Policies and Initiatives for Preschool Children from Disadvantaged Environments and Preschool Children with Disabilities in Singapore

  • Kenneth K. PoonEmail author
Part of the Education Innovation Series book series (EDIN)


Competence is defined as “a pattern of effective adaptation in the environment, either broadly defined in terms of reasonable success with major developmental tasks expected for a person of a given age and gender in the context of his or her culture, society, and time, or more narrowly defined in terms of specific domains of achievement” (Masten and Coatsworth, The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. Am Psychol 53, 1999, p. 206). Employing this definition, competence can mean examining quite different aspects of children at different levels of development. Aspects of competence identified by Masten and Coatsworth (The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. Am Psychol 53:205–220, 1999) for schoolchildren include school adjustment (e.g. attendance, conduct), academic achievement (e.g. learning to read, doing arithmetic), getting along with peers (e.g. acceptance, making friends) and rule-governed conduct (e.g. following rules of social for moral behaviour and prosocial conduct).

Within Singapore, competence among preschool children has been defined as the key stage outcomes of preschool education (Ministry of Education, Nurturing early learners. A curriculum framework for kindergartens in Singapore: a guide for parents. MOE. , 2012). These include a sense of being comfortable and happy with themselves; knowing what is right and what is wrong; being willing to share and take turns with others; being able to relate to others; and loving their families, friends, teachers and school which are foundational in the development of social relationships. In addition, the academic foundations of being curious and able to explore, being able to listen and speak with understanding and having developed physical co-ordination and healthy habits and participated in and enjoyed a variety of arts experiences have been emphasised.

Yet, these key stage outcomes are not achieved by every child, and children who likely have difficulties achieving these aspects of competencies upon entry into primary education are often identified as potentially benefitting from some form of early intervention. Who are these children? What is currently known about how best to support the development of their competencies? What are the directions forward? This chapter seeks to address the above questions within the context of international research and applying them against that of Singapore.


  1. Avramidis, E., & Norwich, B. (2002). Teachers’ attitudes towards integration/inclusion: A review of the literature. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 17(2), 129–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bricker, D., Pretti-Frontczak, K., Johnson, J., & Straka, E. (2002). Assessment, evaluation, and programming system for infants and children (2nd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.Google Scholar
  3. de Boer, A., Pijl, S. J., & Minnaert, A. (2011). Regular primary school teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education: A review of the literature. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(3), 331–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Early Childhood Development Agency. (2017). KIDSTART. Retrieved from
  5. Enabling Masterplan 2012-2016 Steering Committee. (2012). Enabling masterplan 2012–2016: Maximising potential, embracing differences. Singapore, Singapore: Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. Retrieved from
  6. Ghosh, S., & Magana, S. (2009). A rich mosaic: Emerging research on Asian families of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. International Review of Research in Mental Retardation, 37, 179–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ho, L. Y. (2007). Child development programme in Singapore 1988 to 2007. Annals Academy of Medicine, 36, 898–910.Google Scholar
  8. Lim, H. C., Chan, T., & Yoong, T. (1994). Standardization and adaptation of the Denver Developmental Screening Test and Denver II for use in Singapore children. Singapore Medical Journal, 35, 156–160.Google Scholar
  9. Lim, H. C., Ho, L. Y., Goh, L. H., Ling, S. L., Heng, R., & Po, G. L. (1996). Field testing of Denver Developmental Screening Test Singapore: A Singapore version of the Denver II Developmental Screening Test. Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, 25, 200–209.Google Scholar
  10. Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1999). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53, 205–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ministry of Education (MOE). (2012). Nurturing early learners. A curriculum framework for kindergartens in Singapore: A guide for parents. Author.
  12. Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). (2013). Rollout of early intervention programme in pre-schools to support children with mild developmental delays. Retrieved from
  13. MOE. (2008). Enhanced learning support programme has benefited pupils. Retrieved from
  14. MSF. (2014b). Subsidies for child/student care. Retrieved from
  15. Pianta, R. C., & Walsh, D. J. (1998). Applying the construct of resilience in schools: Cautions from a developmental systems perspective. School Psychology Review, 27, 407–417.Google Scholar
  16. Poon, K. K. (1999). Piloting behavioral family intervention in Asia: The case of Singapore. (Unpublished Master’s thesis) University of Queensland, Australia.Google Scholar
  17. Poon, K. K., & Yang, X. (2016). The student profile, service delivery model, and support practices of four early childhood intervention environments in Singapore. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 36(3), 437–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Preschool Qualification Accreditation Committee. (2008). PQAC accreditation standards. Singapore, Singapore: Ministry of Education and Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. Retrieved from
  19. Resnick, L. B. (1996). Situated rationalism: The biological and cultural foundations for learning. Prospects, 26(1), 37–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sanders, M. R. (1999). Triple P-positive parenting program: Towards an empirically validated multilevel parenting and family support strategy for the prevention of behavior and emotional problems in children. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2(2), 71–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. SG Enable. (2011). Integrated child care programme. Retrieved from
  22. Shonkoff, J. P., & Meisels, S. J. (2000). Handbook of early childhood intervention. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wright, S., Lim, A., Lim, S., Ng., Z. J., Poon, K., Tan, L. S., & Yang, C. H. (2009). A development project for the scoping of the Singapore Early Years Longitudinal Study. Unpublished reportGoogle Scholar
  24. Yeo, L. S., Neihart, M., Tang, H. N., Chong, W. H., & Huan, V. S. (2011). An inclusion initiative in Singapore for preschool children with special needs. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 31(2), 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations