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Guide to Choosing a Preschool in Singapore

PUBLISHED

31 May 2024

- Typically a full day care service. - Care hours may include play time, nap time and meal time.

As a caring and devoted parent, you want nothing but the best for your child. You also understand that the early years of education lay the foundation for their future success. That is why choosing the best preschool in Singapore is a decision of paramount importance. But with the myriad of options available, where do you begin?

This comprehensive guide is designed to empower you with the knowledge and insights needed to make an informed decision when it comes to selecting a preschool for your little one. We will walk you through the nuances of preschool education, demystify the differences between various early childhood programmes, and delve into the significance of early childhood education in Singapore. 

Together, let us embark on a journey that will equip you with the knowledge to find the perfect preschool that aligns with your child’s unique needs and aspirations. 

Introduction to Preschool Education in Singapore

What is Preschool Education?

Preschool education forms a crucial foundation for a child’s development — it refers to the early years of formal education before primary school. It is not just about imparting knowledge; it is also about nurturing the potential that resides within every child. 

A preschool education fosters a child’s social skills, emotional well-being, cognitive abilities, and physical development. They provide an environment that encourages exploration, creativity, and critical thinking, preparing children for a lifetime of learning.

Understanding the Different Preschool Options

As you embark on your preschool search, it is essential to understand the distinctions between various early childhood education options: 

AgeType of PreschoolWhat It Entails
2 to 18 months oldInfant Care– Typically a full day care service. Half-day options are also available.
– Designed to meet the unique needs of babies and toddlers.
– Provides a safe and nurturing environment where infants can grow, learn, and develop under the watchful eyes of trained caregivers. 
– Equipped to cater to the diverse needs of children within this age group, recognising that every child is unique and requires individualised care.
– Structured environment that includes educational and developmental activities suitable for infants. 
– Activities are designed to stimulate cognitive, physical, and social development, laying a strong foundation for a child’s future growth and learning.
18 months to below 7 years oldChildcare– Typically a full day care service. Half-day options are also available.
– Encompasses Playgroup, Nursery 1 and 2, and Kindergarten 1 and 2.
– Care hours include play time, nap time and meal time.
– Curriculum focuses on values, social and emotional
competencies, and learning disposition as key areas of child development, and learning areas of language and literacy, numeracy, motor skills, learning about their environment and creative expression.
– Emphasiszes children’s holistic development and character building, laying the foundation for them to become lifelong learners.
– Regular assessments and progress reports to keep parents informed about their child’s development and readiness for primary school.
– Closed on public holidays, and 6 annual closure days. Operate on school holidays.
Below 7 years old, typically starting at age 3Kindergarten– 3 to 4 hours per day
– Encompasses Playgroup, Nursery 1 and 2, and Kindergarten 1 and 2 (not all kindergartens offer these levels).
– Curricula are typically similar to Childcare.
– Operate according to standard school terms and are closed on weekends and school holidays

Is Preschool Necessary Before Primary School?

One question that often arises is whether preschool is necessary before primary school. While it is not compulsory, enrolling your child in preschool can provide numerous benefits that set the stage for a successful academic journey.

Here are some key reasons why preschool can be a valuable experience for your child before they enter primary school:

Social and emotional development

Preschool provides children with opportunities to interact with peers and develop essential social skills. They learn how to communicate, cooperate, share, and resolve conflicts, fostering emotional intelligence and empathy. These early interactions lay the foundation for building positive relationships and navigating social situations effectively. 

Academic readiness

Preschools offer age-appropriate activities and educational experiences that support cognitive development. In early childhood education, children are exposed to early literacy and numeracy skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. They develop a curiosity for learning and acquire foundational knowledge that prepares them for more structured academic environments. 

Independence and self-confidence

Preschools provide a language-rich environment where children can enhance their verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Through storytelling, group discussions, and interactions with teachers and peers, children develop vocabulary, listening skills, and the ability to express themselves effectively.

Smooth transition to primary school

Children become familiar with the routines and expectations of a structured school environment. They are exposed to classroom etiquette, following instructions, and participating in group activities. This familiarity reduces anxiety and helps children adapt more easily to the new challenges they encounter in primary school.

