Graduation from preschool will be a major milestone for your child to look forward to. What’s next is a huge step towards the start of their lifelong journey in primary school.
Even though the Ministry of Education (MOE) has emphasised that “every school is a good school”, how can you as a parent choose the right school for your child when there are over 180 primary schools in Singapore?
Besides familiarising yourself with the primary one registration phases and the eligible priorities, here are six things to take note when choosing a primary school for your child.
Choosing a Primary School: Factors to consider for Primary One Registration in Singapore
1. Distance from home
Ask any seasoned parent and they will tell you that distance is the most practical consideration when choosing a primary school.
As a typical school day starts at 7:30am, you want to ensure minimum travel time to allow your child to get the recommended eight hours of sleep. For children who take the school bus, it’s not uncommon for them to wake up as early as 6:00am to catch the school bus, and even earlier if they live further from school.
Moreover, as your child gets older, you’ll have to take into consideration the longer hours in school for Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs), enrichment classes, project work etc. Since primary school is a good six years, it’s wise to choose a school close to home so both children and parents are not tired out by the long travelling time.
To find schools within 1km and 1 to 2km from your home, visit the one map website.
2. Choosing a primary school based on your child’s interest
Besides academic excellence, it’s important to give your child opportunities to develop their interests beyond the classroom. Through CCAs, children can acquire new skills and hone character-building qualities like team spirit, perseverance and tenacity to mould them into champs in and out of the classrooms.
By the age of six, you’ll be able to identify your child’s interest. If there is an area your child displays potential in, it is worthwhile to shortlist schools with CCAs aligned to their interest. Niche CCAs also help schools to differentiate themselves from the usual academic route as they add another factor of consideration for the primary one registration process.
3. Understanding the school’s culture
The best school sometimes boils down to the school with the best fit in terms of culture and environment for your child. As parents, you know your child’s strengths and abilities best. While some schools may be popular for their academic rigour and academic ranking, you’ll have to ask if your child is able to cope with the pressure.
Some parents may want their child in a mission school because of the Christian values while others may look for Special Assistance Plans (SAP) schools where traditional Chinese values are reinforced from young.
To get an insight on the school’s culture, try speaking to parents with children attending the school, going online and reading forums, visiting the school during their open house or signing up as a parent volunteer.
4. Availability of on-site student care
For working parents, after-school care can be a worry without help from grandparents or helpers. Fortunately, MOE is working towards school-based student cares for every school by the end of 2020. Currently, there are 171 primary schools with school-based student cares.
If you require such arrangements, do make enquiries as spaces tend to be limited. Having on-site student care gives many working parents peace of mind knowing that your child is in a safe and conducive environment for rest, meals and learning after school hours.
5. Choosing a primary school: Single-sex vs co-ed schools
Since children of different genders can play together, why can’t they study together? Being in a co-ed school helps students get prepared for the real world where both genders have to mingle and interact.
If you have children of different genders, choosing a co-ed primary school makes sense to avoid going through the hassle of primary one registration all over again. After all, your child will get priority in Phase 1 (the highest priority) with a sibling studying in the same school.
6. Affiliation to secondary schools
With the upcoming PSLE scoring changes in 2021, from aggregate scoring to wider scoring bands, parents may turn their sights to primary schools offering affiliations to secondary schools.
As cut-off points can be as many as 40 points, parents feel that this affiliation gives their child an edge over students without affiliation. A recent move by MOE also saw all secondary schools with an affiliated primary school setting aside 20 per cent of their places for students from non-affiliated primary school.
There may be virtual Primary School Open Houses that you can join to get a glimpse of the school’s environment and better understand the school’s culture. Do look out for updates on this from the MOE website.
Ultimately whichever primary school you choose for your child, what matters is that they are able to adapt well to Primary School and be a confident and happy learner in this next phase of learning.
Written by Susan Koh
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