Friday, July 10, 2015

Prepping for P1: Our School Registration Experience

We went through our first hurdle for Lil Pumpkin's primary school journey on Tuesday when we had to register her for Primary 1 {P1}.

In Singapore, children who will turn 7 before 2 Jan of the following year must be registered in the Singapore Primary One Registration Exercise of the current year. The Registration Exercise is divided into 7 phases with the earlier phases giving priority to students who are already affiliated to the schools because of their parents or siblings. You can read more about the different registration phases here. We registered under 2A(1) as parents who are alumni of the school.

Even when I was a young doe-eyed girl dreaming about love, and my future marriage & kids, I knew that if I had a daughter, I wanted her to go to my alma mater. At that time, I wasn't thinking so far ahead that if she got into my school, which many would deem as a "good school", it would help her advance better in life. It wasn't about being "strategic" to make sure that she could in turn get into our affiliated secondary school, then junior college and in turn have a better chance at university.

It was more because I love my alma mater and wanted my future daughter{s} to have the same happy experience I had growing up in school too. It was about the memories of learning from my dedicated teachers, the fun times I had with my friends in class, at camps and playing during recess, the opportunity to grow closer to God, and the strong ties I formed with all my "sisters" in school... even up to this day.

And those feelings haven't changed since I was a young girl. I want Lil Pumpkin to be part of that strong sisterhood, close-knit family, and proud tradition. My mum gave me this precious gift of being educated there, and I want to pass on this gift to Lil Pumpkin. She's been back a few times for various occasions to see her {hopefully} future school {pic above is from her first visit when she was 2 years old} and likes it too.

I knew that there have been many parents who have been calling on the Ministry of Education {MOE} to review the P1 registration exercise and to call away with the priority rule for those with alumni, parent volunteers, church and clan connections. I understand their concerns and where they are coming from but as someone who wants to use my alumni ties to get Lil Pumpkin into my alma mater, it was quite disconcerting. I couldn't help but feel - why do people find it so wrong to want to send our kids back to the school where we came from and love??? Why can't we pass on that tradition to our children and let them experience the same care we had from our old school we helped to build??

Anyway for 6 years I hoped and prayed hard that there won't be any changes to the system and in 2013, MOE announced that 40 places in every school should be set aside for children without family connections, resulting in fewer places for the earlier phases.

Last year, 4 primary schools had to ballot for the first time in 2 decades in the Phase 2A(2), the phase allocated for children whose parents are former students {but not alumni association members} of the schools they are applying for. That certainly gave me a jolt as it hit pretty close to home.

There was a little fear that Lil Pumpkin wouldn't get in, but there was no Plan B. I couldn't really imagine her not being in my alma mater!! Un-un-un-un-unbelievable~

In any case, we prepared as best as we could and got all our required documents and photocopies ready at least a month early. Actually my mum passed me my PSLE cert and old report book wayyyyyy in advance like 1-2 years back?? haha. She was as nervous as I was!!

The night before Registration Day the boy went through at least 3 times all our required documents and photocopies, and even packed in our Marriage Cert just in case. You wouldn't need that though, unless you are separated or divorced from your spouse.

I could not sleep much that night and kept tossing and turning. On Registration Day, we went bright and early to my alma mater to register and reached about 8.30am. Even though it was just half an hour since registration opened, we were already #17 in queue!

Since the boy and I took leave, we also brought along Lil Pumpkin for the experience {my parents brought me for my P1 registration too} and my mum also surprised us by coming down to support us

Everything went by quickly since we had all the documents were neatly sorted so the admin clerk just had to do a quick check and we finished our registration within 10 minutes from the time our number was called. All in all, it took just about 30 minutes from the start.

After that we went to my old canteen to have some breakfast! There were some changes, but most of the old vendors were still there... even the red bowl auntie!!! How nostalgic~

We left the school to run some errands and visit the old mosaic Clock Playground in Bishan. In the afternoon, I heard from some fellow parents that results would be posted at 7pm that very night so from 7pm, I refreshed the MOE School Vacancy by Phases page almost every minute to check.

About 8pm, the page was finally updated with the number of students registered for Phase 2(A)1 and since the number of students registered for my alma mater was less than the number of vacancies available for that phase, that meant that Lil Pumpkin was in!! Well.. I was 99% certain and left 1% in case sh*t happened.

The official results on balloting status came out yesterday and yes, it was confirmed that Lil Pumpkin was going to be part of my alma mater since we didn't need to ballot. Wooohoooo!!! ・( ̄∀ ̄)・:*:

I was absolutely relieved and cried tears of joy!!! The boy thought that I was crazy for crying since Lil Pumpkin was accepted but you know... it was quite stressful what with all the waiting and worrying that the dream I held in my heart for nearly 20 years would be dashed. 

Nowadays, even as a school alumni member, it does not guarantee you a spot in your alma mater and this year, one of the schools {CHIJ St. Nicholas} has to conduct balloting at Phase 2A(1) for the first time in history since this system started, because they were oversubscribed. I suspect this will happen more frequently as the years go by.

