A new school, A new start

Posted by ~Summer~ on January 16, 2018
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We made a huge decision last year when we decided to let Angel transfer to a new school once she starts her Primary 3 journey in 2018. It wasn't something I had planned on doing if you were to ask me a couple of years ago; but it is something I felt like I had to do now - for the betterment of everyone.


I have to give you the background information before I let you know why we made this choice. Nearing the end of her Primary 1 year, we already knew we were going to move and so I had put her on a waitlist in a school which will be within a walking distance from our new house. As you know, I'm all about proximity and it is my top criteria when it comes to choosing a primary school (read more of my tips here).

However, things came to a halt there as there were no vacancies and then, P2 year started for her in her previous school and she joined dance as an CCA, had swimming classes for a term, was nominated to become a student leader, aced all her quizzes and exams, and basically settled down so well with her classmates and teachers that she was absolutely loving every day of school. In fact, she had perfect attendance the entire year, other than the one day where we asked for permission to let her skip school to attend a navy family event. This school, despite being a neighbourhood school that did not require balloting and was only 10 years of age, impressed us in more ways than one and I was happy to send all my kids to this school. Why not? It was only a 10-minute walk from where we stayed previously and it was a breeze sending her to and fro school.

That was.... until we reached the minimum occupation period, the baby boy became a toddler who needed more space, the girls were cramped in their bedroom which also functioned as a storeroom, and we realised we needed to move on and were on the hunt for the ideal home which would suit our family needs best.

Within a few months, we were so lucky as to have found this home which seemed like our best bet so far. Things moved on quickly from there - the signing of papers, the appointments with HDB, the renovation, the making of our happy home (go on a house tour here and read all about the making of), the changing of pre-school for the little sister - and we moved into our new house in Jan 2017.

With so many changes in our lives and a hubby who just got promoted and was working into midnight nearly every day, I tried my best to keep up with our routine and thus, Angel remained in her school and a part of me had assumed that maybe this would be it, we would just adapt and get used to travelling to and fro as such.


Okay, what travelling?

Let's see. In the morning, she would have to leave home by 7am so that she can reach school by 7:40am. On most days, the hubby would drive her to school and when he couldn't, we had no choice but to get my father-in-law to help (fyi I never like to depend on others for anything in life which explains my strong will in surviving as a SAHM of three without a helper) because I still had to fetch the sister to her preschool by 8am.

As for coming home, even though we opted for the big girl to take the school bus back home, the way it works for her previous school was that there would be NO school bus service every time the child had to stay back - be it for CCA, enrichment classes or any other school activity. Now, her dance practice took place twice a week and she had swimming classes with the school on some days too. That meant.... I had to pick her up myself AT LEAST twice a week. For the whole year.

How long does it take us to travel there by public transport? We have to walk to the train station, switch trains, then walk again to her school - which took us around 40 minutes. One way. If I were to Grab, it would take me just 10-15 minutes but I'd much prefer to go via public transport and not waste money on cabs if I had the choice. Her dismissal timing would be at either 4pm or 4:30pm on CCA days, which means I HAD to wake the younger siblings right smack in the middle of their afternoon naps - that was the most regretful part - and then travel down to her school to pick her. Yes, I can't possibly leave them at home and I wasn't ready to let my P2 girl travel home on trains by herself yet. We would get home at 5-ish and I would need to rush to make dinner. Sometimes I would opt to dine outside on our way back and yes, I am quite the expert already at dining out with three young kids (read my 15 tips here) because having to solo parent on most weekdays, I don't really get a choice.

It was hard, but we survived that for a whole year. A whole year of spending so much time to commute and disrupting naps and wasting money on school buses and having to wake up earlier than if the school was as near to us as it used to be. Still, seeing how much she enjoyed school and had a passion for learning was my greatest motivation to keep going.


Then, we got a call from her new school to say that there would be vacancies at Primary 3 and she was offered one of the slots. It was a surprise to me because I had assumed that after a year of being in the waitlist, chances would be very slim. The hubby and I had a talk about it and while we both supported the idea of transferring (you have no idea how much he dreads the traffic jams when sending the girl to school because it makes him late for work), we wanted to respect her choice and her preferences. I didn't take up the offer immediately but told them to give us some time to think as I wanted to consult the girl first and not disregard her voice in this matter. Of course, her first reaction was NOPE, I don't want to change. But this girl, I tell ya, she is amazing in more ways than one and she often displays maturity which is beyond her age.

Throughout the course of a week, we had a few discussions and we listed the pros and cons for her. She started to be more open to the idea and in fact gave me this reply one night "Mummy, let me go and think about it." Every time she asked us what WE wanted for her, I assured her that what we wanted was not as important as what she wanted and I made sure that I listened to all her concerns. A friend of ours, who is a vice-principal, told me that he thought we were kind and patient because if it were him, he would have just taken up the transfer offer and told his daughter straightforwardly that she IS going to change to another school. He also assured me that kids of this age are very adaptable and since we were going to a new school of similar age and similar philosophies, she would settle down very quickly.

