Child Development

Choosing a Primary School: 4 Factors You Should Always Consider

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In a blink of an eye, the time has come for your sweet child to enter primary school. The school chosen will prove to be one of your best investments in life. While most parents commonly focus on factors such as their budget, the school’s location and their preferred type of school, they can often forget to enquire about these four other key areas in making a decision.

Never fear, #makchicmumsquad – we have these handily set out for you, in this article! And as a bonus, we’ve also included a list of important questions to ask during your scheduled tours of your shortlisted primary schools. Read on to find out more:

1. Preparation for Secondary School 

Yes, no doubt the primary school years are just about to begin, so why discuss secondary schooling now? That’s because the foundation set in your child’s primary years will make a huge difference in how they will approach their secondary years.

Find out what primary curriculum is being offered, and how it fits into the school’s purpose and core values. Does the syllabus encourage students to learn by observing, listening, exploring, experimenting and asking questions? Is it very academic-driven, or does it offer a more holistic, well-balanced education? How does the school equip the child for life outside of school?

Primary school is where your child will learn the basics of each subject. In this first stage of formal education, children will develop their literacy, numeracy, social and emotional skills, as well as rational and critical thinking. Any distinct talent is often nurtured in these years – as well as social and moral values. It’s therefore important for them to build a good foundation, which will make the transformatory years to their secondary schooling a lot less daunting.

Garden International School (GIS), which offers an international British curriculum, ensures that students benefit from a strong foundation from their Early Years Centre, onwards through to Primary and Secondary, focusing on a seamless transition between key stages. The school also challenges students to be global thinkers, adaptable life-long learners and well-rounded individuals in preparation for the real world.

2. Technology in the Classroom

Remember the days when we used to be in our classrooms with our books (and only books)? So much has changed today, with the classroom learning environment being more dynamic than ever before. Students are now learning in ways that greatly differ from the original design of the educational system.

Being exposed to various forms of digital tools and platforms, including Artificial Intelligence, is key to fit in the needs of modern digital learners – and it’s not uncommon to find primary level students using iPads and laptops for their everyday lessons. Different schools will have different technology policies in regards to the use of such devices, so remember to find out how much, and in what capacity technology will be incorporated into your child’s lesson plans.

Also ask: 

  • Does the school have digital libraries that allow access to research material and e-books?
  • Do teachers use a centralised platform to post information (such as homework) and for students to access this information?
  • Do students use digital textbooks, have the opportunity to design multimedia content or complete assignments online?

In 2015,  GIS was first recognised as an Apple Distinguished School, marking the start of their journey as a centre of innovation and educational excellence. Students here from Year 3 onwards are expected to use the iPad in school as part of their digital learning.

3. Co-Curricular Activities (CCA)

As a means to round up our kids’ holistic education, schools will usually offer a list of CCA, which students take outside of their schooling hours. Typically, schools will offer a mix of either free or paid CCA, and students are highly encouraged to engage in these activities. The benefits of CCA are huge, in that students get to explore their strengths and talents outside of the classroom setting, have an opportunity to learn something new, and of course – have fun!

Most schools will schedule a CCA day, where each CCA provider will showcase what the activity is about. Your child will be able to have a sneak peek of what to expect and will then be in a position to decide what they would like to join.

GIS, as part of their ‘Wider Learning’ opportunities, offers over 150 different activities and clubs across four key areas – namely, Global Citizenship, Creative, Community Service and Physical Performance – which include exciting activities such as coding, cooking, chess, football, swimming and many more. The school also vets all third party providers strictly before choosing the ones which can provide the best CCA experience for their students.     

4. Opportunities Beyond the School

Opportunities beyond the school encourage students to develop grit, resilience and better independence. This could be in the form of in-house school productions, representing the school in inter-school or international competitions, attending camps , community service programmes or discovery trips.

Exposing students to these experiences will give them a global perspective and allow them to engage with the broader world and community, while appreciating different cultures and environments. Competitions at primary level will give students an appetite for improvement and success, teach them how to remain resilient, and offer them a chance to utilise their strengths and skills.

Take for example, the Year 6 students from GIS, who by sheer determination and hard work recently designed, created and built  F1 model cars, which they raced in the exciting ‘F1 in Schools SEAIS (South East Asia International Schools) Competition’. The competition consisted of a global multi-disciplinary STEM challenge, where students used software to collaborate, design, analyse, manufacture, test, and then race miniature compressed air-powered cars.  

Primary students here were also given the opportunity to showcase their artistic talents in music and drama when they successfully put up a production of Shrek The Musical Jr. in June 2023. Students in Year 1 and Year 2 can also take part in the unique ‘Jungle School’ programme, which gives kids the chance to build key skills and learn about nature in a safe jungle setting.

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With these considerations in mind (and so much more in our checklist of questions to ask!), don’t forget to schedule a school tour to find out more about your shortlisted schools. Take your kids along as well, and get their feelings and opinions on the matter before deciding.

Good luck, #makchicmumsquad!

This is a sponsored post by Garden International School (GIS).

Visit GIS’ Main Campus Open Day on 12th October 2023 to find out more about their Primary school. A 100% waiver of the application fee in the sum of RM1,300 will be granted to those who sign up during the Open Day.

To arrange your personalised tour of GIS’ Main Campus, contact their friendly Admissions Team, or visit their website

Many moons ago, Hema was a journalist in bustling KL, enjoyed exploring Malaysia as a travel writer, worked for an airline to get cheap flights (!) and is currently regaining her sanity after having kids. She enjoys bugging her husband to find out if her cooking is nice enough and loves to share her recipes on her website -  The Sudden Cook.