Will my child be sufficiently prepared for school? Will they have enough time to play each day? Will their interests be encouraged? These are just some of the questions that may pop into your head when choosing a preschool. Each will have a different curriculum, whether it’s play-based or more academic in nature. Here, we speak to some popular preschools and learning centres in Singapore about their philosophies and programmes, and we ask them to rate themselves on how structured they are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being entirely unstructured and 10 being heavily structured.
Need some extra help?
The curriculum and workload at international schools in Singapore may be more intensive than you’re used to back home. So getting some help outside formal school hours can be helpful for your child. Whether you’ll like to give your kids a taste of formal education or get them up to speed, here’s an enrichment centre you can consider for that extra confidence boost.
Structure rating: 5
Jean Li, Chief Instructor (Holland – Ulu Pandan centre)
“At Kumon, we believe that children learn best through self-directed learning. When given time to figure things out on their own, they learn to take on responsibility and also get greater satisfaction. When a child is learning a new concept, he or she will have time to study the examples and then try a few questions by themselves. Teachers facilitate by offering hints on the steps to take so that if a mistake is made, the child can identify the wrong step and correct it on their own.
Through individualised learning, we encourage children to learn from their mistakes and not be afraid to make them. We believe that children, regardless of age, should take charge of their learning. As educators, we act as motivators to keep them going, supporting and giving them advice when necessary. Preschoolers learn number sequencing not only through worksheets but also with interactive number board and flashcards. Both add fun and challenge to learning. We use both methods of learning as we feel this helps students to learn better.”
Multiple locations islandwide
Next, we find out what goes on at two preschools
Structure rating: 5
Abhirami Prakash, Head of Preschool
“Children learn through the process of play at White Lodge. Play is the tool we use to access the concepts of literacy, numeracy and the environment. Hands-on activities include cooking pesto scrambled eggs and going on a fun egg hunt to find and match rhyming words when reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss.”
“Our curriculum is geared to be bottom-up rather than top-down; we believe that we play the role of facilitators and work together with the children to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate activities or extend narratives. It is based on current theories and research in early childhood education, including theories of High Scope, Howard Gardner and Reggio Emilia. The curriculum is planned organically by our Founding Director Jayne Nadarajoo, alongside early childhood educators who work closely with the children. We also take into consideration the children’s interests, developmental needs and milestones.
In almost all activities at the preschool, we are flexible and always take the lead from the children. Our approach to pedagogy is a curriculum that offers teacher-initiated group work and freely chosen but instructive play activities. We work to achieve an equal balance between teacher-led and child-initiated interactions, play and activities. Learning involves open-ended questions, rationalising, playful learning and most importantly, building on interests.”
Rain Trees International Kindergarten
Structure rating: 6
Rohini Ramadas, Principal of Rain Trees International Kindergarten
“At Rain Trees, we believe that children learn best through play in a caring and fun environment and we give them ample opportunities to explore, experiment and discover with hands-on equipment and activities. Classrooms are organised to facilitate play and our fabulous team of teachers have set up different zones for each subject area, whether it is art and crafts, water play, numbers or literacy.”
“Our philosophy is learning through play, but with a purpose. We also teach phonics, reading and writing to prepare children (usually from four years) for the transition to primary school. These are taught using the child-centred and multi-sensory Jolly Phonics Programme.
We are structured in terms of daily routines but are flexible on what and how children learn. The British Early Years Curriculum sets learning objectives. However, if the kids love something, teachers expand that area of learning. For example, when the children were learning the topic of the human body, the teacher had planned to set up doctor’s clinic. But after a mum brought in a baby to show how to bath one, it was changed into a babies’ hospital so the children could bathe and change their own ‘babies’.”