What You Need to Know About Preschools in Singapore

Types of Preschools in Singapore

The preschool landscape in Singapore is diverse and dynamic, catering to the unique needs and aspirations of every child. Here are the primary types of preschools you will encounter during your search:

MOE kindergarten

Backed by the Ministry of Education, MOE kindergartens offer a preschool education to Singaporean Citizens and Permanent Residents aged 5 and 6 years (K1 and K2). They follow a comprehensive curriculum that aligns with Singapore’s educational framework and provide a seamless transition from preschool to primary school, offering a solid foundation for future learning. There are 62 MOE Kindergartens (see the full list here).

MOE kindergarten:

Early Years Centre (EYC) is a new preschool model for children aged between two months to four years that guarantees a Kindergarten 1 placement when the child turns five years old in a nearby partner MOE Kindergarten. MOE has partnered with My First Skool to pilot three My First Skool Early Year Centres located in Punggol.

KCare:

KCare is a full-day care service available in all MOE Kindergartens and operates from Monday to Friday, until 7pm , within the same premise as the MOE Kindergarten.

Government-supported preschools

These encompass centres operating under the Anchor Operator (AOP) and Partner Operator (POP) schemes. These AOP and POP preschools adhere to specified fee limits and rigorous quality standards as part of their commitment to providing accessible and high-quality early childhood education.

Anchor Operators:

Anchor Operators include: My First Skool, PCF Sparkletots, My World Preschool, Skool4Kidz and E-Bridge Preschool

Partner Operators:

Partner Operators include: Little Skool-House and other preschool operators (see the full list here).

International preschools

They embrace global perspectives and diverse cultural experiences, often following renowned international curricula, providing a well-rounded education that prepares children for an interconnected world.

Private preschools

Offering a variety of educational philosophies, approaches, and teaching methodologies from Montessori to Reggio Emilia and beyond, these schools provide a personalised learning experience tailored to meet the unique needs and learning styles of each child.

Types of Preschool Curricula in Singapore 

When it comes to choosing the best preschool for your child in Singapore, you will encounter a variety of educational approaches and curricula. Each curriculum is designed to offer a unique perspective on early childhood education, catering to diverse learning styles and philosophies. 

National curriculum

MOE and ECDA offer valuable frameworks, such as the Early Years Development Framework (EYDF), to provide essential guidance for early childhood educators in centre-based childcare settings. EYDF offers a clear and well-defined path for educators, promoting the adoption of key guiding principles and developmentally appropriate practices to support children’s learning and development. In addition, the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework (SPARK) serves as a comprehensive quality assurance system designed to empower preschools in Singapore. SPARK not only helps preschools raise their quality but also serves as a roadmap, outlining the desired standards they should aspire to achieve. It provides a benchmark against which preschools can measure their progress and establish their level of accomplishment.

At NTUC First Campus, our centres are SPARK-certified and our team is dedicated to creating a vibrant, engaging and holistic learning environment. As a leading preschool operator in Singapore, we also strive to nurture young minds and inspire a love for learning.

Our preschool programmes focus on the development of key skills and competencies, catering to the unique needs of each child. We provide a well-rounded education that encompasses cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. By incorporating play-based learning and interactive activities, we create an environment where children can explore, inquire, and discover the world around them.

Montessori/Reggio Emilia/Waldorf

In addition to the national curriculum, there are various other types of preschool curricula available in boutique and international preschools. These include Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and more.

When selecting a preschool in Singapore, it is essential to understand the specific curriculum and educational approach offered by each school. Consider your child’s learning style, interests, and developmental needs, and explore how the curriculum aligns with your educational goals. Visiting the preschools and speaking with teachers and administrators can provide valuable insights into the curriculum implementation and its suitability for your child.

What Should Parents Look for in a Preschool?

Each aspect plays a crucial role in providing a nurturing and enriching environment for your little one’s early education. Let us explore in more detail what parents should look for when evaluating preschool options: 

Location

The location of the preschool you choose is an important consideration. It is beneficial to find a preschool that is conveniently located near your home or workplace, as this can save commuting time and ensure ease of drop-off and pick-up. Additionally, a preschool in a familiar and accessible neighbourhood can foster a sense of community and familiarity for both you and your child.

