Wednesday, 1 July 2015

All schools are good schools?

Next week, we'll be embracing the milestone of registering Jazz for P1. For being an advantage point in phase 2A, we're pretty much cool about it. Though with a slight chance of being balloted out, I reckon it's a breezier phase than 2C.

We had very much wanted to apply in a 2B phase, but got turned down for applying to parent volunteer (PV) in a school within 2km, 2 years ago. 

I need to confess, I'm not very much close of a proximity to our 2A choice, but we aren't at 2 extreme ends of the Island too. It's not an easy decision, but I am probably not in sync with what government affirms that all schools are good schools. In my view, some schools are better.

So yeap, I've got an advantage to a school that's not too near, but looking very attractive. I know I've compromised distance, but I like the contained risk this phase gives us.

Then I will further confess, my alma mater is a girls' school. Jare will be another whole new challenge for us. We did make a little sound decision in here. Jazz doesn't do enrichment out of home, and doesn't have a strong foothold in academics. But I feel that my alma mater will give Jazz good opportunities to stretch her abilities in terms of academics and programmes.

I'm not sure if my alma mater is an elite school, but it is rather popular. I don't exactly know how parents define elite now, since MOE decided to stop announcing where top students came from.

In my alma mater, where I spent of big part of my childhood growing up, I've been very grateful to my then teachers and principal who made memorable footprints in my life. I know decades have past, and what needs to change has to change. I only hope Jazz will enjoy the best of her school days in there.

Work hard and play hard.

Most of our friends or stories we know aren't exactly calm about enrollment. If they aren't in the 2A phase, they are probably parent volunteering in schools, with a handful who joins clan and being a community leader, and several who would buy home near a potential school. The various ways that would give them a better footing to the school they set heart in. If all schools are affirmly good schools, this trend would dissolve.

Good on those who've got an attractive alma mater close to home and even more cool for those who eye a school nearby with no balloting history. We would love to be in an attractive school that's close to home as well. But set no heart within the schools near us, other than the school which rejected our PV. I didn't anticipate that. I ran out of time and was prompted to fall on plan 2A, the almost stress free phase that will save us from luck struggles. Vying for a seat in 2B or 2C isn't exactly like lucky draw, where it's easier to stay cool for not bagging anything.

I then begin to marvel at how MOE give tips on choosing a school base on:
  • Distance and
  • What programme your child is interested in?

Distance - Definitely a bonus if 2A is near my home. If not, even if there's an attractive school just next to me, do I get a good chance in? Distance is a definitely a good selection criteria, but it isn't gonna give you any good chance to the popular schools near you among many others within 1km. Staying within 1km is an advantage, but still, a risk of balloting. I will say, go for it, but manage expectations. I know how some people dislike playing with chances. PV together with the advantage of staying within 1km will definitely up their chances. 

Some areas, just don't have attractive schools within 1km. And if parents were to look beyond 1km, there's only diminishing hope. It's our unique identity when we say Singaporeans shift to get a better footing into primary schools.

And of course, if you are easy and alright with ANY schools near home, whether elite, popular, neighbourhood or new, your child will definitely get a placement not too far from home. Distance should then be your highest weight in selection. 

Or how about this? Prepare your battle early! To all couples tying the knot, buy a home near your alma mater (if you like that school) or a school you would want your future kids to be in. Before you know it, you're a parent of a 6 year old. Or you might need to do this, ask your partner which school they are from before getting attached.

Programmes - Oh, you know what, I think swimming in school A is excellent and badminton in school B is outstanding, but what? No good chance of entering at all! With most, no chance of being selected as a parent volunteer and some schools are phasing out the acceptance of volunteers too (I like this move). Looking at programmes slim my options after risk assessment and only brings me to the schools not within my options.

In reality, academics is what most parents are looking out for. And most times, our child make do with the CCA options in school, rather than choosing the niche a school offers, with no chance of getting in.

It's not exactly viable to fall on these criteria if you aren't exactly bo chap about school hunting, because they might fail you. But of course, these will be most useful tips for the choices of school you've selected without strong competition.

The hard truth at our P1 enrollment is that, multiple options aren't exactly on our hand. You want, but you can't, you volunteer, but not chosen or guaranteed. I will say, one's best bet would be the 2A phase. It looks like in generations to come, this phase will stay. And of course, if your school's at Jurong and you're staying at Pasir ris, it really is a serious matter for consideration. Or perhaps, shifting is an easier decision.

Some mention, go for open houses. Yes, do visit, if you think your options are highly possible with these schools. And if you've noticed, open houses rarely includes popular schools. That's one brilliant way to help skew parents to the least popular options.

