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 is a host of preschools with countless learning opportunities, experiences and great facilities to enjoy. Hear from 31 expat families about their experiences at preschools in Singapore – it might just make your decision a little easier!
Stamford American International School
Diego and Ana Mora, Colombian
“Our daughter Mariana attends Stamford American International School. She has been in Nursery since August 2016. Our experience at Stamford has been extraordinary since the admission process. Everybody has positive attitudes. Everything is very well organised and it made our first experience easy and enjoyable.
We enjoy the diversity of the community and believe it’s the right environment for our child to grow during her early years. We love seeing that our daughter enjoys every day at school; she’s learning to be independent and free, as well as finding new things to explore and learn every day. We feel that our daughter is getting all the necessary attention from the team of teachers and teacher’s assistants. We get constant feedback and advice so that we can provide a consistent education experience for Mariana both at school and at home.
We heard about Stamford American from friends.We decide to enrol Mariana because we liked what we saw and learnt on our visit to the school, such as the education methods, the facilities and the campus environment. We also liked that there was the opportunity to learn sports, music and a third language. But, most importantly, we love the values among the school community. We would definitely recommend Stamford; the school has met our expectations.”
Art Kidz International Preschool
Sam and Nicola Hardy, Australian
“Julia has attended Arts Kidz since July 2014. On our first visit, we immediately liked the ambience of the school. My mum, who is a retired early childhood teacher, came with us at the time and was instantly impressed at how happy and engaged the children were with the activities. We were also impressed with the detailed weekly and end-of-term reports showing the comprehensive, structured and well-thought-out programme adopted by Arts Kidz.
It’s no surprise that Julia has loved her time at Arts Kidz; the staff have been fantastic and very caring and she has thrived in the time she has been there. She particularly loves the science and numeracy classes, and even her Mandarin skills have steadily developed over time. Julia often likes to count and sing in Mandarin at home!”
Australian International School
Christian and Carla Clark Slater, Chilean
Victoria (6), Gabriel (4) and Sebastián (2)
“Victoria started two years ago in prep, Gabriel started one-and a-half years ago in preschool, and Sebastián started in January. We chose AIS before we moved to Singapore. We have Chilean friends who enrolled their children at AIS and were happy with it. We also wanted a school year that begins in January like schools in Chile.
When we arrived, our daughter didn’t speak English, but her teachers were very understanding one of them even learnt Spanish words to help her! They were also always there for me, answering my questions, taking care of our worries and looking for opportunities for my daughter to integrate in the class. And it worked – she has had a very good time since. Year 1 was a happy year for Victoria and we see her learning with pleasure. Her teachers are excellent, giving her praise and motivating her. Gabriel has enjoyed going to school since the beginning. He has a good time and has learnt a lot in art and Mandarin. Both children also attend swimming lessons at school.
We recommend the school especially to families whose children don’t speak English as their first language. The teachers and helpers at the early learning centre are very kind and understanding. The school offers children the opportunity and support to develop their skills, whether it’s artistic, intellectual or sporting. Importantly, the kids are happy, and learning, and they trust and respect their teachers.”
Avondale Grammar School
Warwick and Ella Antcliff, Australian
Clive (6) and Vivienne (3)
“Clive will be in Year 1 in 2017. He has attended Avondale Grammar School (AGS) since the beginning of 2015. The small class sizes and teacher-to-student ratios, the extra-curricular after-school activities (ECA), and the focus on core academic learning as well as positive education (like the Bounce Back programme) make for a well-rounded education. We’re very happy with Clive’s progress. Clive does voice lessons, football, tag rugby, swimming, arts and craft, and tennis for ECA. He also learns Mandarin. There are many opportunities for parents to get involved, and many do. A highlight of the year is the Unofficial Avondale Dads and Kids Camp.
We researched schools in Singapore that followed an Australian curriculum and AGS met our requirements for a small (preschool to Year 8), high quality and community-focused school. AGS is the closest experience to a local Australian primary school that we could find in Singapore and that’s what makes it a unique and special place. We have recommended AGS to many families currently living and moving to Singapore. When we visit AGS, we meet teachers of other classes and they all know our son and greet him by name with great excitement and interest. That means a lot to us.”
Between Two Trees
Christine and David James, British
“Olivia has attended Between Two Trees for two mornings a week since she was 18 months old; it’s almost a year since she commenced. She has moved up to the Rambutan class, and we’ve just increased to three mornings a week.
