Selecting the right school for our children is one of the most important decisions to make when settling down in Singapore. We are spoiled for choice when it comes to education in Singapore – there’s a host of preschools and kindergartens with countless learning opportunities, experiences and great facilities to enjoy. Hear from 28 expat families about their experiences at these schools in Singapore – it might just make your decision a little easier!
Tresa CJ and Nitish Nair, Indian; Noah (3)
“Noah has been going to White Lodge at West Coast since September 2018. One of the key factors which drew us there was its multicultural environment. A visit to the school sealed the deal for us as we were very pleased with the environment and happy with the curriculum. The school is only a five-minute walk from home, which was a great bonus!
Our experience with White Lodge has been wonderful and Noah loves going to school. The teachers and the principal are very approachable and make themselves available. They give importance to developing a one-on-one bond with the children and are in tune with each child’s individual needs. As a parent, you feel assured that your child is well taken care of.
The children get to dabble in art and are frequently exposed to music, including sessions with musical instruments. They’re introduced to a variety of sports and even get to fuel their culinary interest with baking and popcorn making sessions. There are also daily Mandarin sessions and detailed reports being shared with parents about the curriculum on a weekly basis. The school keeps parents involved with plenty of fun school events across the centres, and opportunities to volunteer for various activities such as storytelling sessions. Through biannual class presentations by the children, the annual concert, parent-teacher conferences, weekly reports shared with parents via email, e-portfolio and school community app, parents can keep up with their child’s progress. The school also constantly makes an effort to make things fun and enjoyable for the children with festival celebrations and events.”
Eight locations islandwide
Adama Diallo, French/Guinean; Nael (2.5)
“We relocated from London in October 2018 and Nael started Arts Haus (PreNursery) in November. I was looking for a safe, caring and homely school with a focus on art (visual, musical and literary) and creativity, one that is not solely academically-driven. The school’s STEAM approach to learning is also something I like. My career requires me to travel regularly so I wanted to find a school that could be Nael’s second home, where I would feel assured when I’m away. This was exactly what I found in Arts Haus. Nael is very excited to go to school and even super happy to take the bus. He’s become confident and attempts to talk, which he was not interested in doing before enrolling at the school.
I love how technology is incorporated into the curriculum. It’s an inevitable part of life, so teaching kids how to use it in a healthy way is crucial. I was also amazed that the school offers a mindfulness class for children; it’s perfect for slowing kids down amidst the fast-paced society they live in. The school’s location is unique and great for their many outdoor activities such as gardening, water play, running, gymnastics and more. The building is a beautiful old house decorated with kids’ creations made from recycled materials. I also enjoy reading the weekly communication letter that parents receive.
The team is very warm and sincere. Every time I visit the school, I see them calling all the kids by name and offering them support. The teachers are caring and communicate well with us as parents.”
Arts Kidz International Preschool
Jennifer and James Foreman, Canadian and British; Felicity (5.5) and Francesca (3.5)
“Felicity has attended Arts Kidz since 2015 and Francesca joined in January 2018, once she was two and a half. We looked online, talked to friends and visited different schools in Singapore before making our choice. The caring staff and happy children at the school made the decision easy for us. We were initially worried Francesca might take time to adjust so we enrolled her for half days, but by the third day, she wanted to stay all day so she could nap with her new friends!
We love the teachers at Arts Kidz; they’re always so happy and kind to the children. The school utilises its space really well, so the children have a lot of room to run around and play and to use the area outside to play, learn about gardening and more. Our children are very active so after-school activities like ballet and cheerleading are a boon. We never could have expected that Felicity would end up cheerleading for a Singapore football league team! It was important to us that our children are not overwhelmed. It’s wonderful how the school manages to keep them happy while engaging them with mathematics, reading, art and learning about the world. With a background in early childhood education, it was important to me (Jennifer) that the school embodied the principles of learning and care for children that I had learnt.
We would definitely recommend the preschool to other parents. Everything from the philosophy behind the teaching, to the curriculum, staff and facilities is terrific.”
Australian International School
Rebecca Craig and Peter Hubert, Australian; Darcy (21 months)
“Darcy has attended AIS since he turned a year old. He was the first student in the Infant Care Program at the Early Learning Village, so he had a lot of attention for the first three days before others started arriving! The Early Learning Village was initially not on our radar as we weren’t aware that it offered an option for children younger than 18 months. We then chanced upon the launch of the new Infant Care programme and the rest is history.
