Home to one of the most highly ranked education systems in the world, the majority of young children in Singapore start learning at an early age to better prepare for entry into primary school education.
Although preschool education in Singapore is not compulsory, studies suggest that children who attend preschool adapt more easily to school than those who don't. It serves as a strong foundation for them and is the first stepping stone to acing those exams later in life.
From 18 months to 6 years, parents have multiple types of preschools for their children - the Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens, local preschools or international preschools in Singapore.
In this mini guide, you can learn more about the benefits of an International Preschool education, how it compares to other preschool alternatives and how to select the right International Preschool for your toddler.
What is an International Preschool?
International preschools are those with an international syllabus. Instead of following the curriculum syllabus and teaching methods set by Singapore’s Ministry of Education, international preschools adopt more established pedagogies and structured curricula from countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, America, Canada instead.
Typically, parents with international background, who plan on sending their child to an international elementary school like The Perse Singapore or Invictus International School, are more likely to enrol their child in an international preschool. However, with more parents realising the importance of a good early childhood education and the holistic development that international preschools can provide, enrolling their child into an international preschool is becoming an increasingly popular choice amongst Singaporeans.
The early learning methods applied in these preschools are constructed in a fun and exciting way that cultivates a curious mind in children. Furthermore, children in International preschools get the chance to interact with students of various nationalities and learn about their culture!
Choosing between International Preschools vs. Local Preschools
Both International Preschools and Local Preschools, including MOE kindergartens, provide an excellent quality of education, so deciding on one can be difficult. However, here are some differences that might influence your decisions:
- Many of the local preschools receive government funding and in turn have capped fees for full day childcare and infant care programmes, making them more affordable for Singaporean parents.
- International preschools tend to adopt curriculums that are more focused on play-based and holistic character development by tapping into a more diversified range of international early learning pedagogy.
- The diversity of children in International Preschools tend to be more varied as compared to local preschools. As International Preschools cater to both International and Singaporean children, children in such preschools tend to have exposure to a wider pool of cultures.
Types of Early Learning Curriculums
Some of the more popular early learning curriculums that are being offered in Singapore are:
- Reggio Emilia-Inspired curriculum is one where experiential learning is the key. Students are encouraged to explore the outside world, exercise through fun dancing, and complete projects together with their own initiative.
- Inquiry-Based is also partly inspired by the Reggio Emilia system. Children control what they learn and how they go about it.
- Play-based early learning makes room for children to engage in activities that spark their interest. The focus is more on their emotional and social interactions with society.
- Nurturing Early Learners is set by MOE and is the primary curriculum in local MOE kindergartens. This one involves learning-based plays and an emphasis on language skills.
- Montessori education has a visual approach. Additionally, children of different ages might be in the same class.
Key things to look out for
With so many different areas to look out for and decide on, choosing the right international preschool for your toddler can be an overwhelming task. Here are some of the criteria to take into consideration when choosing a preschool.
Choose a preschool that is located near your home. This will give you the convenience of dropping off and picking up your child easily while also maximising the quality time you spend with your child. Furthermore, it provides you with the flexibility of picking up your child in urgent situations.
The range of school fees for international preschools can be wide, with some being more affordable than others. This offers parents a vast range of choices to choose from, according to their budget.
To lighten the load of preschool fees, all Singaporean and PR parents are eligible for a basic government subsidy when they enrol their child into a childcare or infact care programme. You can find out more information about ECDA’s childcare subsidy here.
The quality of the teachers is one of the most important criteria when it comes to choosing a preschool. It is therefore important to check the qualifications and experience of the teachers before deciding on a preschool.
Here at White Lodge, our dynamic team of teachers are dedicated and have a passion for nurturing young children. They strive to provide an education with “something more” and are constantly evolving to ensure that children receive high quality education.
Look out for testimonials as other parents are the best to help back up a preschool's claims. Testimonials also let you know if the kind of education system the preschool offers is one that will fit your child.
Communication with parents
Leaving your child in the hands of someone else can be tough and as parents, you want to be there for every small milestone and development. Ask the school how they communicate with parents and keep them updated on their child’s growth.
Some international preschools send regular updates to parents through an online portal so that parents are always aware of what is happening in the classroom.
Trial classes (if they offer)
Trial classes can be a great opportunity to test out the school prior to enrolling your child. This allows you and your child to experience the school and allow you to evaluate whether the school lives up to its promises.
Enjoy 5 complimentary trial classes when you book a tour at any of White Lodge’s 5 preschool centres islandwide!
Applying to international preschools
Now that you’ve decided on a preschool for your child, it’s time to start the registration and enrolment process. Here are some typical steps that will guide you in your application:
- Go to the preschools website. They should have an option for filling out the online application form. Otherwise, you will have to obtain one from the school grounds or via email.
- Don't forget to check the application fee and your child's passport-sized photo.
- The school will need your child's birth certificate and/or in addition to yours.
- If you aren't a Singaporean citizen, they will need passport and visa or immigration status details.
- They might need more documents than this, so read their terms carefully.
Top International preschools to consider:
Foom 18th April onwards, White Lodge will become Invictus International Preschool (IIP). Building upon the 21 years of excellence, children entering IIP preschools and childcare centres will be able to enjoy an individualised learning for every child, the Virtues Project to support character development and a whole range of enrichment programmes. Children at IIP will enjoy a truly holistic development during their crucial early learning years in a rich cultural environment where they are encouraged to discover, explore and celebrate each other’s unique cultures.
What’s more, children who graduate from IIP will have priority admission into Invictus International School, and The Perse School, Singapore. This through-train progression helps children transition from preschool to primary school seamlessly, with fewer disruptions, so they can adjust better, mentally and emotionally.
Find out more about our flexible kindergarten and childcare programmes for children aged 18 months to 6 years here!
Primus Schoolhouse Singapore offers a unique preschool education experience combining the best of the British and Singaporean programmes and traditions for children aged 18 months to 6 years. Children at Primus are immersed in dynamic, holistic learning experiences which foster the ability to be effective learners, innovative problem solvers, and critical thinkers.
Along with academic development, they place a strong focus on a child's character as well! The goal is to instill good manners, confidence, and self-esteem. With their team of transformational educators and state-of-the-art facilities, children emerge with the skills and passion to make a positive impact in the global community. The parent testimonials all vouch for the parent's satisfaction with their child's development at Primus. For admission, enquire here.
Finding the right international preschool in Singapore will help your child not just prepare for international primary schools but local primary schools as well. It is therefore important that you take the time to research and decide on the most suitable preschool for your child.