The following is geared towards parents, grandparents or guardians who want to enrol their kids or grandchildren to a preschool in Singapore and who just want to quickly know what they should and shouldn’t do before spending too much time compiling a so-called preschool Singapore list.
Alternatively, download our FREE PDF checklist to save as a reference on your mobile or tablet devices or print and use daily to find preschools in Singapore. These are our unique opinions based on research, interviews with parents and our own experiences.
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No background science here or lengthy explanations, only 15 easy rules to follow for your kids to kick start their Preschool journey. It’s totally up to you to decide to what extent you want to follow those tips, but if you follow them 100% you can be assured that you are well covered for your children to enjoy their preschool days and greatly investing in your child’s early education preparation and long-term well-being.
Find a Preschool Near You: Get access to a free downloadable PDF checklist that will show you how to get the right preschool for your child in Singapore.
8 Preschool Guidelines
- Choose preschools near your home or main caregiver’s home. Location is of importance to reduce travelling time for children. As adults we can get really tired driving for too long, same for your kids, after spending some time in school, they need more time to rest or special time with you. So it’s best to choose preschools that are within 5 to 10 minutes walking distance from your home. Simply let our system find your location and you can browse all preschools, kindergartens or nurseries near you.
- Now you have Preschool Singapore list right in front of you, here you can filter your options by category. You may wish to enroll your child in approved institutions registered with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) under the Baby Bonus Scheme. Under this scheme you can pay your children’s school fees with the Child Development Account (CDA) account.
- Besides the CDA category, you should also consider the program you would like to enroll your child into. Many of us are committed to being a full-time employee and somebody needs to care for our children. Hence we are obliged to enroll our child in full-time preschool programs where we can send them to school before we head off to work and pick them up on our way home. It’s helpful for every parent to find out the differences between the terms childcare, kindergarten, preschool or playgroup in Singapore.
- A popular school is not equivalent to the right school or a great school. Before even looking or visiting schools, list down your family’s priorities and values. Ask yourself questions like “What do I want my child to learn from the school?”. Do you wish your child to be exposed to a variety of activities or do you prefer him or her to go straight into just the academics such as maths and sciences.
- With your arsenal of family philosophies and values in your hand, it’s time to decide what kind of programs do Singapore preschools offer. You may wish to select from the seven main curriculum approaches available in Singaporean preschools: Montessori, Waldorf Steiner, the Play-Based curriculum, the Reggio Emilia approach, the High Scope Method and the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, and Whole-Brain learning approach. You can match these to your location and philosophy list to shortlist your options further.
- Once you have a few schools shortlisted, it’s time for you to make one or two visits to these preschools to figure out what are the schools’ main focus, directions and ways it can help with your child’s growth. Here’s your chance to find out if the school teaches values that are aligned to yours or your family’s list. Compare point to point and check that the school’s programs cover what your list requires.
- Besides values, you may want to understand your child’s early needs. If you prefer your child to be exposed more to speech, probably because your child may need an environment to speed up his or her speech development, then look for schools that focus in this area. On the other hand, your child may be very mobile and more physically active than other kids around, you may wish to enrol him or her in schools with more physical activities to allow them to explore further and develop those little tireless muscles
- Speak with the schools’ principals and teachers if possible to understand how situations are managed in the school such as little arguments, fights or scuffles. We hope these do not happen, but realistically speaking, we cannot avoid them. How teachers explain to the children or how they handle the scuffles are important to your children’s development. They may leave the children alone to debate about something and solve conflicts on their own or they may step in to intervene, whichever works. You want your kids to be treated fairly yet pick up valuable lessons at the end of the day.
- In general, try to select preschools that encourage outdoor play. It helps not only with sensory and psycho-motor skills for future physical development, it also helps with team work and social skills. These are life skills that cannot be taught, but learned as they grow and play with kids of about the same age.
- Preferably, choose classes that are conducted in open areas that without air-conditioner switched on round the clock. Air-conditioner causes our body to dehydrate very quickly and it will be too dry for the children’s body and skin. Some of these preschools do switch on the air-conditioner at certain times of the day for just an hour or so to cool the air. This will do just fine.
- Find classes that have a maximum student to teacher ratio of 1:8. Although Singapore’s Ministry of Education mandates a maximum student to teacher ratio of 1:20, in our opinion, this is too huge. If you average out the attention between the teacher to a child in day, that’s almost equivalent to only 1 teacher to 1 child in less than half an hour. 1:8 is a good number for kids to socialise and for teachers to understand more of each kid’s needs.
- If you have the option to do so, try to enrol your child to once to three times a week short classes for a month or so before enrolling him or her to a full day class for a few years. They may get used to attending classes without you in a few weeks, but it is best to allow them a gradual transition of not having you around, rather than leaving them to manage their emotions on their own immediately from day one. Even adults may find it hard to adapt with sudden changes to life schedules, it’s the same for your kids.
- Check your budget. Enrolling your child to a preschool is essential to his or her growth, yet it takes quite a bit of your part to do the financial planning. Budget consideration is important, but do not go for one because it’s on the lower or higher range in the market. Checking your budget is done based on your family’s comfort level, and it’s only one of these 15 rules. It does not mean that the schools that require higher fees are better or vice versa. Preschools may have set their fees based on any reason. Just make sure you can get by comfortably yet cover all 15 rules here. Do not just go for budget alone.
- Visit to check on general hygiene. You will be surprised to know that not all preschools pride themselves on hygiene. When your kid is in preschool, he or she will probably get a snack or lunch as part of the program. How food is prepared and served need not be made for the King, but they need to be prepared in a proper hygienic environment. Granted you can’t really go in depth to check on this. But sometimes with just a glance around the school compound and a short visit to their kitchen can help you understand how clean the school is. Obviously if you do see cockroaches and rats scurrying by, chances are your kid’s food may not be too safe for consumption.
- Find out the age difference of all kids in the same class. For children under 6, just one or two months difference may make a huge difference in development. Make sure class you are enrolling your child in will include other kids of about the same age as your child. If their age differences are too far apart, the kids may be reluctant to play or socialize with one another. Not because the kids are of any trouble, but kids play differently and do different things even by months apart.
There you have it! 15 easy rules to live by before selecting a preschool for your little ones. Ready to get started? Click the image below and enter your email to get access to the PDF Early Childhood Education 101 checklist.
Marilyn Wo is a cool mum of two boys and an entrepreneur. Professionally, she’s the founder of MeetAnders.com, the number 1 graphic design service for marketers that churns virtually any graphic design for just SG570 per month, just like what an in-house graphic designer does for you. Marilyn believes that great designs and caring designers don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, which are necessary to bring out the marketing magic in you!