The early years of learning for children can be so important! If you’re considering sending your kids to an international school here, it’s a good idea to enrol them from the 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 an international preschool include the early years programmes and preschool curriculums, the team’s experience, the facilities on the campus, and the focus on play. Here are 13 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 with Forest School
The award-winning Dulwich College Kindergarten School (DUCKS) pioneered the movement of providing real-world learning and problem-solving opportunities to children in Singapore by being the first international school in Singapore to introduce Forest School. DUCKS also has many other innovative initiatives within the preschool curriculum that ensures a smooth transition into Junior School. These include the Mandarin dual-language approach, dedicated specialist teachers focused on teaching music, sport, technology, library and swimming, and the breadth of the Early Years CCAs and curriculum.
Besides a focused approach for high potential learners, DUCKS also nurtures young student leaders and introduces their students to the College’s house system to build a sense of community and team spirit. These all work together to ensure that DUCKS students build a strong foundation, both academically and emotionally, in their early years to prepare them to progress through school and for life.
“Dulwich has delivered its promise of a family culture with a focus on kindness and nurturing global citizens who will shape our world. The school is proudly academic but there’s also a strong focus on sport and the arts. Student achievements, big or small, are recognised and celebrated. We’ve been blessed with excellent teachers who genuinely care about the development and wellbeing of their students.” – Hayley Naidoo, parent of three children attending Dulwich College
71 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8
6890 1003 | singapore.dulwich.org
Singapore American School – Reggio Emilia-inspired learning
The Singapore American School (SAS) takes a Reggio Emilia-inspired approach to early learning, with a focus on inquiry and project-based learning. Learning experiences are designed to provoke natural curiosity and create ongoing investigations that are meaningful to the children. The preschool curriculum includes daily Chinese language classes, gross motor skill development in Move and Groove, units of inquiry with conceptual-based projects, and authentic learning experiences in literacy and numeracy.
Learning isn’t confined to within classroom walls; the greater SAS campus serves as an extended learning environment. For example, there’s a 1.6-acre rainforest for learning about nature, and a high school robotics lab and maker space for exploring robots and engineering. The children have regular access to outdoor spaces where they can explore, be active, play at the playground and ride bikes.
Children can also expect real-world learning experiences, connecting outings to inquiry based projects the class is working on. Past visits include a trip to Sentosa for a beach clean-up, exploration of the Marina Barrage and trips to the theatre for shows.
Building a home-school partnership is integral to SAS; regular communication connects home and school to learning. Parents have the opportunity to interact regularly with teachers and through Storypark, an online platform where they’re invited to share a window into the learning environment.
40 Woodlands Street 41
6360 6360 | sas.edu.sg
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.
1 Chuan Lane
6505 9790 | brightoncollege.edu.sg
XCL World Academy – Early Years Programme with Units of Inquiry
The goal of the Early Years Programme for three to six year olds at XCL World Academy (XWA) is to create a dynamic and joyful community of young learners who have the strong educational foundations they need to continue their journey through to Primary School. The programme is driven by the pedagogy, beliefs and values of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme while focusing on purposeful play, active learning, creativity and critical thinking.
XWA’s Early Years Programme uses several engaging Units of Inquiry to create learning experiences that raise a child’s natural curiosity and interests. Children are encouraged to actively explore the world to develop individual and shared inquiries inside and outside of the classroom. The programme incorporates varied and well-directed early learning opportunities through participation in play-based activities. These take place in vibrant environments, both indoors and outdoors to allow children to be curious, creative, collaborative, kind and considerate. They develop thinking, social, research and essential communication skills through play.
Parents are updated via a digital portfolio. It’s a simple way for teachers to share what each child is working on in the classroom and provide regular updates and notiﬁcations. Parents can use this to communicate directly with the class teacher, besides speaking face-to-face, via email or phone. The school also hosts parent-teacher and student-led conferences that enable parents to have a conversation about their child’s progress in school.
2 Yishun Street 42
6230 4222| xwa.edu.sg
XCL American Academy – student-centred preschool curriculum
The Early Childhood Programme at XCL American Academy (XAA) is tailored to the developmental needs and readiness of students at each age and stage from Pre-kindergarten to Kindergarten 2. It closely follows AERO Curriculum guidelines and the Common Core standards by the United States Department of Education. It also adopts internationally recognised early years programmes such as University of Chicago Everyday Math, Inspired Science and materials from Scholastic for literacy.
Teachers emphasise a student-centred approach – as children engage in purposeful play, they make discoveries and observations about the world around them, both inside and outside the classroom. Each subject area is approached from each child’s developmental perspective, subject background knowledge and level of understanding. XAA teachers guide each child at their own pace so that they can grow with confidence, feeling supported and cared for.
The school’s character development programme for young learners focuses on helping each child learn about individual responsibility, understand respectful language and behaviour, and develop an appreciation for differences and similarities. A child’s connection to their classroom and the school is reinforced through daily routines such as being greeted by name during the daily morning circle and a high-five from their teacher at the end of the day.
The school uses a digital platform to communicate with families and share photos and videos in a safe way. Families are also welcome to drop by the school and have a chat with their child’s teachers and the Superintendent.
