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Nursery in Singapore for my 16 mth old?

(67 Posts)
AmbiPambi Mon 25-Jan-10 12:38:09

We will be relocating to Singapore within the next 3-4 months and I have been searching for a good nursery for my little one but it is hard to judge from afar. I saw there are quite a few Singapore members and hope you can point me into the right direction.

I am looking for a Montessori nursery, with well-trained Western staff and mostly western expatriate children but possibly Mandarin lessons. Can anyone help?

I thought there is one opposite Tanglin Mall, up on a hill and then another one on Bukit Timah Road where the enclosure for Picotin (restaurant) is, but I'm not sure.

Where did you send your children and why? Help is very much appreciated.

tootsieroll Fri 29-Jan-10 10:56:07

So, I spent the morning calling the various local preschools/childcare (kinderland, carpe diem) in my area.....they seemed mostly friendly, and positive about having me drop by in March. Has anyone had any experience with the Pat's Schoolhouse franchise?

Meetup: Would a weekday or weekend be better for people?

slim22 Fri 29-Jan-10 11:09:46

Sorry no first hand info on Pat's

Anyday ok for me...provided am not working....

AmbiPambi Fri 29-Jan-10 13:31:32

Thank you for the tip springaporesling! Will update you once the flight is confd.

slim: what are you doing leaving after giving us all the great advice!!! How soon? No way around? I think you must have moved a lot so far, you sound like a seasoned mover smile I hope it goes well and we get to mee before you leave.

AmbiPambi Fri 29-Jan-10 13:32:50

sry: meet (not sure what mee is, but we can do that, too) grin

slim22 Fri 29-Jan-10 13:41:11

Not going just yet. Just getting paranoid about school debentures just in case!

springaporesling Mon 01-Feb-10 03:29:19

Either fine for me but afternoons only in the week - otherwise at work.

Friend of mine's DD (19 months) just started at Pat's (Mount Emily branch) a couple of weeks ago - I saw them both yesterday. She's a very very active little girl - she made the other new boy cry on their first day (by hitting him over the head) but they got a report yesterday saying that she had shared a toy on Friday so they were pretty pleased with that! I think they do 5 mornings a week only but both parents are working full time so I think they're ok with that. Another friend (lives Mt Sinai area) also sends her older boy there (3.5 yrs) and she likes it for him too. I think cheaper than some and they provide lunch too.

AnotherMotherNomad Fri 05-Feb-10 11:07:20

Hi - I've read this thread with interest. I'm also looking into nurseries and finding it very overwhelming. Current dd 2y goes to a nursery in London 3 (full) days a week and I work PT. I love the place, it is very friendly and well run with loads of fun messy play and so on. At this age I'm not concerned at all about what she is going to learn. I want her to have fun, be around other children and be cared for in an affectionate environment; I'll worry about her academic achievements when she is much older.

I've received information from some nurseries over there and it is sort of scaring me. One of the places sent me a timetable in which during a fullday the toddlers get 1.5 hours of Mandarin lessons, academic study ... but no naptime?? Just the fact that they had a rigid schedule for that age group is strange to me. And this was from one of the places recommended on this thread as being more playful & creative. I really just want her to play and run around, and get cuddles if she needs it. There may be a big cultural gap between what I am imagining and what is the norm there... I'm not sure. Does anyone have any suggestions?

tootsieroll Fri 05-Feb-10 15:53:13

AnotherMotherNomad: Overwhelming indeed. I've spent the last 2 Friday mornings calling childcare/preschools in my area, both local as well as more 'expat-orientated'. The ones that have appealed to me (at least over the phone) are all fully booked with tremendous waiting lists Singapore unfortunately is a very academic orientated society, so u will get that sort of 'study study study' marketing, which bodes well with the local parents.

