Outdoor play is so beneficial for kids (big and small). Through playing outside, younger children learn and become more aware of their surroundings. It helps them develop useful motor skills and stay active while also having fun. It’s important that the school you choose for your child takes this into consideration. We look at seven Singapore preschools with outdoor play areas and daily outdoor activities, and we hear what the parents think of it too.
White Lodge International Preschool & Childcare
White Lodge has created a setting where children are able to find an abundance of opportunities for movement, exploration and self-discovery. There are a variety of learning experiences at the playground and the indoor gym. The equipment is arranged in a way that leaves open spaces for running, building and playing. At the majority of the centres, there’s a playground with a zip-line, trampoline, tunnel slide, climbing frames, a sand pit and water-play toys. You’ll also find tricycles, ride-on toy cars and scooters for children to play with. The school also organises Sporty Thursdays, where kids can explore different sports and outdoor activities. There’s an indoor gym, too, with a ball pool, trampoline, climbing ropes, swing and other equipment.
Each day, all classes have a set schedule for indoor and outdoor play or a visit to the indoor gym. Outdoor play is an important component of the preschool’s programme, aiming to target physical, cognitive, gross motor, self-help, communication and language development as well as socialisation.
A parent’s thoughts
“Both Isabella and Sienna love outdoor play at the Phoenix Park campus. The garden is so big and has different levels where they can run and play with their friends. The inclined tube that they can get into and crawl up or down in is a highlight. The trampoline, sand pit, tree house and greenery make it an amazing kindergarten, where the classrooms are surrounded by nature.” – Eva Mateo
At Shaws Preschool, the outdoor is considered an extension of the classroom. There are great outdoor spaces at each campus, and they’re use as often as possible. They include a garden, playground, sandpits and mud kitchens for creative and sensory play, space to ride tricycles, and waterplay and messy play areas. Children also learn about nature and insects at butterfly gardens and a herb and veggie garden. Teachers try to incorporate nature into the children’s learning, not only through planned activities but free play. This allows the children to investigate, inquire, engage and develop awareness of their surroundings. The preschoolers also enjoy picnics, outdoor story-time and sports through Shaws Little League coaching. And those enrolled at the Braddell and Lorong Chuan campuses can attend water confidence classes in the Shaws Pool.
Outdoor time is allocated daily for all students. Children attending the full-day session head outside three to four times a day, while those on the half-day option go out at least twice a day.
“A trip to Shaws Open House confirmed our decision to place Anna at the Braddell Heights campus. We saw and heard students proudly and enthusiastically showing their parents their schoolwork and activities in the classrooms. The best part is the big outdoor area for the children to play sports and do outdoor activities such as messy play.” – Hoon Qiwei and Ailin Suntianto
Five locations island-wide
Repton Schoolhouse Singapore
Repton sees Mother Nature as a learning facilitator and the natural world as an invigorating and open-ended learning laboratory that fosters wonder and curiosity. Set in a beautiful green environment, the campus has spacious indoor and outdoor areas for playing and learning. The outdoor playground has a wide range of structures and equipment (from sandpits, water play and percussion play to cubby houses and climbing structures) to encourage the children to be physically active, interact with nature, play cooperatively and explore their creativity.
Learning and play flow seamlessly from the indoor playground to the outdoor playground. Flexible structures in the indoor playground encourage the development of children’s full range of gross motor skills. Repton has also invested in a large set of Big Blue Blocks, a play system that inspires children to design their own creations and environments, supporting creative and cooperative play.
A parent’s thoughts
“The outdoor area has everything a child could wish for and provokes creativity, adventure and imagination. It’s also a great place for socialising, and every child needs that!” – Li-Lin Stanton
Rain Trees International Kindergarten
Rain Trees International Kindergarten has a well-quipped garden with climbing frames, tyres to balance and walk on, playhouses, slides, a basketball hoop, soccer goal posts, ride-on toys and even a rock garden with transportation toys. The natural grass adds to the children’s sensory experience. At the car porch, there are bicycles and other ride-on toys. Teachers also plan organised outdoor activities such as egg-and-spoon races, parachute, beanbag balancing, hula hoops and hopscotch games. Children can also do gardening, up-cycling activities and enjoy “splash time” on Fridays where they have fun in a big paddling pool and sliding on a water mat.