Curriculum

Take the time to understand the curriculum philosophy and approach and consider how the curriculum aligns with your child’s learning style and interests. The best preschools in Singapore emphasis a balance of academic and social-emotional development, encourages hands-on learning, and promotes holistic growth. 

Special needs

If your child has special needs or requires additional support, it is crucial to find a preschool that is inclusive and equipped to cater to their specific requirements. Inquire about the preschool’s experience in supporting children with special needs, the availability of trained staff or therapists, and the resources available to create an inclusive learning environment for all children. 

Language

If you prefer your child to be exposed to multiple languages, choose a preschool in Singapore that aligns with your language goals. Bilingual or multilingual preschools can offer valuable language development opportunities and cultural diversity.

Care hours

Consider whether you need half-day or full-day care and whether they align with your work hours or other commitments.

Facilities

The preschool’s facilities play a vital role in creating a conducive learning environment. Look for well-maintained classrooms, outdoor play areas, age-appropriate learning materials, and resources that stimulate curiosity and exploration. Safety measures such as secure entrances, childproofing, and proper supervision should also be taken into account.

Cost

Consider the financial aspect of enrolling your child in preschool. Evaluate the tuition fees, any additional costs such as uniforms, field trips, or extracurricular activities, and whether there are any available subsidies or financial assistance programmes. It is essential to find a preschool that fits within your budget while still meeting your expectations for quality education and care.

At What Age Should Children Enrol in a Preschool?

Determining the ideal age for enrolling your child in a preschool is a common concern for many parents. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, several factors can guide you in making this important decision. 

Developmental readiness

Children develop at different rates, both physically and emotionally. Before enrolling your child in preschool, assess their developmental readiness. Look for signs of independence, curiosity, and social awareness. If your child shows an interest in exploring new environments, interacting with peers, and demonstrating some basic self-help skills, they may be ready for the preschool experience.

Socialisation and interaction

Preschool in Singapore offers valuable opportunities for socialisation and interaction with peers. Young children benefit from engaging with others their age, learning to share, take turns, and cooperate. If your child has limited exposure to other children or lacks opportunities for social interactions, enrolling them in preschool can provide a structured environment for fostering these crucial social skills.

Language and communication

Preschools often emphasise language and communication development. If your child has reached a stage where they are using words or phrases to express themselves and are showing an interest in listening to stories or engaging in simple conversations, it may be an indication that they are ready for the language-rich environment of preschool.

Cognitive and academic readiness

Preschools offer a range of early learning experiences that support cognitive development. If your child demonstrates curiosity, an eagerness to explore, and an interest in early literacy or numeracy activities, they may be ready to benefit from the cognitive stimulation provided by preschool programmes in Singapore. 

Parental commitments

Work schedules or other commitments can also influence your decision to enrol your child in preschool. If you need reliable and structured childcare while you are at work or attending to other responsibilities, enrolling your child in preschool provides a supportive environment where they can learn and grow under the care of qualified educators.

Some parents choose to introduce their children to preschool at a younger age, around two or three, while others may opt for a later start, closer to four or five years old. Ultimately, the decision should be guided by your child’s individual readiness and your family’s specific needs. 

Enrolling Your Child in a Preschool in Singapore

How Much Does It Cost to Enrol Your Child in Preschool in Singapore?

Enrolling your child in preschool is an investment in their early education and development. The cost of preschool in Singapore can vary depending on several factors: 

School fees

They typically form the core of the expenses associated with preschool and can vary greatly depending on the type of preschool and its reputation, location, facilities, and curriculum. MOE kindergartens and government-supported preschools generally have lower fees compared to boutique or international preschools. It is important to inquire about the fee structure, including monthly or term fees, and any available subsidies or financial assistance programmes.

Uniform fees

Many preschools in Singapore require students to wear a specific uniform or dress code. Uniform fees can include costs for shirts, pants or skirts, school badges, and accessories. Consider the initial investment for purchasing uniforms and any ongoing costs for replacements or additional items.

School bus fees

If you opt for school bus transportation, there may be additional fees. School bus fees can vary depending on the distance between your home and the preschool, as well as the level of service provided. Make sure to inquire about the bus routes, safety measures, and any additional costs associated with transportation. 

