St. Joseph’s Institution International (SJI International) Singapore is adding early childhood education to its offering! The preschool is taking over the Maris Stella Kindergarten on Holland Road. The latter was previously managed and operated by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary for 68 years.
SJI International Preschool offers an Early Years programme for children aged two to four years and Kindergarten for children aged four to six years. School hours are 7am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and the academic year is January to December.
The maximum number of students in 2024 at SJI International Preschool will be 100. That means the student-to-teacher ratio will be lower than that prescribed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). The preschool can accordingly provide a high level of individualised attention and care for each child.
Head of Preschool DR GERALDINE TEO-ZUZARTE shares more about the exciting early learning centre development by the Lasallian Catholic international school.
Why is the early learning centre at a different location (Holland Road) from the rest of the SJI International Singapore?
The decision for SJI International Preschool to stand alone is rooted in a desire to preserve the rich history and legacy of the current location. We believe that we can continue to build upon the historical significance of Maris Stella Kindergarten, while also offering an exceptional early childhood education.
In line with this commitment, the site will undergo thoughtful refurbishment and restoration. This will enhance its facilities and ensure a conducive learning environment for our preschool students.
It’s important to note that the value added by SJI International lies in the expertise we bring to the teaching and learning experience rather than just the physical location of the early learning centre.
What motivated the move into early childhood education?
It represents a significant step forward in the commitment of SJI International Singapore in providing a comprehensive and holistic education for children at the earliest opportunity. We’re dedicated to providing a high-quality preschool programme that aligns with our educational philosophy and values. This ensures continuity and sustainability for future generations.
What will a typical day look like?
In the Early Years programme, we prioritise building strong relationships with children and their families. Responsive care, respect and deep engagement are key features in the curriculum for infants and toddlers.
Throughout the day, key experiences are centred around caregiving routines and play activities that are teacher-directed and child-initiated. The curriculum is defined as all routines, experiences and interactions.
Interactive and stimulating activities for focused periods – like playing with friends or teachers, or using learning materials efficiently and productively – help facilitate growth and understanding.
The Kindergarten programme blends a structured curriculum. There’s a focus on literacy and numeracy with an emergent curriculum where children apply their knowledge in projects aligned with their interests. Integrated into trans-disciplinary themes are subjects like language, numeracy, discovery, aesthetics and health. Children explore these areas, fostering understanding, skills, attitudes and social responsibility.
We place a strong emphasis on pastoral care. The focus is on nurturing character development and also instilling virtuous values, all within the framework of our Lasallian Catholic ethos. Our goal is to ensure that every child feels a profound sense of value and love at our early learning centre.
What are a couple of offerings that you think will be kids’ favourites at this early learning centre?
We’re housed opposite the Singapore Botanic Gardens with its beautiful heritage trees, flora and fauna. So the children can spend time exploring and observing the natural surroundings here. The expansive environment allows for the programme to offer seamless outdoor and indoor learning experiences and opportunities.
The early learning centre will incorporate sustainable practices through the process of circular farming by creating a natural ecosystem of fish and vegetables from farm to table. We’ll also endeavour to develop future-oriented dispositions, skills and knowledge for sustainable living and enterprise. These will enable children to see themselves as agents of change in the world they live in.
Will preschool students have straight-through admission to SJI International Primary?
We are members of the SJI International family of schools. This means that all SJI International Singapore students are supported through their individual school journeys.
Preschool students may have the opportunity for priority admission to SJI International Elementary School, depending on their residency pass type. The Elementary School follows different governance to our Preschool and High School.
About the Head of SJI International Preschool
Dr Geraldine Teo-Zuzarte’s passion lies in the development of children, especially those in their early years. She holds a PhD in Early Childhood Education with over 30 years of experience in Early Childhood Education. She’s also a pioneer ECDA Fellow, and continues to work with and advise the relevant authorities in Singapore on how to enhance and develop the sector.