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Early Childhood Education

A preschool is an educational establishment offering early childhood education to children from the ages of 3 to 6, before they proceed to primary school at age 7.In Malaysia, there are no fixed rules on when a child needs to start preschool education but majority would start when the child turns 5 years old.

Although guidelines from the Ministry of Education serve as the base for curriculum for children 4-6 years of age, there is no specific curriculum guideline for children under the age of 4. There are mandatory training and certification for principals and teachers before they may operate a preschool. The training covers lessons on child psychology, teaching methodologies, and other related curricula on childcare and development.

Preschool education is mainly provided by private for-profit preschools, though some are run by the government or religious groups. Certain primary schools have attached preschool sections too. Government-run preschools are generally located in rural areas; emphasizing socio-emotional development. Whereas profit-based private preschools are usually found in urban areas, and focus heavily on academic achievement.

Registered preschools are subjected to zoning regulations and must comply with other regulations such as health screening and fire hazard assessment. Many preschools are located in high density residential areas, where normal residential units compliant to regulations are converted into the schools.

Government-run early education programmes are basically free-of-charge, but private early education programmes charge fees and their administrators are free to choose the curriculum and language of instruction to be used in their establishments.

There are two main categories of preschool in Malaysia – play school and kindergarten.