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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Sent My Kid To A Neighborhood School

Before I start sounding too noble, I must quantify that I sent my kid to a neighborhood school purely out of convenience.

For the record, I did make an attempt to apply for Parents’ Volunteering at one of the ‘branded’ schools in Yishun, nearby to where I live. It was a futile one of course. When I applied for it when Joey was 6 years old, they told me as-a-matter-of-fact, “Madam, the Parents’ Volunteer application for children entering P1 in 2013 was already full since 2 years ago.” Nowadays, schools are milking parents for a full 3 years before their kids enter Primary 1??! That promptly ended my quest to send my kids to a famous school.

That basically left me with no choice but to apply to my hubby’s alma mater because that meant a guaranteed admission with no fuss at all. It also helped that his alma mater has one of the best PSLE records in the vicinity. Even though it is a neighborhood school, we decided it will be the school that our girls will study in.

Interestingly, I’ve always wondered whether it is necessary to send my kids to a so-called ‘good’ Primary School as compared to a neighborhood school. Is it really true that the better teachers are deployed to these ‘good’ schools, or it’s just an unfounded rumor? Also, is it true that the neighborhood schools have all the not-so-good students who do not like to study hard?

One line of thoughts that I’ve always believed in is that in an average neighborhood school, because the standard across the board is more diverse, the kid has more opportunities to be recognized for good academic performance and other areas of achievements. I am not disillusioned, but I believe that is probably the reason why Joey managed to come out 2nd in her class this year, even though we did not really prepare her for the exams. That, to me, is a good thing because all these help to build her confidence and gives her the motivation to continue working hard to maintain her good results. On the contrary, if she is in a branded and ‘good’ school where virtually every student goes for extra tuitions and enrichment classes, she might not even have a chance to emerge as Top 3. Perhaps, she won’t have a chance to get selected to be a Trainee Prefect next year either, simply because there are just too many ‘model’' students’ competing for the chance.

I hope I don’t sound like sour grapes. Because it’s really not. At this point, what’s more important to me is the building of my kid’s self-esteem and self-image. Having gone through my Primary school education in a neighborhood school myself, I know that I had been given many great opportunities to excel because I was always among the top % in my cohort. That formed a great foundation for me since young, and definitely gave me the confidence to continue exceling even after I moved on to a good Secondary School. Certainly, in an environment that is not overly competitive, I feel that my kids can do better. Of course, competition is good, but when it gets overly intense especially when they are still so young, I don’t feel that it is a good thing.

I guess I would really know the impact of it all when Joey goes through PSLE. Still, I am confident that if she revises her work on a consistent basis and understands everything that she’s taught, she would have no problem doing well at PSLE and she would be no lesser than another student studying in a ‘branded’ Primary School. Even neighborhood schools can produce top students who are good not just academically, but in their character as well. At the end of the day, the student’s conscientiousness and self-responsibility towards excellence is still the main winning factor.

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