Children learn so much through games, activities and outdoor play. Studies show that a play-based learning approach has many benefits for preschoolers. It encourages creativity and exploration and aids in the development of motor skills. We’ve rounded up some of the top play-based preschools and kindergarten programmes in Singapore that incorporate learning through play into their curriculum.
Singapore American School
Play is serious business at Singapore American School’s (SAS) early learning centre. Play and learning is how young children discover, test out ideas, practice what they’ve learned in context, and learn social skills. At SAS, they’re engaged in purposeful play and discovery throughout much of their day. This includes exploring a variety of materials through experiences like socio-dramatic play, blocks and construction, water play, and experimenting with art and sensory, and natural materials.
Also, learning isn’t confined to within classroom walls. The greater SAS campus serves as an extended learning environment for all. Students have two recess times daily to run and play on the playground and ride bikes. 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. Children also experience real world learning experiences through outings that connect to inquiry-based projects the class is working on. Past visits include a beach clean-up on Sentosa, exploration of the Marina Barrage and trips to the theatre for shows.
The Schoolhouse by Busy Bees
Play-based learning is central to the philosophy of The Schoolhouse (formerly Pat’s Schoolhouse); play, says the team, is a demonstration of a child’s curiosity and sense of adventure. Their preschools support learning through play – the campuses offer spacious learning environments and facilities such as large outdoor playgrounds, gardening corners, sand play areas and water play areas.
Inquiry-Embedded Play Approach revolves around planning intentional, meaningful and thought-provoking play-based learning experiences to support the holistic development of children. The preschool places a strong emphasis on a full suite of supplementary programmes including STEM, Art & Music, Speech & Drama and enrichment courses such as swimming, ballet, soccer, golf and more. This enables children to develop holistically beyond academics so they are empowered and encouraged to be challengers of the future.
Hear from a preschoolers’ parent
“I could go on for days about how impactful the school camp has been. The kids played a game of transporting paper cups while holding the end of a string, which immediately created an opportunity for teamwork and leadership skills. These are lessons and skills that cannot be imparted through textbooks and in classrooms.”
– Debbie, parent of a Kindergarten 2 child at The Schoolhouse Aroozoo
Mosaic Play Academy
Learning goes beyond the classroom and play-based learning is the cornerstone of creative learning at Mosaic Play Academy (MPA). Its goal is for children to develop a green mindset, equipped with fundamental skills for continued learning in the elementary years.
Through play in the Playgroups programme for children six months to six years, children discover their abilities, concepts and relationships with others, and the environment. Features of the programme include creative arts, sports, STEM, water play, phonics, cookery, nature play and plenty of outdoor play. As children explore key concepts of language, maths and science in a fun and meaningful way, they intrinsically build knowledge driven by curiosity.
The After School Programme allows older children up to 12 years to benefit from a playful learning approach that’s creative, exploratory, hands-on, fun and non-didactic. It offers indoor and outdoor play opportunities, both high and low energy. There’s a range of learning through play-based learning activities and kindergarten programmes including micro gardening, sports, drama, science experiences, maths and science Olympiad training, construction and art. The school provides plenty of opportunities for children to explore interests, apply knowledge and discover new passions.
Hear from a preschoolers’ parent
“We started taking our daughter to Mosaic Play Academy’s parent-accompanied playgroup when she was 18 months old. Besides the caring, thoughtful and creative teachers, we really like the environment. The classrooms and playrooms are always very clean and filled with plenty of natural light; our daughter loves exploring the big garden and outdoor playground. Overall, a great experience for all of us!”
– Jessica Ogilvie, Australian
Odyssey The Global Preschool
Odyssey’s curriculum considers the child’s overall development as the preschool believes that interactions with the environment, materials and people are the most effective ways for children to learn. Through projects, the skills framework, learning spaces and language immersion, Odyssey’s team of educators in each class facilitate play-based activities specifically customised to individuals and groups of children.
Their Art Odyssey and Music Odyssey programmes take advantage of a child’s natural desire to express themselves creatively in a variety of ways. Aside from these, the Fitness and Sports programme encourages children to enhance their athletic abilities such as balancing, throwing, hopping and object handling while learning through play.
Children learn in the actual world, using real-world contexts and resources to explore, discover, solve problems, think critically, interact, engage and reach age-appropriate conclusions. As a result, Odyssey children participate in an array of initiatives throughout the year. Little Chef, Colours of Odyssey and STEAM Project are among the projects that the children are engaged in.
Hear from a preschooler’s parents
“Our son is really enjoying school. The opportunities to play help him in developing much faster and getting more attention for it. He’s speaking well and learning more new words each day.”
– Matt and Nuraishah Parnall, British and Singaporean, parents of Zachary Zaydan Parnall (3) at Odyssey Still Road