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Preschool education in Singapore: Kindergartens that offer beyond the classroom learning experiences

Class trips tend to be more the norm at the primary or secondary stage of a child’s education, but we’ve stumbled across a few preschools that offer this style of learning too! Trying to enthuse little ones to focus on the outing itself and fending off the inevitable ‘ is it nearly snack time?’ question, must be no mean feat. These nursery schools seem to have the art of a good, old – fashioned ‘field trip’ all wrapped up!

Location: Changi Airport
School: Stamford American International School
Grade: Nursery – 2-3 year olds
Teacher: Sylvie Lepillier

“What child does not like airplanes and airports? However, with the usual rush to catch a flight, trips to the airport may be anything but relaxing for young children. This is why our excursion to Changi Airport was designed to introduce pre-schoolers to the wonders of air travel and explain how an airport functions in a fun and educational way. The school trip was linked to our unit on Transport and Travel, just before the school holidays when families tend to be traveling. At Changi, children weighed and tagged luggage, learning about the different labels and stickers such as ‘Fragile.’ The children were shown the information boards and taught about various departure and arrival times, and signs that indicate that gates were closing. Teachers explained when it’s time to hurry, or the plane might leave without them!  The class also visited the viewing gallery to look at the airplanes and learn about different airline symbols. The excursion ended with a ride on the monorail to another terminal. The most fun part of the excursion? Sticking all the tags and stickers on each other! The trip was a huge success and volunteer parents felt the trip was informative at an age-appropriate level.”

1 Woodleigh Lane (off Upper Serangoon Road) 357684 | 6602 7247 sais.edu.sg

best preschools in Singapore Blue House
A wonder along Old Bukit Timah railway station.

Location: Old Bukit Timah Railway Station
School: Blue House Nursery and International Pre-School
Grade: Junior Kindergarten
Teacher: Shona Sanosi

“As a Reggio Emilia-inspired school, we focus on the use of natural, open-ended materials and believe the environment is the child’s third teacher, alongside parents and educators; so it’s incredibly important to invite the outdoors in and the indoors out. We run a spirited programme of excursions that inspire a huge range of projects and lines of inquiry in our classrooms. Before setting off, the children raised questions as to what they might discover on their visit. They then packed their bags, not forgetting to include their cameras to document their experiences. At the station, the children set about trying to answer their own questions; and, in turn, deeper, more meaningful questions arose. Through visual and dramatic representations, the children role-played trains coming and leaving the station, and delighted in walking and marching along the old track, knowing that it was safe to do so as it was no longer in use. The excursion was initiated by the school’s educators after observing the children’s ongoing interest in trains. A rich dialogue followed the excursion, inspiring the children to create stories – another thread to the project. Nicola, our “Music Pedagogista”, further extended the children’s interest by collaborating with small groups, and making links with sound. Children experience a host of benefits by taking the journey from the classroom into the surrounding community. The hands-on approach brings learning to life in an authentic setting, so that learning becomes richer and even more enjoyable. Our educators carry out a pre-visit risk assessment and consider further logistics. We usually ask for a few parent volunteers to join the excursion, which also helps to build connections between home and school.”

Blue House Nursery and International Pre-School 2 Turf Club Road | 6734 0824 bluehouseinternational.com

top preschools in Singapore
Checking out the local market.

Location: Local market
School: Canadian International School
Grade: Pre-Kindergarten students (3 years old)
Teacher: Andrea Strachan, Primary School Vice-Principal

“We believe in showing our students that learning opportunities are all around us, and we offer excursions for even our youngest students so they start early to hone their observation and inquiry skills through site-based learning. Our preschool class excursions focus on supporting the International Baccalaureate Primary Year Program units of inquiry being studied in class. Students recently studied a unit with the central idea, “People can learn and build a sense of belonging in a community”. We started by looking at each child as a member of our classroom community, then looked at our school as a community and explored the people and roles found within our school. Finally, we included the people in our wider community, and took the students on an excursion to the local market. This was an excellent learning experience, as markets are a part of everyday life in Singapore. The children also saw a vet, a doctor’s office and a pet store, and ended the excursion with a visit to a local hawker centre. They met the people who worked there and enjoyed a local snack. Many of our students went home and asked their parents if they could visit the market close to their home. Site-based learning is intentionally linked to what the children are learning in class, so they are able to see real-life applications. They become excited about new places found within our community, develop keener observation and inquiry skills, while broadening their worldview. Learning can take place anywhere and at any time, and we work hard to develop this understanding.’

