Curious about Montessori in Singapore? We break down their core principles, explain how it works and share a list of Montessori preschools to consider!
The Montessori method is one of the most valued teaching pedagogies in the world, but ask five people what they know about “Montessori” and you’ll probably get five different responses. Does Montessori in Singapore offer mixed-age classes? Which preschools adhere to Montessori principles? Which preschools have options for Montessori education? We’ve found the answers you need, and rounded up a list of Montessori preschools in Singapore to boot! Keep scrolling to learn more about Montessori in Singapore!
What is the Montessori Method?
With schools around the world and a slew of famous alumni, Montessori has a reputation for encouraging curiosity and “outside the box” thinking in children. It’s a child-centred educational method developed over 100 years ago by Maria Montessori – Italy’s first female doctor! According to The American Montessori Society, the Montessori method “is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child – physical, social, emotional and cognitive.”
In short, kids are sponges, and given the freedom to explore and learn at their own pace, their minds will flourish. A “true” Montessori school possesses the following core traits:
- Mixed-age classrooms that facilitate peer learning (younger kids learn from older kids, and the older kids reinforce their own learning by teaching the younger kids)
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time (typically in three-hour intervals)
- Children can choose their own activities (with guidance and encouragement from teachers)
- Specially designed learning materials that aren’t toys
- A deliberately arranged classroom environment (nary a desk in sight!)
- Teachers trained at official Montessori training centres certified by Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)
- No grades or tests
- Focus on four key areas: Practical life, Sensorial, Language and Mathematics
With children in many ways left to their own devices, Montessori is thought to foster independence, leadership skills and self-control. A 2006 study by Science Magazine found that by the end of kindergarten, Montessori children “performed better on standardised tests of reading and math, engaged in more positive interaction on the playground, and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control. They also showed more concern for fairness and justice.”
For a more in-depth look at core Montessori traits, be sure to check out this great article by two parents in Singapore who are Montessori-trained educators.
How Montessori in Singapore Works
Because Montessori is more of a philosophy than a rigid curriculum, any school can call itself Montessori, even if it barely adheres to the core principles. They would certainly seem to be at odds with Singapore, where testing, grades and a strict classroom environment play a huge role in the educational system (and rules and parameters tend to guide daily life in general!). Parents who fret about how their child will perform in P1 are understandably nervous about a system without grades or testing – how can I ensure my child is on the right track?
All that said, there are many satisfied parents out there who feel Montessori instilled critical thinking skills and independence in their kids as well a strong foundation in reading, writing and math. Some children might struggle to adapt to the rigidity of desks and homework after being at a Montessori school at first, but kids are highly adaptable, and often, the strong foundation and educational curiosity seem to win out. Make sure to reach out to any school you’re investigating to speak with current and former parents. Montessori schools in Singapore typically encourage parents and prospective parents to observe classrooms to get a feel for the programme and how it might work for their child.
Montessori Preschools in Singapore
Below we’ve listed some of the best-known and well-established Montessori schools in Singapore; this list is not exhaustive and is not an official list of endorsed schools. As you’ll see, hardly any Singapore Montessori schools meet all of the core criteria listed above. The tradeoff is that many have created an environment thought to help kids more easily transition into Singapore’s traditional educational system (in particular, many have fantastic Mandarin immersion programmes), while still incorporating the flexible style and unique materials of the Montessori method.
↓ Keep scrolling to discover preschools with Montessori in Singapore!
Josiah Montessori, a leading preschool for Montessori in Singapore, provides quality childcare and infant care services for children aged 2 months to 6 years old. Their curriculum – also known as The Josiah Way – is a blend of Montessori-based learning and a musical art programme. The curriculum is also bilingual, and children learn in English and Mandarin. This approach helps them excel academically and grow into creative, independent learners. The learning environment at Josiah Montessori is safe and aesthetically pleasing and is designed to be in line with Montessori pedagogy. The team understands that each child is unique, which is why they work closely with parents to cater to each child’s needs and provide customised care and services.
House on the Hill Montessori Pre-School
A family-run group of preschools specialising in Montessori in Singapore, House on the Hill is a passionate advocate for the Montessori method and aims to always stay true to the pedagogy’s values and educational excellence. This Montessori preschool’s teaching approach includes mixed-age groupings and a structured learning curriculum that comprises Montessori subjects and Mandarin alongside thematic and experiential learning experiences. The teachers work to hone children’s skills and equip them with values such as independence, responsibility, freedom of choice and more. Lessons are conducted in uninterrupted blocks of time, and teachers serve as guides who offer individualised instruction and help each child develop a love for learning.
Brainy Child Montessori
Brainy Child’s international staff has all received Montessori training (though some were trained locally at MMI, which is not affiliated in any way with AMI). Classes are semi-mixed in age (kids are grouped by 1.5 to 3 years, 3 to 4 years and 5 to 6 years, as opposed to the traditional 3 to 6 years), and the school utilises traditional Montessori materials.