We love the warmth of the teachers at the school; Miss Miriam was Olivia’s first teacher and was so lovely with her, as were all the teachers. More recently, Miss Sharon and Chen Lao Shi have taught Olivia and she loves them both. The immersive Mandarin has been great for Olivia and she’s recently started using some of the language at home. The outside area is a lovely play space for the children and they get to use it each day, growing plants and playing with sand and water. I love receiving the weekly updates and seeing the activities Olivia has taken part in during the week.
I researched Reggio Emilia preschools in Singapore as I liked that approach. I visited Between Two Trees and loved the space and their philosophy. It’s in a convenient location too, so it has everything going for it! It’s a great place for the children; they are safe, cared for and have fun while learning. And the fact that the play space is away from busy roads adds to the appeal for me.”
Mashita and Dom Lane, Singaporean and British
Lulu (4) and Noah (2)
“Lulu has attended since 2014 and is in K1; Noah started in April 2016 and is in N1. The teachers at Brighton Montessori are very approachable and hands-on with the children. There is a lot of positivity and it is reflected in the children’s behaviour. We feel that, at such a young age, school should be fun.
When we first started looking at schools close to our home on the East Coast, we were worried that a lot of local schools can be too “kiasu” (anxious and grasping) in their approach to education. Fortunately, Brighton Montessori strikes a great balance and our children are comfortable with the pace of tailored learning. We didn’t expect our daughter to be conversing in Mandarin within just a few months. That can all be attributed to her Mandarin teacher, Chen Laoshi, whom she simply adores.
For the younger children, like our son Noah, there are plenty of activities to keep them engaged and learning throughout the day. The principal, Sharon Alcantra, should also be commended for the amazing excursions she arranges through the year. Another great initiative of hers has been the introduction of swimming lessons – something that we found very few other schools provide.
We researched and visited a few other preschools near our home, but we ultimately decided on Brighton Montessori for two main reasons: we prefer the Montessori teaching approach, and we’d heard good things about the teachers at Brighton Montessori. Our daughter genuinely loves her teachers and going to school each day. Now that her little brother has started, we see that happening for him too.”
Canadian International School (CIS)
Dave and Maureen Evans, Canadian
Peter (9), Jennifer (7) and Ashley (4)
“Our family has been living in Singapore for four years. Peter is in Grade 4, Jennifer is in Grade 2 and our youngest Ashley is currently in the JK Programme, having attended the PreK Programme last year. Needless to say, we have been very happy with the primary programme at CIS.
Friends of ours from Canada recommended the school to us. Our relocation happened very quickly and we didn’t have much time to research as we arrived halfway through the school year. I remember coming to CIS for our tour and being both amazed and terrified by the school! The facilities are outstanding, but I couldn’t imagine my young children going to school there. My fears were quickly put to rest when we met the amazing teachers and support staff. They are enthusiastic, energetic, compassionate and creative, and have provided our children with a stellar educational experience both inside and outside the classroom.
The children have daily access to an outdoor discovery centre, offering a wide range of experiences; these include riding bikes, playing in the mud, learning about nature, planets and the ecosystem, as well as the typical playground experiences of running, jumping, climbing and balancing. The school also has a kitchen where children learn how to cook and make things like play dough.
CIS also offers a parent-and-toddler programme for children 18 months to three years of age. It’s a great way for both parents and children to get introduced to the school, its surroundings and the staff before the preschool experience even begins.”
Dulwich College (Singapore)
Neil and Sarah Laventure, British
Alice (7), Emily (6) and Oliver (4)
“Our move to Singapore coincided with the opening of Dulwich; Alice went into Year 1, Emily into Nursery and Oliver started in the Toddler Class. On the first day, the halls were lined with teachers welcoming students. I am impressed that the heads of the college continue this tradition and greet the children every morning as they arrive.
Our children started in the infants section of the school, known as DUCKS. This is part of the larger college, with access to all the amazing facilities. Dulwich is a dual-language infant school and uses immersion teaching. At least one teacher in the classroom will be a native Mandarin teacher and will only speak to the children in Mandarin. We’ve been amazed by how quickly the children have picked it up.
There are many opportunities to get involved with your children’s learning. You can see what your little one has been up to each day online. My children have also been able to take piano lessons at school, starting in nursery, and scheduled around their personal activities. Attending a preschool that is immersed in the parent school makes the transition from nursery to reception easy. Both Emily and Oliver were able to visit their new classes and familiarise themselves with the classrooms and teachers.
We heard about the school from a close friend who told us about Dulwich’s opening and we haven’t looked back since. It was very important to us to have all three children in the same place, not simply because of logistics, but so that they could share the experience. Our children still get excited when they see each other around school.”
