Choosing a preschool is a momentous decision for everyone in the family, most of all your little one, but it needs to feel like the right fit for parents, too.
We recently spent a morning exploring Blue House Nursery & International Preschool with parent Dana Grossman, who cannot stop singing the praises of this place she calls “Heaven”. She tells us how she knew it was the right fit, and why she considers it an amazing place for parents as well as children…
What brought you to Singapore, and how did you come to Blue House?
I’m from Israel, and moved to Singapore 4 1⁄2 years ago for my husband’s job. It’s been a beautiful adventure; it’s safe here, and my sons (currently 8, 6 and 3) have received a very good education.
When we arrived my middle son was 4, and a friend happened to tell me about Blue House. In Israel, the educational system places a lot of emphasis on freedom and exploring the outdoors. I was amazed to discover that Blue House takes that philosophy to the next level.
This is a school that truly lets them be children; they go barefoot, they get dirty, they don’t wear uniforms. But they develop a true love for learning. My son came here and he blossomed.
What is it about Blue House that helped your son blossom?
Everything here is geared toward exploring; developing their curiosity and confidence. They don’t just teach, they also provocate. Yesterday I picked my son up and he was taking apart a laptop!
Everything is very calm, and harmonious. I would live in these classrooms if I could! [Blue House’s Reggio Emilia philosophy emphasises creating light, warm and engaging spaces for children].
The school takes a gradual approach; Nursery students start attending for two or three mornings a week, eventually working their way up to five with an extended day option. The school kind of encourages you to take it easy. It worked out well for our family; when my middle son was in Kindergarten and my youngest son was part-time at the Nursery, we’d do swimming lessons next door at Aquaducks, or go for a stroll in the Botanic Gardens.
After school my sons play soccer right around the corner at Turf City, there are tons of restaurants nearby. It’s all so convenient!
What has your experience been like as a Blue House parent?
Parental involvement is very much encouraged, but they’re also very fair and flexible. Parent meetings have flexible timings, so working parents can come in the evenings and don’t have to take time off. If some parents are absent from classroom events, teachers support those children whose parents are unable to make it.
They truly welcome all parent ideas. One morning as we walked into school a parent was playing his cello in the courtyard! I helped teach my son’s class about a Jewish holiday. Another parent who’s a biologist created a project that got the children so involved, they expanded upon it for the rest of the term.
Parents can read books to the children, they can help with baking… as a parent it’s nice to know you can be involved when you choose. When you walk your children to class in the morning, the teachers all say hello and know every child and parent’s name.
One of my favourite Blue House features is the reflective journal they keep for each child. They update it daily with pictures and notes, so parents know what questions to ask about their child’s day, and it actually stays with them throughout their time at the school. My sons’ journals have become beautiful mementos of their time here.
What about the school’s facilities?
The pantry [the parents’ café] is like the nerve centre of activity. I’ve made wonderful friends – and even met my business partner – hanging out there. I’ve done work and taken meetings there – you couldn’t rent an office with such a nice view of green pastures! It’s a place for an exchange of ideas and collaboration.
My favourite classroom is the “Atelier and Karung Guni Zone”, where the children create amazing art projects using recycled materials collected from parents. [Indeed the immaculately organised, color-coded supply closet is a cornucopia of empty k-cups, bottlecaps and Yakult yogurt containers]. I don’t throw anything away at home anymore!
I love walking through the front courtyard in the morning; they frequently change the layout to keep the children engaged and asking questions. [Dana points out an arbored seating area, a teepee constructed from tree branches, and even a little construction corner].
My happy place is the community garden that was built with parent and staff contributions. There’s the most beautiful, relaxing fountain. It’s such a peaceful place for both parents and children!
What effect has Blue House had upon your kids, and your family?
My sons have become open-minded, positive, curious and daring. They know how to give and receive criticism. And my middle son has brought all of this with him in his move to primary school.
If I hadn’t found Blue House, I’m not sure I would have been happy to stay in Singapore! This school doesn’t even know what a big part they play in our lives. I started my business here, I have such happy kids, I’ve made so many friends. The approach is just so healthy, and so welcoming.
Thanks Dana! And thanks Littleones Photography for the gorgeous photos!