I suppose the best way to know what's best is to visit a selection of nurseries.....I think I'll be visiting the Pat's Schoolhouse, CarpeDiem and Kinderland franchises, and maybe also Eton House, just to get a comparison. Maybe throw in a Montessori one as well......(sounds like I'm visiting all of them now eh!)

Roan Sat 06-Feb-10 05:57:39

Tootsie, please keep us updated on your endevours!! I agree with you both re the rigorous schedules for toddlers. It's quite sad if they feel they have to 'drill' children like this.

tootsieroll Thu 18-Feb-10 17:15:56

So, week 3 of early mornings (not my choice) has given me an opportunity to call Sg at a sensible hour. I spoke to both Chatsworth Kindergarten and PMI today. I have to say that the principle at Chatsworth didn't particularly impress me i.e. she didn't seem very confident or knowledgeable about what they did in the kindergarten. There was a little girl crying in the background, who may have been the reason why Justine seemed so detached (she excused herself for a moment to deal with the child). I had a much better conversation with Dr Khoo at PMI who seemed extremely knowledgeable about things, the entire child development process. I am personally interested in the Multiple Intelligences theory, and she made it seem very logical. My DS came into the room during our conversation, and despite the interruption, she seemed really patient and understanding, and I felt like she was doing an assessment of my child from what she could hear over the phone. I was a little cheeky, asking her to compare her school with 'one one next door' (EtonHouse Buckley), and to be fair, she was extremely diplomatic and didn't say a bad word about the competition I will definitely be paying this one a visit.

So, I think I'm done with the phonecalls:
On my final shortlist - Bridges Montessori, Kinderland Serangoon, PMI/The Sunbird, Pat's Schoolhouse.

flimflammum Mon 22-Feb-10 06:45:23

AnotherMotherNomad and Tootsie: (belatedly replying on this thread) - that's exactly what I have felt, Nomad, I just want a kindergarten for my DD which is warm and nurturing, provides fun and stimulating activities, and will help her learn to socialise and get used to being part of a group, as well as get used to being away from me. The more expat-friendly ones all have waiting lists, whereas the more local ones just feel too strange, with things like giving them a shower mid-morning and doing phonics at age 2.

I have finally made the decision to send DD to a pre-school called Odyssey, even though I'll have to wait for a few months, as it seems to provide an exceptionally lovely campus (Wilkinson Rd branch) - when I visited I saw a group of children in the grounds collecting things, rather than sitting quietly around a table or singing along to a CD of Mandarin songs. It seems to have the best quality staff and a good atmosphere. The only downside for me is that you have to do five half or full days, which I think will be a bit much for DD, but I guess I could pay for that and keep her at home some mornings anyway.

However, you have to go on your own instincts, as I know people here who are very happy with pre-schools which I don't like (e.g. one located in a shopping mall, with not only no outdoor play area, but no WINDOWS).

Louisejp Tue 23-Feb-10 13:02:38

HI there!! I can so empahise with you guys!! I am in the throws of trying to find a place for my ds 4yrs and dd 2yrs! Edlest son is at SJI International and so far (after 2 days) thinks its excellent and wants to go on the weekends?!? (We have been here 3 weeks)

I have checked out White Lodge Linden Drive - very pleasant busy nursery in house setting with garden. We're living above Botanic gardens (or will be when we move from the serviced apartment!) So if anyone out there as any tips on nurseries round here my ears are open!!!

springaporesling Wed 24-Feb-10 03:07:23

Thought I'd report back as DS had his first morning of drop-off yesterday at Blue House. He woke up at 5am which wasn't a great start to the day (he's recovering from a bad cold and has his eye teeth coming through). Anyway as he's quite familiar with the setting he quickly wandered off to play with things. When he was happily playing in the water play/sand play I told him I was going and would be back later and left - no tears (at least not from him) and he's very quite clingy at the moment.