2 Yishun Street 42
6230 4222 | xaa.edu.sg
The Grange International Preschool – Early Years curriculum
The Grange International Preschool uses the International Early Years Curriculum to support the development of Young Creators, which are learning outcomes that have been designed to ensure that learning is personalised and revolves around the needs and interest of a child. Through a play-based preschool curriculum, students develop disciplinary and transdisciplinary skills. Some strategies that teachers use to keep learning engaging include intellectually stimulating games, hands-on experiential learning and breaking lessons into groups to differentiate learning.
Children are also taught real-life skills through learning blocks such as Young Botanists, Young Chefs, Young Musicians, Young Sportsman and Young Artists. These promote inquiry and also foster thinking, social, collaborative and self-management skills.
Teachers often utilise the school’s eco-garden, food forest with organic fruit and vegetable plots, and spacious outdoors to bring learning to life. A student’s learning is also consolidated when they see chameleons perched on a branch in the garden or when they observe the size and feel the texture of a growing papaya fruit. Field trips reinforce this knowledge. At a hydroponics farm, they learn more about hydroponic farming methods. This allows them to differentiate between traditional farming methods used at the eco-garden, expand their knowledge, and embark on some experimental mini projects back in school.
The school has an open communication policy, so parents can email the teachers directly should they require any support. There is also a bi-annual Parent Teacher Conference to update parents on their child’s progress in school.
449 Yio Chu Kang Road
6817 3630 | preschool.thegrange.edu.sg
Chatsworth International School – holistic preschool curriculum
The early years programme at Chatsworth International School follows the IB Primary Years Programme where learners from three years old (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 that’s designed to support year-level contents while inquiring about different concepts. Inquiry-based learning provides an opportunity for early learners to develop student voice and agency, as their ideas and interests spark and extend learning possibilities.
The early childhood teachers of Chatsworth foster in young children a love of learning, which they carry throughout their education. The Teddy Bear Factory was an interesting project where K1 students extended their creativity by making their very own teddy bear. The teacher guided and supported the children in the whole process from thinking to designing. This gave the children choice and ownership of learning – no teddy bear looked the same and they all had different personalities!
Teachers communicate with parents regularly via email. Important information relating to school and programmes are shared through electronic letters and newsletters. Seesaw, a digital portfolio platform that’s accessible at home or on the go, is used to document and inform parents about their child’s learning and progress. Parent-teacher-student conferences are held twice a year, and detailed reports are also issued.
72 Bukit Tinggi Road
6463 3201 | chatsworth.com.sg
EtonHouse Preschool – Reggio Children preschool curriculum
EtonHouse is the only school group in Singapore that’s part of the international network of Reggio Children; some of their preschools are also accredited IB World Schools. Their “Inquire.Think.Learn” preschool curriculum is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.
The preschools offer diverse learning landscapes with various natural resources to promote endless possibilities and inspire questions. They consist of a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces – classrooms, library, music room, multi-sensory kitchen, the field, playground, sandpit, mud kitchen, water-play area, garden and cycling tracks. Children also go on field trips to enhance the learning experience of their latest inquiry topic.
Their immersive bilingual early years programmes have nurtured many fluent bilingual speakers, including non-native Mandarin speakers. Selected pre-schools also offer the ZhongHua Mandarin Immersion Programme, where children are fully immersed in a Mandarin environment all day to build a solid Mandarin foundation. As part of the preschool curriculum, children have access to specialist teachers for PE, music and visual arts to well-being programmes.
EtonHouse children bring home individual portfolios containing photos, work and documentation to share their learning process with their parents. There’s an online platform for parents to find regular postings of their child’s learning. The schools also send newsletters for schoolwide updates and there are parent-teacher conferences in terms 2 and 4. Parents are also welcomed to partake in various community events such as farmer’s markets, art exhibitions, school carnivals and sports days.
9 locations island-wide
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.
1 Lorong Chuan
6653 2956 | ais.com.sg
Nexus International School (Singapore) Early Childhood
Nexus uses the Early Years component of the IB Primary Years Programme. Teachers focus on each child’s developments holistically by engaging in play-based learning to cultivate key developmental skills, and enhance communication, social and research and thinking skills.
Many of the activities in the Early Years Programme at Nexus are driven by learners themselves. Some fun and creative examples include a nail salon that popped up in the garden, a snail hotel, a library built in the block corner of a classroom, a junk modelling area and writing journals.
Early learners have a dedicated space that flows from the classrooms to a lush garden, mud kitchen and sand and water play areas located just outside. Learners also have access to a double-storey treehouse to freely explore and learn from the outdoor environment around them. These opportunities allow them to role play, interact with others and learn in a truly transdisciplinary way.
Nexus’s diverse team works collaboratively, each teacher bringing the best practices they have accumulated from around the world. They keep engagement and growth at the forefront of everything they do.
The school uses Seesaw to keep parents updated on progress and activities. Teachers share photos, drawings, video clips, voice recordings and more through the platform. This also allows parents to share the learning that goes on with loved ones in Singapore and beyond.
