Criteria To Choosing The RIGHT Primary School For Your Child

Location, proximity to home, and the reputation of the school are some of the criteria parents look at before they decide on the primary school to register their child in formal education. Other criteria that determine a primary school include the entry criteria such as if the entering child has any older siblings already studying in the school.

Some parents choose a primary school because it already has an affiliation to secondary school or even junior colleges, while others are more concern with the school’s grooming capacity for sports, arts, and music. Other considerations are the school curriculum, culture of the student body as well as the education format such as if the school has IP, IB, or Express/Normal streams.

We deep dive into each of the criteria to help you think through this decision process.

1. Entry Level Advantage

Some parents prefer the entry-level advantage as it saves them a lot of time and effort. These parents are alumni students of the primary school or those who stay within 1-km from the school. Parents who have already enrolled their older children (the new student’s sister or brother) in the school will also have an advantage at the primary school registration.

As an alumnus, you will have priority status (in phase 2B). If you are not a school alumnus but wishes to be in the priority phase, you can volunteer at the school of choice (usually a year or two ahead of the registration) or with the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) in the district that your school of choice is in.

2. Proximity To Home

The next criteria to consider is the distance between the school and home. The closer the school is to home, the easier it is to manage the drop-off and pick-up duties. Parents may also want to consider the logistics of the drop-off and pick-up timings, especially if they have multiple kids.

There are many advantages to having a school close to home. The child has more time to rest/play. The parent may also be more inclined to volunteer in school activities. The proximity will also help build a social circle for your child as he/she will bound to run into school/classmates at the neighborhood hangouts or in enrichment centers.

3. School Culture & Student Body

You may also consider schools that share the same culture or religious beliefs. Is this an important aspect of your family values? Christian or Madrasah schools incorporate religious practices in their school curriculum like prayer time and feature these beliefs prominently on school grounds. Singapore has quite a few schools with a strong Chinese culture and offers only Mandarin as their Mother Tongue. If you want your child to learn Mandarin and introduce all aspects of the Chinese culture (eg. Chinese Orchestra, Chinese Martial Arts, Chinese Chess), this might be the right choice.

One advantage is that there is synergy between your family and the school’s culture. Hence, there is no confusion for your child. A good way to find out about the culture of the school is to ask friends who have kids in that school for their feedback. Or you can observe the students when you do a school visit.

4. Same-Sex School vs Mixed Gender Schools

Are you particular about the gender mix of the school? There are several schools of thought in this criterion. It all depends on your child’s comfort level and what you (the parent) wish your child to be raised in. Some parents feel that mixed-gender schools are a good way for boys and girls to interact and develop a normal relationship with the opposite gender when they are older in secondary school. Others feel that their child may thrive better in same-sex schools. This is especially for a child who demonstrates shyness. All-boys schools have also been known to be more boisterous and rowdy.

5. Academic Standards or Interest Developments

Our local education system is known to be demanding. This is especially so that at the end of the primary school journey, your child has to sit for a milestone exam, PSLE and the results determine where he/she heads to for secondary school. Every child has a unique set of learning aptitude. Some are advanced, others are late-bloomers. Some have the focus and concentration to sit for long periods of time, others need lots of opportunities to move – a movement that some teachers may describe as “fidgety”.

In this case, you should consider your child’s aptitude to study, meaning is there a natural affinity to reading and writing or is it a bit of a struggle. If your child leans toward the latter, you may want to consider a school that is not so academic-focused as the pressure might reduce your child’s self-esteem. Alternatively, you may wish to consider a primary school with an affiliation to a secondary school (see next point).

Some schools have interesting CCAs that your child likes. Or they might have a reputation for encouraging the development of their student’s demonstrated talent. Some parents value this over higher academic pursuits.

6. Affiliation To Secondary School

Another consideration parents have is affiliation to a reputable secondary school. This is to alleviate the pressure on the child who is sitting for Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). The affiliation allows the graduating student some bandwidth and priority admission to the sister/brother secondary school.

7. Neighborhood Schools vs Reputable Schools

Our Ministry of Education (MOE) says unequivocally that all schools are equal. However, some parents beg to differ. Still, it should be known that some neighborhood schools have become reputable elite schools. And according to parents with kids from some elite schools, the quality of education may not be as smooth. So, it is all relative.

Every parent has their list of criteria when choosing a primary school for their child. At the end of the day, it really boils down to what parenting values you wish to impart to your child and what is your child’s comfort level. Going for school open houses is a good way to introduce your child to the school and explore your options.

Best of luck with the registration process for the primary one. Click on the link if you need more information on what to prepare or bring to the registration. Let us know if you have any criterion that we missed from our list (in the comments below). Remember to connect with Us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Meiling Wong

Meiling is a Singaporean mom who loves spending time with her 2 kids until they ditch her for slime-making and digital gaming. These days, she keeps herself busy trying to keep up with the social media while still contemplating if she should learn how to play "Clash Royale".

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