Every family has different schooling decisions, what sounds comfortable to you, may sound insane to others. After all, we know our battles best. We know our risk tolerance at the different phases of registrations. Picture yourself into the various phases (which should usually fall into 2 categories, unless your alma mater is no more around) and checklist your most comfortable decision.

A big part helps when we learn to manage expectations. After calculating your risk level, how will you handle news of being balloted out? I may be in 2A, but I'm also preparing for a 2C phase if there's any balloting. Not one that I hope to activate, but I'm trying to manage expectation.

Unfortunately, that's how our system has shaped us on school enrollment. It's inevitable stress especially when you're not really alright with settling in ANY school. When I received news of my rejected PV 2 years ago. I felt a sudden lost!

The reality of preparing and enrolling our kids into a preferred primary school would be:
1. Send your PV request into various schools. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
2. In your PV form, you need to stand out from the many submitted. Input a unique skill or talent you think the school will benefit. That's what I've belatedly learnt about.
3. Assess your child. Will he survive the stress in elite schools? We know our child best.
4. What is your expectation of your child in an elite school and mediocre school? Being an average in an elite might send him topping in a mediocre school, and vise versa.
5. Settling in a decision that gives you peace and comfort.
6. Manage expectations. Know your battles once you've assessed the risk level in each phase.
7. If the school isn't exactly nearby, set a routine to buy more sleep! I'm looking to Mummy taxi Jazz in exchange for more sleep. It's by God's grace that we still have a car. Thankful too, that Singapore is indeed a little red dot.

Best of luck to all comrades sailing on the same P1 registration boat as us. I wish that you will get a choice of your desired school. In midst of stress, remember to enjoy the process too!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Frugal Friday #6 - ACM

We squeezed time out into the Asian Civillisations Museum (ACM). 

ACM seeks to promote a better appreciation of the rich cultures that make up Singapore's multi-ethnic society. It's current exhibition presents the evolution of Buddhism through the art of India. 

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All set for exploration!

Upon entering, collect a mini activity booklet at its reception, go through the exhibits and complete to redeem a little prize. 

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Hunting for answers

The religious exhibits were a little too dry and heavy for Js to comprehend. The highlight for them was the Animal race exhibits. Where little ones were invited to embark on an exciting trail to uncover secrets about animals in art! This exhibition features interactive ensembles inspired by objects in the collection of the Museum that draw on artists' visions of animals in art across many cultures.

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Animal variations

We saw animals crafted in the various versions, forms and textures. We also learned more about the animal race in the Chinese zodiac, which animal came first and last, and why? Js love the interactive wall that introduces the food these animals eat, as well as their habits. 

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Interesting animals out of craft

There was also a small cosy corner for little readers to grab a book for read. These books displayed for browsing were much about our local places and cultures. It captivated Js, nonetheless.

And next was the most interesting part of our visit. Any idea what other animal related exhibit would be put up? Don't think the conventional.

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What's that?!!

Guessed it? Animals' poop! Ok, I promise you, no funny smell in there. Js had a grossed out time eeewwing and yucking to the various forms of poops on display. It's not for punk, but scientists study animals' poop to know more about their health, DNA and behaviour. I'm glad those were the ones that aren't interactive. Just visual.

Once upon a time in Asia: The Animal race exhibits from now till 16 Aug 2015. 

We had a very short visit that day, as a big part of the Museum is under renovation. Hopefully, all will be up in big scale soon! If not, the animal exhibit is actually quite an interesting one.

Have a frugal fun filled weekend ahead! Recharge and refresh for the school term again, next week. Don't forgot those last minute assignments that has to be completed for school too.

Asian Civilisations Museum
1 Empress Place S(179555)
Opening hours

10am to 7pm (Saturdays to Thursday)
10am to 9pm (Fridays)

FREE admission to all Singapore citizens and PR (Bring identification along).

This is part 6 of the Frugal Friday series:
Frugal Friday #1 - SAM
Frugal Friday #2 - SPM
Frugal Friday #3 - Reflections at Bukit Chandu  
Frugal Friday #4 - National Museum
Frugal Friday #5 - Paranakan Museum

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A day at the lawn - Superfundae

June is always a very hot-citing month for outdoor events. We had a fun-filled event over at Aviva Superfundae. Like what its name suggests, we did have a day of fun!

Weather was crazily hot, but we were glad to be battling with the sun, not rain. At the entrance, we were very warmly welcomed with goodie bags and the kids got to choose a toy of their choice in addition to their goodie bag. Nerf guns excited them. The bag was thoughtfully packed with a picnic  mat, umbrella and wet wipes! The very essentials for a hot day on a lawn. 

We were spoilt for activity choices once entered. There were so much to do in our seemingly little time. Boredom did not hit us for a single moment, the kids were very well engaged all time. 

