With roughly 1800 different preschools in Singapore to choose from and almost a dozen different learning methodologies to consider, selecting the right school can be intimidating at first. However, breaking down the task into categories will help you narrow down your search to something more manageable.
- Child to Teacher Ratio
The first and easiest to check off will be the location. You may have been recommended the “next best preschool” by a friend, but if the school is on the other side of the island, you may need to see what’s around you first.
Curriculum and Education Methodology
The next step is to educate yourself on the different curriculum available in Singapore. Don’t worry. You typically won’t need to choose one. Many preschools will mix multiple different education philosophies, so it is just a matter of you finding the right blend for your child.
|Waldorf Steiner||A curriculum that generates enthusiasm for learning through experience. Waldorf education is based in the idea that learning objectives are experienced not just read about and tested.|
|Art-based||Children participate in a wide range of fine art activities designed to spark an interest in life and learning.|
|The High Scope||A methodology based in more than 50 years of research that emphasises eight different content areas to promote children learning through interaction with their environment through play.|
|Montessori||Emphasises independence, hands-on learning, and collaborative play that promotes children to make creative choices in their learning.|
|Theory of Multiple Intelligence||A theory that views intelligence as mulit-dimensional rather than simply academic-highlighting eight intelligences that are explored.|
|Mandarin Focused||Language immersion offered in Mandarin to children that facilitate early childhood aptitude for bi-lingual thinking.|
|Play-Based||Primarily driven by the principle that children learn most when practicing play and interacting with the learning material.|
|Reggio Emilia||Developed in Italy afer WWII, Reggio Emilia emphasises self-directed learning from the environment and communities that surround them.|
|Whole Brain Learning||A learning approach that treats both sides of the brain equally while emphasising the process as much as the result.|
Not all preschools will use the exact phrasing above. Still, most will advertise their core methodology on their website (if they have one). There you will be able to identify from which education philosophies they draw inspiration.
Many factors will affect price, but generally speaking, private schools will be more expensive. Additionally, expect to pay more money for exclusive and competitive preschools. Below is a graph that analyzes over 40 different preschools to show the average cost by education methodology.Click here for a larger view.
The average monthly cost of preschool by education methodology
Make sure to check and see if the preschool you are interested in offers government subsidies to help ease the cost. Don’t cut corners in your child’s early education to save money, but remember to take advantage of any cost savings that will not impact education outcomes. Even if you could save S$50 a month, it could result in huge savings for your child’s future college fund if put into an account that accrues compound interest.
Child To Teacher Ratio
Now that you are ready to start calling or scheduling visits to different preschools, you should list out questions you want to ask or clarify with the school. How many children per teacher should be on that list. This number can vary between schools and is not always advertised on websites.
However, don’t be too quick to rule out a preschool if the class size is larger than you expected. A study published in 2017 by Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis showed that, within reason, the size of the classroom doesn’t significantly impact cognitive and achievement effect. Only child-to-teacher ratios of 7.5 to 1 or class sizes of 15 children or fewer were linked to show benefits to children. So, if you can find a preschool that meets all your criteria and has lower class sizes, that’s great. If not, weigh your options and choose what works best for you and your child.
The last factor covered in our list is the school’s facilities. The facilities often depend on the curriculum, and the quality of the facilities can vary widely. Some schools will offer trendy and pristine classrooms, where others may provide more outdoor play areas. Is it a safe space? Does the space offer plenty of opportunities for healthy interaction with other children? Is the space comfortable (i.e. well ventilated, sunny, bright and full of color, quiet)? Take a look at what facilities are available, as this is where your child will spend most of their time learning.
Make sure to plan regular surprise visits to check on your child. After you’ve done all your homework, frequently check to ensure that the school maintains the quality of childcare. This also gives you a chance to directly observe your child, teachers, and other children, often giving not-so-obvious insights into a program’s quality.
By Stephen Lee, ValueChampion.
Photos provided by ValueChampion.
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