Our Primary School Balloting Experience

Last year was one of the most traumatic experiences for the family. Many of you have heard me preach about it, but I think I better pen down our adventure, before I forget some of the crucial details. As you all know, Nicole and Nathan are in one of the Top schools in Singapore, They had no problems getting in, as the school was Mummy’s alma mater. In a perfect world, and with Nicole and Nathan studying in this school, Nadine will get automatic sibling qualification and we will need to go through the dreaded Balloting experience. However, with Nadine having a learning disability, we felt that we needed to put her in a less competitive environment. Herein lies the context of our adventure! 🙂

2014 was the year that the Rubber meets the road. We have been talking about it for a while. Should we let Nadine stay in a Top Premier School or should we put her in a less competitive environment. By the beginning of 2014, we have already made up our mind that we needed to put her in a less taxing school. We figured that, keeping her in a Premier school, would only affect her self confidence and self esteem. Therefore, we put on our “thinking caps” and decided to shop for a less “taxing” school for her.

As responsible parents, we began to sell the school to her. We did not want her to feel different because she was going to a school, that was different from her siblings. The plot thickens! So each time, when we drove past the school, we would ask the whole car to keep quiet. Then we would prayer and confess, that Nadine was going to the school. We taught our daughter to visualize herself in the school’s gym program. We told her that, she was going to this other school, as they had a top gym program, and that everything about the school was much better than the siblings. Even the uniform was cuter and better! 🙂 Nadine’s mind was made up! This was the BEST SCHOOL for her!

On the fateful day, when we needed to submit the registration for her. We were definitely a bit nervous. In order for us to submit Nadine’s application, we needed to surrender Nadine’s “spot” from the top school. This was definitely quite scary. It meant that we needed to move from a confirmed spot in Singapore’s Top Primary School, to an unconfirmed spot in another school. Does this sound like a gamble to you?

primary school balloting

So what were the odds? We were informed that there were currently 28 vacancies for 39 applicants in this other school.  I looked at the odds, and I told myself. Hey! Not that bad! It means that out of every 3 applications, 2 students will get in. As parents, we both pondered and prayed about our decisions! We felt that this was the best thing that we can do for her. Firstly, it meant a less competitive environment, and secondly, it meant that we were able to think long term. This so called “neighborhood” school has a secondary school, that gave some priority to her own students.

Putting action to our faith, my wife went to Nicole’s school to withdraw from our confirmed P1 Spot. At the school, there were tons of parents waiting anxiously to register their kids. As my wife withdrew Nadine from the school, even the Parents beside her gave her the incredulous look! Their eyes said it all…”Lady, do you know what you are doing?” However, there was such faith in our hearts, that we proceeded with the withdrawal, and we put Nadine’s name into the hat. We were ready to gamble for a spot!

One Week later, we went back to the school. Tension filled the air, as the Parents entered the room. No one wanted to “PR” with their neighbors, as everyone was an “enemy’. If your neighbor’s kid got in, it means that probability of your kids success, just went down by a few percentage points. If you are a parent, and wondering what the balloting exercise looks like, the exercise does live up to its name. The balloting table has a big wire cage, and every kid is assigned a number. The school staff will roll the balloting cage, and shout out the numbers like a “bingo” night at a seniors community night. It might sound nostalgic, but the bets on the table is heart-stopping.


One after another…the balls rolled. But ours was not called. By vacancy 25, I was letting out a silent shout in my Spirit. God! Where are you! You have got to come true for us…And then there was ball 28. The last spot. And guess what…Nadine’s number was NOT called.

We were shocked as we walked out of the hall. Failure was never on our minds. We have prayed, visualized, confessed…We were so confident, that there wasn’t even a plan B. What do you do, when your child does not get into the school of your choice?!?

We had to start thinking on our feet. Where else could we send our daughter. My wife went home immediately, powered up the PC, and started looking for schools within a 5km radius of our home. We called up another choice school near our home, and we found out that balloting was not even an option in the next phase. We finally decided on a Mission School in the 5km radius…and guess what…we had to ballot again!!! Must I gamble twice for my daughter? From a certain spot in a elite school, I was now going to another school, to try my luck with the odds. They told me that Parenting is tough, but this was not what I had in mind…

The odds this time was 42 vacancies against 59 applicants…

We did not know what to think this time round when we entered the balloting room. If we did not make it on this round, it means that our child will just be posted to any Primary School within the vinicity. This was something that we did not wish to contemplate, as we have thought that we would be in this position before. This time round, Nadine’s name was called out on Ball 15. Halfway through the balloting exercise. We were relieved! Knowing that our Balloting adventure has come to an end.

Upon hindsight, as we look back at our adventure, we have realized some important lessons. On the surface, although our first choice school was a good school for Nadine, it might not have been the BEST! Our first alternative may not be the TOP school, but it is still among the Top 15 schools in Singapore. If we really want nurture her in a less pressurizing environment, school A is definitely not the best choice. School A may have been Mum and Dad’s ideal school, but it may not have been the ideal school for our little girl’s development. Ultimately, God had to intervene for us, to ensure that Nadine got into a good school, that has a more holistic approach. It was definitely a tough lesson in trusting God!

Currently, Nadine is happily attending Primary School. The environment here is definitely different from what we experienced in her siblings’ elite school. But we are happy, as long as Nadine is developing well, and allowed to take things at her own pace. Parents always think that they know what’s best for their children. But as Christian Parents, we are glad that God intervened for us. As for the balloting experience, we are glad that we will never need to go through the experience again. I am definitely NOT a gambling man.

If you need to find out more about the Primary One Experience, here are some other links:

1. Life’s Tiny Miracles – Primary One Prep…From a Laissez-faire P1 Mom

2. Mumseword – Withdrawing P1 Registration

3. Little Blue Bottle -The Mad Scramble to Navigate P1 Registration

4. A Juggling Mom – Choosing the Right School

5. Sakura Haruka – 20 Things To Buy for Kids Entering P1

6. The Blogfather – Parent Volunteering

7.  Lilac Petals – The Primary One Registration Experience

8. The Kam Family – Primary One Registration for Permanent Residents

9. Life is in the Small Things – Starting Primary 1

10. Catch 40 Winks – Primary One Orientation, What To Expect

11. Our Little Smarties – Starting Primary One, The Long Preparation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *