Kindle Garden

I had the privilege to attend the film launch of a documentary on Kindle Garden, Singapore’s first inclusive preschool.


At the panel session, Mr Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation quoted the tagline of ECDA and MOE (Pre-school), which was “A Good start for every child” and “A Strong start for every child” respectively, and asked: “Really? Every child?” So Lien Foundation embarked on this project with AWWA, starting operations in Jan 2016.

Mr Karthikeyan, a Director at AWWA said :“Inclusion is not the same as integration (See explanation here). Inclusion is not just about kids with additional needs, but flexibility of thinking, quality of thinking, to accept diversity”. 

The two videos demonstrated what that inclusion looks like. It showcased what Kindle Garden does and can accomplish in the development of children – all the children.

For children with additional needs, I have known Arthur since young – his parents are my husband and my personal friends. I knew of their struggles and saw how unresponsive he had been in the past. I was amazed at what I saw in the video – at the way he interacted with his friends and teacher. I saw him again after the video screening and tested it out – I called out to him as he ran past me “Hello Arthur!” and he turned back, looked at me and said “Hello”, in a heartbeat – natural and spontaneous. What a joy. He has been transformed, after spending one and a half years at the school.

For children without additional needs, I was inspired by the stories told by the mums – Sze Ai (Pinwen’s mum), and Jennifer (Lorraine’s mum) – how the environment taught their children acceptance, empathy and compassion – and I saw that through the children’s interactions in the video.

“In a typical environment, the children only learn to compete with each other” “

In the mainstream environment, they take for granted that every child will speak at their speed, but that is not true”

“Empathy and learning teamwork is something that can only be learnt from an environment of peers and not from parents down to children”



I think that the work that Kindle Garden does goes beyond giving the children with additional needs a positive learning environment. It gave them friends, a sense of self-worth and hope for acceptance in society (beyond their immediate family). It gave all the children the perspective that everyone has needs; and the opportunity to practice patience and to “wait for one another”.

Singapore puts a lot of emphasis on excellence and efficiency in our education and work culture – and that is good and necessary. But true excellence and efficiency happens when we waste not an ounce of our resource – and that includes every one – every child – whatever struggle and needs they have.

Every one has a treasure inside us – we just need to find it, and blessed are those who are placed in a position to discover that treasure in someone, and to polish the pearl, or fan the flame. The people at Kindle Garden did that for those little children in the past 2 years of this experimental childcare. I pray that it will be able to continue, and may the movement spread so that there will be more pre-schools like that, and in time to come, many primary schools like that too.

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3 Responses to “Kindle Garden

  • Thanks for this – i learnt something new today, the difference between inclusion and integration.

    My church friend is a teacher at AWWA’s kindle garden. Am very encouraged by the work that they do. There is a child with special needs in B’s class next year, I am hoping this gives her a chance to practice integration too.

    • Oops i mean ‘practice inclusion’. 🙂

    • Hi Lyn, great to hear that! Yeah, I did not know about the difference between inclusion and integration until now either. The teachers there are indeed very inspiring, and the school has a beautiful playground at Enabling Village. Cool place.

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