Children learn so much through games, activities and outdoor play. From encouraging creativity and exploration, to aiding in motor skills development, studies show the benefits of a play-based learning approach are endless. We’ve done the legwork and rounded up some of the top international preschools, learning centres and fun programmes for your little one!
With a strong belief that learning should be fun, hands-on as well as intellectually challenging, interactive activities are a huge part of a child’s learning experience at Pat’s Schoolhouse. The school’s child-led and inquiry-embedded play approach sees children as active learners who are able to gain knowledge through meaningful investigation. Using the Bilingual Immersion Core Curriculum since 1988, the preschool’s English and Mandarin teachers are co-partners in the same classroom. They create the teaching plan together to deliver themes, subjects and topics in an immersive bilingual environment. The arrangement surrounds children with equal exposure to English and Mandarin, facilitating language acquisition at a young age.
A typical day starts off with outdoor play. Kids have a blast with a variety of activities including having a splash at the water-play area and digging at the sandpit. There’s also a trike area for riding bikes and a large open field to run about in. Children are able to get in touch with nature, develop motor skills and have many opportunities for social interaction and collaboration. Through the school’s music-integrated curriculum, kids are exposed to many genres of music, dance and percussion instruments. The art programme, meanwhile, explores various tools and mediums, encouraging little ones to be creative and to express themselves.
16 locations islandwide
Little Mandarins Language Centre
Little Mandarins is a language school that believes that children learn best when they’re having fun. That’s why lessons incorporate songs, animated storytelling, colouring and fun games such as treasure hunts. Kids also get to enjoy outdoor fun while planting seedlings and watering their plants – all part of regular class activities. In fact, besides writing and drawing, most of the time is spent role playing, reading and taking part in other fun hands-on activities.
Hear from a parent
“Amery (4) likes the class as there are lots of games and songs that he enjoys. He also finds the teachers very nice and kind, and he tells me that he has fun during lessons. What I like about Little Mandarins is their cosy setup, and that the teaching is more holistic in approach and not just for academic results. The interactive curriculum allows children to have fun while learning and encourages social interaction amongst the children as they practise daily conversation in Mandarin. Amery has gained more confidence in using Mandarin ever since he started with Little Mandarins about a year ago.”
– Jasmine Gan, Singaporean
Centre Stage’s Out of the Box programme utilises dramatic play, dance, music, singing, art, puppetry, free play and environmental play to nurture life skills. The play-based programme for kids aged two to four years has specialised guest practitioners in drama-, dance- and music-led sessions each day. The school’s main campus at Woking Road has six drama studios, two dance studios and a black box theatre while the Marine Parade location has two drama studios and one dance studio.
Hear from a parent
“Both our children have attended Out of the Box; our eldest has been attending since it began. We love the creative play, music and especially drama, all of which give the children all the tools they need for pretend play. The teachers are amazing and use a child-led and discovery-based approach to learning, which we love. We couldn’t be happier with Out of the Box and highly recommend it to parents looking for a creative-play-based curriculum.”
– Josi Langhorne, Australian; Thomas (4) and Hizikias (2)
Children at Mulberry Learning centres across the island are in for a fun time. From music and speech and drama to art and even swimming, kids have the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of interactive and educational activities as part of the daily curriculum. Little ones pick up motor skills and practical hands-on skills while cooking; they learn to think critically and to ask questions during science experiments; and they explore different techniques and art mediums during art activities.
Hear from a parent
“Darian has been attending Mulberry Learning since December 2017. I’ve seen him slowly exhibiting good behaviours and habits that he’s picked up from school. He shows interest in reading and is now able to put away his toys after he’s done playing. I like that he is becoming more curious about his surroundings. The teachers are very caring and the school’s bright open space and play areas have sparked Darian’s curiosity. He enjoys going to school so much that when he comes home, he asks to do the same activities, like drawing and water play!”
– Ms Sarune Semino, Lithuanian/German
Each morning at White Lodge, different activities are set up to get children excited about the learning that day. Children are encouraged to make choices, think outside the box and have fun. These play activities help reduce anxiety and create a positive start to the day. The daily routine is well-balanced, with focuses on art, music, outdoor, sensory and many other activities daily in line with curriculum goals that integrate STEAM. Everything from Bee-Bots, Lego and blocks to everyday materials like water pipes and connectors are used to teach.
Hear from a parent
“We chose White Lodge because we liked that the curriculum was a bit more play-based than other preschools. It has definitely contributed to our children’s open-mindedness, curiosity and confidence. We believe that the school balances academic and social development in a good way and takes into account the different expectations of parents from different cultural backgrounds. Among the highlights are the annual concerts and regular class presentations, which both children and parents enjoy a lot. These events are a great way of increasing the children’s confidence.”
– Christine Eberhard, German; Anna (5) and Lea (3)
Australian International School
Children at the Australian International School’s Early Learning Village can look forward to fun activities each day. Activities are linked to class topics and catered to their interests, and teachers use both natural materials and tech products such as Beebots and Cubettos. Designed for child-led learning, classrooms have their own outdoor play spaces with sandpit, water-play area and sensory play equipment. Kids also often take trips to the school’s garden to make mud pies, crawl through tunnels and pick up outdoor materials for art projects.
Hear from a parent
“Cameron loves coming to school! He loves to construct; he uses magna-tiles, wood blocks, Lego and bricks, even trying to build the Petronas Towers. He’s inquisitive about nature, and enjoys exploring and looking for plants and animals, and asking questions about them. Through play-based learning, he is developing his own identity, building friendships, and growing in independence, self-confidence, self-regulation and cooperation. Recently, Cameron and his friends made a ‘hair tonic’ with spices and citrus and a table for the ‘fairies’ from a medicine cup and plastic lid. Each was accompanied by a dramatic story that traced the idea through to creation!”
– Julia Kernaghan, Australian; Cameron (5)