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Singapore - kindergarten vs school

(7 Posts)
Francois Sun 21-Jul-13 19:55:25

Hi again. Still deciding whether dh should take the job or not so now thinking about more practical matters.

Quick question about quality of teaching at school vs kindergarten. If we move out I'd ideally like the dc (2&4 by then) to stay together and have seen that a lot of preschools operate for 2-6 year olds. That would mean they could remain together and we wouldn't worry about looking at schools etc. however, when we return will the elder be at a disadvantage for having remained in kindergarten rather than in an international school or are the standards and curriculum the same?

Finally, any recommendations for preschools gratefully received. Probably east coast rather than west.


beyondthepaleandinteresting Sun 21-Jul-13 22:39:28

Hi, I have just had to make this decision for another country, so can't help re Singapore, but am also moving with a 2 and 4 year old (next month). We have opted to send our 4 year old to kindergarten rather than school, albeit a kindergarten where some formal learning / teaching is undertaken. This means that he may end up a year behind when we return to the UK (or, even if he goes into a year with his peers, may be slightly behind in schooling). However he has not been to school before (would be starting reception this year) and I felt that putting him straight into a classroom environment in a brand new country might be too much of a challenge for him. If he has to make the leap at some point, I'd rather he was doing it back in the UK where at least the system and our surroundings will be familiar.

I am keen to make sure that he gets the whole experience of living in a new place without too much worry about formal learning. He will still learn the host country language in kindy, and that has got to be a big advantage long term. He is a bright cookie and I'm sure he'll catch up academically when he needs to! We are only likely to be abroad (in this location, anyway) for around a year/ 18 months though, so I'm not really looking at settling him into a new schooling system from a long term perspective.

Saltedcaramellavacake Mon 22-Jul-13 12:37:07

The standards and curriculum will differ wildly depending on what/where you choose! So will the facilities... International schools in SG will operate on a foreign curriculum (eg Tanglin uses the English curriculum, Stamford the International Bacclaurete etc.). Local kindergartens will operate all sorts of different curricula - Montessori, Reggio, academic etc. If you chose an international school the pre-school will not be a "formal" learning classroom - most are play-based. Contrast a lot of local kindergartens which can be force-feeding worksheets to 2 year olds and drilling them in phonics. The best thing to consider wouldn't be international v kindergarten but what type of learning environment you want - Montessori, play-based, academic etc. If there's any chance you'll be staying longer than two years, though, bear in mind it will be difficult to get a six year old into an international school unless you have registered early (eg now) (this costs about $SGD 2-3000 depending on the school).
I'm sure a child with good support would catch up if he/she didn't have the same educational start as others, but if you return to England your 4 year old would be starting Reception in 2014 so you might want a Kindy program that does include reading and writing so your older DC is not too far behind. I think it must be stressful for a child to be way behind their peers for a few terms when also changing country. Even if that country is "home", your DC will have spent almost as much time in SG as at "home"!

Francois Mon 22-Jul-13 16:35:06

Thanks. I think we probably need different things for both children as one is more academic and one more practical play orientated (although very hard to make any judgement like that on such small children). I'm definitely not keen on the very structured schools which concentrate purely on academics

Ones we've looked at and want to visit are:
Eton house and chatsworth
Dover court (although would only work for elder)
Lorna whiston
We may go look at tanglin and UWC but out of curiosity rather than realistically expecting a place. Opinions on any of the above greatly received!

Saltedcaramellavacake Tue 23-Jul-13 01:29:03

They're all different, philosophically as well as geographically. Eton House has a number of locations and operates like a school at some but like day care at others. It is very popular for expats and local people. There are MNers with kids at Eton House who love it - unfortunately, one near us operates like day care and although the program is good the DC need to attend 7am-1pm or 7am-6pm (or at least pay to attend those hours!) and that was much more than I wanted for my DC. Definitely worth enquiring at them though as the program is great with lots of Mandarin.
Rain trees is lovely (older facilities but very warm teaching staff) but usually pretty booked up, ditto for Odyssey. Odyssey has a fabulous campus (at Fourth Avenue) with lots of open space and outdoor learning areas.
If you still plan to be on the East Coast, though, Raintrees would be a long drive, as would the Fourth Avenue campus of Odyssey (although there may be another campus?).
There are Mumsnetters with kids at Dover Court who liked it a lot at Infant level but pulled them out/are less happy at junior levels (there was a thread on SG schools talking about this a few months ago which might be useful). Again, Dover might not be very convenient from the East Coast... Also, Dover Court and Chatsworth are both international schools like UWC and Tanglin (not just kindergartens), so they can be hard to get into. If you like them in theory it would be a good idea to contact them now about places. You might find you can take them off the list as they're full.
I don't know Lorna Whiston.
Another very popular one (Kindy only) is White Lodge. They have locations across the island so there might be something convenient to to East Coast if that's where you want to live.
I wouldn't try to commute from the East Coast to kindys across town with kids aged 2 and 4. SG is small but traffic can be bad and all you would do is sit in traffic between drop off time and pick up (assuming the DCs go half days as is usual here).
Blue House and Swallows and Amazons at Turf City are also great stand alone kindergartens but again, far (IMHO) from the East Coast. Worth considering though if you are not set on living on the East Coast.
Good luck - schools are a hard decision, and nothing beats visiting them.

Francois Thu 25-Jul-13 21:53:01

Thanks so much for that. It's incredibly helpful. We're booking appointments to see a few when we visit. It may be we do a couple of months of kindergarten for both and move both into an international school next August as a number of them have availability. It's the younger one that's the problem. Odyssey over at Wilkinson said their wait list for that age was currently 40 kids. That's crazy!

Thanks again, it's much appreciated

papooshka Fri 26-Jul-13 07:17:51

Another great one is The Children's Place just off Tanglin Rd, but again it's not east coast!

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