Pre-schools are, as their name suggests, schools that prepare the young children for their formal schooling years in primary school. Pre-schools largely have similar aims, to develop the young child wholly, equipping him with the necessary skills to communicate and interact with others. Pre-schools are optional education that parents may choose to send their young children for, so as to better prepare the children for the primary school education later on.
Pre-schools are located all over Singapore, in the hearts of each town. They are located in heartlands so as to minimize transportation times for both parent and child, and also to provide busy parents with easy access to their children. There are over 100 kindergartens and 600 child care centres located island-wide. This large number of pre-schools would provide parents with alternative choices when they are choosing a pre-school to send their child to.
Pre-school education takes place in two separate systems, the Kindergarten system and the Child Care system.
The Kindergarten system comprises three years of pre-school education, Nursery, Kindergarten 1 and Kindergarten 2. The Kindergarten would equip the young children with the necessary skills through structured curriculum. Kindergartens have strict guidelines on children admission ages. Only 3 years old children can be admitted into Nursery. This is done so as to achieve a standardized age of 6 years old when children enter Primary 1. In addition, Kindergartens have a fixed school uniform that all enrolled children have to wear. Kindergartens also operate following the school term system, which means that there are 4 school terms a year and school holidays are similar to that of primary school and secondary school students.
Child care centres, on the other hand, offer services for children ranging from 2 years old to 7 years old and children can be admitted at any one time. The child care centres double as a care provider as well as an education centre for the children. Through unstructured curriculum, the children would be able to explore the boundaries and learn more about everything around them. Child care centres are additional services to the schools that the children already attend. Hence, children may attend child care centre after school hours if their parents are busy with work.
Although the pre-school education system is optional for children, it is a choice taken up by many as it is an effective tool to inculcate in young children the right attitudes and mindsets towards learning. Parents would enroll their children in these pre-schools so as to better prepare them for the years in primary school.