Frank and Silke Lellig, German
Jonathan (5) and Pauline (2)
“Both Jonathan and Pauline attend EtonHouse Claymore; Jonathan started in January 2013 while Pauline started in August 2016. We chose EtonHouse for two reasons: the big playground, and the focus on play and soft skills. We didn’t like the idea of enrolling Jonathan in a school that just focuses on academics. Silke was the head of a kindergarten in Germany before moving to Singapore, and EtonHouse was the closest to her own experiences in the field of child education and personality development.
Play and creativity are important aspects of this. While kids at EtonHouse have a fixed schedule and follow daily routines, the teachers observe every child and their peer groups individually and carefully. They take note of what they like to play with, topics they are interested in and materials they like to use to build. Additionally, they involve the kids in planning future learning topics. The outdoor area at Claymore was also a huge factor for us, especially after visiting some indoor-only schools.
EtonHouse was recommended to us by a friend, and after comparing potential preschools we decided to send Jonathan to the Claymore campus. The concept is child-friendly but also educational for each age group. Children develop step by step at their own speed and are guided by the teachers. It’s a really good place for young people to develop. If you’re looking for a school where your kids can grow and learn at their own pace, EtonHouse is your school!”
German European School Singapore (Junior School)
Lisa-Maria and Jan-Willem, German and Dutch
Mauritz (6) and Loïc (4)
“Mauritz started kindergarten at GESS in August 2014 and currently attends Pre-Primary at the Junior Campus; Loïc will join his brother in 2018. We started out in the German Section as the kids didn’t speak English yet and we wanted them to settle comfortably into the school.
Kindergarten was an exciting year for Mauritz. His teacher very quickly and accurately recognised his strengths and developmental needs, and allowed him to learn at his own pace. For his Pre-Primary year we changed to the European Section, which follows the IB curriculum, as we intend to stay abroad for the coming years. His teacher, Ms Agisa, is very professional and a great person. Mauritz adores her and we fully support her belief in not rushing childhood, but letting them learn through play.
The English-speaking European Section enjoys an outstanding reputation among IB schools in Singapore. Being Dutch and German, we were drawn to the school’s European focus and the strong Mother Tongue Programme that prepares students for returning to Europe. In the coming year, besides German, Mauritz will also learn Dutch, so he can maintain his parental languages.
We love the school’s holistic perspective and how kids learn through practical experience. This is reflected in the Primary Years Programme where major concepts are learned through structured inquiry. This includes field trips that encourage children to present their findings, training them to be openminded inquirers, thinkers, communicators and risk-takers. GESS is a truly international school. Celebrations at the school include the festivals of St Martin and St Nicholas, and the International Language Day, while equal attention is given to local celebrations, Chinese New Year and Deepavali, to integrate the children into their host culture.”
GEMS World Academy
Jo-lynn and Leif Penn, Canadian-Jamaican
Cai (9) and Knox (4)
“Our sons Cai (Grade 3) and Knox (Pre-K) are both attending school at GEMS World Academy (Singapore). GWA (Singapore) was one of the international schools we toured upon arriving here.
We were especially drawn to the IB curriculum as Cai had attended an IB school in Canada previously. We were deeply impressed not only with the rapport shown between the educators and families here, but also with the quality of teaching for three- and four-year-olds. Knox’s teachers have gotten to know him well and understand how to work with his strengths and weaknesses. His typical school day is filled with hands-on activities and fun, inquiry-driven learning.
After enrolling Cai, I discovered the weekly playgroup for toddlers and younger siblings of current students of the school. It was a great way for us to connect with other families. Knox was a great fan of the playgroup and started to refer to GWA (Singapore) as his “school”. When the time came for us to select a preschool, the decision was clear. All in all, I have observed that the Early Years Programme at GWA (Singapore) is not just about learning alphabets and numbers. The school helps children to develop valuable skills such as self-confidence, social interaction and responsibility among others from a young age. Another perk: it’s really wonderful that our kids are exposed to Mandarin daily, even at the Pre-K level!
If you are looking for a quality preschool programme that encourages inquiry-driven and hands-on learning with supportive educators, I highly recommend you visit GWA (Singapore) and experience it for yourself!”
Hillside World Academy
Alexander and Hanna Neill, British and Swedish
Astrid (8) and Fredrik (5)
“Both Astrid and Fredrik have attended the school since August 2015. Hillside World Academy (HWA) provides a global outlook in a cosy environment. It’s reassuring to know that all teachers and students, whether in the Junior or Senior School, know who your children are. Being part of such a tight knit family has given my son amazing confidence. Instead of feeling intimidated as the youngest person in a big and impersonal school, he feels like a big fish in a small pond.
