Primary One, Here We Come

Yesterday we reached a huge watershed – Athos registered for primary school.

Primary school! The words bring back a flood of memories – of classrooms and chalkboards, friends and enemies, teachers and homework, school fields and tuckshops. There were days I loved school, days when I hated it, and days when I didn’t have much energy left to feel anything.

As we made our way to register, I wondered how Athos would take to school.

For those unfamiliar with Singapore’s education system, primary school registration is divided broadly into three phases:

  • Phase 1 – kids with a sibling already in the school of choice. These kids are automatically admitted.
  • Phase 2A – kids whose parents are alumni of the school of choice. These kids are almost always admitted.
  • Phase 2B – kids whose parents have some sort of affiliation with the school e.g. through a religious or community organisation, or through volunteer work with the school. For popular schools, places sometimes have to be balloted, causing great stress to the parents involved.
  • Phase 2C – all other kids
  • Phase 3 – non-Singaporean kids

Full details here for the information-hungry.

I’ve never been one to think too far ahead, so when the time came, I was thankful that we had the ready option of registering Athos at Pilgrim Dad’s alma mater.

Still, when we got to the school at about 8.30am, I felt like crying. The place felt big and unfamiliar, a jumble of buildings and hallways and staircases and rooms. If it felt that way to me, I could only imagine how it would feel to a little boy.

We turned a corner and found ourselves in the registration room. It turned out to be the school’s library, which had a salutary effect on this bookworm. We went through some documents, filled up a form, and while we waited for a confirmation, I walked over to one of the bookshelves.

The first book that caught my eye was Watership Down, which lifted my spirits. Before I could flip through too many pages, we were told our application had gone through – Singapore-style efficiency!

Pilgrim Dad and I decided to make our way to the school tuckshop for breakfast. As we sat there sampling the food, all the recess-time memories came flooding in. I remember how my friends and I would get different kinds of drinks and mix them up to create new flavours. Somehow Coke and Pepsi didn’t figure very much back then, and instead we had Sinalco, Kickapoo, Sarsi and Fanta Grape. And how we would fit in a quick game of five stones, zero-point and catching. Sometimes we would make trips to the school bookshop to use up our allowances on cute erasers and mechanical pencils. And then after recess, we had to squat by the drains and brush our teeth. Many of us used Lion toothpaste, and a friend of mine liked the orange-flavoured one so much that she would eat some before brushing.

School. And it starts for Athos next year. And for the Pilgrim parents too.

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4 responses to “Primary One, Here We Come

  1. I can’t believe how fast he has grown – it makes me feel my age! But I am very proud of my dear nephew Athos – he is the best choice to spearhead school-going and he can mentor Porthos and Aramis i.e. if they’ll cooperate with him 🙂 – am praying for a smooth and easy transition for dear Athos.

  2. I don’t know about Porthos and Aramis – I feel I need a mentor! Thanks for praying. The boys are blessed to have an auntie like you.

  3. I can’t believe I felt emotional reading this post. I could picture myself going through the same emotions when my four yo reaches that age. Not looking forward to it. Kids grow up so quickly.

  4. Mommyfied, they grow up fast indeed. Check back here in Jan. I’m sure I’ll be a riot of emotions then…..

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