Like it or not, how well or poorly one does at PSLE has a direct effect on where the child will spend his subsequent four years of his education life. For some, the impact is as great as the next six years and perhaps even beyond, especially if the child is enrolled into the 6-year Integrated Programme (also known as IP) which commits him to six years after PSLE.
Since parents generally find it more challenging to influence their teenagers than when the kids were younger, it becomes all the more important that parents are comfortable with the school environment and culture their teenagers will be spending time in.
I began considering the various paths available to a Primary School leaver two years ago. While I know some parents would just aim for the best school that their child can get into, I care as much, if not more, about the culture and the fit with my child's personality and strengths.
In fact, I would be very hesitant to support him going to a school if I feel the school climate is a poor fit for my child's learning needs and personality and does not provide me with confidence that he will emerge with the values, skills and strengths that I consider important.
I have a clear idea of the kind of education I want for the boys, but what I was unclear of was how much the entire process of selecting Secondary Schools/Junior Colleges has evolved since the time I did my PSLE decades ago.
Hence, the need for the tedious process of researching during which I read up countless websites and forums, chatted with parents, students and educators both in person and online.
The boy was clueless. The dad did not know better.
In the end, I narrowed it all down to one school, months before the PSLE.
I visited the school during the open house alone. The son could not make it as he had to be at a competition. After spending 3 hours speaking to over 30 students whom I met that day, I was sufficiently impressed and convinced with my choice.
The rest was easy.
Since no one else in the family had any other ideas, my choice was THE choice. Though I offered a very democratic approach and allowed the boy to choose differently as long as he could convince me with reasons, he just took the path of least resistance and decided mummy-knows-best.
After one week of orientation in the new school, my boy seems happy enough.
We shall see.