Choosing a Primary School for Your Child

What to consider when you are deciding on the right primary school for your child

By Elvira Tan
21 June, 2016

For many parents, the decision as to which primary school to enrol their children in begins as early as when the baby is conceived, for some of us perhaps, even before conception! Undoubtedly, getting a child into a primary school of one’s choice or even making a decision as to which school would be best suited for the child has given many parents sleepless nights.

With our first-born, he went the alma mater route, and has been attending the school my husband spent ten of his growing years in. With our daughter this time round, even though we do have the option of taking the alma mater route as well, my husband and I have been asking ourselves if we should consider other options for her. We’ve been speaking to other parents, reading up and have come up with some structure for ourselves in going about making this decision for our daughter.

Hopefully, with the following tips, some of the edge can be taken off the decision-making process for both you and us.

  1. Ask yourself important questions to ascertain your child’s and your family’s needs
    This is a good exercise in digging deep to ask ourselves what we truly value in our search for good quality education for our children. Questions to ask include:-

    How would I define a good quality education?
    Does it entail having a co-ed environment? Is academic achievement the only marker or do other factors such as character development and a nurturing environment that caters to different learning styles matter too? What are the kinds of values that I hope the school culture embodies and imparts to my child?

    What would suit my child best?
    What is my child’s personality like? What is his/her learning style? Where do his/her interests and/or talents lie?

    How important is the school’s proximity to my home?
    How much do I value having more time for my child to sleep in or for other meaningful activities over a lengthy commute? Onemap.sg is a useful tool to help you find the schools near your home, if close proximity to a school is important for your child.
  1. Research primary schools that meet your child’s needs closely
    Read up on the comprehensive list of primary schools in Singapore. Find out more about each school’s vision, mission and motto from the school’s website. Check out the co-curricular activities they offer and where the school’s unique strengths lie to find out which ones most closely line up with what you value for your child.

    Speak to friends and acquaintances who have children in those schools or visit local online parenting forums for any feedback other parents might have about the schools you are considering.

    Schedule a visit to the school or find out when the school is having an open house that you can attend to have a better understanding of what the teaching staff and students are like. Take note of the things that stood out for you in your interactions with them and be mindful of how you and your child felt as you walked through the school grounds.
  1. Get Familiar with Enrolment Phases

    Read up on enrolment phases to ascertain which phase you fall into or have the highest probability of getting a school of your choice. This helps you decide early if you are going to, for example, sign up as a parent volunteer or make use of affiliations to associations or religious institutions to secure a place for your child in the school of your choice.

    As of May 2016, the Ministry of Education has also released a booklet on Primary School Education. You may find some helpful information on choosing a primary school for your child in this booklet too.

We hope that with this, it’ll take a little angst out of the decision-making process. The main thing for us to remember I guess, is to not let our anxieties (if any) rub off on our children – the very ones we are doing our best for. Indeed, the right school is important for our child and can complement his/her development but our role as parents is irreplaceable and we will always be the best people, not the school, who know our kids best, what they need and how to nurture them regardless of which school they are enrolled in.


© 2016 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Learn how to better understand your child and support them as they begin their journey through primary school at the Parent-Coach Dialogues.

 

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