie enjoys the most. He also likes the weekly PE lessons and using the Montessori learning materials. We also love that the school celebrates all important religions and non-religious events. The end-of-year graduation and concert are absolute highlights for us.
The principal and teachers are all absolutely amazing. The preschool is also very open to listening to parents and taking feedback on board. They understand that not all families are the same and that they need to adapt to many nationalities and cultures.”
Tanglin Trust School
Parents: Rachel and Cameron McLean, English and Australian
Children: James (10) and Jessica (3)
“We’ve lived in Singapore since August 2019 and we heard about the school from a friend in the UK. Tanglin’s range of interesting subjects, teachers and welcoming atmosphere made it our number one choice. James and Jessica both made friends quickly. The talks, activities and clubs for parents also enabled us, as adults, to assimilate into Singapore life painlessly. We felt like we’d lived here for years! The school is professional and experienced in welcoming new families into school and to life in Singapore.
The teachers have been terrific at guiding us into the ways of Tanglin, getting to know our children and making sure they feel comfortable and get the most out of school life. The Nursery children love their time at school and dance into the classroom each morning with lots of enthusiasm and excitement to see their friends and teachers. We’re incredibly impressed with Victoria Thomas, Head of Nursery, whose approach inspires children to be curious, imaginative, independent and kind. The Nursery is the first in Asia to achieve the Curiosity Approach Accreditation. They predominantly use natural materials and this adds to the calm, joyful sanctuary that is the classroom. Also, you’ve got to see the Nursery playground that has climbing frames, tricycles to ride around, a mud kitchen, messy play, musical play and lots of space to run around. It’s a child’s paradise!
I noticed a big change after just the first term in my daughter and the other children. They became more confident, independent and eloquent, talking to teachers and friends, and telling stories to the class at snack time. Parents are welcome to go into class to read to the children during library time or help supervise the cooking class. It’s a really special time.”
UWC South East Asia
Parents: Marjorie Graaven and Scott Graham, Singaporean and Dutch
Children: Alexander (6) and Maia (3)
“Alexander is currently going to UWCSEA East Campus – he started at K1 and is now in Grade 1. Once Maia turns six, we will enrol her too.
When we were looking for a school, we spoke to friends with children at the various international schools. UWC was consistently praised – by the children as a great school and by the parents for its excellent educational standard. We were particularly drawn by the holistic approach to education. We’re both strong believers that, in addition to solid academic credentials, exposure to other elements of life and the care for others are important factors in education.
Alexander’s teachers have been exceptional, each one having a huge impact on helping him develop, yet at his own pace and in a fun way. The school adopts a play-based learning approach which fits him perfectly. We’ve seen a great development in Alexander, both academically and socially. One of UWC’s strengths is the many opportunities there are to learn and grow both inside and outside of the classroom. A recent example is when some Grade 1 students (accompanied by a parent) went to Cambodia on a service trip to Kuma Cambodia, a school that provides education, healthcare and nutrition for vulnerable children.
The UWC curriculum is all-encompassing and the children are exposed to different aspects every day, from literacy and mathematics to science, music and languages. This year, Alexander is learning Spanish as an extra language and has the opportunity to study his mother tongue (Dutch) once a week. There’s also a wealth of extracurriculars, from swimming, gymnastics and tennis to robotics, Lego building and chess, and the school’s facilities are top notch and well-maintained.”
North London Collegiate School (Singapore) – opening soon!
Head of Junior School: Kathryn Hemming
“North London Collegiate School in the UK is among the top-performing schools for IB globally and has been described by The Sutton Trust as “the most successful school in the United Kingdom for consistently getting its students into top universities.
Our new Singapore campus is located at 130 Depot Road and is purpose-built with modern facilities. We’ve selected and trained the highest quality, experienced teachers who will inspire all students with a love of their subject and a spirit of scholarship. NLCS (Singapore) offers an exceptional educational experience, based on the traditions, ethos and practices of North London Collegiate School in the UK. We provide an academically ambitious curriculum, underpinned by exceptional pastoral care and an exciting and rich cocurricular programme.
The curriculum is based on the NLCS UK National Curriculum. Students in the Pre-School will follow the NLCS UK Early Years National Curriculum where they are taught using stimulating and creative activities. We aim to develop an outward-looking, internationallyminded community that promotes respect and compassion, service to others and active, positive participation in society and the wider world.
We currently don’t have a waiting list, so all children who pass our entrance tests are guaranteed a place. If you’re a family looking for a school with a proven record for providing a holistic approach to education with outstanding academic results, please contact us.”
This article first appeared in the Preschool Mini Guide in the March 2020 edition of Expat Living Singapore. Subscribe now!
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