The early years of learning for children can be so important! Consider enrolling them from the international preschool stage. For one thing, it’ll mean less change as they progress to kindergarten and then primary school. Factors to keep in mind when choosing include the international preschool curriculums early years programmes and , the team’s experience, the facilities on the campus, and the focus on play. Here are 10 international preschools in Singapore that have fantastic facilities and opportunities to prepare the little ones for ‘big school’ – and the big world!
Dulwich College Kindergarten School – early years learning
The early years school at Dulwich College (Singapore) is a happy, safe and secure space where students learn in a dual English-Mandarin language environment. Affectionately known as DUCKS, every class is taught by at least one native English-speaking teacher and one native Mandarin-speaking teacher. DUCKS children also have daily Mandarin lessons.
The children have access to purpose built state-of-the-art facilities. This includes three swimming pools, playing fields, Forest School, indoor gymnasium, a rooftop bike track, a dedicated library, two dining rooms, a butterfly garden, a water play area and a professional kitchen. They’re all designed to nurture the intellectual, physical, social and emotional development of students.
Notably, Dulwich is the first international school in Singapore to incorporate the UK’s Forest School Learning Initiative accredited Forest School programme into its Early Years programme. The natural environment gives young students an opportunity to take measured risks, collaborate with peers, design their own challenges and problem-solve.
The College says it aims to develop students who Live Worldwise, equipped with skills, knowledge and motivation to have a positive impact on society and the planet. In DUCKS, this involves teachers challenging students in areas where they show strength and interest. This might involve additional maths for children who demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of numbers, or enabling children to lead a lesson in a subject they have particular knowledge in. Children can also take up leadership positions in Student Council, House Captains, Global Guardians, Creative Stars, Reading Rockets, Techsperts and Ecowarriors. This enables each child to follow their own personalised pathway to become confident young learners who take pride in their achievements.
Australian International School – inquiry-based preschool curriculum
Students at the Australian International School engage in inquiry-based learning experiences. The Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Australian Early Years Learning Framework ( EYLF) support these. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the programme features child-initiated play and hands-on learning. Teachers at AIS plan for a variety of experiences that can broaden and extend children’s learning. They also aim to make children feel safe and confident, develop self-regulation and try out new things. The Early Learning Village campus offers both indoor and outdoor exploration, with natural elements such as sticks, rocks, flowers, soil and water. The international preschool also believes in developing physical wellbeing and the sensory-motor and cognitive systems.
Parents are updated about their child’s learning journey on Storypark. It’s a private online sharing space, where videos, photos, learning stories and personalised observations are showcased. Parents can also add their own stories, and leave comments and feedback for children as well as teachers. Teachers also organise face-to-face meetings with parents each term.
Marlborough College Malaysia – inquiry-based early years programme
At Marlborough College Malaysia, early years students experience an inquiry-based approach that focuses on learning through play. The programme uses the UK framework, which outlines seven key areas of development: personal, social and emotional; communication and language; physical; literacy; maths; understanding the world; and expressive arts and design.
Small groups and a high staff-to-pupil ratio ensure that children get ample opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas and feelings on a daily basis. Days are varied, with dedicated early years teachers designing activities to stimulate and engage young children. The international preschool curriculum is further enriched by specialist teachers for subjects such as Music, Mandarin, Ballet and Swimming.
Outdoor learning is also a key part of the early years’ experience. A fully trained Forest School Leader delivers weekly lessons within the 90-acre site. Children are encouraged to explore their natural environment, which fosters a culture of curiosity. There’s also a variety of outdoor play areas at the College where children can enjoy sand and water play, ride trikes or even dig for worms.
Teachers use Seesaw to keep parents updated where photos, videos and messages of children’s progress are shared regularly. Twice a year, the Learning Showcase happens. This allows parents the chance to visit their child’s classroom and be shown around by their children. Teachers adopt an open-door policy and are available for face-to-face conversations throughout the year. Parent Meetings happen twice a year.
The Grange International Preschool – Early Years curriculum
Through the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) and Young CREATORS philosophy, The Grange International Preschool (TGIP) says it has dedicated itself to providing a transformative learning experience. This is encapsulated through various Learning Blocks encompassing Young Botanists, Young Chefs, Young Musicians, Young Sportsman and Young Artists. These blocks are seamlessly integrated into the weekly timetable, equipping learners with real-world skills that prepares them for the future.
