Tatler 10: The Best Local And International Preschools In Singapore
Preschool education sets the foundation for your child’s development in the later years, so it’s important to pick the right school from the get-go. But how do you pick the one for your child? We shortlisted 10 of the best preschools and kindergartens for your Tatling, based on curriculum, facilities and that special X-factor.
1/10Blue House Nursery & International Preschool
Curriculum: The perfect place for curious tots to flex their imagination and artistic abilities, Blue House values the importance of creating an environment for children to be independent learners. It follows the child-directed Reggio Emilia approach that kids learn best from hands-on experiences and relationships with others. Classes include messy play, drama, art and music, and are catered for children aged 18 months right up to six years.
All through the campus, the use of space, light and colour, attention to detail, and emphasis on nature and aesthetics, play a crucial role in the child’s development, which is why the surrounding environment is often referred to as ‘the third teacher’.
Blue House also recognises the importance of art and ensures the children have access to art supplies at all times and regular sessions with the school’s resident artists.
Campus: Enjoy a morning cuppa with your little one at The Pantry, or head to the indoor and outdoor Ateliers and Piazzas for immersive parent-child experiences. Available at both campuses at Turf City and UE Square, the Infant & Toddler Atelier provides a conducive environment for little ones to exercise their senses and build vital connections. These areas are filled with colourful, interactive displays—from foam dunes to a noodle curtain—that look like they should be in a museum!
Competitive edge: Aside from regular classes, Blue House also offers drop-in sessions where you can swing by for play sessions with your child any day of the week.
Blue House Nursery & International Preschool | 2 Turf Club Road S(287988) | 6734 0824
Curriculum: Through a hands-on, one-to-one teaching approach and carefully tailored curriculum, Brighton Montessori cultivates each child’s interests and allows them to use Montessori materials to explore language, mathematics and more, at their own
pace. Not only will they be ready for Primary 1, they develop confidence and
a love for learning.
Campus: Brighton Montessori has over 20 years’ history and seven preschools across the island. The newest and largest campus is the River Valley branch, which features a double-storey open loft concept with spacious classrooms, a naturally-lit dining area and indoor playground.
Competitive edge: Parents appreciate the low student-to-teacher ratio—1:6 for pre-nursery and 1:14 for kindergarten, and enrichment programmes offered after school hours. These include activities such as speech and drama, music appreciation, computer literacy and educational games. There is also an Intensive Chinese Immersion Programme conducted in a strictly Mandarin-speaking environment that combines comprehensive study materials and fun activities to get kids to appreciate the language.
Brighton Montessori | Various locations | 6588 3883
Curriculum: Founded by the late early childhood educator, Julia Gabriel, Chiltern House is Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework (SPARK) certified and offers half- and full-day programmes from pre-nursery to Kindergarten 2.
The curriculum—covering mathematics, science, language and literacy, Mandarin, art and craft, speech and drama, music, computer literacy and physical education—prepares your child for primary school.
The full-day programme also includes a Chinese cultural arts programme, creative writing and a project-based programme. The latter expands children’s understanding of the world around them by enabling them to be actively involved in exploring topics such as the solar system or even looking after pets.
Campus: If your little one loves the outdoors, Chiltern House Turf Club is the perfect campus. Tucked away from Bukit Timah’s busy main road, the school is housed in a quaint mansion surrounded by a sprawling garden and outdoor playground to encourage exploration.
Competitive edge: Chiltern House organises visits by specialist teachers from Julia Gabriel Centre to conduct weekly speech, drama and music sessions.
Chiltern House | Various locations | 6346 6130
Curriculum: Etonhouse is a well-respected international brand among both expatriates and locals. Parents rave about the school’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Inquire-Think-Learn curriculum, where children are encouraged to be curious, and learn through experience and understanding.
Campus: Etonhouse has over a dozen locations, each with a slightly different feel and character. One that deserves special mention is Etonhouse Sentosa, housed in a three-storey heritage building and surrounded by lush greenery. There is even a retro Singapore-styled eating area reminiscent of an open-air hawker centre for kids to enjoy snack time. And the best part about the location: Beach excursions and forest explorations are just steps away. Also noteworthy: Etonhouse Sentosa is one of the few campuses that offers direct admission to its international primary school, located in the same complex.
Competitive edge: If you are looking for linguistic programmes, it offers seven different language programmes including Malay, Hindi and Spanish. The school can also take students all the way from playgroup through high school.
Etonhouse | Various locations | 6746 3333
Curriculum: The only preschool to nurture the “champion mindset”, Mindchamps offers academic-focused programmes for little ones from 18 months to six years old, in the playgroup, nursery and kindergarten levels. It adopts the S.M.I.L.E.S. method, which includes the Sensory, Motor, Intellectual, Linguistic, Emotional and Social skills of pre-schoolers. This pedagogy is the result of over 20 years’ research and development in the domains of education, psychology, neuroscience and theatre. It’s specifically designed to prepare students for changes in teaching styles, environment and routine when they enter primary school.
The bilingual curriculum nurtures all aspects of your preschooler’s development, which is great if you want to give your kid a headstart in primary school education.
Campus: There are 39 centres across the island and each outlet is equipped with an indoor learning environment, purpose-built children’s gym and for some centres, a spacious outdoor learning area.
