5 Things to Look for in a Kindergarten and Preschool in Singapore

A kindergarten and preschool in Singapore are commonly used interchangeably, but there are some key differences.

The definition of a kindergarten denotes the German term “children’s garden”. This program in Germany was first established in 1837 and focused primarily on learning through play which was considered to contribute intellectually and socially to a child’s development. The age group for kindergarteners are typically 5 years of age in Singapore.

Preschoolers, on the other hand, are suitable for children too young to have any formal education and prepare the child for their formative school years by providing care and developing their social skills through imagination and creativity.

In addition, preschools can also include kindergarten education into their range of services provided as we see more partnerships between preschools and kindergartens to ensure a seamless transition.

Differences Between a Kindergarten & Preschool

Preschools lay the foundation years following either an early education approach like Montessori, Reggio Emilia or Waldorf or adopting a mixed approach including local elements which focus on a range of academic to play-based programs.

Typically, preschools cater to children from 18 months old onwards while some even offer infant care services for ages 2 months and up. Most preschools offer flexible full or half-day programs depending on your level of need and support. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are also provided to preschoolers.

Comparatively, kindergartens are generally focused on academics to prepare the child for formal education. Enrolment opens to children from the ages of 3 – 6 years of age and usually last for 3 hours, sometimes offering an after-school care option. Only light snacks are served due to the short duration.

Preschool and Kindergarten

TRENDS OF PRESCHOOLS IN SINGAPORE

Since 2003, the Singapore Ministry of Education has shifted its pre-school curriculum policy to emphasise a more child-centred instruction through play and is trying to improve the quality of kindergarten education.

The government has introduced nationwide training for all instructors and principal of preschool in Singapore to encourage preschools to implement the play curriculum. In the past, Singapore’s educational system was based on merit, which profoundly reflected and defined the culture and way of life of the country. The radical educational shift entails a shift away from years of rote academic instruction and toward a play-based curriculum.

In 2019, the Ministry of Education in Singapore tried to improve the quality of kindergarten education by:

    • Producing curriculum resources that will help early childhood educators in delivering quality content for the young ones.
    • Providing affordable and quality education through the Ministry of Education Kindergartens.
    • Sharing good practices and other curriculum resources with the pre-school sector.

5 KEY FACTORS PARENTS LOOK FOR IN LOCAL PRESCHOOLS

A good preschool in Singapore should meet the needs of the child, as well as the demands of the parents, and promote the holistic development of the child. Based on the Ministry of Education Singapore, they urge parents to consider these factors before choosing a preschool.

Curriculum

Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework

The NEL Curriculum is a collection of resources created by Singapore’s Ministry of Education. It assists early childhood educators in providing high-quality learning opportunities for children aged four to six while the NEL Framework guides curriculum development. Preschools throughout Singapore have access to the framework’s tools and rules.

STEM education in Singapore is a curriculum that focuses on teaching students in the disciplines mentioned – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. When it comes to the demands of the era, STEM education focuses on problem-solving skills in particular. Children who learn this talent at a young age grow up to be individuals who can readily overcome challenges, adding value to their lives both individually and socially.

BASIC CHILDCARE NEEDS

Essentially, preschools should be licensed institutions and meet the pre-required checklist ensuring necessities like a caring and safe learning environment are adhered to.

Kindergarten in Singapore

Safety, health, hygiene and nutrition standards should also be met. For example, a weekly menu is displayed on the Parent’s Board for ease, children’s personal belongings are properly maintained and hygienic standards like disinfecting toys are met.

Staff need to be adequately qualified and trained in order to be able to conduct themselves professionally at all times and the NEL Framework should be considered when designing and planning the program and curriculum.

Administration matters must also be clarified before the child’s enrolment pertaining to the information on operating hours as well as financial matters.

PHILOSOPHY AND VALUES

Preschools feature a variety of educational and child development methodologies. It’s critical to select one that shares similar values. For instance, the Ministry of Education Singapore has a curriculum philosophy that entails holistic education and their core beliefs focus on the overall well-being and character development of a child.

Learning experiences should include the ability to actively construct knowledge by developing thinking skills in children and that learning gaps are readily identified through assessment.

A CHILD’S PERSONALITY

Choose a preschool that is a good fit for the child’s personality and strengths, as well as one that will foster their love of learning. There is no better way than to start weighing the various pedagogies that will help to complement your child’s learning skills.

Well-trained and dedicated teachers who understand the various psyches of a child also make all the difference. They can deal with and understand better how to counter the numerous personalities children may display. A low teacher to student ratio enables valid concentration and recognising each child’s potential rather than grouping them in a one size fits all scenario.

School Atmosphere

Open sessions are a great way to get a feel for the preschool’s culture and atmosphere. Sitting in during classes or organising a consult with teachers and current parents to see if they are satisfied with the preschool can help in your choice to pick the right preschool. It would be worth considering whether the child would thrive and excel in a particular environment.

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

We have looked at some different factors to consider in choosing the right preschool or kindergarten. This ranges from a child-centred program with an inquiry-based curriculum that caters uniquely to your kid to the type of welcoming atmosphere they might feel comfortable in.

To add on, another vital factor that we haven’t covered is the location of the preschool. This is of utmost importance to parents when trying to determine the right preschool. The usual preference would be to pick a location close to home, the parents place of work or even near to grandparents as they are usually the family’s source of support.