The journey is nearly at an end for parents whose children are taking the PSLE this year. If you are among these PSLE parents, there will hardly be any time for you to catch your breath as you will have to turn your attention immediately to the next step in your child’s education: choosing the secondary school best suited for him or her.
The S1 Internet System (S1-IS), which you will use to submit your choices, opens on the same day that results are released. You will then have seven days to make up your mind for you and your child’s six choices of school, and then wait all over again for another month until December for the posting results.
But choosing the right school need not be an overly stressful process, and here are some key considerations to keep in mind from us at The Learning Lab as the both of you make your decisions.
The results your child eventually obtained will loom large, as the posting process is based on PSLE score according to the order of their school choices and vacancies at the selected schools. Students with higher PSLE scores will be considered first for vacancies in their chosen schools.
But while you might be inclined to choose the best school that your child’s score qualifies him or her for, it is also important to remember that there are more dimensions to your choice than a score can reflect.
For example, would your child do better in the O-Level system, or in the Integrated Programme? There is really no way to tell from a score alone.
Other practical considerations will also come into the picture, such as how far away the school is. The score may be what the both of you have been working towards for the bulk of the year, but be careful of giving it too much weight when thinking through your decision.
As parents you want nothing but the best for your child, but that should not lead you to forget that choosing a school is your child’s decision too, and an important one at that.
Your child is at a critical juncture of development — not just academically but also emotionally — and will have his or her own ideas of where they want to go and why. You should take the time to sit down with them and seriously discuss these ideas, as well as explain the rationale behind your choices.
You may well discover that your child has been thinking about their choice of school from an angle that you had not considered.
And if they do not have any ideas or preferences, that can also be a good opportunity to probe further and find out why. Perhaps they are apprehensive about secondary school in general and unsure of what to expect, or are worrying that you might get upset if they voice an opinion that runs contrary to yours.
You may find that you are able to allay some of their concerns even before the new school year starts, and also establish a middle ground between both of your expectations that can help prevent further conflict down the road.
The school best suited for your child will also offer him or her multiple avenues of development beyond academics, whether through CCAs, school culture or other specialised opportunities.
For example, you might want to evaluate the pros and cons of choosing an all-boys or all-girls school compared to a co-ed one. Or take Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools, which would provide a radically different learning environment for your child, one that is steeped in the Chinese language and culture.
Some schools will have a reputation for being particularly strong in certain disciplines, sports or cultural groups that your child might not know about, and which could influence what he or she thinks.
You may also have an eye on an affiliated school, which can offer some familiarity and continuity in terms of school culture when your child is making the transition between primary and secondary school. Listing the affiliated school as the first choice when applying will give your child priority, although it does not guarantee admission, the Ministry of Education says.
So do spend the week you have to decide thinking about your child’s strengths, interests and talents, and how what a school has to offer can build on those and help your child bloom. MOE’s website has a helpful school finder tool that gives an overview of everything you should be thinking about and narrows down the options based on your preferences.
Lastly, remember to use all six options even if you are only seriously considering three or four schools. This is to avoid having your child posted to the nearest available school in the event that he or she does not get accepted into any of their chosen schools.
Choosing the secondary school that is best suited for your child is the important first step in an exciting new journey that will extend through at least the next four years. By making an informed choice now you are setting your child up for their best possible future.
We believe that the sooner and faster your child comfortably assimilates into the new routines and expectations of secondary school life, the easier it is for your child to thrive in this new academic journey that he or she is about to embark on.
At The Learning Lab, we want to walk that journey step by step with you and your child. As educators, this means uplifting your child’s academic and personal growth through a multi-faceted support system that imparts the requisite skills, mindset and attitude to approach any challenges that both school and life puts in their way.
Our Secondary 1 programmes will help your child get a head start on adjusting to the new curriculum and all the other changes secondary school life will bring.
Click here to find out more about our Secondary 1 curriculum.
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