Montessori Preschools Singapore: What is Montessori & Why Are The Fees So Expensive?

By Joanne Poh

Montessori kindergartens and preschools are popular here in Singapore. Many Singaporean (and expat) parents pay over a $1,000 a month for their toddlers to get educated under this method. For reference, preschool fees in Singapore are usually around $500-$600 a month.

Yup, as you can see, for many parents in Singapore, the spending starts during the toddler years. So are these expensive preschools worth it?

What is the Montessori method?

The Montessori Method is an educational approach developed by an Italian doctor and educator, was designed based on studies conducted on the natural behaviour of children.

It is supposed to feed children’s natural thirst for knowledge, and to provide an environment that promotes their healthy development. So rather than have children obsess over alphabets and numbers, by contrast, the Montessori method involves a lot of discovery sessions, freedom of movement and mixed age learning.

What does a Montessori school look like?

A true Montessori school tends to have larger spaces divided into different activity zones to enable children to engage in exploration, rather than your traditional crammed-with-desks layout. There should be spaces dedicated to experimentation, such as discovery areas on the floor.

You should also not see piles of textbooks or assessment books as you would in a traditional classroom. Instead, there should be an abundance of materials that promote hands-on learning, which often look like puzzles or building blocks made with natural materials.

As another hallmark of Montessori-style education is mixed-aged classes, you should see children of various ages sharing a space.

10 popular Montessori schools in Singapore

True Montessori schools in Singapore

Montessori does not require endorsement for its method to be used. That means that any school can claim to use their method. However, based on a study conducted by an MOE teacher, many preschools in Singapore claiming to use special methodologies like Montessori actually hardly do so due to pressure to prepare kids for primary school, and many of their teachers have not even received training in the methodology.

Many schools in Singapore claim that they provide “Montessori-style” education, or have devised their own curriculum using elements of the Montessori method. These are not true Montessori schools.

Many of these schools succumb to the pressures of parents’ demands that their children be primary-school ready by conducting short Montessori-style sessions, and then spending the rest of the day conducting academically-focused learning sessions. This is at complete odds with the spirit of the Montessori approach, which strictly forbids grades or tests.

There are also some schools that claim to use Montessori methodology but that conveniently omit some aspects of the approach, which should include mixed-age classes, Association Montessori International-trained teachers and spacious self-learning environments.

The only way to be 100% sure a school is adhering to the method is to only go for schools that are certified by Association Montessori International.

A school does not have to be certified in order to legitimately use the Montessori Method, but if you really want to be safe and ensure that that $1,000+ a month you’re paying is not being used to fund a glorified tuition centre, that’s your safest bet.

Bilingual Montessori Schools in Singapore

The following Montessori schools have both English and Chinese teachers and reserve a part of the day for bilingual immersion.

• Brighton Montessori

• Greentree Montessori

• Raffles Montessori

• Pink Tower Montessori

• Brainy Child Montessori

• The Little House Montessori

• House on the Hill Montessori

Why are Montessori schools so expensive?

A Montessori school is not really one without teachers who have gone through formal training in the Montessori Method.

These teachers do not just mechanically rattle off the same lessons year in, year out. Instead, they are trained to observe children and to facilitate the application of the method depending on the kids’ individual needs and age. Obviously, this means true Montessori teacher salaries are going to be higher than those of regular early childhood teachers.

Montessori classrooms are also more expensive to stock and maintain, as larger areas are required relative to the number of children, and the use of specialised learning materials can be costly.

Affordable Montessori Schools In Singapore

If you are serious about enrolling your child in a Montessori school, refrain from signing up for the cheapest one available, as it could end up being one of the many schools that only pay lip service to the use of the Montessori Method. If that’s the case, you’d be better off saving your money and simply enrolling your child in a mainstream kindergarten.

That being said, if you really want to know which are the cheaper Montessori schools, here are our picks.

Josiah Montessori: They are guided by Montessori principles but have developed their own curriculum, which is another way of saying that you should not expect a pure Montessori approach here.

Greentree Montessori: While they do have some teachers who are trained in the Montessori Method, they have designed their own curriculum to make kids more school-ready.

Brighton Montessori: Their teachers may not have received Montessori training, and their approach is apparently a bit too structured and doesn’t incorporate enough Montessori elements. They also do not have mixed age classes.

Brainy Child Montessori: They offer 2-, 3- and 5-day weeks, so you can opt for a shorter week to save money.

How can you adopt the Montessori method at home inexpensively?

Instead of enrolling your child in a Montessori school, there are inexpensive ways to promote Montessori-style learning in your own home.

Unfortunately, for most kiasu parents, that means letting go of the need to dictate your child’s every second, staying away from assessment books and tuition and giving your child a degree of choice as to what they wish to explore.

Many books have been written about promoting a Montessori lifestyle at home, and you can also buy or make Montessori-style materials for use at home. These materials are usually geared towards child-led learning and encouraging children to take on everyday tasks independently.

At home, make sure that the materials are organised and placed in a way that encourages exploration, rather than in a haphazard toy box.

Finally, it’s worth noting that a supportive home environment that encourages exploration and is not overly-regimented is probably going to do more for a child’s development than some fancy kindergarten.

This article was first published over at MoneySmart blog on 28 December 2018. It is reproduced with permission.

About The Author (Joanne Poh)

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.


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