What Is Preschool/Kindergarten?
Preschools in Singapore and pre-Kindergartens in Singapore have a few similarities. They are categorized under the preprimary category which aims to promote kindergarten and school readiness in children. Both preschools and pre-Kindergartens in Singapore emphasise on the importance of play, discovery and hands-on learning. Activities such as music, dance, art, physical exercise and dramatic play can be found in both preschools and pre-Kindergartens.
The term, ‘kindergarten’, was coined by Friedrich Froebel, a German educator. The Kindergarten Movement introduced the concept of children as plants and teachers as the gardeners who take care of them - kinder meaning child and garten meaning garden.
What Age Do Kids Start Preschool in Singapore?
Typically, most children enter preschools at age four or five. There are also programmes that cater to three year-olds. However, the decision of when a child enters preschool is solely up to the parents. Several factors should be taken into consideration by parents who want to enrol their children into preschool. These factors are age, maturity, sociability, and temperament, among others.
The preschool age in Singapore is four years old. Preschool education lasts up to four years for the standard kindergarten age in Singapore. Although it is not compulsory for children to attend preschool in Singapore, many parents see the benefits of a preschool education and have enrolled their children in government operated preschools or international preschools.
What Topics are Learnt at Preschool in Singapore?
There are many types of Singapore preschool curriculum available today. Preschool education in Singapore which is government operated offers two core programmes which are the HI-Light Programme and Starlight Literacy Programme. The HI-Light Programme aims to develop a child’s skills in six key areas — Aesthetics and Creative Expression, Discovery of the World, Language and Literacy, Motor Skills Development, Numeracy and Social and Emotional Development. On the other hand, the Starlight Literacy Programme focuses on developing children’s language skills in English and their mother tongue whether it be Mandarin, Malay or Tamil.
The Singapore kindergarten curriculum for most international schools follow the Montessori programme, Reggio Emilia approach or play-based learning. In play-based learning, children learn by interacting with the world around them. Activities include doing puzzles, playing with blocks, painting and drawing, reading books and listening to stories or poetry. Children also play dress up and participate in music, dance and drama activities. In terms of physical exercise, children climb and play on outdoor equipment; or run, swing and jump with other children. Playing with clay, sand, water, paint, paper and colours are also common in play-based learning.
Parents are encouraged to collect as much information from various preschools to form a comprehensive kindergarten curriculum guide in Singapore. This is because the Singapore kindergarten syllabus for government and international preschools vary greatly.
Types of Preschools in Singapore
Singapore’s Ministry of Education operates a network of MOE Kindergartens (MK) across the country. MKs offer an affordable and holistic preschool education to children aged four to six. There are over 20 MKs in Singapore today and the country aims to open 50 MKs by 2023.
There are also a large number of privately owned preschools in Singapore. Private preschools have the freedom to develop their own curricula and programmes. These preschools are also open to children of expatriates. Children from these preschools typically transition to international schools for their primary school education and beyond.
How Do You Apply to Preschool in Singapore?
For MKs in Singapore, applications are conducted annually for children who will be attending Kindergarten 1 the next year. Parents can register online over a specific four-day period or register in-person at selected preschools on a stipulated date. MKs only accept children who are citizens and permanent residents of Singapore.
For private preschools in Singapore, parents can do their own research and shortlist preschools based on their requirements such as fees, location and curriculum offered. In addition, parents can go on preschool tours and visit Open Days for more information. Parents can contact the schools personally to ask for registration details and provide the documentation and paperwork needed.
What are the Average Fees for Preschool in Singapore?
The costs for enrolment into kindergartens vary depending on what type of school parents enrol their children into, whether it is a government-owned or privately owned institution, and whether the student stays a full day (usually from 7am to 7pm) or a half-day (usually 4 hours) per month. Generally, enrolling a child into MKs will cost S$150 per month for a half-day enrolment, while a full-day enrolment costs S$385 - S$600 per month. International kindergartens could cost up to S$1,550 - S$6,400 for a full-day enrolment per month, whereas half-day options can range from S$1,200 to S$5,700.