Thursday, December 5, 2013

School hunt

I've been looking for a school for my daughter for a while now. I mean, it's not supposed to be so "serious" because she's only going to be in kindy but I take things like her education pretty seriously. I honestly don't know what is the best when it comes to education (or anything else for that matter) but I would like to think that I've done enough research to ensure that I am fully informed when I make my decision. It has become quite a stressful exercise actually. God help me.

As a SAHM, my job is obviously to find out all the information there is and then make my decision on which one is best and then present it to my husband. He will then make the final decision as he is the paymaster. I only show to him the shortlisted ones as I'm sure he is not interested to know the details. He just wants to know where the school is, what do they teach her, why is it good and of course, how much it will cost him. The last one is the tough one because when it comes to the fees, it can go up really high and sometimes, the fees can even sound ridiculous & crazy. I don't want him to think I'm only looking for expensive schools. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean good. Although usually, good schools are expensive schools. I don't know. But anyways..it's been pretty stressful.

First of all, it is our location. We moved and we are no longer staying in the golden triangle. We used to stay in town and there, it was 15 minutes to Bangsar (where most of the good schools I wanted to send my daughter to are), it was 15 minutes to Ampang (where most of the international kindy are). Basically, we were not limited to just one area. We had Bangsar, Damansara, TTDI, Ampang, Melawati all under 20 minutes away. Driving to all those areas aren't too bad. We were central enough to miss most traffic and for me (who will eventually be driving my daughter to school daily), isn't too bad. But now, we are in Kajang where it will be quite far for us to travel to all the areas mentioned above. I need to find a school that's nearby and I have to consider the heavy traffic coming to and from town. And when you hear Kajang, you automatically think.. "oh dear god, what kind of school can you find there", right? Well, that was what was in my head when my research started.

I looked at a few. Found few normal ones and nothing special. Nothing that really caught my attention. I then started calling few schools outside Kajang area like Mont Kiara and Ampang. I was really pushing it too because there is NO WAY I could get my daughter to school on time without having to leave home really early in the morning. I gave up. I couldn't find anything.
I then tried Cheras as Cheras is pretty close to us. The only school I would want to send my daughter to in Cheras is Cempaka International School. Only because, I was from Cempaka. I studied in their Damansara Campus during my time and I loved the school. But I was quite disappointed when I found out that they will only accept my daughter when she's a little bit older. I had to wait till she's 4 and I don't want to wait much longer.

Finally I found a kindergarten in Seri Kembangan. It fits the bill and although it is not THE BEST but it will do. I was thinking perhaps I can send my daughter there first and then maybe when she turns 4, I can move her to Cempaka. That was MY plan. We visited the school and it was pretty ok. It had a huge indoor playground (similar to Kidsport type of indoor playground) and the teaching method was Montessori. I guess it was ok. It also has international students and that was good too as my daughter will get to mix around with foreigners too.

Then at a party, I spoke to a friend and she was telling me that Kajang now has so many international schools coming up and if I'm willing to drive out a bit more, there's also international schools in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. Great! Those areas aren't too bad.

I had a few more options. But this time, it wont be a simple Kindergarten anymore. It will be a proper school.

My issue is actually this..... Being a Malaysian who lives in Malaysia and most probably going to be in Malaysia forever, my first option is of course to send my kids to a school which follows the local syllabus - meaning UPSR, PMR, SPM just like me. But our local syllabus and curriculum keeps changing and it is kind of pissing me off. I don't want to say I have no confident in our national curriculum because I come from that curriculum and I turned out alright BUT, it is 2013 now and things are more competitive and different now. Maybe during my time it was OK but with the constant changes (one minute it is in English, next minute in BM, one minute there's PMR, then next minute it will be something else), I am really confused and unsure if the local curriculum is the best for my daughter.