Education at TGIP goes beyond the classroom in the form of the exclusive Green Granger initiative. This ground-breaking initiative embraces the natural environment in and surrounding the international preschool; it won the coveted Best Environmental Initiative award at the Singapore Educational Awards for in 2021 and 2022. Within a lush three-acre compound designed to promote and encourage sustainable-driven learning, an eco-garden and conceptual food-forest are home to over 100 plant varieties, flowers, fruits and vegetables. These curated spaces double as living classrooms with hands-on opportunities that impart knowledge. They also reinforce the values of sustainability and communal sharing.
TGIP uses a mobile platform where families can communicate with teachers. Photos of student’s learning are also shared through the platform. A bi-annual Parent Teacher Conference is also conducted to update parents on their child’s progress.
Chatsworth International School – holistic preschool curriculum
The early years programme at Chatsworth International School follows the IB Primary Years Programme. Learners from three years of age (K1) are introduced to a formal school setting while receiving a holistic international education. Students are immersed in a play- and inquiry-based preschool curriculum designed to support year-level contents while inquiring about different concepts. The programme is interdisciplinary, and students learn mathematics, language, science and social studies within their play exploration.
Chatsworth says that its early childhood teachers aim to empower and guide the students to become great thinkers. This collective thinking allows for better understanding and gives room for research and learning. Students direct the course of the central idea of focus and its line of inquiry, and their curiosity and interest in learning help the group to take action in a project. For example, in The K1B World of Animals project, the K1s explored animals, their habitats and our responsibility to share the planet with animals. They began by inquiring about their favourite animals and their habitats. Then, as a class, constructed a play area adorned with animal plushies representing different habitats and a collection of books. Students embarked on individual or group projects based on their interests. They worked on their artistic skills by drawing beautiful animal illustrations, sometimes aided by how-to-draw videos, and used actual animal photos to reference their paintings.
Teachers communicate with parents regularly via email. Electronic newsletters and newsletters share important information relating to school and programmes. Parents are informed of their child’s learning through a digital platform that documents their progress. Twice a year, detailed reports are issued and parent-teacher-student conferences are held.
Nexus International School (Singapore) preschool curriculum
The Early Years component of the IB Primary Years Programme at Nexus has a strong emphasis on play-based learning. Learners drive much of the learning themselves. Using these interests, Early Years teachers craft transdisciplinary activities that are open-ended, simple to engage in and also encompass multiple learning objectives, all through play. Teachers also use a technique by Elkan Speech and Language Development for Early Years learners to expand their vocabularies throughout their educational journey.
This holistic approach allows Nexus learners to build key development skills such as communication, social skills, and research and thinking skills. The school says that it also embraces learner autonomy and self-reliance, empowering learners to be independent wherever possible. For instance, Nexus learners are responsible for organising their personal belongings and selecting resources appropriate for their learning. They also benefit from specialised classes encompassing subjects like music, art, foreign languages and physical education. These are all taught by the team of early childhood education specialists.
While Early Year learners have full access to the entire school’s facilities and spaces, they also have a dedicated space that transitions seamlessly from indoor to outdoor. The indoor spaces feature a variety of defined learning areas such as sensory, craft corners and a hydroponic farm. The outdoor area includes a lush garden, sand kitchen, sand pit, water play areas and adventure equipment. There’s also a double-storey treehouse that encourages exploration and learning from the natural environment.
Nexus uses the Seesaw platform to keep parents updated on their children’s progress and learning. Teachers share photos, drawings, video clips, voice recordings and more through the platform, allowing parents to stay informed and participate in their child’s learning experiences.
Tanglin Nursery and Infant School – early years programme with play
The Nursery and Infant School at Tanglin Trust School is a calm and inviting space designed to encourage children to explore new thoughts and ideas with a balance of teacher-directed and child-chosen activities.
Playtime and outdoor activities are central to the Early Years Programme at Tanglin Infant School. It even has its own bike riding programme and climbing wall designed to help children learn essential skills to build their confidence. The on-site Forest School programme is an integral part of this approach, along with Field Trips and co-curricular activities. Fun and development go together hand in hand here, whether trying out new musical instruments, experiencing new crafts or visiting new places.
The school says it puts a strong emphasis on maintaining clear communication channels; in fact, the provision of information for parents at Tanglin was described as ‘Outstanding’ by British school overseas (BSO). Parents receive regular reports and updates about their child’s progress, both formally and informally. As a result, they feel very much part of the school community during these formative years.
Tanglin Infant School has been awarded The Early Years and Infant Quality Mark. It was also the first school in Asia to be given the Curiosity Approach Accreditation, which reflects a well-thought-out teaching practice and pedagogy.
