A Development Project for the Scoping of the Singapore Early Years Longitudinal Study (SEYLS)

Research Team


Funding Source

Chief Investigators:

  • Prof Susan Wright
  • A/P Audrey Lim
  • Ast/P Sirene Lim
  • Zi Jia Ng
  • Ast/P Kenneth Poon
  • Tan Liang See
  • Ast/P Yang Chien Hui

Oct 2008 to Dec 2010

Office of Educational Research

Ministry of Education Singapore


Much of early childhood care and education policies and practices worldwide have been informed by a knowledge base derived from longitudinal studies of child outcomes in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries in the Northern hemisphere. There is an urgent need to acknowledge that research on young children in Singapore (as much as in other Asian contexts) needs to be supported by indigenous research to validate measures developed and normed elsewhere, and to verify and ascertain the factors that influence children's developmental pathways across culturally diverse contexts. This pilot study, thus, set out to trial a selection of child measures, as well as design and pilot a parent survey that aims to yield useful baseline data on how families in Singapore are raising their 4-to-5-year-olds in this particular climate of academic pursuit and educational competition. This was a pilot study designed to inform the possible design of a large-scale longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of preschoolers in Singapore to identify the most compelling issues in developmental outcomes for children in relation to the impact of the family/home environment, as well as early care and education experiences.


140 K1 children (4-to-5-year-olds) were sampled from 12 purposefully selected preschools to obtain a range in terms of family contexts (e.g., economics, ethnicity, use of domestic helper, grandparent care, and home language). The preschools are stratified by type of provision (commercial, community or religious), ethnic group and socioeconomic status of the school population. As the child is the sampling unit, the other participants in this research included the children's parents, the children's teachers, and principals of the kindergarten/childcare centres. Child assessments were conducted, a parent survey was designed and trialled and a teacher and a principal questionnaire were designed and trialled. A range of widely used child measures was selected. To measure home variables, a parent survey was designed, modelled initially on that created for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). To measure preschool variables, a teacher survey and a principal survey were designed to generate information on school philosophy, programme structure, curricular practices, and other structural variables such as teacher-child ratio, teacher qualifications and timetables. The teachers were also asked to complete an SDQ for each participant child so that we could compare their perspectives against those of parents.


The project report presented psychometric properties of child measures as well as the PSDQ, most of which had good factorability. The PSDQ would need to be further examined, using the original 63-item PSDQ rather than a shortened version, or trialling a different parenting styles measure. Pearson correlation coefficients were computed to assess the relationship between child outcomes: CPM, BSRA, BLAB English, BLAB Mother Tongue and TTCT scores; positive correlations were found between the variables. Analyse of predictors of child outcomes were based on demographic information generated from the survey. Child's age and SES were found to be strong predictors of CPM, BSRA, and BLAB(EL) scores, while age predicted BLAB(mother tongue) and TTCT scores. Teachers' SDQ scores were found to be associated with child age and gender. About 60% of children with parents earning more than $6000 were enrolled in a range of enrichment programmes. This seems to confirm common assumptions about higher-income parents' perceptions of early learning to be broad-based (i.e., greater exposure at a younger age). The majority of parents seem to also provide their children with educational and entertainment activities on a weekly basis rather than engage children in household activities and outdoor activities.

Publications/ Presentations

Wright, S., Lim, A., Lim, S., Ng, Z.J., Poon, K., Tan, L.S. (2011). A Development Project for the Scoping of the Singapore Early Years Longitudinal Study (SEYLS). Singapore Ministry of Education, 25 pp.