Your Top 5 Pre-school Curriculum Options

Not sure which pre-school to send your little one to? As well as location, cost and facilities, one of the key considerations has to be curriculum. Whether you’re interested in play-based learning or a more academic focus, Singapore’s wide choice of pre-schools offers a variety of different learning approaches. Here are some of the most popular pre-school programmes – and how they differ.
Your Top 5 Pre-school Curriculum Options
By Carli Allan
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IB Primary Years Programme

Kindergarten at Canadian International School (Lakeside) focuses on self discovery as part of the IB Primary Years Programme

Accreditation: Schools must be authorised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) to offer the PYP, and all teachers must be trained to teach the PYP.

What is it? The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) is an educational programme managed by the International Baccalaureate (IB) for students aged three to 12. While the programme prepares students for the IB Middle Years Programme, it is not a prerequisite for it, in the same way the Middle Years Programme is not a prerequisite to sit the IB Diploma. Some all-through international schools in Singapore will offer a hybrid programme that starts with the PYP and continues with the UK National Curriculum.

The IB is a framework more than a curriculum and is less prescriptive than other "curricula", for example the Early Years Foundation Stage that underpins UK primary education. This applies to both teaching methods, and to content.

The philosophy of the PYP is to make the students into "inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced, and reflective". Children study language, mathematics, social studies, science and technology, arts, and personal, social and physical education by exploring six key themes:

  • Who We Are
  • Where We Are in Place and Time
  • How the World Works\
  • How We Organise Ourselves
  • How We Express Ourselves
  • Sharing the Planet

Pros: The PYP is not controlled by any one national government, and by encouraging an understanding of other perspectives, cultures, and languages, there is a greater focus on developing international-mindedness than in other curricula. Subjects are taught holistically rather than in isolation, so there’s less focus on specific skills. There’s also a focus on independent and self-directed learning, and students are encouraged to try different approaches to learning and to take responsibility for their own educational progress. In Singapore schools, children will have daily Mandarin lessons and may have the opportunity to study French.

Cons: It can feel too child-directed, at the expense of important skills, and it does rely on strong, well-rounded teachers with a commitment to long-term planning. Some parents criticise the lack of structure and content.

Schools offering the IB PYP include: Canadian International School (Lakeside), CIS (Tanjong Katong), Nexus International School, GESS, GEMS World Academy (Singapore), EtonHouse (Broadrick, Sentosa, Thomson), Chatsworth International School, Hillside World Academy, ISS International School, One World International School (Nanyang and Mountbatten), and Stamford American Early Learning Village.


Next: Montessori

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