We round up alternative schooling options in Singapore, including Singapore’s first Montessori Primary School, the new Waldorf School, and more
Whether you’re put off by high international school fees, mama, or you haven’t been able to secure your child a place in local school (or you’re not particularly interested in the curriculum at either), you’ll be heartened to know that there are a range of alternative schooling options for families in Singapore. Perhaps your child could do with more individual attention, or maybe you’re after a curriculum that places REAL emphasis on outdoor play. Or maybe you want to know how your child can pursue a particular passion in the arts or sports. Read on for the rundown on some of Singapore’s alternative primary and secondary schools!
Read More: Ultimate Guide to Montessori in Singapore
We all know Singapore is full of Montessori preschools (each with a great deal of variation in how much they actually adhere to true Montessori principles). Lodestar Montessori is the first ever Montessori elementary school in Singapore. Run by AMI-trained Montessori educators, it caters to children ages 6 to 12, and is open to both Singapore PRs and DP holders. Children are educated in a loving, cosy and mistake-friendly prepared environment; freedom of choice is very much encouraged so as to nurture each child’s inner guide and independence.
Lodestar Montessori, 24 Jalan Selaseh, Singapore 808444, Tel: (+65) 6481 3550, www.lodestarmontessori.com
This play-based school in Bukit Timah that caters exclusively to 5- and 6-year-olds is all about building meaningful connections between children and their environment, with a real emphasis on outdoor learning and emotional and character development. Class sizes are capped at 10, with close monitoring from trained learning facilitators. The unique curriculum combines the Finnish approach to play-based learning, along with the Japanese emphasis on character-building and resilience, with a dash of Singapore’s rigorous academics thrown in for good measure. Castle of Hope’s ethos is “We do not prepare students for school. We prepare children for the world!”
Castle of Hope Kindergarten, 3 Jalan Anak Bukit, Sherwood Towers #01-01, Singapore 588998, Tel: (+65) 8157 1248, www.castleofhopekindergarten.com
This unique, comprehensive educational program is an affordable alternative for parents who either can’t get access to local schools or don’t want to pay high international school fees (and are terrified by the idea of home schooling their own kids!). The Open Primary connects students from Primary 1 through Primary 6 with qualified private teachers at close-to-home campuses. Each class of up to 9 kids of the same age is matched with a former Singapore MOE school teacher, who utilises the renowned Singapore primary school curriculum and provides regular assessments and reports each term (but without the stress of external exams). In addition to core subjects of English, Maths, Science and [optional] Mandarin, classes also include Physical Education and non-academic engagements like Art, I.Q. games and field trips. There’s even combined a Sports Day!
NB: The Open Primary is not a school and so does not require registration with CPE or MOE. Each private teacher issues formal student reports in his/her capacity as a qualified educator. If parents are concerned about transfer to a mainstream, The Open Primary advises parents confirm – whether with schools or authorities in their home country or likely next destination – that their child(ren) be will admitted by schools. Anecdotally, we’ve heard from parents with kids at various international schools who’ve been able to transition without any issues!
What if there was a school that used a personal development plan catered to each child? Imagine a 7-year-old attending a grade 2 Maths class, a grade 3 Science class, and grade 4 English Language Art class. At The Explore School House children are respected to have a say in their education, in what topics they want to cover, and how they should be assessed. The 8:1 student to teacher ratio ensures each child is being challenged appropriately beyond their abilities so as to develop perseverance and to go beyond what they believe they can do.
The Explore School House, 41 Sunset Way, #02-06 Clementi Arcade, Singapore 597071, Tel: (+65) 8826 6071, www.theexploreschool.org
It’s a daunting process, but an increasing number of families in Singapore – faced with high international school fees and a lack of availability in local schools – are instead opting to home school, either while they wait for a place in another school, or long term. There are heaps of resources out there, including Singapore Homeschooling, Homeschool Singapore, and Singapore Homeschooling Association. There are also a number of Facebook groups that offer a wealth of information.
Read More: All About Homeschooling in Singapore
Conveniently located in the East near Siglap, SFA Eduhearts is a private education institute registered with CPE that caters to both international and Singaporean students aiming to gain admission to Singapore primary and secondary schools. The school provides preparatory courses for international students preparing to take the AEIS, with the added benefit of more manageable school fees!
SFA Eduhearts, 2 Waringin Park, Singapore 416316, Tel: (+65) 6909 0780, www.sfaeduhearts.com
Singapore Specialised Independent Schools
So these are actually secondary schools rather than primary schools, but if your kids are in the local school system, it’s good to know there are specialised schools down the track that can help them pursue their particular passions: notably School of the Arts (SOTA), which provides Singapore’s only national, pre-tertiary integrated arts and academic curriculum for 13 to 18-year-olds; Singapore Sports School, a specialised independent school offering select youths an integrated academic and sports programme in a world-class environment; and School of Science and Technology (SST), another specialised independent school that offers a distinctive 4-year GCE O-Level programme and provides a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Art, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
Waldorf-Steiner education began in Germany in the early 1900s, and today there are more than 1,000 Waldorf schools all over the world. Hallmarks of a Waldorf education include an emphasis on creative play, particularly in nature. According to Waldorf Singapore, “The goal is to help children develop clarity of thought, sensitivity in their feelings and strength of their will so they can become free, morally responsible individuals with a high degree of social competency.” Teachers generally stay with the same class for five to eight years, and reading isn’t taught until age 6 or 7. Waldorf schools are also famously low-tech, due to the belief that “a child’s natural, instinctive, creative and curious way of relating to the world may be represeed when technology is introduced to learning environments at an early age.” Perhaps there’s something to it; Waldorf Schools are all the rage in Silicon Valley. Waldorf Singapore includes a toddler playgroup, preschool, and newly launched primary school programme geared toward children ages 7 to 11.
Waldorf Singapore, 76 Jalan Senang, Singapore 418401, www.waldorfsingapore.com