The curriculum balances the focus on Chinese and English equally, and it’s impressive to see your child switching between two languages comfortably at the young age of five. Having moved to Singapore from London, we wanted to make sure that the children benefitted from the experience. It’s such a privilege for them to learn an additional language, and the school’s authentic bilingual environment really appealed to us.
This school is perfect for parents who value academic rigour as well as a genuine bilingual education. Being a small community school, HWA is also the type of place where parents are heard. In addition, the small class sizes allow for individual attention to be given to each child. Every child at HWA is a person, not just a number!”
International Community School (Singapore)
Jeremy and Kimiko Crestetto, American
Jared (9), Lydia (7), Caleb (5) and Silas (2)
“Jared, Lydia and Caleb all attend ICS; Jared and Lydia have been there for two years, and Caleb for one.We have a positive experience at ICS because of the school community. Within a week of being at the school, we instantly felt like family and this helped with our transition into living in Singapore. The class sizes are small and the teachers and support staff show genuine care for the wellbeing of each student. Faculty and teachers know everyone by name and this contributes to the camaraderie and community feel.
ICS provides a safe environment for students to learn and try new things through extracurricular activities. Teachers and coaches focus on character development of the children as well as their academic and spiritual growth. We learned of ICS through our employer’s school liaison officer, who provided us a list of schools in Singapore. We decided to enrol our children based on the Christian worldview espoused by the school and its positive reputation. I would recommend the school because of their tight-knit community, caring teachers, Biblical foundation and commitment to model and teach a Christian worldview.”
ISS International School
Sarah and Mark Boxall, British
“Amelia attends the Early Years classes and we love that ISS is a truly international school with a mix of nationalities and cultures. It’s a small school where everyone knows each other and there is an amazing sense of community. The PTA works hard to strengthen this community through events such as family barbecues, quiz nights and fairs.
When it came to choosing a school for Amelia, I didn’t want to enrol her somewhere only for her to get settled then have to change again when she had to go to “big girl school”. I liked that she could start ISS at age four and stay there until she is 18!
The main reason we chose ISS was its small size. At ISS, all the teachers know Amelia and are able to give her the time and support she needs. Also, ISS was one of the first schools in Singapore to exclusively offer the IB curriculum; it encourages students to think outside the box and figure things out for themselves. Amelia is thriving and we even use the IB principles to parent her outside of school. If she doesn’t want to try new food, we encourage her to be a “risk-taker” and it works every time! I always recommend ISS to my friends when they’re choosing a school. I’m so pleased I enrolled Amelia there. It has now been a year and a half, and she is settled and happy. She loves her little school family!”
“All our children are currently at the school and have attended since they were five months old. We have been extremely happy with the school. There’s a great balance of activities throughout the day, including artwork, outdoor and indoor play, story time, songs and occasional day trips. The children are introduced to new concepts and learn them through fun activities. A highlight for us is the strong Mandarin element – our boys are picking the language up very well. It’s extremely impressive given that this is entirely from school as we have no Mandarin speakers at home!
When we were looking for a preschool, we discovered that Learning Vision had a branch in the same building as my office. I also had friends with children attending the school who highly recommended it. We did a lot of research at the time and it was our preferred centre. It’s a friendly, nurturing and caring environment with lovely teachers and caregivers. Our children love going to school every day. Everyone knows everyone, whether they are teachers, parents or children.
Sophie has a heart condition that requires care and attention. The centre has taken this on board and allayed our concerns. Lastly, having all three kids in the same preschool from four months (through to seven years should we wish) is very convenient for working parents.”
Maple Bear Singapore
Lionel and Cintia Sinai-Sinelnikoff, French and Brazilian
Rafael (2.5) and Elisa (1 month)
“Rafael has been attending Maple Bear since late 2015. As soon as Elisa reaches the appropriate age, she will definitely join too. Our experience with the school has been thrilling. Rafael enjoys every single day. With a huge smile and great excitement, he tells us about his activities, friends and his teachers, Mrs Justina, Xu Laoshi and Zeng Laoshi. Participation in extracurricular activities (theatre, music and sports) is enabling Rafael to develop at an impressively fast pace. As parents with an international background, we particularly enjoy the cultural activities where kids discover and learn about other customs and traditions.
Maple Bear was recommended to us by friends who enrolled their daughter. Their confidence and feedback, and the warm and professional welcome of the school director, comforted us in our decision. A major reason for us to enrol Rafael at Maple Bear was the dual-language teaching in English and Chinese. Also, the school design provides great added value and the Maple Bear team is always welcoming of feedback as to how the school can improve Rafael’s experience. They are readily available to discuss his development and involve us actively in the Maple Bear community.”