We love the daily updates and photos we receive about Darcy’s activities and it brings us such joy to see him so happy playing, whether it’s in the sandpit with diggers, cooking in the kitchen or painting. The school uses RIE-based teaching and Reggio Emilia practices and you can see the way they observe child-led interests. What we’ve been most impressed by recently is the supportive environment the school created to help Darcy transition from the Infant Care (two to 18 months) to the Pre-Nursery programme (18 to 24 months). He’s loving the more challenging activities while staying with the classmates he knows and enjoys being around.
The combination of a wonderful teaching philosophy, individualised care for the kids, fantastic facilities and wonderful teachers makes the Early Learning Village an awesome experience for children and parents. One question we’re often asked is if we find the school too big and overwhelming for the little ones. Our experience couldn’t be more different – with the combination of the pod-size classrooms, the community feel and the staff, we genuinely feel part of a tight-knit community with the benefits of a larger institution.”
Blue House Nursery & International Preschool
Kimberly Popma and Sashidhar Thothadri, Canadian and Indian; Ayaan (9) and Uma (4)
“Uma has been attending Blue House since August 2017 and is now in Junior Kindergarten. Since it’s a Reggio-inspired school, the child is at the centre of the curriculum. The teachers are exemplary at listening to what Uma is saying; they don’t just provide answers to her questions, but thoughtfully guide her to explore ideas and solutions. This applies to both social development challenges and exploratory learning. The documentation of student ideas and explanations is also impressive: children’s ideas are regularly shared in parent letters, class meetings and daily conversations at pick up or drop off.
We love that Uma has many choices in her day, including going outside. Visiting the playground is not restricted to recess or during a special part of the day. She spends a lot of time in the outdoor space and tells stories of making castles, boat journeys and more. Aside from these emotional and social development skills, she’s also learning about numbers and writing. When she feels inspired, her teachers are there to encourage and build on her natural curiosity. We believe in the quality of the programme, and Uma is happy, loved and in a safe environment with good friends.
We spent a lot of time researching schools online, talking to people living in Singapore and visiting campuses. Blue House was well recommended by friends and those who work in education. The small school setting, easy access and use of the outdoor playground sets the school apart from others. Getting a feel for the environment is something that can only be experienced by visiting the school.”
Mario and Ana Montanari, Brazilian; Guido (4)
“We’ve been living in Singapore for almost three years now, and our only child Guido has been attending Brighton Montessori for about a year. We have always liked the Montessori method of learning, so when we came across a new branch of Brighton Montessori near our condo, we decided to visit the school – and we fell in love with it. The campus is nice and clean and has a good setup with many thoughtful details that benefit the children. There’s also a large play area where the kids can interact and socialise. The school’s staff are very supportive, too, and we’ve enjoyed the Father’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrations where we prepared surprises for one another with Guido.
The preschool has a good mix of locals and foreigners, which we love. The kids take part in a variety of fun and interactive activities – including cooking classes, for example – which allow for the refinement of sensory perception and the development of literacy and mathematical understanding; there are many opportunities for imaginative exploration and creative self-expression. We’re also glad to be able to monitor and witness Guido’s progress at school. Living in Singapore and in Asia, we felt that it was important for our son to pick up the Chinese language. This year, we decided to opt for the school’s Chinese Immersion Programme and he is enjoying it! Our son loves the school, his teachers and his friends. We’re very happy there and highly recommend other families to join the community.”
7 locations island-wide
Bright Path Preschool
Azly Bin Din and Norashikin Binte Mohamed Barak, Singaporean; Muhammad Wafiy (5) and Nur Afina (4)
“Our son Wafiy has been with Bright Path Preschool since October 2018. The school has greatly helped his social skills, speech and behaviour. He enjoys play activities with his friends and teachers, and is now more interactive at home. When we weren’t able to get him into a mainstream preschool in our area, we decided that we needed a preschool and therapy centre under one roof. We came across Bright Path as it’s listed under the Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers in Singapore. The inclusive school has a low student-teacher ratio, thrice-weekly therapies, and a green and peaceful environment. When we visited for the first time, we knew it was the right place for Wafiy.