Brighton uses Montessori materials with a curriculum based on the four key areas (practical life, sensorial, language and mathematics). Classes are not mixed-age, however, and teachers are not necessarily trained at AMI-certified centres.
Early Years Montessori
Early Years Montessori takes a “project-based” approach to its curriculum, which also features a strong bilingual Mandarin-English programme. Classes are not mixed age – they’re the traditional N1-K2 – while staff are trained by AMI or “equivalent” organisations.
Considered one of Singapore’s few “true blue” preschools for Montessori in Singapore, Greentree Montessori was founded more than two decades ago by a Directress with both AMI and AMS certifications – in fact, she’s an AMS trainer herself. Classes feature mixed-age groups with a focus on all core areas with the full range of traditional Montessori materials. There’s also a strong bilingual Mandarin component and an Infant programme for babies from birth up to 18 months.
As the only school in Singapore recognised by The American Montessori Society, Inno Montessori’s commitment to the fundamentals of the methods offers parents an authentic Montessori environment. Children aged 18 months to 6 years old are welcome for half- and full-day sessions.
The first and only French/English bilingual Montessori preschool in Singapore, Les Oliviers welcomes children from 2.5 to age 6 on a half-day basis, with additional activities available in the afternoon, as well as parent-accompanied classes for younger children. The school employs traditional Montessori materials and pedagogy, relying on a sensorial approach to help children with the French language and mathematics. Educators are also AMI-certified.
Little Hands Montessori Kindergarten
Teachers at this preschool for Montessori in Singapore have formal Montessori training (though not necessarily AMI), but classes are not mixed age. Little Hands makes use of traditional Montessori materials, with extra support around reading to prepare students for local and international school curriculums.
The Little House Montessori
This bilingual Montessori preschool in Singapore is staffed by teachers trained either in-house or at various international Montessori organisations (not necessarily AMI). Little House adheres to Montessori’s mixed-age principle, with kiddos aged 2.5 to 6 all in the same classroom. Besides a garden for plenty of outdoor play, Little House offers fun features like weekly science experiments, lots of field trips, and a weekly cooking session where every single child cooks their own dish.
Little Woods Montessori Pre-School
Little Woods adheres to the core Montessori principles of practical life, sensorial, language and mathematics for children aged 18 months to 6 years. Children are encouraged to explore their own interests, choosing their own activities within the varied and carefully resourced learning environment.
Lodestar Montessori is said to be the first-ever elementary school offering Montessori in Singapore. Run by AMI-trained Montessori educators, it caters to children aged 2.5 to 12 and is open to both Singapore PRs and DP holders. Children are educated in a loving, cosy and mistake-friendly environment. Freedom of choice is very much encouraged so as to nurture each child’s inner guide and independence.
Modern Montessori International Preschools (MMI)
MMI is in no way affiliated with AMI, though they do have a training centre in Singapore, so many teachers are trained there. There are more than 20 MMI preschools across the island incorporating traditional Montessori materials and adhering to the four core values of practical life, sensorial, language and mathematics, but the consensus seems to be that it’s very different from a traditional Montessori environment. Classes are not mixed-age.
Montessori for Children
Montessori purists consider this preschool the only “true” school for Montessori in Singapore. Teachers at Montessori for Children are AMI-trained, classes adhere to the mixed-age structure, and classrooms feature the traditional “prepared environment” with classic Montessori materials. There’s also strong Mandarin immersion in all classes.
P&J Montessori Kindergarten
Adhering to the requirements of a true Montessori environment, P&J Montessori Kindergarten caters to children from ages 2.5 to 6.5. In 2009, it won an Innovation Award from Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) and covers subjects such as English, Mandarin, Math Science, Geography, Art and Music.
Pink Tower Montessori
Pink Tower Montessori has a full Montessori curriculum and bilingual immersion programme, earning raves from parents for its warm and caring teachers (not necessarily AMI-trained, though). Classes are semi-mixed age, with a separate Kindergarten class geared toward preparation for local primary school.
Raffles Montessori (Still Road)
This school’s Directress is AMI-trained, and classrooms feature classic Montessori materials. Classes at Raffles Montessori (Still Road) follow the traditional mixed-age format (3 to 6 years), and there’s also a “toddler community” for little ones aged 18 months to 3 years.
Raffles Montessori Kindergarten (Aljunied)
Raffles Montessori Kindergarten has beautiful learning spaces for music. They also follow an AMI-approved curriculum, run a mixed-age group programme with classic Montessori materials and offer a strong Mandarin immersion programme for children aged 18 months to 6 years old.
Rosemary Hall Montessori Childcare
Rosemary Hall follows the traditional Montessori curriculum of mixed-age classes and practises the core values of practical life, sensorial, language and mathematics. Classrooms feature traditional Montessori materials, and some staff (including the Directresses) are AMI-trained.
Wharton Preschool offers holistic, learner-focused Montessori with an integrated thematic curriculum for children aged 18 months to 6 years with a low teacher-child ratio. Children work in the traditional uninterrupted blocks of time and have the ability to choose their own activities, as is customary in a Montessori classroom (teachers are not AMI-certified, however).