Marlborough College Malaysia
Nadja and Dominik Poignee, German
Jean (8), Cecile (6) and Aurelie (4)
“Jean was one of the founding pupils of Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM). He’s now in Year 4, Cecile is in Year 2 and Aurelie is due to start Reception in August 2017. She can’t wait to join her siblings!
When we moved to Johor, Malaysia, nine years ago, I learned through a friend that MCM was due to open, so I decided to go to an information evening. The curriculum is based on the English National Curriculum, but also takes into account the international aspect of the school. The children are taught Mandarin and have an option of Malay or Spanish from Reception. They also learn about cultural holidays like Chinese New Year and Deepavali. The children are exposed to a wide array of sports from an early age, such as weekly PE, ballet and swimming lessons, along with exposure to climbing, yoga and tennis.
The 90-acre college grounds have amazing facilities, including two pools, tennis courts and a large sports hall. My kids love the different sports available and enjoy other activities like chess, the science club, the Lego club and creative colouring. Also, we especially like the school’s yearly art charity auction. The school not only offers children an excellent education, but also ensures that each child develops skills in other areas like sports, music and drama. The children are treated with respect and in turn they are taught to treat others with compassion and respect. Our children love going to school every morning and as parents we are convinced.”
Jalan Marlborough, 79200 Iskandar Puteri, Johor, Malaysia | marlboroughcollege.my
Melbourne Specialist School
Peter and Margaret Chadwick, Australian and Filipino
Sohfia (7), Alicia (4) and Thalia (1)
“Alicia has attended MSIS since July 2016. The school has a friendly and supportive family atmosphere amongst the parents, teachers and staff. They arrange consultations with teachers, therapists and parents to formulate an Individual Learning Programme (ILP) for each child. This helps to focus on the needs of each individual child. They organise outdoor activities, like weekly swimming lessons and regular excursions, as well as cooking classes to help with everyday life skills. The gym caters extremely well to the requirements of the children. All the therapists are fantastic and show great care for the needs and progress of each child.
We researched a number of preschools for Alicia through the internet and word of mouth. After visiting, we decided to send Alicia to MSIS. The main reason is that at Alicia’s young age, MSIS was one of the few that could offer a school environment combined with group therapy sessions like Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Speech Therapy.
The respective therapists work closely with class teachers. We were able to combine this with individual therapy sessions and this has helped her develop and improve in leaps and bounds. Alicia has developed into a very outgoing child who loves going to MSIS. We would recommend the school not only for children who require specialist providers. It’s also a great environment to prepare and equip children with the necessary skills to enter a mainstream programme at a later stage.”
Ryuichi and Hanae Tanaka, Japanese
Lilika (3), Momoka (7 months)
“Lilika has attended MindChamps since September 2015 and is currently in N2. She enjoys the artwork activities in school. Having both English and Chinese speaking teachers, the school has enhanced and developed my daughter’s ability to be creative, and enabled her to understand and speak both languages in addition to her mother tongue, Japanese.
We learnt of MindChamps through a Japanese family friend living in the same condo. We decided to enrol Lilika due to its convenient location, low student-teacher ratio and cleanliness. The teachers are very well trained and they all share the same mind-set and goal when teaching the kids. The school is very organised, well looked after and has a safe environment. I think MindChamps is the perfect fit for my daughter due to its close proximity to our home and its multinational environment.”
MindChamps PreSchool has 33 centres island-wide
Odyssey The Global Preschool
Mia and Jaco Burger, South African
Lila (5) and twins Noa and Uma (3 months)
“Lila has attended Odyssey de Loyang since July 2016. It’s a nurturing schooling environment and a child-centred community. Odyssey is an ideal balance between an academic institution and a pleasant learning environment. An important factor is the quality of the staff: from the management and teachers to the support staff, they are professional and caring, taking the time to engage with Lila. It’s clear that our daughter’s wellbeing is their priority. The children learn from them and are kind and well mannered.
The teachers are accessible, approachable and accommodating. We receive updates on Lila’s progress regularly, and parental involvement is encouraged. The curriculum is stimulating and engaging; learning activities are mostly play-based and self-directed. We are excited about the new outdoor adventure learning initiative that will take advantage of the parks and nature surrounding the school.
We first discovered the school when we were house-hunting in the area and heard of friends’ positive experiences. After researching the school’s approach and reputation, we felt that Odyssey de Loyang provided just what we were looking for. We visited the school and were impressed. Lila was not adjusting well in her previous school and our main concern was to find a friendly and stimulating learning environment for her. Lila is happy going to school each morning and she enjoys every day. She’s more confident and is improving academically. It’s comforting to find a school where the core values not only match ours, but are lived out every day!”
Pat’s School House
Sandra and Isaac Biosca, Spanish
“Lia started her education at Pat’s Schoolhouse in January 2016 when she was 19 months old. The school looks at all details such as diet, educational programmes, hygiene and sleeping patterns. It has incredible facilities such as sand-play and waterplay areas, a playground and scooters for kids to play with and develop their motor skills. Lia has gained experience in music and movement, creative arts and crafts, science and discovery, and physical education.
Symbolic or pretend play has also allowed Lia to be more independent, gain self-confidence, problem-solving skills and leadership skills. However, she also knows that the teachers are there to help if she needs. The teachers make Lia feel safe and comfortable in the school environment, enhancing the learning process. Through the bilingual education programme, Lia is exposed to both English and Chinese. I’m also able to keep up with the activities each week on the school website and be part of Lia’s daily learning.
As a psychologist, I know the importance of child development within the first three years of life. We visited more than 14 preschools in Singapore and finally chose Pat’s Schoolhouse. They have small class sizes (each with two teachers), great facilities and emphasis is given to learning through play. The teachers are professional, planning activities that are creative, educational and relevant. The school celebrates all festivals and encourages parents to participate. What makes us the most satisfied is how Lia walks out from school with a big smile!”
Pat’s Schoolhouse has 18 locations island-wide.
Pegasus International Preschool
Lacey and Joe Derrington, American
Preston (6) and Skyler (4)
“Skyler has attended Pegasus International Preschool since September of 2015. Our experience has been amazing. It’s challenging enough finding the right school for your child’s needs in any circumstance, but moving to a new country poses new challenges. Pegasus feels more like a family than a school. Classes are small and intimate, and the children are able to interact at a whole new level.
Parents come from different walks of life, countries, cultures and religions, but we all have the same goal in mind: we want to give our children a safe, fun and exciting start in life. My daughter’s teacher Mrs Adeline has been with her the entire time and has progressed with her. I’ve enjoyed the school’s play- and inquiry-based learning, which allows the children to learn in a fun and creative way. Skyler and I have even made lifelong best friends together! Since she started school, her best friend Maya has been with her every step of the way.
I initially chose the school based on a recommendation from a website. Pegasus was also right around the corner from our house. Since then, they have relocated to The Grandstand in Turf Club Road. High on my list of priorities was the school’s flexibility. Most schools require children to attend five full days while I only wanted three half-days. They serve healthy, home-cooked meals with vegetables, which they manage to convince the kids to eat. Skyler comes home talking about the cabbage and long beans she eats! I’m confident that Pegasus not only gives my child and her classmates a great education, but also love and friendship.”
Rain Trees International Kindergarten
Nicholas and Abbey Tobin, British
Ottilie (3) and Elodie (1)
“Ottilie has been at Rain Trees since September 2015 and Elodie will attend next year when she turns two. Ottilie has loved going there from day one – she happily runs in and starts playing straight away. She is very fond of her teacher Miss Angelia, and all the teaching assistants are lovely too. The school is very welcoming and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, which is what attracted us in the first place. The school encourages parents (and grandparents) to come in and read, cook or join in the class parties. It’s a lovely opportunity to see all the children together.
The play-based curriculum is great and it always amazes us what Ottilie has learnt. I know she has picked up some Mandarin as well, including songs. She’s always very happy when Monday morning comes around and it’s time for school again. We’ve not really had any problems leaving her there – only when it’s time to come home! The school is within walking distance of where we live, which was important to us. We really liked the feel of Rain Trees from our first visit. We believe that it was important to “go with our gut” and we haven’t been disappointed. I’ve heard from other families at the school that their children have been very well positioned and have transitioned well when moving on to a big school.”
Shaws Preschool Singapore
Nicholas and Sharon Clarke, Australian and Filipino
Thomas (8), Madeleine (7) and Oscar (3)
“Oscar has attended Shaws Braddell since September 2015. Madeleine previously attended the school when she was two years old. I’m happy with their well-rounded curriculum, which teaches Mandarin from an early age, uses learning through play and includes sport. The passion and commitment the teachers and caregivers put in everyday is commendable. Oscar comes home from school happy and it’s a good start to establishing a positive relationship with school.
We live in the neighbourhood and we visited one of the school’s open-house days. I was happy with the proposed curriculum, facilities, teachers’ experience and approach to education, and the caregivers’ genuine concern for the children. We would recommend the school, especially to working parents. Shaws Braddell is reliable, safe and has a positive and educational environment.”
