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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The early years curriculum at GIIS SMART Campus combines focal points of the Montessori curriculum with its own holistic framework 

Accreditation: Schools can apply for Montessori accreditation from The American Montessori Society (AMS). While there is a high numbers of pre-schools calling themselves Montessori, not all of them are accredited or have AMI-trained teachers. INNO Montessori is the only AMS Full Member School in Singapore. Because Montessori is more of a philosophy than a rigid curriculum, any school can call itself Montessori and may include Montessori teaching methods within its bespoke curriculum (such as GIIS SMART Campus).

What is it? Developed in Rome more than 100 years ago by Maria Montessori, the Montessori curriculum is based on the idea that children learn best through independent exploration and discovery in an environment that is carefully prepared by the teacher.

Learning is supported using Montessori specific materials (often wooden puzzles and sensory play resources) and class groups should be multi-age (most commonly three to five/six years), to allow for the important role that other children play in development and learning.

A Montessori teacher is there to guide and facilitate rather than to lead and instruct. Parents should look for teachers who create cleverly engaging activities, then step back and allow children to draw their own conclusions. Montessori classrooms should have the following:

  • Areas that allow for both individual learning and group work
  • Areas for quiet time
  • Easily accessible resources, stored at child height
  • Thoughtful, age-appropriate activities that can be undertaken by children with minimal adult guidance
  • Age-appropriate books, accessible without adult help
  • Inspiring wall displays, often including maps and pictures of animals and nature

Pros: Ideal for parents looking for an alternative to rote learning and traditional teaching methods, the Montessori curriculum puts your child in a class where the teacher is there to guide and facilitate rather than to lead and instruct.

Montessori nurseries offer a number of interesting benefits to children with special or additional learning needs. The “follow the child’ principle supports children in learning at their own pace, and Montessori learning materials are often designed with sensory learning in mind, allowing children to explore and learn with their hands and senses.

Cons: Parents may find the “multi age” factor an issue. Seeing little Ali jostle with tall-for-his-age-Ted for materials and an opportunity to learn, is certainly hard and requires careful (and gentle) intervention by staff. Group sizes can be large and the classrooms themselves big. Will your child thrive in this environment – or would they benefit from being in a smaller group of children closer to their own age?

With its highly structured method, where activities are created or chosen by the teacher, will your child have the opportunity to follow their own interests? It’s also important to consider how well Montessori prepares your child for a “regular” curriculum school?

Schools offering Montessori include: NPS International School, Yuvavbharathi School, and GIIS SMART Campus.


Next: Reggio Emilia

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