Children learn so much through games, activities and outdoor play. From encouraging creativity and exploration, to aiding in motor skills development, studies show that the learning approach of play-based preschools and kindergartens has many benefits. We’ve rounded up some of the top international preschools and play-based programmes in Singapore to help you choose.
Primus Schoolhouse Singapore
Primus Schoolhouse Bukit Timah has introduced specialist indoor and outdoor equipment to support and extend the children’s play-based learning. The preschool has a green environment and the students thrive with fresh air and nature-based experiences. There are spacious outdoor and indoor playgrounds where children can explore, play with sand and water, paint on walls, water plants, ride bikes, play musical instruments and engage in imaginary play. Rich in the variety and quality of its play opportunities, Primus Schoolhouse Bukit Timah offers minimally structured open-ended materials, including Blue Blocks. In addition, there’s a full enrichment programme with everything from Chinese immersion and sport to coding, robotics and the arts.
Hear from a parent
“Our daughter loves her experience at Primus Schoolhouse Singapore. The teachers and staff are professional, engaged, committed, motivated and nothing less than exceptional. The school environment is internationally diverse, fun and respectful, while influencing a love for learning. I’d highly recommend this school to anyone looking for a school focused on values with play-based and structured learning. Our daughter is flourishing and thoroughly enjoys the variety in her curriculum. The enrichment class options are fantastic – she enjoys singing and dancing in Chinese and sings to us at home.” – Nicole Sheppard
321 Alexandra Road, #03-11 Alexandra Central Mall
70 Bukit Tinggi Road
At Shaws Preschool, each day is an exciting learning adventure. Led by dedicated and experienced teachers, the play-based programme develops children’s innate curiosity and creativity through hands-on learning, exploration, outdoor play and sport. The Shaws Play curriculum fosters confidence, communication, grit and resilience in children, while also emphasising fun. The Singapore preschool has over 30 years of experience in learning through play and believes that this approach helps children to develop a lifelong love of learning.
Hear from a parent
“Our kids really love their teachers and talk about them at home – they can’t wait to share exciting news with them and they really see them as their friends. Our eldest Nate (5) has even said that his teacher is his best friend! The enthusiasm the children have when they show us their ‘wow bag’ at the end of each term shows us how much they’ve enjoyed creating all the different things in it at school. A major highlight has been the sports and outdoor focus at the school. The kids get plenty of time to play outside, and Shaws also offers Little League all-year-round. We really value this as it gets the kids moving and interested in a huge range of sports.” – Kathryn and Matthew
White Lodge International Preschool & Childcare
Each morning at White Lodge, different activities are set up to get children excited about learning that day. Children are encouraged to make choices, think outside the box and have fun. These play-based learning activities help reduce anxiety and create a positive start to the day. The daily routine is well-balanced, focusing on art, music, outdoor, sensory and other activities in line with curriculum goals that integrate STEAM. Everything from Bee-Bots, Lego, Jolly Phonics and blocks to everyday materials like water pipes and connectors are used to teach. This play-based approach is used for all ages.
Hear from a parent
“We’ve been amazed by the warmth and kindness of the staff at White Lodge, particularly Shobana, Miss Lela and Miss Heather. They did everything possible to make sure Emily (and we as the parents!) settled in. Emily is doing amazingly well and really enjoys the arts and music sessions, in particular. The school is well-equipped to ensure the children have an engaging and fun time throughout their sessions. The gym and sandpit are great, as are the separate play areas for a break from the classroom. We can’t wait to see how Emily keeps learning and progressing in the coming months.” – Louise Bignall
Dover Court International School – Preschool
Dover Court’s Early Years’ curriculum and environment provides a good balance between child-initiated learning and adult-led activities. The school’s curriculum offers interactive activities that link to each area of learning within the Early Years Framework. Students enjoy a variety of hands-on activities such as messy play, arts and crafts, writing, technology, cooking, science experiments and other forms of exploration. They’ll also get to use iPads and interactive whiteboards that build ICT skills. Over at the Nursery classes, young ones are kept engaged with hands-on and play-based learning experiences, including fun “dough disco sessions”, which help to develop fine and gross motor skills. Students also have a blast playing indoors and outdoors each day, with outdoor play areas and equipment such as a playground, water and sand trays, role-play stations and mud kitchens.
Hear from a parent
“It’s been fantastic to see my son flourish and progress during his first term at Dover Court. Thanks to the school’s orientation scheme and his wonderful teacher, he settled in quickly and is excited each day. The combination of teacher- and child-led learning has seen him develop his curiosity, social skills, creativity, motor skills, autonomy, maturity and imagination alongside a great love for learning.” – Hania
Australian International School – Preschool
The Australian International School (AISS) believes that the mark of a good early childhood programme is the quality of its learning environment; it recognises that play shouldn’t just be a part of childhood, but also part of the curriculum. To this end, subject teachers and specialists design programmes that help children integrate knowledge and skills through play-based activities. Knowledge is best integrated through childhood activities, where fun meets mathematical thinking, literacy skills, problem-solving and effective communication skills. The school offers a blend of opportunities that stimulate children’s thinking on all those planes. Encounters with technology are also weaved into the curriculum. The environment itself shows respect for children’s own agendas, down to multiple playgrounds, child-sized furniture, windows and doors positioned at children’s eye-level, and open-ended materials that stimulate imagination.
Hear from parents
“Our two daughters have both been under the care of the AIS Early Learning Village (ELV) over the past three years. Staff take genuine joy in building the self-esteem of the children. The ELV creates incredible play journeys in its pods, with miscellaneous and enchanting materials that allow students to discover the environment, human relationships and many important parts of the world. We’ll always treasure the Storypark posts of their days at the ELV.” – Catherine and Travis Marshall
Mosaic Play Academy
Learning through play is the key to Mosaic Play Academy’s curriculum. The academy uses different play spaces to allow children to immerse themselves in environments that support specific areas of learning. These include “Love for Language”, “Music Studio”, “Mosaic ARTelier”, “Mosaic Olympiad Lab”, “Play Garden” and “Makerspace”. Each play space is directly connected to the outdoors, extending classrooms beyond the four walls. In the afternoons, there are also over 10 enrichment programmes, similar to the ones offered at the main branch, Mosaic Preschool. Mosaic Play Academy even has workspaces for parents too!
Hear from a parent
“We decided on Mosaic for our daughter Janan because of its enjoyable play-based programme. When she joined in 2017, she couldn’t speak a word of English. But in less than two months, she started speaking it very well. The school is designed so that children can learn through play. They’re not forced to sit for long hours in classes, and they’re encouraged to explore and be creative. There are also different play corners such as dress-up and role-play, and an indoor playground with sensory and motor skill toys.” – Reyhaneh Sadat
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