Monday, April 16, 2012

School hunting yet again....

I remember six years ago, Kelvin was in K2 and about to venture into the big school. I didn't know much about the Singapore education (not that I do now). I couldn't believe how big of a deal it was to register in a primary school. I remember watching the news the previous years, seeing parents crying over primary school places that their children were not able to get. I couldn't imagine how one school could be so much better than another school. But we were in Singapore, we had to do it the Singaporean way. So I asked around for feedback and suggestions about which schools Kelvin should apply to. He was born in the year of the golden dragon and it was expected that P1 population would be so much greater than previous enrollment. Now that's another challenge. I brought him to visit a couple of schools near our place. Then we settled with a Catholic school which was a good choice since we were Catholics. I can say no regrets in that area. The time we left the school after the brief tour, I knew he would be going to that school (crossed fingers he would get accepted, which he did).

Fast forward six years after, we are again having the same dilemma - choosing which school to go to. Only this time, it's no longer on a first come, first serve basis but allocation of place in a secondary school is based on PSLE results. 

We were advised by his form teacher to visit secondary schools so he can visualize what it's like to be in secondary level. The moment that I saw an open house advertisement in the church newsletter I told him let's visit that school. It was St Joseph's Institution (SJI). Quite far from our place (2 bus rides, about an hour travel). But it was worth the trip. It became sort of a bonding trip for us - the 2 other boys didn't go along.

When we arrived at SJI we saw how different it was from his primary school. The ground was bigger. Of course, there were more students - older and more mature in a way. The tour was conducted by uniformed students which I thought was a good idea so the boys can convey how secondary life was like for them. Kelvin was overwhelmed by the place. The purpose of going there was not to push him to get into the school but to expose him to what secondary life would be like and what a secondary school looks like. I was also able to ask our tour guide about how they choose their subjects, and things like that. Secondary school education here seems so complicated. But at least after that visit, somehow we had an idea of how life was going to be for him a year from now.

I'm looking forward to going to more open houses with Kelvin throughout the year. Hopefully, with good PSLE results, we can choose (and be accepted in) a good school for him. Good in the sense that he can be comfortable in learning and making friends, he can meet inspiring/caring teachers, supportive school officials, he can continue to learn the values he was taught at home and in his current school, and where he can have fun while learning. Of course, I would also want it to be a school where I can mingle with parents who I can share parenting techniques with, and whose teachers are willing to work hand in hand with the parents for the benefit of the students. I'll make that my birthday with and Christmas wish for this year :)

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