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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shopping for Schools

My sister tells me that it is important to visit a few schools near my housing area before deciding on which school to register. With that in mind, I went to visit two schools yesterday a Chinese primary school and a Kebangsaan primary school.

The Chinese school had quite good facilities. It looked established. I saw some students having brass band practise. They had a nice big field with a basketball court, a big school hall which housed 8 badminton courts and a nice airy canteen. Very nice. The school hours is from 7.25am till 1.25pm and the school offers optional after school tuition up to 3.30pm. (I am told by everyone that after school tuition is necessary if sending to Chinese school especially if you don't speak Mandarin at home). I was also told by those parents who sent their kids to Chinese school that they pushed their kids really, really hard for the first six years. There are pros and cons I suppose. The child would probably benefit from a disciplined environment and being pushed to become more competitive so they would learn some survical skills but is it really that necessary at such a young age?

The Kebangsaan school didn't have as nice a premise as the Chinese school one but at least it didn't give me the shock that the first school I visited did. (where the children had to sit on the floor to eat during recess because there weren't enough seats at the canteen). In the first one there was no school hall or field. This one did.

According to the Malay Standard One school teacher, this school offers compulsory Chinese lessons as part of its syllabus and daily subjects. Its supposed to be a pioneer project (starting this year) and if successful will be offered in Std 2 subsequently. At the moment its only being offered to Std 1 pupils and from Std 2 onwards you'd have to take it as an extra POL subject which is being offered once a week on Fridays.

This is an interesting development. I think its a good thing that may encourage some Chinese parents to return to the Kebangsaan schools.

I still haven't made up my mind yet but I feel that it has been a fruitful visit and I am quite pleased with both schools I visited compared to the first one which made me lose confidence in Kebangsaan school.

I would like my kid to pick up a third language but at the same time I am worried that I cannot converse with the teachers and work closely with them or help and support my child when she needs help with schoolwork. My sister also warned me that I would be worried about their deteriorating level of English and whether they would be able to catch up in their Bahasa Malaysia by the time they move to secondary school as she did with her children.

I am really torn. I have heard from many quarters that the style of learning at Chinese schools is very memory orientated and one teacher of 17 years said she is fed up of checking the essays of those with the Chinese School background because they lack creativity. I am also worried about the timing. Is it necessary for a young child to learn and do so much homework from 7.25am till 3.30pm daily including Fridays (At the Kebangsaan school they are let off earlier on Fridays). By the time they get home from school, they will have time for little else accept a meal, a rest, more homework and sleep. What about their other areas of development. Where would they have time to take up some gym or music or other things for example?

Decisions. Decisions. Worry. Worry. Some might say that its only primary school. Why worry so much? However primary school though it may be, its the foundation that you are going to set for your child so worry you should and try to make the right decision.

Related posts:
Shopping for Schools Cont.
Chinese School, Kebangsaan School or Private School

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