We definitely recommend the school to other families, especially with children who have additional learning needs. The dedicated teachers and therapists update us and work with us in dealing with our son’s daily routine and his learning progress. We’re given weekly updates of his progress in school through pictures and evaluations. The school focuses on each child’s strengths, and integrates therapies with learning strategies.
When choosing a school, it’s important to consider if your child will enjoy being at that school, and that it’s something that they look forward to each day. Strong and loving support from teachers and therapists and open communication between parents and the school is key. Bright Path never fails to do all these and it’s one of our best decisions we’ve made for Wafiy!”
Canadian International School
Christie Jamieson and Michael Smart, Canadian; Elsie (7), Noah (4) and Maeve (2)
“We heard about CIS through word of mouth before we moved here. Once we visited and found out more about the bilingual programme, we couldn’t pass it up. Elsie is currently in Grade 2 and Noah is in Junior Kindergarten (JK), his first year at the school.
We love the bilingual curriculum. It’s amazing to see our kids chatting away in Mandarin when we don’t speak any! The kids love their teachers so much and the classes offer great activities and loads of outdoor play time. The field trips are great – Elsie has been to see a few plays and Noah has been to one too. Storytelling is amazing in JK; parents can volunteer to be a “mystery reader” and the kids get to guess whose mum or dad will be in to read to them. The performances are also great. A few weeks after she joined in Senior Kindergarten, Elsie did her first one (in Chinese, no less!) for Chinese New Year. The theatre and performance facilities are also excellent, and the kids learn music and songs in both languages. The kids have a good time putting on the shows, and we love watching them. Teachers also come on stage to perform, much to the delight of the kids and parents.
There’s a great sense of community among the parents of our children’s classes as well as within the larger school itself. We’re so fortunate to have our kids in such a multicultural and diverse school, and we can’t wait for Maeve to join when she reaches JK age!”
Tanjong Katong Campus: 371 Tanjong Katong Road
Lakeside Campus: 7 Jurong West Street 41
Dulwich College (Singapore)
Tracy and Ed Whitney, British; Molly (7) and George (5)
“Molly has been at Dulwich since it opened in 2014 and she moved into Junior School last September. George joined in 2017 and got well settled immediately. This was largely due to his teachers’ understanding of his need for outdoor play, making learning fun and getting to know him personally. The staff also managed Molly’s transition from DUCKS to Junior School superbly!
We heard Dulwich was opening in Singapore when we started our search for a school for Molly. After listening to Headmaster Nick Magnus’s speech about his ethos (even though there was no actual campus then to walk around), he had us hooked. We like that the school has a dual language programme (English and Mandarin) and places an emphasis on sports and music. We love how he strongly believes that children come first; we have seen this come alive over the last five years. Our kids take part in plays, enjoy a range of sports and music CCAs, and have gained confidence.
The College facilities are outstanding and another highlight is the dedicated Mandarin teacher in each class. Dulwich may appear to be a huge place, especially when you’re only five years old; however, it manages to create the feel of a small school. We’d recommend the College to new arrivals to Singapore and not just because of the superb teachers and outstanding facilities; it’s also a place where you’ll quickly feel at home and you and your children will make friends and feel part of a community.”
Rosalind and Joey Arwas, British and British/Swiss; Leo (11), Zoë (9) and Rafael (4)
“Our three children have been at GESS since we arrived in Singapore in January 2018. We decided on the school for two main reasons: firstly, because it offers the IB curriculum, which our older children were doing back in Germany; secondly, because we wanted to continue supporting their German language skills. The older children are taught in English in the IB section of the school but have five lessons a week in German, while Rafael is in a Germans peaking Kindergarten group.
The preschool facilities in the new campus are incredible. There’s a library, spacious playground, cooking lab, digital atelier, music room and art studio, designed specifically for ages six and under. At the end of Rafael’s first term, he received a folder filled with photographs of him and his work, and a memory game lovingly decorated with photographs of his classmates. Rafael loves going to the same school as his siblings. The little ones have their own playground, lunch area and facilities but regularly go on “outings” to explore other areas of the school. As part of their Design and Technology curriculum, the high school students have recently spent time with the kindergarten kids, researching their interests and then designing and building toys for them.
We’ll recommend the GESS preschool to any parents looking to build social skills, confidence and independence in their children. Knowledge is acquired through play and inquiry rather than direct instruction. Rafael looks forward to going to school every day and takes pride in showing off his preschool to visiting family and friends.”
