We all know just how important the early years of learning are for children. That’s why it’s a good idea to look at Early Years programmes and preschool curriculums when considering an international school’s preschool. Enrolling your child at an international preschool also means less change as they progress to kindergarten and then primary school. You’ll also have confidence that they’ll be learning what’s needed for later on.
Other factors to keep in mind include the preschool team’s experience, campus facilities and the focus on play. These seven international preschools in Singapore have fantastic facilities and opportunities to prepare little ones for ‘big school’ – and the big world!
Brighton College (Singapore) – Early Years programme
The Early Years Foundation Studies programme at Brighton College (Singapore) combines academic rigour with a play-based teaching and learning approach. By balancing adult-led tasks with child-initiated learning, children are presented with open-ended learning opportunities based on their interests and next steps. What’s more, the teaching staff have a wealth of experience in Early Years. This allows them to provide excellent play-based and age-appropriate learning programmes for young learners.
A strong emphasis on curiosity and exploration is embedded through the school’s three Characteristics of Effective Learning: playing and exploring, active learning, and creative and critical thinking. Students are encouraged to be curious and inquisitive by asking questions and investigating the ‘why’ in life. During sensory play, STEM, gardening and cooking, they’re encouraged to be active participants in their learning journey from a young age.
Outdoor education is a valuable element of the school day at Brighton College (Singapore). Budding learners have many opportunities for playground fun throughout the day – the Early Years classrooms provide access to an outdoor area including a sand play area. In the classroom, many resources that the students use are natural, recyclable and real-life objects.
‘Parents as partners’ underpins the ethos of the Early Years programme at the school. An online platform is used as a tool to capture learning opportunities of each child’s day. Teachers also regularly hold progress meetings with parents to update progress, both academically and pastorally.
Singapore American School – Reggio Emilia-inspired learning
The Singapore American School takes a Reggio Emilia-inspired approach to early learning, with a focus on inquiry and project-based learning. Learning experiences are designed to encourage natural curiosity and provoke investigations that are meaningful to the children. The preschool curriculum includes daily Chinese language classes, literacy, mathematics, Units of Inquiry with conceptual-based projects, and motor skill development in Move and Groove classes.
Learning isn’t confined within classroom walls; for example, there’s a 1.6-acre rainforest for learning about nature. Students also have two recess times each day where they can run and play at the playground and ride bikes. Children can also expect experimental and exploratory learning through outings that are based on inquiry projects the class is working on. Past visits include trips to Marina Barrage and Sentosa, and seeing musicals. Besides parent-teacher meetings, parents can log onto Storypark that documents their child’s learning. They also receive weekly emails about what has been taught in class at this international school’s preschool.
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 school also believes in developing physical wellbeing and the sensory-motor and cognitive systems.
Parents are updated about their child’s learning journey on Storypark, 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.
The Grange International Preschool – Early Years curriculum
The Grange International Preschool (TGIP) acknowledges that every child is unique. The school uses the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC), which provides teachers with a structure for children’s holistic learning and to achieve desired outcomes.
Teachers at TGIP scaffold differentiated and appropriate learning experiences for each child. For example, a child might share with their peers the description of an insect found in the school yard; the teacher, meanwhile, will assist with question prompts to extend the child’s description. This helps to encourage greater curiosity and the confidence to explore.
TGIP learners also acquire skills that can be applied in the real world through learning blocks such as Young Botanists, Young Chefs, Young Musicians and Young Artists. They all promote inquiry and also foster thinking, social, collaborative and self-management skills. Games, hands-on experience and breaking lessons into small and large group learning are some of the ways that make learning fun and engaging for students at this international school’s preschool. A regular school day includes indoor and outdoor activities such as exploring the eco garden and urban farming.
The school updates parents through a home communication book that the student brings home every day. Other updates such as a monthly newsletter, parent-teacher conferences, progress checklist and student portfolio are sent through emails.
449 Yio Chu Kang Road
6817 3630 | preschool.thegrange.edu.sg
Canadian International School – a kindergarten programme leading to IB
At Canadian International School (CIS), young ones (2 to 5 years) learn through the kindergarten programme. This is fully aligned to the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. CIS doesn’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all” learning approach; the individual needs and interests of the student are taken into account. This sets the foundation for children to grow their ability to apply their learning to different settings while developing their critical thinking skills.
Students are taught with an inquiry- and play-based approach that fosters critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creative problem solving. Teachers are constantly monitoring, engaging and guiding purposeful play experiences. For example, students learn complex concepts like volume, measurement, displacement and capacity while engaging in fun and interactive activities such as water play.
From pre-kindergarten, students can choose to take daily French or Chinese lessons as part of the language acquisition programme or enrol in the Chinese-English or French-English bilingual programmes. The programmes feature a 50:50 model where students spend one day learning in English and another in Chinese or French, with no translation or repetition. From the next academic year in 2022-2023, CIS is extending the Chinese-English bilingual programme to nursery and the French-English bilingual programme to grade 6.
Parents are able to keep up with what their children get up to in school through Seesaw, a platform for teachers and students to document their teaching and learning programmes, weekly Friday email updates from both teachers and principals as well as parent-teacher conferences and student-led conferences.
Overseas Family School – an international preschool curriculum
The International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) at Overseas Family School (OFC) is an enquiry-based programme for children aged two to five years. It focuses on the total development of the child by addressing the student’s academic, physical, social and emotional well-being through Units of Learning (UL). ULs enable children and teachers to co-construct experiences while providing children with the time, space and pace to consider, process and enjoy their learning and experiences. Through child-initiated and teacher-led learning experiences, a child’s natural curiosity continues to develop. This makes teaching and learning an engaging process for both teacher and child.
As part of this international preschool curriculum, students will experience field trips for each UL, fun projects to do with their family at home, celebrating cultural festivals, dress-up days and the Kindy Concert. This is supported with specialist lessons in ICT, music, gym, swimming, library, cooking and languages. Children experience outdoor play twice a day together with opportunities for unstructured indoor play during the day.
The school keeps parents updated on their child’s progress through a variety of ways including emails, student portfolio, semester progress reports and parent-teacher conferences.
81 Pasir Ris Heights
6738 0211 | ofs.edu.sg
GESS International School – based on IB Primary Years Programme
At GESS, the preschool curriculum is based on the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. The school places a big focus on the social and emotional development of children. Each class works with a preschool specialist teacher in the various areas of learning; these include art, music, sports, library and language (German and English). Also, young students go on regular field trips to support their current area of learning. Teachers design projects and learning experiences with children’s interests, questions and abilities in mind. Additionally, the school strongly believes that a play-based education is suitable for young children’s learning.
Besides learning in the classroom, students head to the digital studio and sensory room where they can explore other concepts. They also have time daily to play at the school’s outdoor preschool playground. The school communicates with parents through online platform Seesaw where they can see what their child gets up to at school; this can include photographs, videos and written work.
Read here for more about international schools in Singapore.
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