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Finding a School in Singapore - Family Story

By ITS Education Asia

school placements Singapore

When we arrived in Singapore, Henry, our eldest child, was 8 months old. Having never been through the process of choosing a school I was definitely “green”. I wish I knew then what I know now – that all schools are phenomenal at writing a brochure that promises our children a happy, successful and fulfilling life; and that a secret weapon exists when choosing schools. That secret weapon is known as an educational consultant. They are people who are armed with local knowledge about the schools in your area, the sort of knowledge that you normally only learn of after being in the school for a while – the pitfalls and the pluses.

We eventually waitlisted Henry at 2 of what were generally acknowledged to be the best International schools in Singapore, and they seemed to be the most closely aligned with our family’s ‘ethos’. When we were accepted into our first choice (merely months before he was due to start mind you), we couldn’t believe our luck. But, I also felt some trepidation at the rather ‘grown up’ curriculum, uniform and hours that 4-year-old Henry would be keeping. When I then saw the school grounds for the first time (it had previously been under construction) my fear gave way to hope and excitement. The facilities made me want to go back to school!! (no small feat – I assure you).

Initially Henry seemed to settle in well, my husband and I were astounded at his development and learning (he is one of those kids who LOVES to learn). But then, after a few months, we noticed how exhausted he was – all the time. We spoke to the school, but they offered little support. Then another month later, it started. Henry began looking for reasons why he couldn’t go to school that day. We tried everything, talking and reasoning with him, cajoling him, even shameless bribes! Nothing could bring about a change in our son who a few months ago (in his old school) was wanting to go to school on Saturdays and Sundays! We talked to the school again – still no support, other than to blame me for being too clingy. Seriously?? Most fellow parents said to wait it out rather than losing our seat in such an ‘it’ school – after all, it was the ‘best’, so what if Henry wasn’t really happy right now??

By then I had met my good friend Sarah Bowler, an educational consultant. She listened to my concerns, and emphasised that schools are not a ‘one size fits all’, and she felt that she knew the perfect school for both Henry and our family. Oddly enough this was a small but expanding school, and yet the school consistently hires the highest quality of teaching staff and assistants – all of the teachers hold either Masters or Diplomas of education. They won’t even discuss much about the school without you first looking for yourself, preferring the students/families, classrooms and teachers to do the talking. I went back the following day with Henry. It took him about 90 seconds to confirm what I suspected – this was to be his new school.

At his new school, the children learn by experience, and as the word educate means (drawing from it’s Latin roots) they ‘draw out’ knowledge from within the children. This allows the children to develop the necessary fundamentals of self- worth/esteem, confidence and the ability to think/question for themselves. In short, his the school is actually doing what so many others promise.
Henry is happy again, happier than ever. We’ve learnt that the ‘biggest and best’, may not be regardless of what they, or mass consensus, says. And in a country where an inordinate amount of pressure is placed on young children to excel, Henry is truly forging ahead – now we’ve got requests for extra maths and mandarin classes.

Dulwich College Singapore

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

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