GEMS World Academy (Singapore)
Emma and Alan Mathew, Australian and Indian; Lushington (5), Lakerson (3) and Lexton (1)
“Lushington has been attending GEMS (Singapore) for two years, and Lakerson for about six months. We discovered the school online following fairly arduous research; we then arranged a visit and it sealed the deal for us. We’ve had the warmest, most encouraging and positive experience there. The school places community as a very high priority – you’ll have many opportunities to forge friendships with existing and new families. It’s very warm and welcoming.
Being a mixed race family, we wanted our children to be enrolled in a multicultural school that was engaging and creative while also offering academic prowess. The classroom and specialist teachers have actively and lovingly invested in our children. They’ve gone out of their way to connect, support and encourage both Lushington and Lakerson on a personal level. As parents, we are extremely grateful for these impactful touches. The school has a strong emphasis on daily Mandarin and specialty swimming, library and music programmes, creating a well-balanced educational experience. We are looking forward to seeing our children grow, discover, investigate and create alongside their peers and teachers. Our children love going to school every day and are disappointed when the weekend comes around!
As GEMS (Singapore) is a full-scale international school, the preschoolers interact with the older children. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to communicate with these bigger kids – it’ll make the transition to Primary School less daunting!”
Little Tykes (Integrated International School)
Rita and Nacim Zahouani, French; Adel (2) and Mina (1)
“Adel joined Little Tykes in May 2018 when he was 20 months old. Mina is not yet attending but will join him as soon as she reaches schooling age. When Adel turned 18 months, we started to look for a school, and we fell in love with Little Tykes for its structure, simplicity, flexibility and friendly staff. We set up a trial period for Adel to adjust and integrate and it worked very well. He has been learning so many things since starting there. Initially, he was shy and not open to interactions, but today we see him playing with other kids and sharing his toys with his sister. We feel that he has made tremendous progress!
We were also worried about Adel’s ability to pick up other languages, but the school gives him the opportunities in both English and Chinese. Adel is by nature very cautious but being at the school has made him more self-confident and he is more adventurous than ever. We feel that Little Tykes really cares about our son and his progress. With their daily updates, we feel very connected. Also, the school lets us know about any concerns they have, sets up regular follow-up discussions and shares helpful advice. Another aspect that we really like is the school’s diverse environment, where there is a good mix of cultures and nationalities. Everyone in the school is so friendly and welcoming that we love taking Adel to school; it’s an amazing way to start the day.”
International Community School
Jasmine and Logan Jordan, American; Clara (8), Hannah (7) and Bennett (4)
“All three children attend the school; Clara and Hannah are in their second year and Bennett just started Pre-K. We came across ICS while we were searching for schools online before moving to Singapore. Once we were here, we met co-workers and other church families that attend ICS and they love it. So, we decided to enrol our children too. We know that our children are learning well, being nurtured and being taught Christian values.
The teachers at ICS truly care about our children and teach them good values. They also share stories about what our kids get up to. Even though the school is relatively large (Pre-K through to High School), it doesn’t feel impersonal and the community is a very caring one. The older children buddy up with the younger ones, and teachers and administrators know the children and parents well. They are attentive to our needs and are willing to help if any issues arise.
In Pre-K, teachers organise fun activities for each season, holiday and lesson. Besides learning what they need for Primary School, the children have time to rest and play each day, which we believe is important at that age. There are also after-school activities offered during the week (for a fee) where your child can pick up a sport or new hobby. These include Lego, colouring and taekwondo.”
ISS International School
Savannah and Andy Fellows, American and British; Charlie (7) and Molly (4)
“Both girls are attending ISS; Molly started her first year in August 2018 and Charlie is in the middle of her second year; she started in August 2017. I came across the school while driving past and scheduled a tour of the Paterson campus. The greatest appeal was that it felt like a place where my girls would blossom. I was drawn to the warm and friendly staff, small class size, and the overall close-knit ambience in the school. We feel that the school is a great place for our girls to start their learning journey. I’m excited about the guidance offered to students and the tremendous appreciation for cultural diversity. I also appreciate the strong support for charities and opportunities for parents and students to volunteer.
