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PRE-SCHOOL: HOW IT WORKS AND WHY IT'S GOOD

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Your child develops and learns more in her first five years than at any other stage of life. Pre-school can support and encourage your child’s amazing development – and it can be a lot of fun. 

About pre-school

At pre-school (also known as kindergarten) children socialise and learn through play – and they usually have a lot of fun!

Children:

  • get new knowledge and skills through play and activities with other children – for example, they start learning more about numbers, letters and words
  • improve their communication skills through interactions with others
  • learn social skills like listening and respecting the ideas of others, sharing and handling conflicts with peers
  • make new friends and develop new relationships with adults
  • develop responsibility, independence, confidence and self-worth through doing things like looking after their own belongings and spending time away from home.

What happens at pre-school? 

Pre-school is all about learning through open-ended play and structured play activities that allow children to develop at their own pace. Whether your child is finger painting, building a block castle, or singing with other kids, pre-school helps your child increase her experiences, abilities and knowledge.

Most pre-schools offer both indoor and outdoor activities, as well as opportunities for solo and group play.

Indoor activities often include:

  • painting and pasting
  • clay or playdough play
  • puzzles and games
  • blocks and construction
  • books and sensory activities

Outdoor activities often include:

  • play in the sandpit
  • exploring a natural landscape
  • water play
  • dramatic play
  • swings and climbing equipment

Group times often include:

  • stories and poetry
  • dancing and singing
  • playing with musical instruments
  • drama and acting
  • show and tell

Pre-school doesn’t usually involve teaching children specific academic skills. This starts happening at school.

When can children go to pre-school? 

Children can go to pre-school when they’re three years old, or in the year they turn three. You don’t have to send your child to pre-school but it’s great if you can.  

Some pre-schools also offer programmes for two to three-year-olds – these are much shorter days than traditional four-year-old programmes. Child care centres also offer pre-school programmes run by qualified early childhood teachers.

What kinds of pre-schools are there? 

In Singapore there are several different types of nurseries and kindergartens:

  • Sessional nurseries and kindergarten: these offer programmes ranging from two hours to four hours a day, five days a week. Programmes are run by an early childhood teacher with the help of an assistant.
  • Child Care Centres: these programmes run for an entire day and include a lunch programme.
  • Steiner, Montessori and Reggio Emilia pre-schools: these offer programmes based on individual philosophies of children’s learning abilities. The programme models and hours vary.

Most pre-schools operate in purpose-built facilities and are regulated by either the Ministry of Education (MOE) or the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

There might be a fee for your child to go to pre-school, because government funding doesn’t cover all the operating costs. Your selected pre-school will be able to tell you the fees you can expect to pay.


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