The different types of preschool curriculum
With so many different preschool programmes and curriculums, how do you know which one is right for your child?
While the main aim of any preschool is to foster the development and education of children in a play-based, child-centred environment, there are a variety of curriculum approaches that are used to achieve this.
The best preschools develop their curriculum by understanding various early childhood approaches and developing an individualised curriculum that follows the children’s interests and needs. Most preschools in Singapore do actually do this, even if they do officially claim to be focusing on one particular curriculum over another.
“It’s very important that the curriculum responds to the children in the room. They should take a bit of this and a bit of that and put it together” says Alexandra Senanayake, whose 2-year-old has recently started preschool “It was important to me that the curriculum was developed taking different approaches into consideration as all children learn differently.”
Preschool curriculums encourage the teacher to not only understand educational approaches, but also to foster the children’s development within the educational framework in a manner that best suits the individual child and the group as a whole.
“A preschool is only as good as its teachers” states Ms. Lim, a parent who has decided to change her child’s school. “It’s not just about the curriculum but also the delivery. I didn’t feel like the teaching methods suited [my child’s] way of learning.”
Searching for a preschool for your child can be a rather daunting task – from locations, costs and waiting lists to truly understanding what makes one stand out from another – there is a rather large amount of information to understand.
As we step into different learning centres, we quickly realise that there appears to be an alarmingly varied number of curricula that are all aimed at bringing out the best in our children but how does one choose?
There are six main curriculum approaches available in Singaporean preschools: Montessori, Waldorf Steiner, the Play-Based curriculum, the Reggio Emilia approach, the High Scope Method and the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
In addition to these, there is a newer curriculum approach that is now becoming more widely available, known as “whole brain learning” which is available through schools such as MindChamps. Though all are child centred, each approach is unique in its teaching methods and an understanding of the key principles of each will help parents in finding a preschool whose philosophy and educational beliefs are in line with their own. This reduces the risks of parents being dissatisfied with the school and feeling the need to put the child through the sometimes difficult experience of changing schools.
Here’s a list of the major preschool curricula currently being used, with some of their main features and guiding principles.