I really didn't want her to follow the international curriculum but lately, after doing a lot of reading..I think I should pick a syllabus that is proven to be good and my daughter needs to be in a system that is consistent. My concern about international school is that she will only mix with a certain type of people and if possible, I want her to have a good mix of friends. My other concern is agama. Most international school don't really stress on this subject and if I'm not mistaken, some don't even offer that subject in school. I know I can send her to class mengaji and get ustazah to come over but I wish she didn't have to attend other classes outside school. I still want her to enjoy being a kid.

So I've come to a decision.

She will be in an international school.

We found one nearby and I'm quite happy with the presentation given by the school during the open day. I wouldn't call myself a kiasu mom but I just want to give her the best. I see a lot of potential in my daughter and I think she can do really well.

The school hunt is now over Alhamdulillah. Now papa needs to find extra $$$ to pay for the ridiculous school fee!

I hope it is the right decision.


38 comments:

  1. I don't know if this information helps but I live in Bangi and I heard a lot of good stuff about Tanarata International School which is literally 5 mins away from exit Kajang. If I'm not mistaken, they offer agama classes too. Just informing in case you are still open for options :). Putrajaya has Nexus International School, there's also Alice Smith in Seri Kembangan, really not that far from Kajang. Jade Hills is opening Eaton International School which accepts pre-K. How do I know all this? I'm looking around too even though I don't have kids yet. Future planning you know. I need to start saving money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! You've clearly done your homework! hehehe..
      The school I've chosen for my little girl is in one of the ones you mentioned above. Hopefully it is the right choice and yes, better start saving if it is international school that you're after!

      Delete
    2. dear Dram Queen

      can you pm me which school u have chosen for your girl

      i am thinking to send my daughter too

      Delete
    3. Best school for me may not be the best school for your girl so my advice would be to look for schools around your area and go visit each of them. Every school is different and will have its pros and cons.

      Delete
    4. Hello,

      A parent of Eaton, we are happy. Children have good academic plans and are pushed. They are happy and always want to go school. Teachers are all expat and work hard so kids get good education. New campus open in a few month, they promise us.

      Rafflesia, I hear many parents and teacher leave. Not happy with management and not good.

      Cempaka, I hear not much.

      We are lucky to have so many option around

      Delete
    5. Im considering Eaton for my 3years old daughter as well. How old are your children?

      Delete
  2. So which school did you chose?
    When I moved to KL from Sabah recently I had such a hard time trying to find one that fits both of my daughters! The one that can daycare of my baby and also the one that has an educational playschool for Nia the elder sister.
    We hunted like mad and found few terrible ones, but the ones that were in the list last time was
    1) Unikidsity (at Sering Ukay, Bukit Antarabangsa) - Nia is happy there, the teachers are nice, her growth were wonderful with the learnings provided, but they didn't take babies <18months.
    2) Primrose Hill Nursery (Avenue K) - tak berbukak bukak sampai sekarang! But looks good.
    3) Little Playhouse (Megan Avenue) - accepts both daughters, but they'd just opened last January 2013, so their learning academic punya scheme is not yet properly in place, basic ones je ada.
    4) Lupa dah hahaa!

    Happy schooling Heidi..! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I chose an international school near my house. Its a pretty new school actually but we met up with the teachers and I like the environment there. If you want details email me k?

      Delete
  3. hi darling! how r u? hope everything's well at your end. in my case, we ve to send them to international school as hubby's job need us to relocate every few yrs. for me julia gabriel's the chiltern house is one of d best although the fees are crazy for pre k. but then again which internatiol school fees arent kan? anyway we are preparing for our next move this coming january. wish us luck! and gd luck heidi!! im sure she ll love her new school

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey babe!! R u back in KL? where r u off to next? I guess for you theres no other option but to go to an international school kan? They're actually a lot better but tu la, the fees are a bit crazy and you wont really get the "muhibbahness" of a local school. That's something I loved about my school days. But a lot of Malaysians are going for international schools now so hopefully they will still get the experience I got from school.

      Delete
  4. Hi ya, I was googling for a good playschool in seri kembangan and found your entry. Could you share which school you visited please? Thanks a bunch, I'm stressed looking for a good one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The school I went to is Eight Virtues.

