Finding the right school can be a really challenging phase for parents. There are some things to look out for to make sure the school is a perfect match for your child.
All parents want the best for their child and finding the right school for them to thrive in is pivotal for their future growth and development! But with so many choices of schools and education systems across the island, where do you start from and what should you consider?
Here are a few useful points to get you started:
- Do decide if you want to send your child to a local school or an international school, as this will largely determine the final school and area you choose.
- Figure out what you can afford. There is a huge difference in school fees depending on what type of school you choose (a few hundred dollars a month at local school versus thousands of dollars per semester at international ones).
- Invest some time and visit the schools that you are interested in – it eventually boils down to your gut feel and what feels right to you for your child. For example, are you more comfortable with a smaller teacher-student ratio, or are you ok with larger class sizes?
- Remember that no education system is perfect. Local schools are reputed to be very study intensive with not enough play, while international schools are said to be more relaxed, but offer better social and sports opportunities.
- If Singapore is home for the visible future, enrolling your child in local school better equips them to fully immerse themselves into the local culture and language.
- Remember that international schools are usually better prepared to deal with children with special needs, as they often have trained teachers and educational psychologists who are there to support those with learning or physical disabilities.
- Don’t make a decision based on other people’s feedback, no matter how much you trust their judgement. What works for one child, might not necessarily work for yours.
- Don’t ignore the fact that while international schools are expensive, following the same curriculum as your home country might be better for the long run, especially if you are in Singapore for a short time only and plan to return home soon.
- Don’t think you can just turn up to any school and get an admission on the spot. The demand (and waitlists) for both local and international schools can be quite long and you may not always get into the school of your choice. Singaporean citizens have first priority on places at government schools and there are limited spots available for PR and non-Singaporeans, especially at the newer breed of local schools.
- Don’t assume that while curriculums are different at international schools (usually IB systems) versus local schools, the teaching styles will be the same. Local schools are known for rote-learning methods to promote literacy and numeracy, and have recently evolved to include inquiry-based learning at the newer schools.
- Don’t underestimate peer pressure and the need to enrol children in after school enrichment classes. So while you may save a lot of money enrolling in the local schools, you might end up spending a lot more time and money in taking your child from one enrichment class to another in the long run, just to have them keep up with the rest of the class.
- Don’t ignore how your child responds to his / her new environment. You’ve done the best you can and chosen what you believe will be the best fit for your child. And while initial teething problems are normal, don’t totally dismiss every negative reaction from your child if they are unhappy at their new school. Talk to them openly about the issues they are having at school, even if it means having to change schools in the end.
Written for Parents World by Priyanka Elhence. Priyanka is a busy mom of 9 yr old twin boys. She writes on anything from lifestyle and dining to parenting and celebrity profiles.