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August 8, 2021

Inclusive pre-school Kindle Garden caters to children of different needs

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A boy in teacher Lee Wei Ling’s class uses a book with pictures to communicate as he is non-verbal. The children in his class are both typically developing children and children with special needs.

His classmate told the teacher that he wanted to communicate with the boy, who has cerebral palsy, and asked for the communication book. Soon after, the rest of the class joined in. “He used to be very wary of the children. Now he has a new way of interacting with them,” said Ms Lee.

Such instances, where children stand up for their peers of all abilities, are common at Kindle Garden at Enabling Village in Redhill.

The inclusive pre-school, the only one of its kind in Singapore, caters to children of all needs and abilities, varying from mainstream ability children to those with severe needs. It accepts children between 18 months old and six years old. Monthly fees are around $1,050 before any subsidies.

In the new year, the school will be introducing tiered rates, based on household incomes of pupils.

School principal Lena Koh, 45, was inspired by her own son, Dexter, 13, who was diagnosed with autism when he was four, to help build a more inclusive world for children with needs.

She joined the school, a partnership between the Lien Foundation and AWWA, soon after it was set up.

Kindle Garden is now at its full capacity of 84 pupils, with 30 per cent special needs children and 70 per cent mainstream ability children. This is the ratio maintained in all the classes. Now in its second year, the school has 100 special needs children and 25 mainstream ability children on its waiting list.

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