      This is the link http://eightvirtues.edu.my/

      Delete
  5. Hi, Eaton International School, Kajang is the best for my kids in terms of location, budget and education system. Teachers are all expats and speak fluent English unlike some schools.
    I withdrawn my daughter from that school after the 4th month and now joining his brother at Eaton. Surprisingly she's very happy there.

    My boy, coming from Chinese school with average English improved tremendously in all areas eg. spoken English, very confident compared to the past few years, pro-active and most importantly he looks forward to go to school everyday! He attended extra classes prior to check point test absolutely free for more than a month. Printed exercises, swimming lesson, education trips are inclusive but most schools charge separately. The only tool that incur extra cost is Ipad mini.
    My lesson learnt - 1) looking at beautiful and informative website could be deceiving. 2) big brand with Impressive building and facilities are not the utmost criteria. 3) teachers and the teaching methods are the most crucial elements in choosing a school that is most suitable for a child
    It was an expensive lesson so please meet up with schools and ask as many questions. If possible, meet the teachers too

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mel, I'm glad that you are happy with Eaton. It is actually my first choice too after visiting the school but unfortunately for us, we have now moved away from Kajang and Eaton is a little too far for us.
      I guess my school hunting have to start again at a new location. I loved everything about Eaton when we visited them. We even attended their charity bazaar and had so much fun there. All their expat teachers seems so good and we could see how the kids loved them. Too bad it is too far for us. :(

      Delete
    2. Hi,
      Any review on Rafflesia International School? I'm also hunting for international school for my kids.

      Hi Mel,
      Appreciate if you could share more info on Eaton International School.

      Thanks.

      Delete
    3. Mel, may i know the reason you withdrew your boy from Chinese school? i am planning to send my daughter to a SJK(C) but still collecting info and views from parents. I know SJK(C) has lotsss of homework and thus stress on kids, but for the sake of 3rd spoken language.. pls sms me at 019-379 0086 and i will call u back for a chat. tq =)

      Delete
  6. Hi...
    Any review for Rafflesia School at Kajang 2? In term of their staff, teachers, environment, and facilities?

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I was doing my research I did contact Rafflesia but at the time it was not fully opened yet in the Kajang campus. If you are in Kajang I would highly recommend Eaton.

      Delete
  7. Hi..

    How about Cempaka School?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cempaka is a good school and has a good reputation.

      Delete
  8. Share your comment and word to say about those international schools in here - http://www.internationalschoolsadvisor.com/.
    It would be helpful for others when they are looking for similar information.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Assalam

    kawan kakak saya sr lecturer in um. Beritahu adik nya sendiri, actually kalau secondary and primary school in msia are still ok. Sometimes people tend to moan and it gives too many confusing pictures.

    She said the best way is to go to a good government school for primary and secondary ... get a good support of tuition if need be. Then get into a university is the main thing. That is where the money worth spend and needed more.

    These private schools tend to molly coddle the the students... etc..

    anyway .. hamba allah ni hantar anak anak semua skolah private and .. tapi bila nak buat form 6 mengah. nak buat u lagi lah semput pocket..

    So what she meant - to start with the basic education at government school.

    Kalau nak bergaul don't worry she will when she in school ... or pergi british council english school. Bergaul dengan anak orang foreigner ni lain sikit masa kecik dan dah besar. So....

    Masuk sekolah mana mana ... anak anak akan jadi manusia dengan didikan mak bapa yang teratur..

