5 trends transforming preschool education: Technology, nature and more
Preschool curriculum might appear simple, but there are actually a lot of intricacies and research based studies that go into determining the right program. For example, did you know the RIE approach we follow has been tested extensively in institutions worldwide over many years? Just like other levels of education, preschool education in Singapore also closely monitors evidence and trends to ensure students remain relevant.
Whether you’re an undergraduate considering a career in early childhood education or a parent looking to send your kid to a preschool, here are some trends at the forefront of preschool education.
Integration of technology in class
As digital technology gains popularity throughout the consumer marketplace, parents, preschool students and teachers will be expected to acquire at least a basic understanding of Internet access use and methods. This demand might take flight even faster, especially with COVID-19 which required students to attend lessons digitally from home. By adopting technology, the cost of educational tools like textbooks can be greatly reduced too. While the use of technology in preschool and childcare settings may not amount to more than teaching children how to use a mouse to navigate online games, these crucial first steps will provide a foundation for them to master basic technological skills. To remain competitive in the job market, both aspiring and current teachers will be expected to at least be familiar with high-tech learning options.
But schools must also be able to tread carefully between making good use of technology for learning and being dependent on technology. The role of technology is to assist in learning activities as well as to promote an early foundation for digital literacy; traditional learning and play must still remain at the forefront.
Bigger focus on physical fitness
Over the last two decades, childhood obesity has been a persistent problem in Singapore. Studies consistently show that children with obesity are more prone to health problems later in life, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and obstructive sleep apnea. Further, obese kids are more prone to bullying, which paves the way for self esteem issues. The fight against childhood obesity must start as early as a child’s preschool years.
We foresee non-competitive and independent sport activities like swimming, dancing and even martial arts training to be part of preschool curriculums. This will allow children to get a healthy and early start in physical activity. Teachers will also be encouraged to embrace active play in and out of the classroom to supplement existing play time and recess.
We also encourage parents to recognise their role in combating childhood obesity by setting good examples in leading healthy and active lifestyles. The benefits of participating in physical fitness from young will follow our children for a long time.
Nature as best friend
Scandinavian approaches including the Forest Schools movement are starting to have an impact on preschool education. It’s no wonder why — children learn the best when placed in nature. Not only do children benefit physically from that extra movement, they also benefit intellectually as they learn important concepts in science. For instance, they learn how nature works and how their actions affect the environment.
While a Forest Schools setting may be difficult to implement in a country like Singapore, the trend of teaching in nature can still be possible in other ways, such as outdoor excursions and incorporating natural elements in the classroom.
New ways of assessing young learners
Students in primary and secondary school have been assessed on their performance through testing for years. Some of these methods may soon be put into place in preschool environments to evaluate readiness for primary school or to identify areas a child may require help in. How preschool organisations go about doing this will depend on their curriculum and approach, but we don’t foresee traditional pen and paper tests coming in. Rather than create a rat race, these tests are done more so to allow early intervention to address areas of concern. By doing so, we can close the achievement gap early and ensure that no student —including disadvantaged students from low income families— is left behind.
Demand for teachers with bachelor’s degrees
While most preschools accept applicants with a diploma in Early Childhood Education, those with a bachelor’s degree will likely have an edge due to their deeper understanding of child development and learning. If you’re interested in making a significant impact on early childhood education programs in Singapore, unlocking the right qualifications can prepare you in managing and creating programs and policies for our little learners.
Do you agree with the trends mentioned above? Is there anything else you think would be commonplace in preschool education? Let us know!
Weihrauch-Blüher, S., & Wiegand, S. (2018). Risk Factors and Implications of Childhood Obesity. Current obesity reports, 7(4), 254–259. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-018-0320-0
Sobko, T., Jia, Z., & Brown, G. (2018). Measuring connectedness to nature in preschool children in an urban setting and its relation to psychological functioning. PloS one, 13(11), e0207057. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207057