The school believes that outdoor play is important for children’s health and wellbeing, helping to develop executive functions and a range of skills – gross motor, fine motor, risk-taking and socialisation – as well as the appreciation of nature. The goal is to promote physical, cognitive, social and emotional wellbeing and development. Each class has staggered times for outdoor play lasting about 30 minutes each day. Children staying the full day also get additional outdoor time in the afternoon.
“Our twins love that they have outdoor play every day at Rain Trees, and we do too. They call it “play” but they’re really learning problem-solving and social skills (while blowing off some steam!). Outdoor time is part of what makes it such a well-rounded programme.” – Sarah Wells and Richard Sell
At Mosaic, the teachers know the importance of outdoor play for young children’s holistic development. There are a series of different engagements, from sports-related games, water play and sand play to nature exploration. There’s also a variety of sports equipment that teachers can use for outdoor exploration. The school believes that physical health is as important as cognitive development so a variety of outdoor activities are offered to keep children active and healthy.
Children have the opportunity to play outdoors each day, improving their mood, focus and physical health. There are allocated time slots in a week for different kinds of physical and outdoor activities. Children can spend between 45 to 90 minutes outdoors on a daily basis, from playing at the playground and having outdoor walks, to playing sports at the field and visiting the supermarket for cookery classes.
“Since joining Mosaic, our girls have been sharing different topics they’ve learnt with us, from recycling to their experience with cooking. The teachers are diligent and sharp in their observations of the development of our kids. All in all, they’re enjoying themselves so much at school!” – Gerard Goh and Ashley Tan
Play is the brain’s favourite way of learning so MapleBear lets children play at least 30 minutes each day, either in an outdoor space or within the school compound, which has equipment designed for active play. Children stay active and enjoy running, jumping, skipping, hopping, climbing, swinging and sliding. All MapleBear campuses have play facilities such as jungle gym climbing equipment, slides, swings, seesaws, playhouses, sand play and water play. Also, once a week, children can look forward to a fun sports programme with Sportybots, which focuses on skills for different ball games including basketball, soccer, tennis and golf. At least once a week, they also get to cycle or ride toy cars. Other outdoor activities include field trips, nature walks, looking at plants and observing caterpillars turn into butterflies.
The school believes that outdoor play is an important part of childhood and that children can benefit from skills such as improved spatial recognition, physical and social development (through interacting, collaborating and negotiating) as well as growing their imagination. As children learn about their surroundings, they also gain knowledge and appreciation for the natural world.
A parent’s thoughts
“What I love most is that children can play whether there’s rain or sunshine. They enjoy climbing, swinging, jumping, cycling and playing catch. Such childhood experiences are hard to come by these days.” – Sue Wilkinson
More than 40 locations islandwide
Selected Kinderland campuses feature outdoor compounds. There are two types of outdoor activities that are conducted, one for gross motor development and the other for sensorial experiences. Besides a large hall where the school regularly conducts its fitness programme, you’ll also find an extensive cycling track, specially-designed play structures as well as water-play and sand-play areas. The outdoor compound provides ample space for children to develop their physical abilities and to explore nature and the environment.
The school’s butterfly garden is an oasis of calm, offering opportunities for children to safely watch and identify different species of butterflies. At the children’s garden, young ones get to plant their own vegetables and flowers. They’re also able to learn to care for domesticated animals at the animal sanctuary, feeding, observing and talking about the rabbits, chickens and turtles that live there.
A parent’s thoughts
“The outdoor play area is the main reason we sent our two boys (one in K2 and the other in PN2) to the school. They enjoy coming along every morning, eager to run, climb, jump, interact, laugh and learn. I think that’s how a happy kid should grow up! My older boy loves to cycle around in the fresh morning air while the younger one simply loves the slides.” – Suzanne Luah
16 locations islandwide
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