Ask Sandra Q&A

Parents can view the list of primary schools in any specific area on the Ministry of Education's website.
Parents can view the list of primary schools in any specific area on the Ministry of Education's website.ST FILE PHOTO

Q: I want to register my child in a top primary school, but my husband feels that our son may be better off in a neighbourhood school, because he has heard of the "big fish little pond" effect. How real is the effect?

A: The "big fish, little pond effect" suggests that children may actually do better in a less popular - or what researchers term a "less selective" - school.

Research into that effect suggests parents should focus on getting their child into a school that will boost his confidence in his academic ability. Children are likely to accomplish more, be more persistent and have higher aspirations if they feel competent in what they do, are confident and feel positively about themselves.

A child's confidence depends not only on his own accomplishments but also on the relative accomplishments of his classmates and schoolmates.

This means children who view themselves as of low or average ability will get a confidence booster if they attend an average-performance school. The reverse is likely to be the case in a high-achieving school.

Parents should think about whether their child would thrive in a competitive environment or feel stressed out and anxious.

Every year, some parents ask for my advice on transfers, because their children are suffering from what psychologists describe as "school refusal".

Such children may complain of headaches or stomach aches just before it is time to leave for school.

Q: I have just moved to Ang Mo Kio. How do I find out which schools are within 1 km and 2km of my home?

A: You can view the list of primary schools in Ang Mo Kio on the Ministry of Education's Primary 1 registration website.

Parents can also check the home-school distance category from the OneMap SchoolQuery Service managed by the Singapore Land Authority, or check with the schools directly.

  • E-mail your questions to Specify Ask Sandra as the subject and include your name, age, gender and contact details.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2015, with the headline 'Ask Sandra'. Print Edition | Subscribe