Choosing a Primary School–Most important criterion

It’s time for Primary School registration in Singapore.

This highly stressful period is part of the coming-of-age ritual that all parents go through. Having been part of the education system as a student and as an educator, I fully fully empathise with all the high strung emotions and worry. After all, the decision which school to go to lies solely on the parents’ shoulders for these first 6 years of formal education. (Our meritocratic society is such that every school thereafter is based on the child’s abilities)

I must state first that I’m no big expert. But I have a P2 girl and with all the experience I have the past 1.5 years as a parent of a primary school kid, I have concluded the MOST important criterion in choosing a primary school. I’ve spoken to my in laws (who are both retired school principals), educators, other parents & even domestic helpers. And I do have a common consensus.

I understand that there are many hot debates on this, and I do not want to downplay all the other criterions. Let me say my piece and you decide if you find this just as important. The most important criterion to consider is D.I.S.T.A.N.C.E.

Yes, distance from your home to the school. I believe the distance should be no more than half an hour by public transport, either way, to and fro.

I have the luxury of staying 5 bus stops from Nicole’s primary school. It is fantastic. I’m not just referring to the traveling time saved daily. Think of the extra classes on a Saturday, or additional enrichments after school. The distance is short enough for us to send her to school and go home, instead of waiting at the school canteen for 2 hours. Some parents say they end up reading Saturday’s papers in the canteen while waiting because it’s not practical to go home and come back out again to pick the child.

Staying so near also meant that Nicole can have lunch at a decent hour. Consider this: School ends at 1.30 p.m. for most schools. With the 5-bus stop distance, Nicole reaches home at 2.15 p.m. (waiting for the bus & walking takes time). So her lunch is at 2.15 p.m. This year, her school was moved to a holding school which is another 15 bus stops away. But for this year, she reaches home only at 2.45 p.m. And that’s when she eats her lunch!!!  Thank God that’s temporary.

I have experienced what it’s like to live further away from school, and I really don’t like it. Nicole is home tired and hungry. She leaves the house much earlier, and comes home later. I really cannot imagine if she has to do this for the remaining years in primary school.

Understandably, there are many other criterions for choosing a school. Things like Brand names, Alumni, Enrichment offered, Niche non-curricular activities etc. They are important. But for now, if you are considering which school to send your child to, please seriously consider the distance. Really.

Is Distance important to you when selecting a school for your child?

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