Blog Parents Key Decisions What is the Difference: Local vs International Preschools

What is the Difference: Local vs International Preschools

For many parents, choosing the right school for kids is a landmine because of the sheer number of schools promising quality education for its students.

If the child is starting in preschool, parents have to choose as to whether they should be enrolled in a local or international preschool.

Both schools have its pros and cons and whichever you chose, they will try their best to educate your child and help them reach their potential. However, since we want everything to be perfect, the preschool we must choose has to tick all the right boxes for us to be assured of our child’s future.

What do I want out of My Child’s Preschool?

Ask yourself honestly.

Many parents have different preferences on what they are looking for the perfect pre-school. Some may be after the location from home to school and back. Others may be looking for great activities that would get our children moving. A few may even look for a preschool that has a small population for better supervision.

If you do not know where to start, here are some of the factors you can look into when deciding from a local or an international preschool for your kids:


When looking for a preschool, it must have a welcoming environment that would allow your child to relax and learn at their own pace.

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Local preschools tend to be uniform in nature in terms of the classroom they use. Activity wise, they also start children with worksheets even if they are not familiar with the subject.

If activities are not properly spaced out, this can often cause kids to be overwhelmed and not fully grasped what the activity requires.

International preschools, on the other hand, are often inviting and feel like home. There are a lot of artworks in the walls for children to look at and they are allowed to play and learn at the same time without too much supervision.

International preschools generally are much larger, in terms of space than the local preschools.


Kids are picky eaters, and at times, it can be hard to get them to eat at all when they are in a different place.

Local preschools mostly offer a set menu that does not change even if the students are not really happy or used to a certain food. The daily staple is often bland and simple.

International schools, meanwhile, have a menu that would appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. They take into consideration the required dietary needs of your child, as well as his allergies and dislikes.

Some international schools would even offer food tasting sessions to let parents and kids try out the meals their cafeteria offers.


Nowadays, it is good for students to be fluent in two or more languages as it will give them an edge as they grow older.

Both local and international schools do offer language courses for students from preschool to secondary education. However, if you are after something in particular for your child’s language proficiency, you will need to choose accordingly.

Singapore has a bilingual policy and it is a requirement that all children must take a mother tongue course when they are in preschool.

If you want your child to focus on their proficiency in the mother tongue, getting them enrolled in a local school is ideal. It will also pave the way for them to master Mandarin easier.

If you wish your child to be proficient with English, international schools are ideal because they have many English speakers. Considering the diverse population these schools have, English is their common language.

If you want your child to be proficient with more than just the mother tongue, you can enrol them to kindergartens with a balanced racial population. Some international schools do offer minor language courses which your child can try out on their own pace.

Learning Approach

Each student learns words and concepts differently and it is important that the school can adapt to the child’s learning style and preferences.

Local preschools mostly focus on providing classes that would help children get used to the academic curriculum in primary school.

However, it may sound complicated for children to get by at first, especially if children have not yet begun with the basics. Once they get used to it, they will be able to learn how to read and write faster.

International preschools use a language approach to help students speak better and faster. Children are also allowed to have fun while learning new things. The key to many international curriculums is to promote creativity and self-learning.

However, one setback to this approach is that your child may not be able to pick up reading and writing faster than their counterparts in local preschools.

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Local and international schools have a different tuition fee scheme and it may make or break your choice. International schools have an expensive tuition fee even if you have an educational subsidy to help you.

Local preschools are more affordable and they offer more subsidies if you enrol your child in a government-run school. Do note if you intend to enrol your child to popular local preschools, the fees will not be cheap as well.


If you are looking for a preschool that is close to your home and you are far away from city centres like Orchard Road or Bukit Timah, it is ideal that you look into local preschools. Local preschools are everywhere, catering to families living in the area.

Meanwhile, international preschools are located primarily in city centres because it is where the expat communities are located.

Do take into considerations of the journey time to and fro from your preschool. Young children are easily tired and might not be the ideal age to expose them to the long daily commute.

Teacher to Student Ratio

Finally, it is important that your child is given the right amount of guidance from their teacher as they learn new things around them.

If you want your child to get the right amount of focus from their teacher, enrolling them in an international school is ideal because their class sizes are small. As a result, the teacher can provide ample attention to each student.

Local schools tend to have a larger student population (although this is capped at MSF regulation) so teachers may not be able to spend an equal amount of time on each child under her care.


If your child is approaching their pre-school years, do not rush and enrol them immediately to the nearest preschool. Take time to research and see what schools have to offer and how different they are from one another.

Remember, the preschool you will pick will play a part on your child’s growth so take your time and choose wisely.

These are some of the articles that may interest you:

Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.