Dover Court International School – Reggio-inspired early years
The Early Years curriculum at Dover Court International School (DCIS) follows a Reggio-inspired and child-initiated approach to teaching and learning. Underpinned by the English Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), it sets the standards for the learning, development, and care of young children. The DCIS Early Years curriculum focuses on personal, social and emotional development, communication and language, physical development, literacy, maths, understanding of the world and expressive arts and design.
The international preschool says that its environment has been set up to inspire meaningful encounters, creative explorations and independent risk taking. Children’s interests are woven into the concepts and projects they’re exploring each term. This is through the use of real materials and tools in creative and collaborative ways. As projects develop, teachers incorporate EYFS outcomes into the provocations and discussions to extend children’s thinking and understanding in a holistic way. Children also enjoy weekly sessions in physical education, swimming, music and Mandarin, guided by highly trained specialist teachers.
The Early Years outdoor atelier and sensory atelier work as an extension of the classrooms. They give children the opportunity to take their learning outdoors by supporting the children in developing imagination, planning and carrying out investigations and experiments. The children also enjoy regular nature walks in the park next door, often gathering natural materials to support their projects and learning.
Recognising that parents are the first teachers of their child, the school builds positive relationships with parents by providing families with detailed and personal observations of their child’s learning. Teachers share documentation with parents through the online platform, Seesaw. There are also parent-teacher consultations and reports each term. These detail children’s achievements and next steps, as well as regular Parents as Partners workshops and volunteering opportunities.
UWC South East Asia Kindergarten – inquiry-based early years
UWCSEA says it has created a special immersive environment for the Infant School. This helps to foster and grow a love of learning in their youngest learners aged four to seven years. The school’s early learning programme comes to life in age-appropriate ways. This is across five key curriculum components: Academics, Activities, Outdoor Education, Personal and Social Education, and Service.
Infant School classrooms are deliberately and thoughtfully designed. This helps to cultivate confident learners who embrace challenges and develop a passion for learning. Grade-level pods, for example, feature spaces for collective activities such as art, discovery time, mathematics, reading, writing and dramatic play. These areas facilitate academic exploration and a deeper understanding of the interdisciplinary ‘Units of Study’ students are undertaking.
Learning also extends beyond the classroom and campuses – students connect with outdoor spaces, the environment and with the broader community in Singapore. For example, K1 students participate in Forest School activities. These include exploring green spaces and observing wildlife, and collecting twigs, rocks and organic material to create natural collages. “Chicken-Based Learning” is a favourite for East Campus Infant School students. They work together to care for the resident chickens, which introduces them to learnings about composting, permaculture, food sources, environmental stewardship and how to cooperate and take responsibility.
Off-campus field trips and Service trips to places like Chinatown, Bollywood Veggies, the Singapore Zoo or to any of UWCSEA’s community Service partners provide real-life experiences for young learners. This interdisciplinary, inquiry-based approach to learning lays the foundations for Infant School students to be the change makers of the future.
Parents receive regular updates through their child’s individual learning portfolio, student-led conferences and end-of-year reports.
GESS International School – based on IB Primary Years Programme
GESS offers the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children from three years of age. Educators at the international preschool observe the children’s interests, strengths, wonderings and curiosity to design engaging and hands-on learning experiences. Besides learning in language, maths and science, there’s time throughout the week for music, fine and digital arts, physical education, outdoor education and library. This is delivered together with their self-designed Child Safe Curriculum, which teaches children skills and concepts to keep themselves safe in the world.
GESS’s approach for delivering the preschool curriculum is through play and enquiry. Classrooms and learning spaces are carefully and intentionally set up to promote investigation, questioning, thinking skills, research and finding out, and collaboration in a playful authentic way.
Outdoor play and learning is also an important part of every school day. With the school’s proximity to Dairy Farm Nature Park, GESS students in their early learning programme are exposed to the wonders of nature in their daily school life. Among the preschool educators is a certified Forest School Leader who creates opportunities to optimise the children’s wellbeing and personalised learning outcomes. For example, if children show interest in creating a shelter, their creativity is encouraged by guiding them in gathering materials such as sticks, leaves and rocks from the surroundings to make one.
The school says that parents can expect a well-rounded approach to limitless learning in GESS. Student wellbeing is at the centre of everything, and the teachers actively build positive relationships with children and their families. Families are regularly updated via Seesaw, with photographs and videos of children learning at school. Parent-teacher conferences and three-way conferences, which include the child, occur throughout the year. Preschool reports with a summary of the year’s learning are shared at the end of the school year.