You will be registering your child for Primary 1 in July, but your husband and you cannot agree on the school. You prefer a top primary school, but he thinks your child will do better in a neighbourhood school because of the “big fish, little pond” effect. Who’s right?
Here’s what Sandra Davie, the senior education correspondent at The Straits Times, advises.
“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 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.
“Think about whether your child would thrive in a competitive environment or feel stressed 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 stomachaches just before it is time to leave for school.”
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
(Photo: The Straits Times)
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