I’m thankful for the teachers’ patience and kindness. Molly’s teacher is also an alumnus of ISS. Molly is building confidence and her sense of self in the activities they take part in, such as trying new foods and class presentations. She is learning to care for herself, others and the environment. The school’s counsellors also host regular group and individual discussion sessions on common parenting concerns such as wellness, student stress and anxiety, building resilience, discipline and family bonding. Sharing with other parents has been a great source of support.
I would recommend ISS to other parents” – and have, quite a few times. My girls are excited to attend school each day and this is a reflection of the caring and enthusiastic atmosphere.”
Elena and Yury Afanasyev, Russian; Stefan (3) and Vera (3 months)
“We’ve been living in Singapore since 2012. Stefan has been enrolled at Learning Vision (CET East Campus at Paya Lebar) for more than two years. He attended Infant Care from the age of 10 months, followed by the Toddler level, and he’s currently in the Nursery class.
We had a pleasant experience with Infant Care at the school. The staff are professional and caring, there are dedicated play areas and baby zones with spacious rooms. It helps your child make a smooth transition to childcare. Our son also enjoyed his time at Toddler level, with the music, craft and storytelling activities – and not forgetting having fun with the friends he made while he was in Infant Care. Now he’s at Nursery level where he continues to develop his communication and language skills. We’re happy with the environment, and we also like the low student-teacher ratio, the well-planned days and the healthy meals served at the school.
Before choosing the school, we did some research and visited a few centres. We decided on Learning Vision because of its high standards and convenient location. We’ll definitely recommend the school as it supports children’s emotional and social growth and offers a multicultural environment. It’s also an ideal choice for families with parents working in Paya Lebar as it’s located near the offices there.”
25 locations islandwide
Little Woods Montessori Pre-School
Adam and Sandra Stead, Australian; Emilia (2)
“Emilia has been attending Little Woods since May 2018. We did extensive research of the schools around our area and many visits to check out the facilities. We liked that Little Woods has its own enclosed house on a small back road. It felt safe and looked fun for Emilia. Our experience has been amazing. As first-time parents, you put a lot of thought into where you send your kids to school. We were initially a little concerned whether Emilia was ready for school, however that quickly changed as we saw how happy she is there. The teachers treat her very well and now she hugs them, not wanting to leave when we take her home. Each week, we discover new things she has learnt, be it words, songs or even Chinese!
One of the things we really love is the great communication from the teachers who offer us daily updates so we are able to know how she is progressing. The school follows the Montessori system of education which suits Emilia. We love this as we believe that, at this age, she should be immersed in an environment that has many different and interesting things to do. There’s also an excursion every term, which parents can join. One example is our trip to the butterfly park; it was a great experience to share with Emilia while at the same time getting to know other parents.”
Marlborough College Malaysia
Simone and Barry Mclean, Canadian and British; Beth (5), Blair (3) and Freya (6 months)
“We have lived in Singapore and Malaysia since September 2011, and Blair has just started preschool at Marlborough. My oldest daughter Beth started at the school last year in Reception and she is currently in Year 1; that’s how I learnt of the preschool. When Blair was old enough to attend, I was curious to find out more, so I went along to a coffee morning. Marlborough College Malaysia has been an exceptional experience for my children.
The preschool programme in particular is unique as it incorporates Forest School methods as part of the curriculum. The curriculum links directly with the UK’s Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS) framework and uniquely overlays this with child-led, inquiry-based learning and outdoor nature-based Forest School sessions three times a week. The children enjoy nature walks and outdoor exploration, which has been a highlight for Blair. Another component of their learning that I also encourage at home is Mandarin. I feel that it’s a very important subject to start in preschool. Not to mention, the kids also have swimming and yoga classes, and the school also celebrates the different cultural backgrounds of the children, providing insights into various traditions.
If you’re looking for a preschool that encourages children to learn through play (indoors and outdoors) and in a multicultural setting, then this is the one. Blair is very happy to go to school every day and he has learned so much, not only academically but about different cultures and nationalities.”
Jendana Chanyaputhipong and Rameysh Danovani Bin Mahmood, Thai and Malaysian; Jacob (6)
“Our son Jacob has been attending Masterminds since September 2018. We found the preschool online after having short-listed and visited various preschools across the city. We were looking for a place where children can still be children while being age-appropriately stimulated. Many schools have impressive facilities but we felt that something was still missing; during our trial period with Masterminds, we were convinced that they had their heart in the right places. The teachers are happy to update you on your child’s progresses, struggles, likes and dislikes. There’s a warm and positive environment, and children aren’t afraid to make mistakes and ask questions. Jacob has settled down comfortably.