Shaws Preschool has five locations island-wide
Singapore American School
Nicole and Tim Krause
Elizabeth (9), Ryan (7) and Alexandra (4)
“All three of our children attend SAS. This is our first year in Singapore and at SAS, and our experience has been wonderful. The Early Learning Center at the school is an incredible place. Ms Hannah, Ms Katy and Ms Ann (the teachers in Alexandra’s hub) are energetic, caring, thoughtful and fun. The kids are encouraged to use their imagination and learn through inquiry. We are amazed with the projects they have worked on, including constructing a city and designing and sewing dresses.
The facilities are beautiful – set up perfectly for children to explore and learn. The teachers also provide many opportunities for the parents to spend time in the classroom, as mystery readers, to work on special projects, and of course for class celebrations.
When we decided to move to Singapore, we talked to many friends and colleagues who lived in Singapore. Every comment we heard about SAS was positive. When we visited the school and observed the teachers interacting with the children and the learning environment, we knew SAS was the right place for our kids. We would definitely recommend SAS to other families; it’s a wonderful place for kids to use their imagination, to become independent learners and to have fun. Alexandra is excited to go to school every day. When she comes home, she loves to share stories about her day.”
St Joseph’s Institution International
Marcella and James Sullivan, American
Maile (9), Caio (7), Riley and Gaitan (5)
“All four of our children attend SJII; Maile is in Grade 4, Caio just started Grade 2 and Riley and Gaitan just began their Prep 2 year. All of our children are very happy at school. Just recently, the twins came bouncing into the car after their first day back and exclaimed, “School wasn’t good … it was great!”
The teachers are excellent, caring and committed individuals who have the best interests of the children at heart. Through discussions with them and parent workshops, it’s evident that they aim to foster a love for learning. This is seen through their inquiry-based curriculum, which includes the Writer’s Workshop and the D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) programme, to name a few. Sport is another key component at the school, with PE and swim classes each week; we enjoy attending the Sports Days and Swim Galas. Parents are very involved and have various opportunities to get to know each other.
We first learned about SJII when we were considering schools for Maile. At the time, it was relatively new, but the ethos and feel of the school really appealed to us. SJII’s diverse student body has allowed our children to have a broad view and perception of the world. As Catholics, the Catholic and Lasallian ethos of the school and the character-centred philosophy also strongly appealed to us.
Overall, we have been very happy with the school – the friends that our children have made, the parents that we know, the wellbalanced and well-thought-out curriculum, the excellent teaching staff and the emphasis placed on character education.”
Sunflower Baby House and PreSchool
Triana and Steve Buxton, Indonesian and Australian
Aiden (6) and Alexander (4)
“Alexander has attended Sunflower Baby House since August 2015. We were hoping to continue with the combination of teaching in both English and Chinese that our children had in their school in Hong Kong. This has been great for Alexander and he follows instructions in Chinese really well; Sunflower has been an absolute gem for us in this regard.
Alexander had a tough time adjusting in the first three months because he was separated from his older brother (Aiden goes to Nexus International School). The teachers – Miss Haseena, in particular – were super loving and patient! Now he doesn’t want to move to any other school; he says, “My school is Sunflower and I love it!” The curriculum teaches and prepares the children to be independent and caring towards others. Alexander was able to change and dress himself when he was only three years old after he’d been at the school for about six months. The school allows parents to be involved in activities such as Sports Day, the Father’s Day Charity Football Game and the Gala Concert. Parents get to know one another and the school community.
A friend recommended Sunflower to us. The location is great and it’s close to where we live. After speaking to the owner, Angela Ng, we were convinced that this would be a great school for our boy. Angela demonstrated that the children’s development and safety are of utmost importance. The way the staff handle the children is also very heart-warming. Every child is loved, and as parents we feel very comfortable that our child matters in this school.”
Swallows and Amazons
Therese and Declan Crowe, Filipino and Irish
Daniel (3) and Isabelle (21 months)
“Both Daniel and Isabelle attend Swallows and Amazons; Daniel has been there since August 2015 and Isabelle started in November 2016. The warm experience I got from the orientation with the principal, Miss Jackie, left an impression that has remained consistent throughout the time our kids have been at the school. The teachers are attentive, caring and generous with their time when it comes to discussing the children’s progress, wellbeing and development.
The balance of indoor and outdoor play in learning, as well as the focus on developing EQ (emotional intelligence) along with academic development, is generally what attracted us to the school. Amongst other things, the school embraces children with special needs. The daily communication with parents via email is also great; an online portal allows the family to access photos of the kids.
I read about the school through expat community forums and blogs. After checking it out, I was convinced that it was the perfect place for our kids to start their education journey. We most certainly would recommend the school – it’s the reason why our second child is now enrolled there. It’s important for us to know that our children are learning through play, and encouraged to satisfy their curiosity, be active and socially integrated across multiple cultures.
