Kindergarten or International School: Which Should You Choose?

Feb 28, 2023 | Blog

happy preschoolers

Which should you choose for your little one’s educational journey — local kindergarten or international school?

We know it can be tough to make a decision on what’s best for your child’s development, but help is at hand as we’re going to break it down for you in this article!

Read on to learn what the main differences are between local and international kindergartens so you can make an informed choice in your child’s early childhood education journey.

Features of a Local Kindergarten in Singapore

Children engaging in group painting activity

First, let us look at the local kindergartens and preschools that you can find here in Singapore.

Local kindergartens in Singapore typically encompass early childhood education centres run by various operators. They include the country’s Ministry of Education (MOE), anchor operators, franchisees, faith-based organisations, as well as independent, privately owned institutions. 

Typically, kindergartens offer different class hours, depending on whether they are half-day or full-day programmes. Aligned to MOE’s Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) development framework, they offer a range of learning programmes, activities and curricula in environments that can range from cosy spaces under a government housing block of apartments, to sprawling green spaces surrounded by nature. 

Typically, local kindergartens in Singapore have a few distinguishing features. These include the following.

Rootedness to Singaporean culture: Most local kindergartens provide your child with an early, in-depth understanding of Singaporean culture, customs, and language. Children learn from young to be non-discriminatory and accepting of others hailing from different backgrounds and races.

Bilingual education: Singapore’s strong emphasis on bilingual education, in particular Mandarin, means that local kindergartens usually dedicate time and resources to impart critical Chinese-language skills during classroom sessions.

Community bonding: Attending a local kindergarten can help children to understand their local community. The topics covered in their curricula are usually related to Singapore as their current living environment.
Alignment with the national education system: Local kindergartens are registered under the MOE’s ECDA. Hence, their curriculum framework is closely aligned with the national education system to facilitate a child’s seamless transition to primary school at age seven.

Features of an International School/ Kindergarten in Singapore

Group of international preschoolers smiling

Next, let us look at international schools offering kindergarten education in Singapore.

According to our estimates, there are over 60 international schools in Singapore spanning 36 International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, 27 British and five American ones, and others that include institutions hailing from Australia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, India, Japan, and more. However, not all of them provide programmes for preschoolers or kindergarten aged children

Besides the globally-recognised IB framework, these international schools may adopt the structured education pathways and grading systems unique to their respective countries. Students can attend some international schools in Singapore up to the ages of 16 to 18. 

Typically, international schools that offer kindergartens have the following features.

Exposure to international cultures: International schools often have diverse students from many different national and ethnic backgrounds — up to 70 nationalities in some schools. This exposes your child to a variety of different countries and cultural backgrounds. 

Alignment with international curricula: International school kindergartens are often aligned with international curricula and higher education systems. This may be relevant for parents of children looking to explore these avenues.

Affiliation with home country: For international schools that are aligned to a specific country, the instructional methods, activities, food, and language of instruction may emulate its home country.
Higher educational levels: For the larger international schools, different levels of education are offered beyond kindergarten. They may include elementary (primary) schools, high schools (secondary), or senior levels.

How Kindergartens Prepare Your Child for Primary School

preschoolers playing colour sorting game

Regardless of the path you choose for your child — local kindergarten or international school — they will benefit from the additional skills and knowledge gleaned from an early education.  Kindergartens prepare your children for primary school in the following ways:

  1. Social skills development: Kindergartens provide children with opportunities to interact with their peers and learn how to navigate social situations. This can help children feel more confident and comfortable in a primary school classroom setting.
  1. Build independence: Kindergartens help children develop self-care skills and become more independent, which is important for primary school when children are expected to manage their own belongings and schedules.
  1. Provide strong foundation in academics: Kindergartens that introduce children to basic concepts in maths, language, and science help to lay the foundation for more advanced academic learning in primary school.
  1. Spur curiosity and love for learning: Kindergartens provide children with a variety of hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that can spark their curiosity and foster a love of learning.

Boost confidence and motivation to learn: Kindergartens help children develop confidence in their abilities, which can be especially important in primary school when children are faced with more challenging education material.

How Heartfield Kindergarten Marries the Best of Both Worlds

Now that you are more aware of what local and international kindergartens have to offer, you may want to perhaps consider a quality centrally located kindergarten that offers the best of both worlds. 

Look no further than Heartfield Kindergarten. 

Here, we celebrate cultural diversity on a daily basis with our young and precious learners from a vibrant mix of local and expat families. Private and independently owned, Heartfield’s MOE-aligned curriculum is supplemented by our own uniquely developed preschool education programme. 

Beyond imparting the fundamentals of mathematics, science, and languages in fun and innovative ways, our teachers engage our kids in healthy and stimulating activities that boost their neuro-motor development. These include anything from gymnastics to swimming, art and music, to cooking and gardening, amongst many others.

We have a low student-to-teacher ratio, which is key for your child to thrive and receive personalised guidance.

Our students have also gone on to attend both local and international schools with ease, easily making friends with other kids across different ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds. Despite being a standalone kindergarten, we have received lots of positive feedback from both local and expatriate parents too!

We welcome your child with open arms and are excited to introduce them to Singapore’s wonderful multicultural environment. After all, a happy and thriving child is a well-adjusted and confident one, right?

So, come and visit us at 31 Balmoral Road. You can also contact us at tel: +65 6835 2354, email: or visit our contact page for more details. We can’t wait to meet you and your little one!

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