Anyway they phoned me at 10.30 to tell me he was doing really well and off exploring and bringing things he'd found to show the staff. They said assuming all still went well that I should just come at 12 to collect him. They called again at 11.40 as I was about to set off to say he was quite upset but seemed very tired (hardly surprising given he'd been up since 5!) and that I should go straight to get him and not wait to be called with the other parents. Anyway when I got there he was fast asleep on one of the teachers! Given that he's quite wary of strangers and will only generally fall asleep on me (other than in his cot/pushchair) I'm quite happy with my choice so far as he was obviously comforted when he was in distress and was comfortable enough to go to sleep on a relative stranger. Here's hoping it goes ok tomorrow.

Flimmflamm I also looked at Odyssey (Alexandra Rd branch though) and liked it very much but it was the 5 mornings a week that put me off (DS a bit younger than your DD too). I looked round with my SIL who is head of early years at her nursery/school in Leeds - I don't know much about pre-school so this was really useful. She was on the whole impressed as she said all the staff were more qualified than you would expect in the UK (i.e. even the assistants have degrees in early childhood education). The staff to pupil ratio was the same or smaller than in the UK but she did say that it was quite a bit more structured - not really a surprise as it seems to be the norm here. But I agree I think a lot of it just down to your instinct.

Sorry for the essay!

tootsieroll Wed 24-Feb-10 12:14:31

I do love the essays! Where I live at the moment, there is a choice of just 2 or 3 preschools/nurseries, so it's really been a tiring and stressful process trying to sort the singapore situation out. I even put the phone down on one (I know, my bad, but as soon as I spoke the person on the line shouted 'Oi! Jiang ying wen de! (Oi, English speaker!) to her colleague) - Ouch! Sorry for speaking English?!?!?!

I've got a few appointments made to visit, and hope I can get a place that DS will love

Louisejp Thu 25-Feb-10 06:24:46

Any one had an experience of Pibo on Dunearn? read lots of conflicting info!! This search for a nursery is so hard!!! Havent heard that on the phone yet though tootsieroll -mind you my chinese is zilch!! now I know what it means though!
the search continues!!

springaporesling Thu 25-Feb-10 13:40:41

Another one to add to the mix that a friend mentioned today is The Preparatory Place.

tootsieroll Sun 28-Feb-10 18:03:34

springaporesling Have you gone to the playgroup at BlueHouse before? I'm thinking about it for the term after Easter. Might go visit first though.

springaporesling Mon 01-Mar-10 03:52:05

Tootsie yes we did 1 1/2 terms of the afternoon parent accompanied programme (playgroup) before he started last week. Which I think is one of the reasons he has settled ok (it's only been twice so probably shouldn't speak too soon) because he is very familiar with the set up now.

I would go take a look first though smile - just in case it's not for you wink!

AnotherMotherNomad Thu 04-Mar-10 13:22:32

Hi again,

Our move date looms and I am finding it hard not to be terrified by all this! I am really feeling the pressure because I will probably still have some work to deliver to my UK clients after I've arrived and therefore could really use a quick childcare solution.

What a pile of stress. Most places don't appeal to me, we don't know where we are going to live, and then I suspect if I do find I place I like it will have an extreme waiting list -- every time I start to think about it my stomach churns!

Since I can't check places out until I arrive I am really not sure how to do this. Do I put her name down now based on websites/phonecalls and visit once we've arrived to confirm? Or, do I wait and see after we've arrived, but then risk the waiting lists? How are others managing?

Anyway - on the advice of the recent comments, I've just emailed The Odyssey - and asked them if they have any spaces available around the time we arrive. Fingers are crossed.

papooshka Fri 05-Mar-10 02:24:25

My daughter goes to The Childrens Place as mentioned earlier, I am really happy with it, and so is she. The staff are fantastic, theres a big playground, all the classrooms are bright, airy and lots of fans. They do 1/2 an hour of Mandarin every day and my daughter now sings songs and can count to 10 in Mandarin!

