The private sector is entirely in charge of the preschool program in Singapore. However, the government, through the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), oversees preschools. To improve accessibility, the government has partnered with some local preschools to make the preschool program affordable.
Singapore has a large expatriate community. This has influenced the demand for international preschools. Some Singaporean parents prefer international preschools for various reasons.
It is best to point out that the international preschool program is not necessarily better than the local preschool. The choice parents make often depends on their needs and what the preschool offers the children.
International kindergartens tend to have children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The teachers also tend to be native English speakers. Singapore is bilingual. When they get to primary school, all children are expected to study at least one mother tongue.
Parents who expect their preschoolers to have a better grasp of mandarin prefer using the local preschool program. However, for those whose preference is a better use of English in communication, an international preschool is preferred.
Some international preschool programs offer some minority languages like Hindi. However, since the schools are racially diverse, the children do not get much opportunity to practice other languages as English is the main language used in communication.
Again, neither of the two systems is better than the other. It simply comes down to your expectations and preference.
The teaching approaches
Local and international schools use different approaches to learning. Most international kindergartens use inquiry-based learning. They use play and exploration to impart knowledge. For example, the preschool program encourages children to walk in the garden barefooted and get a hands-on experience learning about senses. The children are not only learning, but they are having fun in the process.
Local preschools use six major curriculums, including the play-based program. However, most focus on preparation for primary school. So, rather than focusing on play, most are about academic success.
The competition for primary school slots is the major reason many local preschool programs emphasise academic success. While both local and international kindergartens want to ensure children are primary-school ready, the approaches to achieving this end are different.
International preschools tend to have a higher price tag than local preschools. So, if the price is an important consideration when looking for a preschool, you will likely get a better deal with a local preschool. However, not all local preschools are affordable. Some, especially those that are subsidised by the government, charge a lower fee.
International preschools tend to justify their high price tag by introducing various activities in their lesson plans. For example, international languages and
Before settling on one school, it is best to find out the added benefits. In some cases, schools that charge more have a more diverse diet plan. So, you are looking at more than cost when deciding where your child should get his preschool education.
Local preschools are found pretty much everywhere. You may even find a few close to your home. These schools are established in various places to encourage more children to join the preschool program.
Most international kindergartens, on the other hand, are located in areas with a large expatriate community. So, if you don’t live or work nearby, you may need to drive a long distance to get your child to school.
Although there are several differences between local and international preschools in Singapore, there are also some similarities. Since most of these schools are privately owned, the competition has influenced the quality of service offered. For example, most try to maintain a small teacher to children ratio for personalised attention. So, it comes down to your preference.