Going to primary school is an exciting and enjoyable time for a child but it is also a period of change. So help prepare yours for Primary 1 with these strategies.
THE CHANGE Children now learn in larger groups, as class ratios differ from preschool. In primary school, ratios can go as high as one teacher to 30 pupils, so less personal attention is given to each kid. Also, a large class often means more distraction.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Expose Junior to big group activities like holiday camps, so that he gets used to having his teacher’s divided attention. Remind him that he should raise his hand when he wants to speak, and to sit at his desk during lesson time. He may be intimidated by large groups such as an assembly gathering at primary school, where he may need to learn to read quietly until assembly starts. Talk to him about these experiences, and practise singing the national anthem and school song together.
THE CHANGE In Primary 1, children will have to start completing formal and scored assignments at home, compared to preschool, where they received more fun activities to do with their parents.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Concentration is key. Have him sit at home to do a task (like drawing, writing or colouring) as you work on yours. Being a role model – showing him that you, too, sit down for an extended period of time to work – is highly effective and makes him feel he has “work” like an adult. Primary 1 work is more academic in nature and meant to be completed with less help from parents. Primary schools may also require kids to participate in group projects, so teamwork is essential. Organise mini projects for your child with his siblings or friends, so they can learn to gather information and investigate together. They can, for example, build a house of ice cream sticks or find 10 different plants in the neighbourhood garden together.
THE CHANGE Children who do not bring food from home will have to buy lunch at the canteen, instead of being served food at preschool. Lining up for recess can be an exciting (or daunting!) experience.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Let your kid count out coins and make payment at the supermarket or food courts during non-peak hours. Avoid rushing him if he’s slow. Instead, go through some cashiering games at home to build up his speed and accuracy of counting. At food courts, allow him to line up and make his own food choices as he would at school. He’ll learn to specify the item, make special requests (“no nuts” or “no pork”) and carry the food to the table. Primary schools often have a buddy system where older pupils pair up with Primary 1 kids, but children may be too timid to ask for help, and buddies may be too young to anticipate worries of the young ones. Get an older sibling or cousin to be a buddy for a day, and teach your child to ask simple questions such as “Where is the toilet?”, “Where do I go after recess?” and “Where do I put my plates after eating?”
THE CHANGE In preschools, teachers are more inclined to allow the children to go to the toilet as they wish. However, in primary school, they may be told to wait for break time, as the teachers want to train them to use the toilet before classes start.
WHAT YOU CAN DO It may seem simple to ask to go to the toilet the first time, but when his request is rejected, he may not have the courage to ask again or to tell the teacher that he really needs to go (and end up wetting his pants). That’s why it is important to build his self-confidence and teach him how to request courteously, or how to inform his teacher of the urgency. With time, children will learn to use the toilet before lessons, so they don’t miss out on learning during class.