Other school needs

Preschools often have specific requirements or needs, such as stationery, art supplies, books, and learning materials. These items may be included in the school fees or require an additional fee. Inquire about any one-time or recurring expenses for such materials and consider budgeting for these items accordingly.

Technology

With the increasing integration of technology in education, some preschools may incorporate the use of tablets, computers, or other digital devices as part of their curriculum. If technology is included, there may be costs associated with device usage, software subscriptions, or maintenance fees. 

Excursions

Preschools often organise educational outings or excursions to enhance learning experiences. These excursions may include visits to museums, zoos, parks, or other educational venues. Excursions may involve additional fees to cover transportation, entry tickets, or other expenses related to the outing.

When researching preschool options, inquire about the breakdown of fees, any available subsidies or financial assistance programmes, and whether there are any hidden or additional costs to be aware of. This information will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your family’s financial circumstances and educational aspirations for your child.

What Subsidies Are Available for Preschools in Singapore?

Singapore recognises the importance of accessible and affordable early childhood education for all families. To support parents in providing quality preschool education for their children, several subsidies and financial assistance schemes are available. 

Government subsidies for childcare and infant care programmes2*

Under the Basic Subsidy scheme, parents can receive financial support for full-day infant care and full-day childcare. For full-day infant care, the Basic Subsidy can amount to up to $600 per month. For full-day childcare, the Basic Subsidy can amount to up to $300 per month. The subsidy amount is based on the child’s age and the type of programme enrolled in.

Working mothers with a gross monthly household income of $12,000 and below are eligible for the Additional Subsidy on top of the Basic Subsidy. The Additional Subsidy aims to provide further financial support to lower-income families. The subsidy amount varies depending on the household income, with lower-income families receiving higher subsidies.

Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS)*

KiFAS aims to make kindergarten education more affordable for Singaporean children attending eligible kindergartens. The subsidy amount is determined based on the family’s household income — the gross family household income should not be more than $12,000 or per capita income is $3000 and below for larger families

KidSTART2*

KidSTART is an early intervention programme aimed at supporting children from vulnerable backgrounds. Through this programme, eligible children receive holistic support in their development and access to quality preschool education. KidSTART also offers additional support services such as health and developmental screening, learning materials, and parenting programmes. 

NTUC First Campus’s Financial Support Programmes

The Bright Horizons Fund is NTUC First Campus’ registered charity fund that facilitates a child’s access to literacy and language support, uniforms, the opportunity to attend enrichment classes, and the chance to celebrate their birthday. Other financial support programmes include the Classroom Support Programme, Infant Nutrition Programme, and more. 

For a full list of infant care and child care subsidies, visit our Subsidies page

When Should You Start Applying for Preschool in Singapore?

The ‘Search for Preschool’ service on LifeSG, a one-stop portal for accessing government services, is a valuable resource that assists parents in finding ECDA-accredited preschools. This user-friendly online platform offers comprehensive information about various preschool centres and enables parents to shortlist preschools by bookmarking their interests using Singpass. Additionally, parents can directly contact the preschools or visit their websites to follow up on enrolment matters.

Given the limited number of slots available in preschools and the potential for waitlisting, it is advisable for parents to plan ahead and register their interests as early as possible. 

Choose NTUC First Campus to Kickstart Your Child’s Preschool Journey

All About NTUC First Campus’s Preschools

When it comes to providing a solid foundation for your child’s preschool journey, NTUC First Campus stands out as a trusted choice. With our renowned preschool brands, My First Skool and Little Skool-House, NTUC First Campus offers a nurturing and enriching environment that supports your child’s holistic development. They are both ECDA-licensed preschools with a proven track record. 

