10 steps to primary 1
10 factors to consider in your
search for the ideal school
WHERE'S THAT REPORT CARD?
Other than your child's birth certificate and both parents'
identity cards, an immunisation certificate is also required,
so check that your child has taken all the required shots (for
diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis,
poliomyelitis, rubella, tetanus and tuberculosis). To check
your child's immunisation records, log on to the Health
Promotion Board's National Immunisation Registry website
at www.nir.hpb.gov.sg and click on "Check Immunisation".
DO YOU WANT TO WAKE UP AT 5 AM?
Other than time and transport costs, there are many benefits to
choosing a school close to home. Alice Lee-Tok, family
education expert and counsellor, says that despite parents' best
intentions, sending a child to a top school at the other end of
the island isn't a good idea. Primary school, she notes, is a six-
year journey and a tired child is more prone to experiencing
behavioural problems in the future.
“You won't see the impact immediately as a Primary I child is
happy to go with what mum and dad want. But when the co-
curricular activities and extra lessons start in Primary 3, a tired
child is more likely to exhibit behavioural problems," she says.
A school close to home, she adds, also allows the child to remain
in his or her "neighbourhood". She adds: "He's in familiar
surroundings, lots of other kids around attend the same school
and he won't have to wake up at 5.30am."
LOOK BEYOND BRAND NAMES
It may not be the most popular establishment, but a regular neighbourhood
school may give your child a chance to shine, as opposed to being mediocre in
a school filled with high achievers. While parents are not wrong in wanting the
best for their children, Alice, family education expert and counsellor says a
school that allows a child to shine does more for his or her self-esteem than
having to compete to be top of the class.
On the flip side, financial analyst Jenn Lim, 35, says she hesitated to enrol her
two daughters in a top primary school. She and her husband both preferred a
regular school where their girls would enjoy learning without the additional
stress. However, with the elite school being the only one within walking
distance from home, it didn't make sense to send the girls to a faraway
In their time at this school, Jenn's daughters' teachers piled on so much
pressure that it made them fear attending classes. She even sent a complaint
when one teacher made her then-Primary 2 child complete 10 drafts of
corrections for a composition. While Jenn agrees that the school does have
good and understanding teachers, she adds that the experience that year
showed that not all teachers in a good school are good.
DOES THE TEACHING STYLE SUIT YOUR
A mismatch of a child's learning style and the school's
teaching or even discipline methods could lead to stress
and even a phobia of school.
NURTURE OTHER INTERESTS
If your child loves dance, why not enrol her in a school that will allow her to do
that? Look beyond the academic and match your child's interests and strengths
to a school that will enhance her love of learning.
To find out which schools specialise in what areas, read the press release at
for more details.
DO YOU NEED STUDENT CARE?
If you need Before and After School Care (BASC), schools
that offer such services within its grounds are a bonus, as
they make it easier for children to head to and return from
For a comprehensive list of student care centres
islandwide, log on to www.mcys.gov.sg
and search under "Directory of Family & Community
DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS?
Since 2005, the Ministry of Education has deployed a pool
of Special Needs Officers (SNO) to mainstream schools to
support students with Dyslexia and mild Autistic Spectrum
For a list of schools, log on to www.moe.gov.sg/education/
CHECK THE STATS
No matter how much you'd like your child to get into a
particular school, if you're living beyond 2km and they've
balloted within 1km for the last three years, it's really not a
Check past statistics from the school of your choice, or call
them to confirm the actual distance between your home
and the school. Knowing the school's balloting history will
help give you a better idea of where your child stands. If
you know that the chances are slim, start looking
HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
It helps to have a second, even third-choice school that you're
comfortable with and really won't mind your child attending, says Sybil
Koh, 34, a personal assistant, whose son started Primary rat Tao Nan
School this year.
As she knew there would be balloting even within 1km for the very
popular school, she was realistic about the odds and didn't pin her
hopes too high. She looked around for alternative choices that were
further away but still within reasonable distance, and chose schools
she knew her son would be able to secure a place in during Phase 2C
That's the right attitude, says counsellor Alice. "The disappointment
some parents express when their child doesn't get into the school of
their choice sends the message to their kids that they're not good
enough because they didn't get into a top school."
MAKE THIS YOUR HOME PAGE
Log on to http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/ and
bookmark this page. A one-stop service portal, it provides all the
essential information you'll need - from registration dates to
documents required and lists of niche CCAs and schools for
special needs students.
The website is also updated throughout the Primary 1 registration
process, providing figures on the number of places taken up in
each school at the end of each phase, as well as day-to-day
updates on the number of children who have registered during the
phase and the schools that will be conducting a ballot.
• Young Parents
(SPH Magazines Pte Ltd)