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Choosing a Preschool for Your Kids: An Expat Parent’s Guide

If you’ve gotten the opportunity to go abroad as an expatriate to a country like Singapore, you may be worried about various adjustments that you and your family will need to make. Perhaps chief among these is your children’s schooling. Like many other expats, you may be anxious to find schools that fit your standards and that will help your kids transition comfortably to life in an unfamiliar place. 

Fortunately for expat families going to the Lion City, Singapore is rather exceptional when it comes to early educational opportunities. All the same, finding a preschool that aligns with your child’s needs and your values is not always so straightforward.

In most cases, the educational journey of foreign children in Singapore starts by choosing between two options:

International Preschools

These schools primarily cater to the needs of Singapore’s sizable foreign communities. International schools in Singapore may offer a variety of international preschool curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) and the British Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), among many competing systems. Instruction is typically in English, though this may change depending on the community a specific school serves. Generally speaking, most international schools offer a cosmopolitan approach to learning that coincides with the values many expat families have.

Your child’s experiences can differ greatly depending on the international school you pick. For instance, enrolling at Kinderland for preschool guarantees that your child will get a holistic, multilingual education that combines the best of Western and Asian approaches. Kinderland Singapore prides itself on its extensive music, language, and S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Reading & wRiting, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) explorations for preschool-aged kids. On the other hand, though other international preschools may offer similarly high standards, they may not necessarily touch on the same areas as a Kinderland preschool

Local Preschools

Local preschools follow a locally-focused, government-mandated curriculum. As such, most education is conducted mainly in English or Standard Singaporean Mandarin. These institutions are not to be discounted, as they also offer excellent educational outcomes by global standards. Indeed, if you’re planning to become a permanent resident or citizen of Singapore, these schools will be good picks for ensuring your child’s total immersion in the local culture.

Among local schools, you do have a choice between public and private preschools. Public preschools will mostly offer a similar experience across the board. Private preschools may offer quite a bit more variation, with some of these offering specific religious instruction.

Specific Factors to Consider

Aside from deciding on a locally-oriented or globally-oriented educational approach, you’ll also have to consider other factors, some of which may have nothing to do with educational quality. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) Location

Schools that are too far away may not be the best choice, given Singapore’s unpredictable traffic. To avoid stress and tardiness, choose schools that are within an easy commute of your home. 

2) Curriculum

A curriculum that aligns with your personal educational philosophy will make it easier for your child to enjoy a learning experience that’s consistent both at home and in school. Consider whether the preschools you’ve shortlisted offer a play-based approach, a more structured environment, or a calculated combination of both.

3) Language of Instruction

Preschool age is arguably the best time to expose your child to multiple languages. Look up the offered languages at your shortlisted preschools and see if they align with your family’s cultural background and future plans.

4) Facilities and Resources

The quality of a preschool’s facilities can tip you off to the experience your child can expect. If you can visit different campuses, assess the quality of facilities, paying close attention to classrooms, outdoor play areas, and learning materials. Look for a safe and stimulating environment as well as reasonably up-to-date learning materials.

5) Teacher Qualifications

If a preschool claims to offer a certain pedagogical system, check if the teachers are qualified to implement it effectively. Browse faculty pages for instructors and administrators and verify that they hold relevant certifications.

6) Cultural Fit

Many preschools have a strong emphasis on certain cultural values or religious teachings. Given that you’re an expat, these teachings may not be what you want for your child. Fortunately, Singapore does offer a good variety of preschool options for families of all religious or cultural persuasions.7) CostThe best international preschools in Singapore tend to spend more on employee salaries and facilities, and these costs need to be recouped through higher tuition fees. While the added expenses aren’t to be taken likely, they can be worthwhile if the school can guarantee that your child receives the right kind of education.

Invest Wisely in Your Child's Future

You might not realise it, but the preschool you choose will almost certainly make a significant impact in your child’s educational journey—especially now that they live in a different country. Picking one that hits all the marks will help guarantee that your child not only becomes academically accomplished but also develops into a well-adjusted, culturally aware individual. 

With so much on the line, it’s worth spending the time and effort to choose the best options available to you. In any case, by enrolling your child in the right preschool, you will ensure that their formative years in a country like Singapore are even more extraordinary than they already are.


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