How a Preschool is Essential for Early Childhood Development in Singapore

A preschool is highly encouraged for children under the ages of 7 years old and consists of half and full-day programmes including kindergarten preschool education. The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) oversees key aspects of how the kindergartens and early childhood sectors serve children’s development as it is the regulatory and development authority in Singapore while the Ministry of Education develops and shares the Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework amongst all preschools.

Early Teaching for babies

Preschool education is beneficial for early childhood development as it builds confidence, develops numeracy and literacy as well as allows your child to learn social skills.

Some options for preschools include:

    • 36 MOE Kindergartens running 4-hour programmes for kindergarten levels 1 and 2 and full-day Kindergarten Care services located within primary schools using the NEL Framework. These are affordable and accessible to all Singaporeans and Permanent Resident Citizens.
    • PCF Sparkletots and My First Skool have entered into a pilot model partnership with MOE Kindergarten called Early Years Centre. This partnership includes preschool education from the ages of 2 months – 4 years continuing seamlessly into Kindergarten 1.
    • Preschools that are overseen by ECDA.

Key Stages of Early Childhood Development

The key stages of child development consist of infants through preschoolers focusing on the ages of 6 months till 6 years.

6 – 9 months: Infants can sit without support, communicate through sounds and is alert when their name is used.

9 – 12 months: During this stage, infants can pick up objects, crawl and stand without support.

1 – 3 years: The next stage is being a toddler. Toddlers typically can start walking, climbing stairs and even jumping on the spot. They can also hold things like crayons, draw squiggles and circles, stack blocks, communicate through short sentences and follow simple instructions.

3 – 5 years: This is the preschool age where children begin to refine their motor skills. They are able to throw a ball overhand, skip and hop, stand on one foot for approximately 10 seconds, pick out their clothes and dress as well as draw features onto people.

6 years: This is the age of school-going children where they have acquired qualities like capability, confidence, responsibility and gained some semblance of independence. They begin to build and form lasting friendships.

Kindergarten Play

How Preschools Help to Develop Children

The Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework provides children from the ages of 4 – 6 years, a high-quality early childhood education. This helps to guide teachers on curriculum development as well as share resources across preschools in Singapore.

The NEL framework consists of 3 main areas:

    • Nurturing the curiosity of children through exploration and discovery
    • Active Learning by experimentation and experiences
    • Developing competence in reasoning and thinking skills

The NEL framework further delves into 6 key learning areas:

    • Aesthetics and creative expression where children enjoy art, music and movement activities. They express and share ideas, feelings and create using imagination and experimentation.
    • Discovery of the world begins with developing a positive attitude and showing an interest in the world around them through simple investigations.
    • Language and literacy encourage communication through listening, reading, speaking and writing. It also develops their Mother Tongue Language and creates awareness of local ethnic cultures.
    • Motor skills development allows children to participate in physical activity, develop healthy habits and safety awareness and demonstrate control, balance and coordination.
    • Numeracy recognises simple number patterns, basic shapes and spatial concepts.
    • Social and emotional development creates a child’s identity, manages their emotions, allows them to take responsibility and communicate effectively whilst being respectful to others different from them.

The NEL Framework also aims to achieve learning goals by:

    • Developing learning dispositions such as positive behaviours and attitudes toward learning.
    • Guiding teachers to plan, design and implement learning experiences for preschoolers.
    • Activities and resources to ensure effectiveness and fun.

What Makes a Good Preschool?

Early childhood development has been proven to have a lasting impact on children so let us summarise what constitutes high-quality preschool education.

Preschools are certainly taking a step in the right direction as far as ECDA is concerned. They are more accessible to families and teaching standards have definitely been raised. It is heartening to see good leadership in an effort to empower and encourage childhood educators. Much has been done to educate and provide the right tools to these teachers over the past years. For example, the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework (SPARK) now gives preschools a more holistic approach to assessing and improving the quality of their programmes.

Preschools that fosters good parent-children-teacher communication tend to rank highly. Children are being taught to think outside the box, observe, ask intelligent questions and respect the opinions of others. They are also able to take a step back and reason when faced with challenges. These skills are found to be extremely helpful later on in life.

Having a holistic curriculum allows children to develop their strengths and recognise any weaknesses they may have. The key is to create well-rounded individuals who are not solely focused on academics. This type of framework supports the different learning abilities in a child and engages in meaningful activity through play.

Parents input into the curriculum drastically helps with the child’s early childhood development. This is because parents have an innate insight into their child’s daily life and by sharing these experiences, teachers can better understand how to navigate the stumbling blocks. A good preschool should and can definitely use the help from parents to curate a more personalised approach although the door swings both ways and teachers are able to offer the same assistance through parent-teacher conferences as well as periodic questionnaires.

With all the improvements and adjustments made, preschools are definitely an investment you want to make to ensure your child’s success in giving them a head start to life.