Competitive edge: For a more solid foundation in Mandarin, enrol your little one in Mindchamps Chinese Preschool, which conducts all classes in Mandarin.
Mindchamps Preschool | Various locations | 6828 2688
6/10Odyssey The Global Preschool
Curriculum: The award-winning Odyssey curriculum employs various teaching pedagogies from the United States, United Kingdom, and the Reggio Emilia framework, which revolves around experimentation, exploration and self-guided learning. For tots from nine months to six years old, Odyssey’s bilingual Mandarin immersion programme is also a huge draw for local and expat parents.
Campus: All campuses promise massive classrooms, state-of-the-art facilities and lots of outdoor space. If you’re looking for something bespoke, the newly-opened Orchard branch will definitely exceed current international standards of early childhood education. Highlights include an in-house registered nurse, fitness specialist, and personalised learning, fitness and nutrition programmes.
Competitive edge: This is the first preschool to provide an education that combines the International Curriculum and Singapore preschool education.
Odyssey The Global Preschool | Various locations | 6781 8800
(Related: The First Preschool In Singapore With A Bespoke Programme)
Curriculum: This 30-year-old school developed its proprietary award-winning curriculum—a “teacher-facilitated, child-guided inquiry approach” to support children’s holistic development. It focuses on play-based learning, rather than just academics. Pat’s Schoolhouse has 16 preschools for kids aged 18 months to six years old, and three infant care centres for babies from two months old.
Campus: The branch at Kovan deserves special mention. The largest at six-storeys spanning over 22,000 sq ft, this campus is purposefully-built with lots of space and facilities such as water-play area, sandpit, cycling track, atelier, music and cookery rooms, as well as a rooftop playground.
Competitive edge: The school is a pioneer in the Bilingual Immersion Core Curriculum, where English and Mandarin teachers are partners in the classroom incorporating and delivering themes, subjects and topics in a cohesive bilingual environment. This provides kids with equal amounts of exposure to both languages from a young age.
Pat’s Schoolhouse | Various locations | 6781 2288
(Related: 7 Of The Best Kids Summer Camps Abroad For Your Tatlings)
8/10St. James’ Church Kindergarten
Curriculum: Ideal for parents seeking a comprehensive local curriculum to prep their kids for primary school, St. James’ Church Kindergarten offers holistic early learning from pre-nursery to Kindergarten 2. As classes are up to three hours a day, they are packed with activities to hone your little one’s physical, emotional, cognitive, creative, and spiritual development. The school adopts an eclectic pedagogy by integrating the best of different practices from around the world. Curriculum approaches and materials are curated from various sources including The Project Approach, where teachers use various strategies to guide students through in-depth studies of real-world topics, as well as MATAL Creative and Critical Thinking, where children are encouraged to ask questions and come up with logical answers based on their observations of the environment.
Campus: The new Gilstead campus sits in a pre-war colonial mansion on the spacious school grounds with a music studio, art studio, sensory studio, and light studio. There are also areas for cycling, sand- and water-play, large field with playground equipment and swimming pool for enrichment classes.
Competitive edge: The curriculum is held within a framework of child-initiated inquiry and sensory play. While values are based on Christian principles, St. James’ accepts students of any race or religion.
St. James’ Church Kindergarten | Various locations | 6476 6026
9/10Stamford American Early Learning Village
Curriculum: The Early Learning Village (ELV) welcomes children from two months to six years old. While classrooms are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, Stamford American’s early learning curriculum is guided by the USA Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, which focuses on child-initiated and teacher-guided experiences to enhance language development, social competence, imagination, and thinking skills.
Campus: The largest purpose-built preschool facility in the world at 50,000 sq m, with a capacity for 2,100 children, ELV is a treasure trove of incredible facilities such as a 20m indoor swimming pool, library and inquiry centre, outdoor play zones, multi-purpose indoor gym, and parents’ café. Special effort has been made to ensure that the campus remains a cosy and intimate place for the students, despite its size. Children in the same year group are housed on separate floors, and classrooms are clustered in groups of four in order to create small communities within each level.
Competitive edge: The school’s international culture is supported by a World Language Program, where three of the most spoken languages are offered: Mandarin, Spanish and English.
Stamford American Early Learning Village | 3 Chuan Lane S(554350) | 6602 7247
(Related: Get Your Tatling Involved In These Charity Organisations)
10/10Tanglin Trust School
Curriculum: Tanglin Trust School Nursery caters to children, aged three to six, and follows the Early Years Foundations Stage (EYFS) curriculum. Specific areas of learning and development are literacy, maths, understanding the world, and art and design. While lots of learning takes place inside the classroom, just as much takes place outside where little ones can explore the outdoor kitchen, boulder on the climbing wall and develop motor skills on balance bikes.
Campus: The school has great libraries, a café, large playing field, 25m pool, and outdoor playgrounds. The nursery may be located within a big campus, but it is a welcoming and stimulating setting.
Competitive edge: Tanglin is the first school in Asia to be awarded the Early Years Quality Mark from the UK and the first nursery in Asia to achieve Curiosity Approach Accreditation. Toddlers will also enjoy direct admission to primary levels.
Tanglin Trust School | 95 Portsdown Road S(139299) | 6778 0771