We looked around about 6 places, including Pibo's on Dunearn, White Lodge at Loewen, Sunflower at Turf City, but none of them seemed right to me. I've got friends who go to Lock Rd and love it and also friends at Blue House (bit expensive), and White Lodge at Linden Drive (love it too), and also Eton House who are very happy.

Good luck!

AnotherMotherNomad Fri 05-Mar-10 10:21:44

I hope this doesn't come across as massively controversial, but I have actually been avoiding the nurseries that refer to Mandarin lessons. I'll explain why, but if any of you whose children attend these places think I've got it wrong, please do let me know. (Of course I absolutely agree that Mandarin is a useful language to learn).

My thinking is this: firstly, I am really not keen to send dd somewhere that wants to give her any "lesson" at 2. I think her day should be about play and flitting about the room exploring, using imagination, resting and so forth. The idea that she would be sat down for a period of time and taught something doesn't really gel with me - and is certainly not something that she gets at her current nursery (which I love). Now, if by lesson, it actually just means that the nursery staff speak Mandarin while the children are roaming and doing their play - fair enough. Most of the children I know who are becoming bilingual are doing so because one of the parent speaks that language to them regularly, rather than because they are taking lessons. However, the difference is that these children are exposed to that language constantly, whereas I think that having a short period of a day with (non-parent) adults speaking a language you don't understand would be very frustrating to a toddler.

That brings me to my second hesitation - which is that even if I were pedagogically OK with lessons for 2 year olds, neither dh nor I speak Mandarin, nor is it the common language in Singapore. So, her exposure would be extremely limited anyway. If we were planning to stay in the region, I would definitely reconsider, but we are only looking at max 2 years. Then once we left SG in a few years, I would have to make a concerted effort to keep it up, when frankly I would prefer for her to learn a different 2nd language (due to proximity and frequency in the area where we will end up living). Therefore, it doesn't seem to serve much purpose for our circumstances... Thus, I'm vetoing a bunch of nurseries.

So, am I wrong?

tootsieroll Fri 05-Mar-10 18:52:48

I've booked in to view a number of kindergartens next week, all of which do Mandarin 'teaching' of some description. I would hate for my children to have to sit through however long listening to the droll of a teacher speaking in a language they don't understand (I speak Mandarin and sent my son to Mandarin classes in the UK but pulled him out because the teaching style wasn't orientated to the toddler), but if done in the right way, i.e. through play, music, could be effective. Despite English being the language for business and education in Singapore, Mandarin is used widely, and even more now, due to the influx of people from China. I suppose one could avoid it by sticking to expat areas, but it would certainly be useful when it comes to ordering your plate of chicken rice from the stall manned by a Chinese worker (my husband went through a similar situation this weekend, when he thought he was charged for an item he didn't order, but couldn't argue as he didn't speak Mandarin).

slim22 Sat 06-Mar-10 14:37:30

AnotherNomad, agree on all counts.

Been here 3 years, we already speak 3 languages (not mandarin) and have struggled to keep our children interested in the minority languages.
They only really speak them when they are surrounded by friends and family.

DS is terribly clever with languages. Can recognise and speak a few greeting words in many Asian languages.
He is taught mandarin at school, he can now recognise and write a handful of ideograms but can't speak at all.

Mandarin is not routinely spoken in Singapore so no immersion, no chance. Unless you your children are in a local school, or you have a Chinese Amah, I think no chance of picking up fluent mandarin at a young age.

AnotherMotherNomad Thu 18-Mar-10 12:14:24

Slim22 - thanks for your 2p worth! I suspected as much. If we were planning to stay in the region I would defo consider putting an effort into her picking it up early, but we're capping our stay at 2 years as neither of us want to be away from our (getting older every day) parents, so... if it happens, it happens, but I don't want to send her somewhere that has an intense focus on it at 2.

We've just seen a website for a place called Little Village that looks very tree hugging - which appeals. Does anyone know anything about it?

DorotheaPlenticlew Tue 10-Aug-10 09:29:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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