Preschool, Childcare and Kindergarten in Singapore – What is the Difference?

Childcare, preschool, and kindergarten – you might have heard these three terms being mentioned while researching for the best early learning approach for your little ones. 

These terms might sound similar but they offer varied learning experiences for you and your children – depending on your needs and preferences.

Here’s a quick look at some factors that set them apart.

Getting to Know the Definitions

Preschools in Singapore

The term “preschool” is an all-encompassing term that defines any institution that provides early childcare and education. Preschools in Singapore are then sorted into two sectors: childcare and kindergarten. 

All the operations pertaining to how preschools function are regulated by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). Among the key focus areas of the agency include the uplifting of the standards for early childhood programmes, training and development of early childhood professionals, enabling all families access to quality preschool programmes, and more.

To figure out which is the best preschool in Singapore, you will need to work out what factors are important to you in order to decide which is more suitable for you and your child.

Childcare in Singapore

Childcare centres in Singapore generally caters for children from the age of 18 months to 6 years old. Some childcare centres have infant care programmes for babies from 2 to 17 months old. 

Most childcare centres run from 7am to 7pm for full-day programmes and this includes meal and nap times for the children. Some centres offer Saturday care facilities for half day.

Half-day programmes at these centres run from 7am to 1pm, just before nap time starts for children who are staying on for full-day programmes. 

In terms of the meals provided, childcare centres cater two meals for the children – breakfast and lunch. Some centres may offer morning and afternoon snacks, so it is best to check with the individual centre for their meal plans.

Other than Sunday and public holidays, these childcare centres have six closure days a year for staff development purposes, lesson planning and selected public holidays.

Kindergartens in Singapore

Most kindergartens in Singapore accept children from 3 to 6 years old as the programmes offered by kindergartens tend to be more academically focused. Given that most kindergartens only operate between 3 to 4 hours a day, there is plenty to be completed within that time frame for them to cover the curriculum. 

While meals may not be part of the package at kindergartens, some schools offer snack options for the children. Do check with your preferred schools on their meal plans as you might have to pack a snack box for your children to take to school.

With regards to the holidays, kindergartens follow the primary school holiday schedule. This means that they have their school holidays in March, June, September, and November/December to mirror the primary school holiday period. If this is a concern for working parents who may not be able to take time off during the holiday period, then kindergartens may not be the best option for you.

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Learning Approaches Offered in Preschools Singapore

As parents, you are aware that children have developmental milestones to meet as they grow. How does enrolling your child to a preschool help with these milestones?

For a start, all preschools in Singapore aim to help your children meet their learning goals, such as socio-emotional needs, building confidence and developing a good foundation for numeracy and literacy so they can progress seamlessly into formal learning at primary levels.

Curriculum Differences in Preschools, Kindergartens and Childcare

You can find an array of learning approaches in both schools, like Montessori, Reggio, or Waldorf, that can suit your children’s learning needs. 

While both childcare and kindergartens have similar curricula, kindergartens are generally more academic-oriented compared to childcare centres as they only have three hours to complete a day’s learning. They also do not offer any childcare services for parents who may require them. 

On the other hand, hands-on learning tends to be more popular in childcare centres, with children participating in activities that support age-appropriate development, like motor skills. Children are deeply immersed in their learning process as they understand how numeracy and literacy tie in with their environment.

Many of these preschools organise regular field trips to incorporate even more experiential learning into their curriculum.

At Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, the philosophy behind their learning approach is the belief that all children are curious. Therefore, they have adopted an inquiry-based approach towards early childhood education that incorporates both play and school-readiness. Such an approach allows a child to be confident in their environment to challenge and stretch their learning potential. 

Infant care programmes are available at selected Kiddiwinkie Schoolhose campuses, where infants are given a warm, secure, and nurturing environment to learn and develop skills at their own pace. This would be a perfect choice for you if you have an infant and a toddler at home! The convenience of dropping two (or more) kids at one centre will certainly ease those travelling woes.

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Teacher-Child Ratio

In a kindergarten, the teacher-student ratio is slightly larger than a childcare centre with around 15 children to one teacher and a teacher-aide for the younger children, and 20-25 children to one teacher for the older children.

In a childcare centre, the younger the children are, the smaller the class size is. This is outlined by ECDA childcare for preschools. 

How do I decide which is the best preschool in Singapore for my children?

You may find it helpful to list all the criteria that you want in a preschool based on the information you have on this page, then schedule to visit the preschools that are aligned to your requirements.

Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse has 8 campuses island-wide offering programmes for infant care, as well as the early years and preschool years. You can start by locating a campus near your home or workplace. 

Reach out to us to book a tour at your preferred Kiddiewinkie Schoolhouse campus to find out more about how your child stands to benefit from our programmes and curriculum, while getting him/her ready for primary school.


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