The curriculum focuses on the child’s development as a whole, with equal focus on social, emotional, and academic aspects. A sensory playroom is available for children to relieve their sensory stresses between classes – Jacob enjoys his downtime there; he likes to use the Lego, magnetic walls and sensory play tables. The school also has a holistic approach when it comes to teaching languages, especially Mandarin. There’s usually a Mandarin teacher around during play, snack or other transitional times, encouraging the children to use the language more spontaneously. Jacob started school without knowing Mandarin, but now eagerly teaches us and our helper at home. We also like that cultural and science topics are introduced in class. Our son is always excited to share information he has learnt, whether it’s about global warming, recycling or science experiment outcomes.”
Melbourne Specialist International School
Shuntaro and Akiko Suzuki, Japanese; Rei (9), Junnosuke (6), Kei (4) and Kentaro (1 month)
“We moved to Singapore in April 2018. Before moving here, I visited some schools where I was hoping to enrol my son Junnosuke, who has Down syndrome. We were introduced to MSIS by another school and eventually chose it. The school caters to special needs children, offering different therapy programmes including occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy.
My son is not able to speak but it isn’t an issue as the teachers use cards, pictures and other ways to suit his personality and learning style. He enjoys watching TV and loves cars so the teachers use movies and toy cars during class. The teachers at MSIS are friendly and kind and they instruct “We enjoy getting to know other families in the school community my son well – gently but firmly. I’ve attended my son’s speech therapy sessions twice. Besides offering swimming lessons, the school also has a large garden with a slide, swing, trampoline and loads of big trees.
We enjoy attending the events MSIS organises; these include drum performances, science fairs and Christmas parties. The school also went to the Purple Parade together. Through these events, we enjoy getting to know other families in the school community. My son is adapting well and has never expressed the feeling that he doesn’t want to go to school. I highly recommend MSIS to families who have children with special needs.”
Nexus International School (Singapore)
Hannah and John Bergdahl, Swedish; Sixten (11), Sonia (8) and Kerstin and Edit (4)
“We moved to Singapore in July 2018 and all four children have been at Nexus since August. Friends already living here recommended the school and we liked that it offers an IB curriculum, like the school our son attended in Sweden. We visited Nexus a couple of times before the kids started and found that it has a stimulating learning environment. It’s also child-focused and has a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Our children have different needs and styles of learning. The school believes that every child is unique when it comes to the approach to learning and they focus on meeting your child wherever he or she is at. They offer them guidance and the right tools in their learning process. Our three youngest children knew very little English when we moved to Singapore. They’ve had extra language support and are now communicating more in English. The kids have also been able to try a variety of after-school activities, from ballet and Bollywood fusion to guitar and soccer.
We come from Sweden where children start Year 1 when they are seven – they only do a preparatory year when they are six. So, we were initially worried that it would be a shock for the twins to start kindergarten where they might feel pressure academically while also learning a new language. But we are seeing them progress at a rapid pace as the learning is play-based and exciting. Beyond academics, the school also teaches social skills such as interacting with peers in a respectful way and making good choices, which has been helpful.”
Odyssey – The Global Preschool
Ewelina and Nathan McGlothlin, Polish and American; Ryan (8) and Maya (5)
“Maya has been attending Odyssey at Fourth Avenue since 2016, while Ryan was there from late 2013 to August 2014 and has since moved to the Singapore American School. We looked at a number of schools relatively close to our home back when we were looking for a school for Ryan – we didn’t have a car at the time. Odyssey stood out in the quality of its facilities and outdoor space, and the care they took to show prospective parents and students around. This level of care continued after we enrolled Ryan there. When it was Maya’s turn, we immediately sent her to Odyssey.
Maya has developed very well at the preschool, forming friendships, learning and developing independent thinking. Most importantly, she enjoys school and showing us what she has learnt. She has picked up Mandarin relatively well, despite not having any support at home; and she thoroughly enjoys excursions and special activities such as Little Chef, the semi-annual performances and water play.
The quality of instructors and curriculum at Odyssey is extremely high. They take a student-centred approach and look for ways to maximise their resources to benefit individual students, rather than focusing performance on external benchmarks or preparing for tasks that are not developmentally appropriate. The staff form real connections with their students, which means our kids enjoy their time there. They also genuinely care about the development, health and safety of our kids.”