1 Aljunied Walk
6536 6566 | nexus.edu.sg
Kinderland Academy & Preschool – music-infused preschool curriculum
With over four decades of experience, Kinderland Academy & Preschool offers an early years curriculum that’s infused with music. This music-rich environment helps to kick-start toddlers’ right brain development for creative expression. Musical activities promote the development of auditory perception, phonological memory and metacognitive knowledge, all of which are equally involved in developing linguistic abilities in toddlers.
This preschool programme is built around K.I.N.D.E.R. multi-disciplinary “lands” that provide boundless opportunities for children to engage their five senses in learning. They’re exposed to a myriad of learning opportunities that empower them to acquire critical life skills such as independence, effective communication and motor skills.
The school’s early years infant care programme (available in 12 branches) provides individual, responsive care and affection for children in allowing them to explore their own body functions. And the toddler programmes include activity-based and multi-sensory approaches to enhance kinesthetic learning – a powerful and effective medium for young children.
At Kinderland Academy @ Yio Chu Kang, toddlers enjoy time under the sun exploring various spaces such as the Butterfly Garden, Edible Garden and the Animal Sanctuary. The Naturescape Play Area brings learning outside classrooms, providing children with unique and nature-rich learning.
Kinderland teachers are sensitive to toddlers’ cues in caring ways. As such, children enjoy their interactions at school and are therefore more self-regulated, less anxious and exhibit fewer behaviour problems. The teachers share regular updates with parents on their children’s developmental tracking either verbally or through Kinderland’s in-house parenting app. The app has a chat option where parents can seek advice easily. Parents are also notified of any latest school information via the app.
15 locations island-wide
Dover Court International School – Reggio-inspired early years
Dover Court’s play-based preschool curriculum follows a Reggio-inspired approach to teaching and learning. This is underpinned by the UK Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, which supports personal, social and emotional development, communication and language, physical development, literacy, maths, understanding of the world and expressive arts and design. The preschool curriculum also includes the Read, Write, Inc scheme and White Rose Maths.
Teachers at Dover Court create an environment that inspires purposeful encounters, creative explorations and independent risk taking. Real materials support children in building authentic and meaningful connections to extend their thinking and understanding in a holistically.
Children’s interests are woven into concepts that are explored each term. They undertake projects in creative ways such as abstract art, clay and wire sculptures, observational drawings and cooking. This supports them in developing life skills and becoming lifelong learners. They also attend weekly sessions in physical education, swimming, music and Mandarin, guided by highly trained specialist teachers.
Classrooms have interconnecting doors, allowing children access to an outdoor sensory atelier. Students also enjoy regular playtimes and weekly nature walks in the park next to the school to engage in open-air learning experiences.
The team observes children on a weekly basis and shares observations with parents through Seesaw, including photos and a description of learning. There are also termly parent-teacher consultations and also termly reports detailing children’s achievements and next steps.
301 Dover Road
6775 7664 | dovercourt.edu.sg
UWC South East Asia Kindergarten – inquiry-based early years
Learning for 4-to-6-year-olds at UWCSEA is shaped by a holistic, inquiry-based approach spanning all five elements of the learning programme: academics, activities, outdoor education, service, and personal and social education.
Shaped by teachers in response to the interests of students, each classroom and grade-level pod has centres for art, discovery, construction, mathematical exploration, reading, writing and dramatic play. These are designed to support students to explore academic concepts, which are introduced through interdisciplinary Units of Study. Students then bring these concepts to life and deepen their understanding through inquiry, in part by engaging in the remaining four elements of the learning programme.
For example, the Outdoor Learning specialist teacher works with all students to bring to life UWCSEA’s Outdoor Education curriculum. This includes regular exploration of the many on-campus green spaces, such as the SkyGarden atop the Infant School block, the kitchen garden outside the K1 pod or the vertical Gardens by the Bus Bay. Trips to nearby natural spaces such as Bedok Reservoir Park extend their learning further. These opportunities for students to be immersed in nature help them to become comfortable in the outdoors and give them skills to explore safely while satisfying their curiosity and tapping into their creativity.
1 Tampines Street 73
6305 5353 | uwcsea.edu.sg
GESS International School – based on IB Primary Years Programme
GESS values the early years as a critical time for a child’s learning and development, as well as a unique time for children to have the freedom to be children.
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme guides the school’s intentionally designed learning opportunities. Teachers create stimulating and age-appropriate opportunities for interaction and learning. Besides mathematics, language and literacy, and science, the preschool curriculum also includes time throughout the week for music, fine and digital arts, sport, German language learning, and time in the library. These take place in dedicated, purpose-built spaces such as the digital studio, preschool music room and preschool library.
Children at GESS are encouraged to ask questions, develop and test their own theories, research and find out what they are curious to know. Learning is enhanced by a range of environments, within and beyond the school’s campus. There are regular field trips and visits to Dairy Farm Nature Reserve Park, just across the road from the school.
The school uses Seesaw to regularly update families of school events. There’s also a digital portfolio documenting each child’s learning through the year. Parent-teacher conferences, some involving the children, discuss and celebrate achievements and milestones, and are an avenue to listen to parents.
2 Dairy Farm Lane
6461 0881 | gess.sg
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