We collected stamps for every activity we do, and completing the card game it allows us to exchange for a little toy at the redemption booth. We did the matches and dashes before cooling off to the arty and crafty work.

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Racing on the balance bike

We did the milk and beer dashes. Oh yes, something for the adults too. Which of course, the man and I consumed the alcohol left in the cup, after the dashes. It was surprisingly, the most thirst quenching drink under that sweltering heat.

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Being really careful about it

The kids had their hands on the crafty works, which they very much enjoyed.
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We were simply thankful that these crafts were housed under a prop up tent, which was a thoughtful shelter and also a good hide from the sun. And I heard nursing Mums got to nurse in an air-conditioned area! So wonderful.

Js really enjoyed their time in there, every single moment of it. I thought the really exciting part was catching hold of gummies from the candy cannon that pops every hour. We collected and were generously gifted so much gummies that Js brought it to school for distribution.

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We had boxes of it!

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I attempted to paint too!

The fun was physically exhausting, it sucked so much energy out of us that I thought we should end the day early. But the ever high energy kids decided that they should stay out, under the dark open sky for a movie. Oh well, what could be better than movies under the stars. We stayed on. Got dinner there and laid out the mat.

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It was a very awesome day! Probably one of the best carnival we've been to and perhaps, paying a premium for events like this can be worth it at times. There were no swelling crowd, no snaking queues and just so much good play. Candies were flowing, ice cream was free and toys sent little ones beaming with smile. It was a land filled with excited kids.

I do hope #Superfundae will make a come back next year!

Disclaimer: Media invite. All photos and opinions are solely ours.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Dads like...

Dads like when the kids run to the door and warmly welcome him home with a cuddly hug.

Dads like coming home early, just so he can still catch a bedtime story with the kids.

Dads like listening to the good progress reports Mum submits daily. 

Dads like coming to the dining table, to eat with well-behaved kids.

Dads like being greeted by happy children before he sets off to work.

Dads like how well the finances are managed in the home.

 Dads like sharing their wisdom generously.

 Dads like staying cool in midst of panic mode .
Dads like their private moment when it's soccer time. 

 Dads like coming back to a neat and clean home.

Dads like pleasant surprises.

Dads are like our bosses and superheroes! 

Happy Daddy's Day!

Here's Js pleasant surprise for their Dad, a bagful of creatives for their Super Daddy! A good mix of crafts made from school and home.

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Craft galore

Jazz did palm painting and led her brother into doing a 'turkey' (bottom right). It does take a little imagination to decipher that. Jazz said turkey signifies thankfulness. So yeap, they are really thankful for their Daddy! 

I held the significant role of keeping these crafts out of the man's sight, till they were ready to be presented. I'm thankful for these crafty kids (in a good sense), and hope they'll continue to delight the people around them with their handmade works.

In midst of doing these crafts, Jazz complained that she hasn't got time to work on anything for her Daddy since she's been in school all weekdays and out over the weekends. Though more of a time management, she did strike a cord in me. I will pick them earlier from school!

"Happy Father's Day! Thank you for being their awesome hero!"

Friday, 19 June 2015

Frugal Friday #5 - Paranakan Museum

Introducing our adventure into the Peranakan Museum! Upon letting Js know our agenda, we had an extremely hard time explaining what a Peranakan is. It's not like an object or an expression that they can easily comprehend. We spared no effect explaining though.

The word Peranakan means 'descendant' or 'child of'. Used to refer to people of mixed ethnic origins. Chinese peranakans are the majority, but there are also peranakan of other ethnicities. During ancient times, travellers stayed and put down roots over the Southeast Asia crossroads. They married local women and their descendants are called Peranakans.

Our Peranakan Musuem showcases the finest and richest collection of Peranakan art and objects. Very much exhibited to our local history. We were very wow-ed when we entered the Museum. It was elegantly built on the outside and inside. Standing glam with 3 levels of 9 galleries. Extremely impressed too, with how well-kept the place is. 

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Beautiful building

Level 1
Learn about its origins and perceive a better understanding and history of who they are. There is also a short video playing repeatedly, about its origin.

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watching the video attentievely
Level 2
Explore the traditional Peranakan wedding and take a peek into their wedding chamber, which is very much skewed towards the olden days of a Chinese bedroom chamber. A wedding celebration of 12 days is most definitely interesting and exciting to know about.

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Wedding chamber

Level 3
Enter further into their language and fashion influenced by life in Southeast Asia. Pick up the nostalgic phones to listen to the recordings of Peranakans' conversations from the oldest days to 1975. You would notice, as the years progress, the Malay language diluted much to be fully conversed in English. It was interesting to hear them out.