My First Skool

  • Programmes: My First Skool offers a diverse range of programmes designed to cater to different age groups and developmental stages. From infant care to kindergarten programmes, My First SkoolMFS provides a comprehensive curriculum that focuses on building a strong educational foundation, fostering social-emotional skills, and promoting physical development. 
  • Ages: My First Skool welcomes children from as young as two months old up to six years old, ensuring a seamless transition from infant care to preschool education within the same nurturing environment. Take note that only some centres offer infant care programmes, find a centre here
  • Activities: My First Skool employs the PETAL approach — Playing, Exploring, Thinking, and Applying Learning. This approach provides facilitated play experiences that encourage active exploration, critical thinking and making meaningful discoveries. 
  • Hours: With options for half-day or full-day sessions, parents can choose a schedule that suits their work or personal commitments.
  • Fees: Preschool fees at My First Skool are capped at $680 per month (excluding subsidies). Financial assistance and subsidies are also available to eligible families, ensuring that quality education remains affordable for all.^

Little Skool-House

  • Programmes: Little Skool-House offers comprehensive programmes designed to meet the developmental needs of children from infant care to kindergarten levels. The curriculum is carefully crafted to foster cognitive, physical, social, and emotional growth, with a strong emphasis on language, bilingualism and literacy development.
  • Ages: Little Skool-House welcomes children from as young as two months old up to six years old. The seamless integration of infant care, nursery, and kindergarten programmes ensures a continuous and holistic learning journey for your child. 
  • Activities: Little Skool-House provides a rich array of activities that promote active learning, problem-solving skills, creativity, and character development. The curriculum incorporates a blend of structured activities and child-initiated play, creating a stimulating environment for exploration and discovery.
  • Hours: Whether you require half-day or full-day sessions, the preschool aims to cater to your needs while ensuring that your child receives quality care and education.
  • Fees: Preschool fees for Little Skool-House are capped at $720 a month (excluding subsidies). For POP (Partner Operator Programme) centres, monthly fees align with the guidelines set by ECDA.

What differentiates NTUC First Campus preschools?

The NTUC First Campus curriculum is rooted in research and evidence and developed in collaboration with leading local and international educational institutes, researchers and with our own teachers and specialists. 

Beyond strong fundamentals in core math and literacy, we also nurture three vital foundational skills for a lifetime of growth: relational skills, global citizenship, and digital intelligence, which we believe are important to thrive in the 21st-century world. The result: what we call the NFC Child, a child who is well equipped with vital skills for the future and set up for long-term success. 

Relational Skills:

Children who can relate and work well with all kinds of people are better equipped to navigate the world around them. That is why we place a strong emphasis on developing social and communication skills, and teaching our children about respect and empathy for others. By focusing on relational skills, we create a supportive learning environment that fosters resilience, confidence and social competence in the NFC child.

Global Citizenship:

We encourage our little ones to explore and understand the world that they are living in, and inspire them to want to change it for the better. Our curriculum provides real-life experiences that allow our children to actively learn and contribute. Our Outdoor School programmes also feature exciting learning journeys to nature reserves and parks to learn about nature conservation. These practical experiences allow the NFC child to gain a better understanding of the impact of their actions on the environment and the wider world.

Digital Intelligence:

As technology continues to advance rapidly, it’s impossible to predict what the future will look like. However, one thing is certain: the ability to master technological tools will be absolutely essential. We recognise the importance of preparing our children to navigate digital tools and virtual environments with confidence and safety. By equipping them with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world, we ensure that our children will be able to succeed no matter what the future may hold.

List of NTUC First Campus Preschools in Singapore

NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool and Little Skool-House centres are conveniently located islandwide, spanning various regions in Singapore. Our preschools can be found in the North, Central, East, West, and North East areas, making it easier for parents to locate a preschool near their residential or workplace areas. 

With our extensive network of centres across Singapore, we strive to provide convenient access to quality early childhood education for families in different communities.

How to schedule a visit

Visiting an open house is a valuable opportunity for parents to gain insights into a preschool’s environment, curriculum, and overall approach to early childhood education. Open houses provide a firsthand experience that allows parents to make informed decisions about their child’s educational journey. So if you have the chance, do not hesitate to make a visit!

To find a NTUC First Campus preschool near you, simply visit our Preschool Locator here. To schedule a visit with My First Skool, please visit this link. To schedule a visit with Little Skool-House, please visit this link.

At NTUC First Campus, we believe in the importance of providing quality preschool education. Join the family and benefit from our comprehensive curriculum, experienced educators, and nurturing learning environments as you embark on this exciting educational journey with us.

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