Five locations islandwide
Overseas Family School
Veronica del Pilar Gongora Gutierrez and Jaime Israel Gonzalez Esteves, Mexican; Regina (7) and Israel (3)
“Both Regina and Israel are attending OFS. Regina is in Grade 1 and has been at the school since K1; Israel is in Pre-K – he started in October 2017 when he turned two. As an expat family, we were looking for an international school that is near to where we live. We selected OFS firstly because of the distance from our home – we live in Pasir Ris so it’s really close by. Once we had our first interview, we also noticed the warm approach that the teachers and staff use to educate and guide the children, and this attracted us. The school’s infrastructure is also impressive and we love the multicultural environment they have created.
A distinctive element of the school has been the enrichment programme that offers different activities and classes for the kids. Our children have since learnt ballet, piano and gymnastics, and have attended Mandarin lessons. Another great feature is the Mother Tongue Programme where our children have the opportunity to learn Spanish with a certified teacher. We’ve also been lucky to have found good friends within the parent community; the environment is always friendly and respectful. We can see that our kids enjoy attending school every day and we’re able to clearly see their progress in developing skills and competencies.
If you’re looking for a caring school with competent staff, a friendly environment, world-class facilities and care for values and the joy of kids, OFS school is a great place for your family.”
Rain Trees International Kindergarten
Christina Poulsen and Bjarke Mikkelsen, Danish; Frederik (22 months)
“Frederik has been attending Rain Trees International Kindergarten since he was 18 months of age when we first arrived in Singapore. The school has lovely values and a very positive energy. All the staff members greet the children with big smiles every morning and are dedicated and involved. Combined with a structured learning schedule that still encourages independent play, the programme is great.
Frederik attends the youngest class and the teachers there did a fantastic job settling him in. He was their first 18-month child to teach. They are warm and affectionate with him, which is very important to us. For the youngest children, days can be short so note that working parents may need help with pick-up. Lastly, it really touched our hearts that proceeds from a bake sale in December went to the school caretaker and his family after they’d lost everything due to a storm in their home country.
I had browsed online for schools before moving to Singapore and short-listed Rain Trees due to its international/UK curriculum, but also because of the cultural diversity. We love that our son is exposed to different customs and cultures, and that the kindergarten is not too big. If you’re looking for a family-oriented kindergarten with a great curriculum, I’d highly recommend Rain Trees.”
Jayne and Tom Pryce, British; Laina (4) and James, Rory and Finn (4 months)
“We’ve been in Singapore for approaching nine years now. Laina has been attending Shaws Preschool since she was 20 months old, and we’ll be sending our triplet boys there too when they are around 20 months. Laina started with the half day programme and is now part of the extended half-day programme. We chose Shaws as it has a good reputation. The Mountbatten campus also has great outdoor facilities, flexible programmes and a friendly ethos.
The school is very good in managing both parents and children. The teachers communicate frequently with parents and set up special communication channels for transitional events. For example, during Laina’s first week of school, the teachers created a group chat with us on WhatsApp and frequently gave us updates on how she was doing. This was the same for key moments or instruction such as potty training. This close communication with the teachers at the school really helped to put my mind at ease!
Laina loves school and is eager to go there each morning. She loves learning Chinese and has bonded with the teachers in every class she has been in (she’s in her third class now). She is eager to tell them about what she gets up to during the weekends.”
Six locations island-wide
Singapore American School
Tiffanie and Jerret West, American; Talia (12), Ellie (9), Logan (6) and Grant (4)
The day is filled with a great mix of free time for exploration and also scheduled activities like World Language, Move and Groove, Library Time and Recess. Parents are also members of the learning community and we love coming together to celebrate holidays throughout the year. Having the Early Learning Center on the same campus as the older students offers the younger ones some fantastic opportunities, such as popping in to see the high school band perform or heading to the soccer fields to cheer for teams during a tournament.
SAS has an incredible reputation around the world so it was first on our list when searching for schools. Having all the children in one campus is also incredibly convenient. But beyond that, from the start, we felt accepted and welcomed. It’s a community that celebrates the unique backgrounds, talents and aspirations of our kids. It’s an amazing feeling to drop them off and know they are in great hands, receiving extraordinary care from everyone they encounter throughout the day.”