When our mature firstborn gave us the green light and said she was ready to accept the changes and move to a new school, things progressed swiftly from there. I broke the news to her classmates and teachers, held a farewell party for her, printed out autograph book pages for her friends to fill up so that she could have a form of closure. I also did all the paperwork, ran to and fro the schools to settle all the documents transfer and the end of last year, she was officially transferred and I did all the usual preparation - get the school uniforms, buy the books and stationery, wrap the books, iron the name tags and so on. How exciting, right? A new school, a new start for all of us.

All excited to go back to school again, though we love the school holidays a lot since we get to spend 24/7 together.

For those of you who might be looking at transferring your child too, here's a quick overview of the procedure.


If you have shifted and would like to transfer your child to a school nearer to your new residence, you can do so online via STEPS-IS here. However, you might not be guaranteed a place in your first choice of school so I would recommend that you do it the manual way, like what we did, instead.

1) Visit the school you would like to transfer your child to and fill up the necessary form for request of student transfer. You will be put on a wait list until further notice.

2) When there is a vacancy and the new school calls you up (in our case, it took over a year), you will need to confirm if you wish to take up the slot. Once you decide to, go down to the new school to obtain the acceptance form which has been endorsed by their principal.

3) Take the acceptance form back to your current school and break the news at the General Office that you are transferring your child to another school. It is best to withdraw only when you have confirmed a place in the new school. The principal, or head of admin, will have to endorse accordingly and you are required to get back all the necessary documents (those that were done at P1 registration) and your child's report book - which might take slightly longer if exams are just over.

4) Submit the form, report book and all the documents to the new school and you are more or less done! What's left to do is to buy the new books for the new year, get the new school uniforms, orientate your child and help him/her settle down in the new environment when school starts.

On the last day of the first week of school, it was raining when we made our way back home after picking up the big girl. Which was also the last time we did that.


Two weeks into the new school year, she has settled down well and is showing her usual bubbly self who loves to read, loves school, loves making new friends and loves to learn. Yippee! What I love most is all the good things that come with our new routine, namely:

- The girls wake at around 6:45am, the elder sister usually sets her own alarm and wakes on her own, which is something she has done since she was in P2. I wake the little sister and one of the best things that can happen when you wake up in the morning is to have breakfast with your sibling, which was something they could never do previously because the elder sister had to rush to travel to her school.

- We all get ready to head out by 7:25am (actually we can leave at 7:30am and we will still be in time) and I bring ALL three kids with me. Yes, just me because the hubby needs to go to work. We walk the eldest to school, then send the middle, and finally I bring the youngest with me to breakfast and grocery shopping. All we need to do is.... walk! No more needing to take the bus, travel by train or depend on the public transport, woohoo!

- I get to spend a couple of hours at home with the boy and I make lunch too, then at 11:30am we head out again to fetch the little sister from her preschool. Yes, she only goes for 3.5 hours of school even at K2 level. We have lunch at home, or sometimes at the food court if I don't cook, the two younger ones play together for a while and then I make them go take their naps.

- At around 2pm, the big sister comes home and she does it all by HERSELF! By the way, she got into the same excellence CCA as she was in previously, which I think is very important in helping her to look forward to the new school too. This girl ah, I intended to pick her from school the whole of the first week before letting her try coming home herself and on the second day, she already voiced out that she could do it and it was okay if I stayed home with the younger ones. What??! Yes, that's my independent, wise and sensible child who reminds me so much of myself (I started walking home at Primary 1 and crossing road junctions on my own, so says my mum). Anyway, we still picked her from school the first week and the younger siblings were happy to get to scoot to her school on sunny days and carry umbrellas on rainy ones. Their nap times got delayed with all the going in and out of the house but I really wanted to at least be a good mum for a week? Haha.

- Now, the big girl brings her own umbrella so that she can come home herself, be it rain or shine. She did so for the whole of second week and I think in such matters, practice makes perfect and she will only get more confident as time passes. Yes, I've reminded her umpteen times to be careful on the road (she has to cross a small road, a crossroad junction with traffic lights and two zebra crossings to get home) and so far, I know this girl is really cautious so it's time to let go and give her the opportunity to try. After all, when she took the school bus back last year at Primary 2, I also let her walk to the carpark and come up the elevator on her own already.

- She gets to eat a hot lunch at home because I will get it ready on the dining table for her. When she finishes, she even manages to take a quick nap. Yes, no more time wasted on travelling means more time to rest, more time to eat, more time to spend with her siblings and more time to be with me. That is why I will always prefer to go to a school nearby, it truly makes a huge difference!

 A new ergonomic school bag from MoonRocks, thanks for giving the girl a great start

As for me, I feel thankful that we are getting into the swing of things, the new routine seems to be serving us well and that will be the way it goes for the next 10 years of my life. Yup, I have two more kids who have yet to go to primary school but boy am I glad they are all in good hands, thanks to the eldest sister who made the leap, and we will all be able to walk to school from now on. At least, till they reach secondary school which is too far for me to think about right now.

Thank you, my dear Angel, for being my brave, sensible one and for being so mature in handling this matter. Mummy is so proud of you and glad to see that you are loving your new school too! I hope you will be happy every day and never for a moment feel that you have expectations to live up to, but instead be able to shine in your own ways, forge strong friendships and bonds, embrace every opportunity to learn and find joy in everything you do.


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