How Effective is The Singapore Nursery School Curriculum?

Children in Singapore attend nursery school for three years. Most join nursery school at the age of three years. However, some children, aged five years, attend nursery school for one year before joining primary school. 

The Ministry of Education appreciates that nursery school in Singapore provides the foundation for formal education. This is why nursery schools have the freedom to choose which of the six approved curriculums is most suitable. 

The six approved nursery school curriculums in Singapore

  1. Montessori – focuses on spontaneous learning, with the teacher as the facilitator.
  2. Play-based – uses the principle that children learn best when playing games that they enjoy.
  3. Waldorf Steiner – discourages exposure to electronics, such as television. Instead, this curriculum recommends practical activities through which children can learn. 
  4. Reggio Emilia – this curriculum believes that a hands-on experience is the best way for children to learn. 
  5. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences – views intelligence as multi-dimensional. Instead of focusing only on academic intelligence, this curriculum also tests children’s logical, linguistic, musical, interpersonal, naturalistic, intrapersonal, and body Kinaesthetic intelligence. 
  6. The High Scope Method – emphasizes the importance of following a schedule, such as a timetable, to ensure teachers keep track of a child’s interaction with the environment. 

While these curriculums use different approaches, they share several similarities. For example, they all take into account the age of the children. They all have a hands-on approach, whether it is learning through play or interactions. This explains why some Singapore nursery schools use more than one curriculum.

The different approaches have been highly effective for various reasons. 

Activities are chosen based on the curriculum’s goals and objectives.

All these curriculums emphasize the importance of play, interactions, and spontaneity. When they first join Singapore nursery school, children have barely developed cognitive skills, such as memory and attention. 

The different activities are designed to help children learn how to be attentive and retain information in preparation for primary school. 

The goals of the different curriculums are not static. The curriculums give educators the freedom to tailor the goals to the needs of the children. For example, the tailored curriculum and goals consider the child’s cultural background, prior education knowledge, and the child’s evolving interest.

The curriculum supports the child’s holistic development.

By the time children join a primary school, they are expected to be ready for learning. Nursery school in Singapore has the responsibility of ensuring the child is physically and emotionally ready for formal education by the time they turn seven years of age. This is why most children spend three years in a Singapore nursery school. 

The curriculums aim to improve the child’s communication, perceptions, creativity, reasoning, emotional security, problem-solving, sensory development, and social skills. 

The curriculum prepares children for the transition into primary school.

By the time children in Singapore nursery school get to their last year in school, they are expected to be ready to transition to primary school socially and emotionally. Some of the preschoolers will move to primary school with some of their friends from nursery school. 

This is common if the nursery school has a primary section. However, there are cases when the child will have to start over with new friends. Should this happen, teachers attempt to make sure the children know what to expect to have an easier transition. 

For example, teachers can tell stories about bigger schools and meeting new teachers and children. This way, the children will not be overwhelmed by the size of the primary school, which is often bigger than nursery school Singapore. 

Additionally, children are trained to care for their things. For example, they can learn how to keep items in their bags after use. 

The final test in nursery school often tests a child’s holistic development. All the nursery curriculums have one main goal, to ensure the child is ready for primary school. The activities ensure the child has well-developed motor skills, cognitive skills, and emotional intelligence.