Mina Sunico-Chin co-founded the special needs center AltSchool to help her children


When imagining how a classroom might work, Sunico-Chin recalled how traditional preschool teachers might struggle to handle special needs children because they “just have too much on their plate,” even though “it’s not their fault.”

That’s why I was determined to keep class sizes small, specifically one teacher for every two to four children.

However, maintaining such strict standards also means being transparent about the costs involved, she acknowledged. According to indicative prices listed on its website, half-day programs start from S$2,450 per month, while full-day programs start from S$4,155.

When the center was being created, it was also “complicated” to define what therapies would be available, how often they would be offered, and how academic skills would be incorporated into daily lessons. Ultimately, they decided to adopt the current curricular format, in which students attend speech and language therapy twice a week and occupational therapy once a week.

But teachers integrate therapeutic strategies throughout the daily curriculum and meet with therapists regularly to discuss children’s progress, allowing them to react quickly to a noticeable behavioral change, such as if a child shows a sudden aversion to toilet training.

“The coexistence of therapy and education in the same space makes all the difference,” Sunico-Chin noted. “We hope that a child will generalize when they come home, and some kids can do that, but my kids can’t. They really need to be super immersive.”

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