CIS, 7 Jurong West Street 41, Singapore 646414 | 6467 1732 cis.edu.sg

good preschools in Singapore
Chefs in the making!

 

Location: Pastamania Headquarters
School: Integrated International School
Grade: Kindergarten
Teacher: Dr Vanessa von Auer, Principal

“What child doesn’t love pizza? Our most recent outing was to Pastamania’s headquarters to learn how they make their famously deliciously pizza. Making their own pizzas, instructed by a professional chef, came as an extra bonus for the children! The excursion gave our students an insight into how much work goes into the making of a “simple” pizza. Not only do you require great equipment, such as Pastamania’s coal-fuelled oven, but also stellar ingredients to make the dough nice and crispy. Our children received a great cooking lesson, learned fun facts, created their own “something special” and, best of all, got to eat it. Our outing was fun and educational; and it’s our aim to achieve a balance of both factors in all of our school excursions. Our students loved manipulating the dough, and choosing their own “designer” pizza to make and eat. In addition, they learned about the history of pizza (for example, the fact that tomatoes weren’t used historically as toppings because people believed them to be poisonous). Finally, they received Pastamania aprons and chef hats at the end of the workshop, and this definitely contributed to the fun. Our students travel by private bus to all school excursions, with low student-teacher ratios and designated first-aiders assigned to small groups of students.’

41 Sunset Way, #02-03/04 Clementi Arcade | 6466 4475 iis.com.sg

top preschools in Singapore
Heading off to find out about the late Mr Le Kuan Yew

Location: Parliament House
School: EtonHouse Pre-School
Grade: K1 and K2
Teacher: Shirlee Lim, Kindergarten 2

“In March, our K1 and K2 children were questioning the topic of Singapore heritage, when the nation received news of the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore. Naturally, the focus shifted to Mr Lee as the key person in Singapore’s recent history. To begin, the children looked into the contributions of Mr Lee and his team, and the efforts and ideas that contributed to the creation of the Singapore of today. Together with their teachers, the children visited Parliament House to pay tribute to Mr Lee. They took with them a memento created by the children: hand-drawn portraits of Mr Lee that showed the progressive change in his facial features, from youth to old age. Framing Mr Lee’s photos were personal messages written by the children, along with some drawings of the beautiful and modern landscape of Singapore.’

223 Mountbatten Road, #01-18 | 6440 5100 etonhouse.com.sg

kindergartens in Singapore White Lodge in Singapore
Little India outing!

Location: Indian Heritage Centre, Little India
School: White Lodge
Grade: Kindergarten
Teacher: Penny Gandhi, Head of Curriculum

“A trip to the recently opened Indian Heritage Centre in Little India coincided with Singapore’s 50th birthday. The children heard stories about how people came to Singapore from India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, bringing with them their cultures, ethnic identities and religious beliefs, and how they learnt to integrate into Singapore society. While the costs of these trips are borne by the school, the children also took some spending money from the funds they raised at a kaya toast, cookies and lemonade stand. They shopped at the Indian Bazaar and came home with peacock feathers, bangles, bindis, garlands and more – and their morning snack was Indian delicacies on banana leaves. These concepts are introduced as a part of the integrated curriculum to help our children – the educational tourists – understand and appreciate the community that they now live in. Children are curious and often question the importance of the topics of focus. Field trips provide an ideal opportunity to answer the question of how learning can be applied in life. Culturally enriching field trips contribute to the development of children into citizens who know more about art, have stronger critical-thinking skills, exhibit increased historical empathy, display higher levels of tolerance, and have a greater taste for art and culture. Prior to each trip there is a site visit, and a risk-assessment matrix is charted and explained to the participating teachers, so as to ensure that all aspects of safety have been looked into before taking the children out of school. Parent volunteers are always encouraged, too.’

Find White Lodge centres across the island | whitelodge.com.sg

 

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