Stamford American International School
Martín and Malisa, Danish and American; Emil (14), Niels (12) and Astrid (3, pictured with school friend, Connor)
“Astrid is attending Nursery, after starting from 18 months in Pre-Nursery. Niels and Emil live in Denmark but attend the Camp Asia programmes. We searched extensively for programmes (starting from Pre-Nursery) at both local and international schools and were invited to a playgroup at SAIS when Astrid was about 14 months. The programme at the Early Learning Village closely resembles the Danish Early Years routines and parts of the Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia systems. The facilities were also well designed and well thought out for the age group. The welcoming atmosphere and positive attitude from the teachers, staff interactions and observations with students were all appealing. We found it very easy to communicate and thought that it would be a great environment for our daughter.
Astrid loves Nursery! Every Tuesday, there’s a library cart that comes to her class and it’s a big part of her week. Ms Jill the librarian also puts in effort to look for good materials for story time and is always willing to give book recommendations. Astrid also enjoys her Mandarin and music classes (it’s amazing how languages can be learnt so quickly at her age!). What’s more, the school offers swimming as an extracurricular activity.
The school community is great. One of our favourite things is meeting other families and seeing our children get along. The parents in our class arrange group play dates during holidays or just to hang out. Many of us are far from our home countries and it’s nice to have a community”
Tanglin Trust School
Hannah and Benjamin Aymé, British; Tabatha (8), Scarlett (6) and Raphael (3.5)
“All three of our children started attending Tanglin Trust School in January 2019. Once we arrived, we got the chance to visit the school before formally starting. The kids were very excited and couldn’t wait to meet their new classmates and teachers. We chose Tanglin not only because their pastoral care is amazing, as exemplified by how content the students are, but also because of their tailored approach to learning to ensure all pupils reach their full potential. The school’s not-for-profit status also ensures that its resources are fully devoted to education and students’ personal development. The students and staff also seemed really happy and engaged. The school has great libraries with regular guest authors, a café for parents, an open classroom environment and a fantastic outdoor nursery play area.
We were initially nervous, as a new city, way of life and school are quite tough challenges for young children, but the kids jumped into school life in a matter of days! Today, they still excitedly tell us about the incredible things they experienced and learnt in class. Raphael in nursery has fully integrated. His class recently visited the Chinese Garden where they saw lots of monitor lizards (in his words: “mini dinosaurs”).
We get regular reports and emails from the teachers who are incredibly approachable. Through the Interactive Learning Diary, we can monitor Raphael’s progress and view photos of him learning at school. In short, we couldn’t be happier. The staff, resources and facilities at the preschool are exceptional, and our son skips onto the bus every morning and comes back full of new discoveries and vocabulary, and, thankfully, a little tired.”
UWCSouth East Asia
David and Nicole Nguyen, Australian/Vietnamese; Liv (7) and Will (4)
“Our children started at UWCSEA (Dover) in August 2018. Liv is in Year 1 and Will is in K1. UWCSEA is so much more than a school: it’s a global community. Our children are learning amazing things; the school’s ethos supports them not only in what they’re learning, but in who they’re learning to be. They are taught strategies to work through problems, be it mathematical, scientific, literary or personal, social or emotional ones. Learning is given real meaning and context.
We heard about the school largely from other parents. Every parent we met with children at UWCSEA absolutely loves the school. They speak with such conviction about its mission in the community, the strength and warmth of the school community itself and the holistic learning experience. It’s hard to ignore such a strong and authentic parent voice! The school hosts frequent forums and workshops for parents, run by curriculum leaders and heads of grade, providing insight into the curriculum and learning journey. It’s an expertled, research-based and globally informed curriculum. It’s so gratifying to understand what goes into crafting the educational experience.
Teachers are warm, knowledgeable and frankly amazing and the school community is welcoming. There are many events and opportunities to connect with the school and larger community. If you’re looking for a school that believes in the power of David and Nicole Nguyen, Australian/Vietnamese; Liv (7) and Will (4) education and desire for your child to be part of a diverse international community of children, families and staff, this is the one!”
Dover Campus: 1207 Dover Road
East Campus: 1 Tampines Street 73
This article first appeared in the Preschool Mini Guide in the March 2019 edition of Expat Living Singapore. Subscribe now!
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