More than any other city in Asia, Singapore exposes children to an amazing array of world-class opportunities, in education to culture and lifestyle.
Many residents here say they appreciate the safe, modern and multicultural environment that their children grow up in.
As a nation whose only resource is its people, Singapore takes education very seriously. It is assuring to know that the quality of schooling here is among the best in the world – our system and textbooks have been adopted and adapted from by other countries.
The state is the principal provider of education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The private sector complements this with preschool and supplementary education classes, such as in speech and drama, computing, and the fine arts.
You have the option of enrolling your children of school going age in mainstream public schools and international schools. A good number of international schools like the United World College of South East Asia and the Singapore American School also operate here, but enrolment has to be done early as demand is high.
Comprehensive information for international students can be found on the Ministry of Education (MOE) website here.
The local school year (below tertiary level) consists of four 10-week terms beginning on 2 January each year. There is a one-week vacation after the first and third terms, a four-week vacation mid-year and six weeks at year-end.
The Singapore education system emphasises fluency in the mother tongue. As such, the official languages of Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil are taught as part of the school curriculum, though exemption from the mother tongue requirement may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Our focus on bilingualism is in fact widely respected and is part of the reason many seek a place in public schools.
Some of the more prominent kindergartens here include the Pat’s Schoolhouse and Julia Gabriel franchises; there is also a range of Montessori-based schools. Further up the system, the foremost local primary and secondary schools include the Anglo-Chinese and Raffles brands.
Singapore currently has four universities.
There is no shortage of places which fete children. Sentosa island is a giant playground in itself, and is home to the Universal Studios theme park at Resorts World, which has its own Kids Club.
Museums range from the philatelic to the cultural and historical, all with exhibits and activities that cater to the young patron. The Mint Museum of Toys will enthral young and old alike, while the grand National Museum of Singapore holds an annual Children’s Season during the mid-year school holidays.
The legendary Singapore Zoo has been distinguished by ForbesTraveler.com as one of “The World’s Best Zoos”. Both the open-concept exhibits as well as the large Rainforest Kidzworld water play area make this a favourite to visit time and time again, along with its sibling, the Night Safari.
Hearts and minds are both engaged at the Science Centre, which also hosts international exhibitions like the recent Da Vinci the Genius.
There are countless parks and gardens to explore or picnic in. The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is just adjacent to the sprawling Botanic Gardens, and provides unique learning and discovery experiences.
Private country clubs often offer premium facilities for children as well as professional coaching in sports or dance.
Otherwise, classes for everything from ballet to cartoon drawing, and music and drama to cooking are prevalent and especially popular during the school holidays. Check the local newspapers for details. The Internet is also likely to throw out many good tips.
Parties can be held at a host of exciting venues ranging from stables to gyms. Hosting your own is no problem as costumes, balloons and piñatas, and magicians are all well-supplied in Singapore, right down to bouncy castles.
Enjoy the best in Children’s Theatre with the Prudential Children First! arts festival, which attracts top performing companies from around the world. The Asian Children’s Festival of Children’s Content incorporating KidsASIA! is a mainly interactive event which celebrates the joy of childhood in Asia.
Other major events which will appeal to children are the Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival, the exciting National Day Parades and the Chinese New Year Chingay Parade.
Most eateries welcome children and provide high chairs for the littler ones. Some fine dining restaurants like the Equinox Restaurant may offer a children’s menu. One Ninety at the Four Seasons Hotel has a separate playland open for its Sunday brunch, where children enjoy their own buffet while playing and being entertained.
For casual dining, Go-Go Bambini is popular with both kids and adults because of its large exciting indoor playground for the youngsters, and library-cum-cafe and nail spa for mums.
Shopping for children in Singapore is a pleasure. Malls such as United Square near the Novena MRT station, and Forum the Shopping Mall and Tanglin Mall in the Orchard precinct are practically dedicated to children. They have many shops catering to a young clientele, offering fashion, toys, books, music schools, gyms and even photo studios. Major department stores like Takashimaya have entire floors dedicated to children’s apparel and toys, while boutiques offer international brands like Zara and Fox for the kids, as well as home-grown label LIFEbaby, which sells New Asia fashion for children. Most bookshops carry a wide range of children’s titles, and the young ones will be happy to know that Toys”R”Us operates a chain of stores here.