Parents in Singapore are not just overwhelmed when deciding where to take their child for preschool, but they also must determine the curriculum to use. The Ministry of Education recognizes several curriculums that are used to give preschoolers the necessary foundation for formal education. They include Montessori, play-based, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf Steiner, and The Theory of Multiple Intelligence.
Every childcare centre and kindergarten gets to decide the approach they prefer in ensuring the holistic development of children who seek Singapore preschool education at their facility.
The most recognized preschool curriculums are:
The Montessori approach to preschool education covers several areas of a child’s development, including sensory, language, math, art, music, culture and science. Montessori-specific materials are used to help a child to refine the use of his senses. For example, metric system formulas help a child recognize size, colour, sound, form, texture, shape, and dimension.
The sensory materials used also help children to develop other skills, such as doing math, creative art, and playing music. Moveable alphabets help children recognize words and come up with simple sentences.
The Montessori system of education involves spontaneous learning, where the teacher gets children to do new tasks whenever necessary. Since it is a holistic approach, children are always exposed to new learning techniques to reduce monotony.
Although the teacher remains the guide, the Montessori curriculum also encourages children to take the lead whenever necessary. This helps the teacher to assess a child’s development. The teacher sets up a self-driven environment that encourages children to learn from one another. The teacher is also open to learn from the children.
This curriculum is more involving since children learn through hands-on experience. This approach requires preschoolers to use all their senses., Since this system focuses on what children see, hear, touch, smell and taste, every item in the classroom has a purpose. Schools that use this curriculum avoid clutter in the learning environment.
In this system, teachers educate using music, puppetry, drama, shadow play, and print. In this case, children are active participants and don’t just rely on the teacher as the instructor. For example, children say what they see or hear when they are shown drawings, sculpture, written content, and dramatic plays.
Schools that teach using the Reggio Emilia approach puts emphasis on the child’s environment. The classes are homelike to make children comfortable. They can also learn concepts they are familiar with. This way, even when they are at home, they can continue learning by observing the same things they did in school.
While other systems of education place the focus on the teacher as the educator, the Reggio Emilia approach has the teacher as the observer. The children take the lead by telling the teacher stories and asking questions. It is through this exchange that the teacher can tell what the preschoolers are interested in and how to further those interests. In this case, the projects are not static. They keep evolving as the child’s focus changes.
Although this approach is used in several schools, it is not a very popular curriculum in Singapore. Even the schools that use it don’t rely on it exclusively. Most of these schools combine this approach with another curriculum, for example, Montessori and Waldorf Steiner.
The Waldorf Steiner has little or no academic inclination. This is probably why it is not so popular in Singapore, a country where education is quite competitive. This approach focuses on a child’s imagination, rather than traditional math, reading, writing and science lessons. This system of schooling frowns upon electronic devices, such as televisions, which distort a child’s imagination and creativity.
You are probably wondering why this system of education even exists if it goes against the conventional education system. The Waldorf Steiner approach purports to be age-sensitive. The assumption is preschool children cannot process words or mathematical concepts. They are, however, quite imaginative. The zero-tolerance to media keeps children from undesirable content and helps them to become creative beings independently.
This curriculum acknowledges that children are more likely to understand what they learn if it is delivered in play form, rather than in a serious classroom setting. A play-based curriculum doesn’t necessarily involve children running all over the place. It is a structured environment where the teacher supervises the children and converts their experiences and interests into learning opportunities.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
This approach looks at a child’s intelligence at more than academic. Various aspects of a child’s performance are checked when assessing knowledge. A child’s ability to learn different languages, logical arguments, musical interests, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and Body Kinaesthetic are considered when measuring intelligence.
Some of these curriculums have more similarities than differences. However, before choosing a school for your preschooler, it is best to analyze your child’s behaviour to determine which approach is most suitable.