In Singapore, most preschools use one of the seven main curriculum approaches. These approaches have all been continuously studied and reviewed to ensure that they maximise the child’s learning capacity. To make sure that the child is engaged as much as possible.
It is important to consider the different approaches that can be used when choosing a preschool for your child. Every child has very different ways of learning, and there is not a single correct way to teach children. Instead, you can find one which will suit and benefit your child the most.
You may like to consider how your child learns best, and what their skills and talents are; And then use this information to consider which approach could work for them.
Outlined below are the 7 main approaches which are often used in Singapore preschools. Be sure to ask what curriculum approach your preschool uses, so that it will be easier for you to choose a suitable school for your child.
The Montessori approach focuses on allowing children to learn through interacting with their environments independently. Some of the strategies they use include:
- Placing an emphasis on child independence
- Mixed age classrooms
- Allowing children to work uninterruptedly for around three hours
- Allowing children free roam of the classroom
- Encouraging them to choose an activity within a range of options provided
This approach has been proven to enhance child learning through unrestricted engagement with the world around them. They are encouraged to learn through exploring and working with materials rather than through being instructed how to do so by a teacher or supervisor.
This may be a good approach to use if your child is a creative and independent individual.
The Waldorf Steiner approach aims to create free and healthy individuals who have a good deal of social competence.
It encourages children to engage with practical, hands-on activities and take part in creative play. The idea behind this is to allow children to discover social rules and ideas through their own experiences, which is more effective than being told what to do by an authority.
This approach allows individual teachers and schools to have a great deal of autonomy when it comes to the curriculum and their students, as they know how their children can learn best. They can mould the approach to their own classrooms in order to make it the most effective.
Tests are rare with a Waldorf Steiner approach, and children are instead assessed through discussion of children and through portfolio work that they have created.
The play-based approach aims to help children to learn through doing what they do best: playing. The idea is that through playing, children will develop the social and cognitive skills which they need in order to be fully functional, intelligent adults.
- Being with other people
- Being active and interacting with their environments
- Practicing and repeating skills and being challenged to communicate
- Physical and mental challenges
- Enhancing creativity
The teacher or supervisor cannot plan a child’s play; this will undermine the point of allowing the child the freedom to have their own experience. Play must be spontaneous and voluntary. However, the teacher can create a high quality learning environment which ensures that children get an uninterrupted period in which they can use their imagination and both play and learn. This may be a good approach for creative children who do not work well in a very structured environment.
The Reggio Emilia approach is a form of student-centred experiential learning.
Some elements includes:
- Helping children to discover their abilities and intelligence through a self-guided curriculum.
- Placing emphasis on the environment. Reggio Emilia classrooms often display examples of children’s work and use natural light. The environment is often described as a, “third teacher,” by Reggio Emilia followers.
This approach believes that children form their own personality through the languages which they use to express themselves.
It aims to teach children how they can use these languages in everyday life to communicate well. Some of these languages include painting, sculpting and art. The Reggio Emilia approach is perfect for children who learn best through creativity.
The HighScope method to learning helps children to build on their current developmental level through allowing them to be in an environment where they can choose the materials, ideas and people that they interact with.
Children have control over how they learn, and adults are more like partners rather than a manager or supervisor. They are very much led by the children instead of leading the children in their own learning. This encourages them to build autonomy.
Some other elements include:
- Encouraging children to be active and have hands-on experiences with other people and objects. They learn through their interactions with the world around them.
- A classroom is divided into different areas such as a toy area, an art area and a house area. They can choose which they wish to use independently.
- A daily routine keeps regulation in the classroom.
- Assessment is done through observations rather than tests.
This may be a positive choice for children who are independent and explorative.
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
The theory of multiple intelligences is a complex and well-researched theory which argues that intelligence is not dominated by one single general ability. Instead, it is made up of many different modalities which all perform different functions and help the child in different ways.
Some of these different intelligence categories are:
Different children have varied intelligences in each category, and we should recognise and encourage these rather than limiting them to one general ability.
The theory emphasises that these categories should empower learners and not restrict them to one pathway of intelligence.
It argues that there are many different categories which should be respected when it comes to a child’s ability. This theory may be useful if your child has a variety of different talents and methods of learning.
Whole Brain Learning
Whole brain learning uses the latest brain research to understand how the human mind functions best, and uses this to enhance classroom learning and management.
Some of its components include:
- The Class-Yes – Intends to get the attention of the class with one word. When the teacher says, “class,” the students reply, “yes.”
- The Five Rules – It involves combining actions with words to allow children to remember the rules. When the children are active they remember the rules better, and it becomes more of a game than discipline.
- The Scoreboard Game – Happy face versus sad face. This game rewards children for doing what the teacher expects.
Whole brain learning is intended to be flexible and adaptable to different teachers and schools so that they can change the approach as needed.
The approach engages the human brain in order to keep the child and ensure that they maintain positive classroom behaviour. For someone looking for a well-researched and empirical approach which will provide effective classroom behaviour management, whole brain teaching might be a good option.
All children learn differently and all have unique talents and learning techniques. It is a good idea to research the main curriculum approaches that can be used and find out which preschools use the approaches which you think would help your child to learn best.
These methods have been researched extensively and have empirical evidence to support the ideas which they uphold.
Most of the learning approaches given above agree that children learn best through integrating with other children their age and exploring and engaging with the world around them. This will make attending any preschool a rewarding experience which helps your child to learn and grow.