Whatever it is, I'm just really thrilled for Lil Pumpkin and am very excited for her to go to primary school. Yes, I still have the parenting jitters on whether she is ready or not to cope with the higher academic demands and responsibility of being primary school kid, but I have comfort in knowing that she is on familiar grounds {with some familiar friends!} and will have my nurturing alma mater to care and support her in her schooling days Mummy is really, really happy for you my dear Lil Pumpkin!! Is it too early to want to buy your school uniform next week?? :P

Are you taking part in P1 registration this year or 
do you already have kids in primary school?
How was your experience in choosing the schools and registering?

P.S. I can only imagine how much more stressful it is for parents who have to register their kids in the later phases and I sincerely wish you all the best in being successful in the schools you've chosen for your children. Good luck and 頑張って!! (^д^)凸

P.P.S. No matter which school our kids attend, we must still buy for them the same school supplies and resources. Here's a list of 20 Things to Buy For Kids Entering Primary 1 from the parents, for other parents to help you relieve the stress of that!

For more of  Lil Pumpkin's Primary School journey:

For tips on P1 preparation:
Good deal to share:



An Apel a Day said...

How fun! It's always fun watching them grow and switch schools. She's going to learn so much!

We call it preschool, and elementary school here. Then it's middle school (if it's 7 & 8th grade), or Jr. High (if it's 6, 7th, and 8th grade). After that it's high school. My boys are in 2nd and 3rd grade in elementary school.

nutcase said...

We are registering our firstborn in hubby's alma mater next Monday. However, we are still undecided over which school to send her to. Either alma mater which means half an hour bus ride or nearby school a 10mins walk away. Dilemma!

Anonymous said...

agree with you on the statement why so wrong for us to send our kids back to our alam mater. We dont send back purely its a branded school but also the teachers, enviroment and also the joy of seeing then wearing our school uniform. I had sleepless night the day before registration too.. Thank god we dont need to go under balloting. Congrats to you too!

Alison Dennison (Roy) said...

That is so great, that you have confirmation she is into your school. It must be such a relief! Where I live, it is quite difficult to secure kindergarten places (at 3 and 4 years old) and I remember the angst I experienced in trying to get my youngest daughter into the school I wanted her to go to. When things work out, you breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Ai Sakura said...

Alissa: Yes fun and exciting! I'm looking forward to her starting this new chapter of her life too :)

nutcase: 30 mins, or more, is prob the time we'll take to reach her sch too haha. It's probably good to visit both schools to have a feel if you are in a dilemma. Good luck on your decision!

Anon: Thanks and congrats to you too!! Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing Lil Pumpkin in her new uniform!

Theresa Mahoney said...

I imagine that must be so stressful! Here, we go to the school district we live in, unless we want to pay a small fortune to send our kids to private school. I'd rather spend money on a good college education over primary, so we stick with the public schools for now.

Congrats to Lil' Pumpkin!! I'm sure she will do GREAT!

Cherry said...

Hooray! I share your joy as a parent. It will take another 2 yrs for me to go through P1 registration again. I shall relax a bit for now. :D

EssentiallyJess said...

Wow! I had no idea how the education system worked there! That's so exciting for all of you. I'm glad she got in. xx

Mum's calling said...

I know right, that special love and bond we have with our alma mater. Congrats on this almost stress free milestone!

mail4rosey said...

Nostalgic visits are awesome. I would NOT want my kids to go to my alma mater, but I love that you had such a great experience/memories with yours!

Masshole Mommy said...

Here, we register the kids for kindergarten and then that's it. Once they are in the school system, they are in.

~Summer~ said...

Yay for Lil Pumpkin! We are waiting to register for Phase 2C since our alma maters are either too far or closed down. Haha. Going to be practical and choosing for a neighbourhood school that is as close to our house as possible (since we didn't do PV or have any church/clan affliation). Good that yours is settled and nearly stress free! I can imagine you shedding those tears of joy though!! :) hugs!

Elaine73 said...

I totally understand what u are going through and my boy is only a baby! Im totally stressed already coz my primary school isnt really good + they moved and hubby's school is too far away from home. Boo~ :(

Stacy said...

Woo that's a lot of emotion there! Glad it was happily resolved!

I escape this because I don't live in my hometown any more and no way my girl can go back to my alma mater.

Sweetday said...

Happy for Lil Pumpkin and I can imagine your joy! We are waiting for Phrase 2C. It would be a nearby neighbourhood school. :) And yes, your list of 20 things to buy for P1 children is pretty practical!

Grace said...

I totally understand the nerves you would've been going through while waiting for Lil Pumpkin's acceptance. And I agree! It should be a natural choice that she got in. So glad she did!! Exciting times ahead!! Xxx

Indah Nuria Savitri said...

Pumpkin will certainly love it...My Obi will be a the kindergarten this September..Big kids school, they say :). She was a bit sad leaving her lovely friends at her Pre-K but I know she'll be excited to meet more new friends here...and going to the same school with her big bro :)