While pre-school is where most children begin their school journeys, primary school is where education gets into full swing and both graded and non-graded aspects of learning start to matter. Whether you’re looking for a nurturing environment where your child can learn and grow at his own pace or focused on ensuring that his educational needs are addressed, there are a number of things to consider when picking out a school that isn’t just limited to the institution’s reputation for producing the best results.
Registrations begin on 3 July, so here are some points to think about when deciding this important first step:
#1 Convenience of Commute
Singapore’s public transport system is arguably one of the best for getting around, but there are still considerations to be had when picking out where your child should study—too far from home, and they’d have to wake up in the wee hours of the day to get to school on time. Children who are more prone to sleeping in would most likely spend most of their day tired, and this would definitely affect how much they can concentrate in class.
Worried about your child taking public transport alone? Those who drive can think about dropping their children off at school. This makes finding a school that is en route to the workplace important so that busy parents would be able to maximise their morning travel time (and hopefully avoid getting stuck in too much congestion).
Most primary schools also offer school bus services to and from school, so parents will have ease of mind if they are not able to drop them off at school. School bus services from the school, however, generally only offer one pick-up time at the end of the usual school day, so once co-curricular activities and supplementary classes pick up in frequency, parents will also have to consider alternative commute options for their children.
#2 School Environment
Every child is different, and while most primary schools offer similar syllabuses, it is the environment that can really allow a child to shine. Open houses are generally the best gauges of this, but if you missed the times to enter the school, parents can still assess how the school will suit their child by asking questions at the front desk and doing their own research.
For the former, the school’s emotional support system and how they communicate expectations and information to both your child and yourself are two such indicators on whether you and your child would be happy with what they provide. Parents can also ask about the physical aspects of the campus, such as the convenience of the classrooms to the rest of the buildings, as well as check up on the provisions of ramps and easily accessible areas for children, which require a bit more assistance getting around.
Meanwhile, reading up online on your chosen school’s code of conduct, vision and mission, as well as possible anecdotes of those who have studied or sent their children to study there, would give you an idea of how the school operates and help you figure out if it is a good fit.
#3 Parent Involvement
Regardless of whether you plan to join the school’s parent support, finding out how involved parents are with the school’s community is a good gauge as to whether the school suits your needs. Furthermore, fostering a close relationship with the institution that your child will be spending six years in is central towards his development, so that you and his respective educators will be able to forge a better learning environment for the child.
As for the parent support group itself, it plays an important role in school matters as they are the first group of parents the school reaches out to for feedback. They also work together with the school for its events and gives parents insight into the respective school’s system and role in teaching their child.
#4 Tailoring To Your Child’s Educational Needs
Let’s face it: not everyone is going to come out of primary school with top tier grades. With the competitive nature of the education system, some parents would still deign to place emphasis on their children’s results. But if your child looks like he would blossom without the pressure, tailoring his school to his needs would be a good first step to ensuring he makes the most out of his time in primary school.
Furthermore, if you wish to send your child on additional classes outside school, having a school that piles him with work would be detrimental to his learning—striking the right balance between work and play for your child would be best for his overall well-being.
At the end of the day, primary school makes up a large part of his childhood, and spending it worrying over their education—particularly when recent news has shown that the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) isn’t the be all, end all of your child’s learning journey—would be doing your child a disservice. As such, schools that offer other forms of holistic programmes and co-curricular activities should be considered as well.
As parents, you’d know your child best—and thus, you’d be able to figure out what your child needs when it comes to learning, which may not be just getting the top score for entering Secondary School.
Featured image credit: Ministry of Education, Singapore