Ultimately, decide what’s important to you. For us, it’s about striking a balance between learning and playing; indoors and outdoors; English and Mandarin; arts and science. We know that our children are in a safe environment under the care and guidance of competent teachers. That’s exactly what we’re getting at Swallows and Amazons.”
Tanglin Trust School
Kirsty and Tom Cornell, British
Maisie (11), Albert (10), Walter (7) and Iris (3)
“Our four children are enrolled at Tanglin Trust School and Iris is the first to attend Nursery. The staff are wonderful and friendly, and there’s a real sense of community. The classrooms open out to the playground so the children can run in and out of their classrooms to play whenever they want. I’m constantly surprised at what I find inside the classroom when I drop Iris off – whether it’s a massive tray of fake snow (and mini icebergs) with penguins and seals, a monitor lizard made out of tissue boxes, supermarket checkouts, or a kid-size bus (including tickets)! I love that the learning is so clearly led by the children’s interests. There are also loads of opportunities for parents to get involved as well; last week, I cooked fried rice with Iris’s class!
We have loads of friends whose children went through Nursery at Tanglin and we’ve never heard a bad word. One of the things they’ve introduced this year is the flexible finish time. Some of the children finish at midday, or there is the option of staying until 1.50pm. It’s entirely up to you and your child – you can do it every day, one day a week, or once a term.
Before Iris started I was worried that the Nursery class might be too big, but with a teacher and two assistants per class, the emphasis is on the individual and it’s such a happy little community. At the beginning of the year, the children start on alternate days, so there is a smaller group of ten children. They continue with alternate days for the first month and when they bring the children together to start five days a week, it’s an incredibly easy transition. Tanglin Nursery is fantastic; I only wish my other children had the chance to go there!”
UWC South East Asia
Liz and Mike Jackson, British
Cara (13) and Tom (7)
“Both of our children attend the UWC South East Asia (UWCSEA) East Campus. Cara is in Middle School and started in Grade 5; Tom started in K1 and this is his third year at the school. UWCSEA is welcoming and open; the teachers and classroom assistants have a passion for learning and help children reach their potential. Teachers are constantly increasing their knowledge and understanding of the latest educational research and methods. There are a variety of activities that the children can take part in after school, including swimming, PE, music, Mandarin and art. Each year, there is an arts festival for each age group along with Uniting Nations Day, school spirit days, sports days and outings to a range of places including the Zoo, Playeum and Pasir Ris Park.
Service learning starts from K1, where the children learn about what community is, and their role in making their communities a better place for everyone. In Grade 1, the children visit a nursing home and spend time making friends with the residents. The Parents Association is very active at the school and run a wide variety of activities for parents and families.
A colleague told me about her children’s experience at the school and I decided to find out more. When I saw how well the teachers use the Reggio Emilia approach for inspiration, incorporate service learning into the programme and value individuality, I knew it would be a good place for my children. I believe that children get a well-rounded holistic education here. Service, activities, outdoor education and personal, social and emotional wellbeing are woven into the curriculum. What better way to start your academic career than in a place that teaches the love for learning.”
Kavita and Raj Nandan, Australian
Simran (17), Avaani (14) and Ashiyana (6)
“Ashiyana (Ashy) has attended White Lodge since January this year; her siblings attended other preschools in Australia. The experience at the school has been only positive. Ms Henrietta, Ashy’s teacher, is very patient and encouraging, while the school principal is hands-on and knows all the children. Another plus was the chance to learn Mandarin from a young age. The curriculum is well structured, covering not just maths and phonics, but also general knowledge. I was also very impressed with the end-of-year concert, which included some amazing costumes.
A friend recommended White Lodge, so I decided to check it out. From my initial conversations with Ms Jayne, the founding director, to meeting the principal and seeing the school, I felt the warmth of the environment. The teachers were smiling and so were the kids. The size of the school was also appealing as it was not too big and it didn’t feel daunting. The cultural mix was a big factor for us – we felt it was important for Ashy to meet people from around the world and learn about different cultures. The school also prepares kids for primary school, be it an international school or local school. The standards are high and Ashy has learnt so much in just a year.
The school has a balanced curriculum; the kids have fun learning and they adapt easily. I only wish there was a primary school branch! If you’re looking for a school that brings together a good mix of Singaporean and international in its learning, White Lodge has done it well.”
White Lodge has eight locations island-wide.
This article first appeared in the Preschool Mini Guide in the March 2017 edition of Expat Living Singapore. Subscribe now!