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Spot the 'Now' and the 'Then'

Learn also about their religions, public life, food and feasting! I love Peranakan food. So much so that we ended our night with a Peranakan feast after that visit. We saw too, the very beautiful and colourful nyonyaware porcelain used to serve their delicious dishes. 

In one of its gallery (gallery 7), do note it's where they display death rituals and mourning with funeral setting. Avoid entering if you don't feel comfy. It did get a little spooky for me, but Js were fine.

We also spotted various contributions from Mr Lee Kuan Yew's family to the museum. Mr and Mrs Lee's barrister wigs were on display for public viewing. There's was also a display of cheongsum worn by Mrs Lee during Mr Lee Hsein Loong's appointment ceremony as our Prime Minister. Yes, they are a family of Peranakans. 

You would realised too, many local streets were named after a couple of remarkable peranakans from the past.

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Rich exhibits within

It was overall a very good experience and learning journey for us. Remember to register and get an activity sheet at the reception when you enter. This activity sheet is gonna keep your little ones looking forward to the different galleries, to collect 8 auspicious symbols embossments.

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Making themselves really comfortable

I also love how the Museum created some interactions by casing up selected displays for us to touch and feel.

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Stop and touch, please

Enter into the world of Peranakans soon! The best time to visit would probably be the second Sunday of each month, which they call it Straits Family Sunday. A family event of different theme every month, to keep you and your family well engaged. Don on too, batik shirt and sarong kebaya for a Peranakan moment.

3 months theme schedule as follows:
Time: 1pm to 5pm
12 July: Bead by Bead. Find out more about their beaded artworks and create a unique craft inspired by this collection.

09 Aug: Supersized: Majulah Singapura. Join their guided tour and make craft inspired by their collection.

13 Sep: Mythical creatures. Join the guided tour, hunt for mythical creatures and make craft inspired by them.

Peranakan Museum
39 Armenian Street S(179941)
Opening hours
10am to 7pm (Daily)
10am to 9pm (Fridays)

FREE admission to all Singapore citizens and PR (Bring identification along).

And of course, many other exciting FREE activities (Other than Museums) as below:
Date: 06 to 21 June (Except Mondays)
Time: 1pm and 7pm (Tues to Fri), 1pm, 4pm and 7pm (Sat and Sun)
Venue: City Square Mall
Barney, BJ and Baby Bop are back this June school holidays with a super fun retro show featuring your favourite hits with a new twist!

Date: 11 to 23 June (No shows on Wed)
Time: 2:30pm, 5pm and 7pm
Venue: United Square
Redeem meet and greet pass with minimum spending of $50 in single receipt.

3. Catch the Ninja turtles in action 
Dates: 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th June
Time: 4pm and 7pm
Venue: Downtown east
Various locations at 4pm time schedule. 7pm at Event Square Stage. Check link above.
Have a fun-filled weekend!

20 June (X MEN: Days of future past)
27 June (Night at the museum, secret of the tomb)
Time: 7:30pm
Venue: The Star Vista, Star Plaza, B1 
Free admission for all OR shoppers can also redeem a Gold Star ticket (for 2 pax) into the exclusive Gold Star area when they spend a minimum of $150 and enjoy tasty delights.

Date: 20 and 21 June
Time: 10am to 5pm
Venue: Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, 12 Tai Gin Road, Singapore 327874
Learn more about Dr Sun Yat Sen and the Chinese culture. In conjuction with dumpling festival, visitors can learn about the festival through a series of games and craft activities.

6. Dumpling Festival at Wan Qing Yuan
Date: 20 June
Time: 10am to 5pm
Venue: Zhongshan Park 
Try your hands at the dumpling making booth, do craft and participate in the "Dragon boat race"!

7.  French Festival, International Music Day
Date: 21 June
Time: 6pm to 7:30pm
Venue: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage
The International Music Day is a tradition that started in France and now celebrated all over the world to enable music enjoyment for everyone. SWS City Swing has prepared a repertoire of swing jazz and pop music coming from a wide range of diversities including French, Chinese, American, Indonesian and many others.

8. Superhero Me
Date: Till 30 June
Time: 10am to 7pm
Venue: National Library Building Plaza ( Level 1)
Join Singapore's first costume crafting festival where children craft and star in their very own superhero film. Sign up for the various creative workshops programmes here. Event schedule here.

The second annual Read! Fest is here too. Click on link to find out the activities at various libraries within your nearest heartland.

Have a frugal and fun-filled weekend ahead!

This is part 5 of the Frugal Friday series:
Frugal Friday #1 - SAM
Frugal Friday #2 - SPM
Frugal Friday #3 - Reflections at Bukit Chandu  
Frugal Friday #4 - National Museum