6 things you must do if your child is entering Primary 1 in 2020

December 04, 2019
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    Shortly after scrambling to get a place in a primary school, your next concern would be how your child will adjust to Primary 1. This is a milestone in your child’s academic journey. Primary school will be the place he or she starts to build a foundation in learning and discover interests. But transitioning from a pre-school environment to a formal classroom setting can be challenging and overwhelming.

    Early childhood research shows that children develop greater confidence and better social skills if they settle quickly into formal schooling. Parents often confuse being ready for school with being academically capable in skills like reading and counting. Instead of focusing solely on academic progress, it is more important to make learning an enjoyable process.

    Help your child have a swift and happier adjustment to primary school. Here is a back-to-school guide for parents of new Primary 1 pupils.

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  • Talk to your child
    2 / 7 Talk to your child

    Share your own experiences of school life and what you enjoyed about it, like recess, making new friends, learning a sport, or even taking the school bus. Tell them about your favourite teachers and subjects. These conversations can help them look forward to a new experience of schooling instead of dreading it.

    Encourage him to talk about his feelings. Ask about the changes he will be facing and concerns that he might have about going to school. For instance, he will be making new friends and be apart from his old friends from preschool. You could also start by visiting the school website and getting your child interested in its facilities and activities it offers.

    (Also read: A former principal’s best advice on how to prepare your child for Primary 1)

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  • Familiarise your child with the new school environment
    3 / 7 Familiarise your child with the new school environment

    The sheer size of a primary school compound and the number of pupils across six levels can be intimidating for Primary 1 pupils. School orientation programmes, which schools hold before the term starts, are a good place to begin to help your child feel more at ease. During these sessions, schools conduct tours and briefings for parents and children on what to expect.

    Besides getting a glimpse of the the school environment, your child could even meet future classmates. If possible, walk around the school campus and familiarise your child with important areas. Such as the car or school bus drop-off points, the canteen, general office, classrooms and toilets.

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  • Introduce basic school rules
    4 / 7 Introduce basic school rules

    There are many rules in school to follow. Help your child understand some basic procedures so as to not overwhelm him in his first week of school. Try classroom routines such as raising your hand to ask questions and taking turns during group activities, and even asking for permission to visit the toilet. He will feel more at ease if he knows, ahead of time, what to expect from the school environment and teachers.

    (Also read: 3 ways to prepare your kid for Primary 1 Mandarin without resorting to prep classes)

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  • Develop a routine at home
    5 / 7 Develop a routine at home

    The typical school day begins at 7am and lasts till midday. Your child will need to have sufficient sleep and rest. They’ll need to get used to waking up early to catch the school bus or walk to school.

    Help him adjust by introducing a routine a month or so before the start of school. By practicing going to bed early and waking up early, your child will not get too overwhelmed with the new routine. At home, you could also help him adjust to a regular schedule, similar to the school timetable. For instance, plan time for lunch, snacks, craft, homework, rest and play.

    He will also be spending longer periods of activity in primary school. Help him to improve his attention span by using tasks and slowly extending the duration of each activity.

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  • Help your child learn to be independent
    6 / 7 Help your child learn to be independent

    Primary school will likely be the first time your child will need to carry out tasks on his own, from ordering food to counting change to clearing his own tray of food.

    Let him be responsible for his own belongings, such as his school bag, stationery, worksheets, books. Make packing bags a habit by helping him think through the items he needs the next day. Teach him small steps of independence. Try letting him buy food on his own and deal with canteen queues. Let him manage pocket money, file worksheets and be organised even at home.

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  • Keep an open mind
    7 / 7 Keep an open mind

    Lastly, you need to manage your own expectations and emotions first. Do not put too much pressure on your children. Children are often sensitive to their parents’ feelings and actions, so it is important to not get overly anxious about the new school year.

    The next six years of schooling and beyond will be a time of learning new things. Remind your child that he might even learn best from going through challenges and problems.

    A version of this article first appeared on The Straits Times.

    (Photos: The Straits Times and 123RF.com)


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