    Infact to masuk sekolah kerajaan masa kecil, still ok. the main part masa buat a levels.



    goodluck

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi all..
    Im Liza
    I send my daughter to Mutiara International Grammar School...
    Now she is in year 4...she was there since reception.
    This school used to be a very good academic school,but then now my daughter is not happy there.
    Whatever she has done is not being seen...ignoring her effort by teachers are not good right?
    So now in considering Cempaka International School.
    Anyone has any thoughts of the school pls donlet me know..watsapp me to this number rqvm...0196006977

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi all,
      I am Santhi.
      I'm currently survey for preschool nursery for my son.
      He is 1 year 3 months now..
      I'm working at Kota Kemuning but staying at Seri Kembangan.
      Any good nursery that you all could recommend to me.
      it will be more helpful for me.TQ

      Delete
    2. Hi Liza, I heard many not so good feedback on Mutiara International School but I have not gone to check it out myself. As for Cempaka International School, it has a good reputation for being very academic. They do 1 level ahead for Maths, English & Science which can be very stressful for the child (and the parent!). At the same time, they are also known for their performing arts. They have 2 campuses, Cheras & Damansara. Worth to go and visit to have the "feel". My personal opinion is that it is one school that pushes you to be excellent in everything you do but for an International School, it is not very "international". Not many expat teachers / students. Hope this helps! Good luck!

      Delete
    3. Hi Santhi,

      Rafflesia International School Pouching & Kajang this Saturday 14/5/2016 having an Open Day. Please come and explore further.

      Delete
  11. Hi Santhi,

    I visited this playschool in Seri Kembangan before called Eight Virtues. Maybe you can check it out. I liked the school. Didn't send my kids there because we moved away from Kajang and it was too far for us but it was one of the schools I shortlisted for my kids at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello,

    A parent of Eaton, we are happy. Children have good academic plans and are pushed. They are happy and always want to go school. Teachers are all expat and work hard so kids get good education. New campus open in a few month, they promise us.

    Rafflesia, I hear many parents and teacher leave. Not happy with management and not good.

    Cempaka, I hear not much.

    We are lucky to have so many option around.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi, My name is Sook Ming, I m doing a market research study for parents who has intention or currently send their kids to study in the international school.(only certain school included in this survey). Can I invite you for attending a survey for this topic? Appreciated if you can contact me by my mobile number, 012-7171 617.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Please avoid Rafflesia. They are only interested at your money. There's lots of hidden cost and surprises. Bad teaching quality and lack of governance. All I get from them are denial, empty promises and lack of integrity. I was with Rafflesia since the day one they open. Can't let them rob me and deprive quality education for my kids any longer. I am finally leaving and making sure they refund my deposit. Sending our kids to government school is a mistake. Sending them to Rafflesia is an expensive mistake. Steer clear pls.

    ReplyDelete
  15. ouh iam so surprised to hear this can someone really tell me about Rafflesia because iam honna register both my daugjter there for next year classes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry Lolita, I have no experience with Rafflesia. My niece was there for a few years but then they decided to change to a different school. From what I heard, they're not happy with the standard and quality there. My advice would be to speak to the school and get the "vibes" from them. You need to go to a few schools before you can get the right feel. One thing for sure, there is no perfect school. Good luck.

      Delete
  16. Hi,

    I enjoyed reading your comments and experience on your school hunt. We will be relocating back to Kuala Lumpur from London soon and the dilemma of choosing the right school for our children has started to creep up again. I have 2 children (year 1 and year 4) who very much had an amazing school experience here in Earl's Court. We have shortlisted a few schools based on your mantra (location,financial affordability, value for money if there is such a thing,great teachers). What is your opinion on Cempaka international vs Etonhouse vs Taylor's ISKL. Your input is very much appreciated. By the way, i have written down your quote in my diary that stated "There is no such thing as the best school or the perfect school. I've done my research and I concluded that it doesn't exist". Somehow reciting this 3 times before I go to bed keep the nightmares away. Thanks again for your kind help.

    Akmal

    ReplyDelete
  17. I joined Rafflesia cos they had decent teachers and staff. The school cannot hold on to staff as all they see is $$$. Keeps spending on building unnecessary Feng shui extensions but having a carousel of principals and good teachers.
    Teachers are poorly treated by the top. I have been told. They have two campuses. My sister is in the other campus. Annual change of principal and teachers. Every year, it starts all over again.
    And they are a school of hidden costs. School will just post certain charges on newsletter and then start charging you 6 months on.

    ReplyDelete

Say what?!