10 tips to prepare junior for Primary 1

Textbooks? Check. Uniform? Check. Wise up to other ways you can gear your kiddo up for Primary 1…

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Your child’s entry to Primary school marks an important milestone in your child’s academic journey. From making financial decisions on her own to learning to manage her time, she will acquire numerous skills during her school years that will see her into adulthood.

Indeed, her school years establishes not only a solid foundation for learning, but also, her future success. So, to ensure that her move from kindergarten or preschool to Primary school is a positive one, you can take steps to make her leap to formal education as painless for her (and you) as possible…

1) Waking up early is an essential skill

WHY With schools making the transition to a single-session school day, the typical school day begins at 7am and lasts till midday. Your kid will need to rise early so as to get to school on time.
HOW Matthew Scott, head of preschool courses at the British Council, stresses that you should get her used to waking up early the week before school begins or earlier. Scott explains, “The preparation should start as early as possible, so that by the time school begins in January, the early starts have become second nature.” The early start will also prove a lot more challenging for those who attended afternoon preschool sessions, he points out.

2) Start him on a routine as early as possible

WHY Routines are a crucial aspect of primary school life. Besides following a timetable in school, organising a schedule after school will help her complete her assignments on time.
HOW Dr Hana Ra Adams, a psychologist at The Change Group LLP, says you can start by setting a fixed time for colouring, reading or drawing — or any activity that involves sitting down to do work. Over time, swap these simple activities for more complex ones. You will help them understand that “study time” doesn’t have to be painful, but something every student needs to engage in. “It’s a natural part of being a person who strives to learn,” Dr Adams notes.

“The preparation should start as early as possible, so that by the time school begins in January, the early starts have become second nature.”

3) Make packing bags a habit

WHY Being prepared with all that she needs will save her from having to lug around a heavy school bag, which could spell trouble for her posture over time.
HOW At home, get your child used to packing her bags independently, then get her to think about what she’ll need in school the following day. Scott states, “At the start of each day, parents can ask children, ‘What are you going to do today?’, ‘Have you remembered your pencil case?’” and other questions that encourage learner independence.”

4) Hone his listening skills

WHY Your kiddo’s Primary school class, unlike preschool, is going to have a ratio of one teacher for every 20 or 30 students. With such a big class size, she’ll need to learn how to listen carefully as repeated requests to recap instructions will only frustrate her teacher.
HOW Scott says, “One way in which parents and teachers can encourage [strong listening skills] is to avoid repeating themselves when giving instructions. If the adult only says it once, the child will know that they must listen carefully or they won’t be able to understand the task [at hand].”

5) Impart good social skills

WHY Primary school gives your child the opportunity to make life-long friends. Junior will have a more positive school experience and may even perform better if she has a supportive network of friends she can count on.
HOW Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, stresses, “Parents need to model good social skills [by minding] how they respond to others. [And] Be aware of your child’s ability to work with others and their ability to read [the social] cues from others.” Good communication is the basis of a successful relationship ― and junior’s ability to recognising non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice ― will enhance her communication skills.

Five more prep junior for school strategies coming right up…

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6) Practise buying his own food

WHY You’ll need to start giving junior pocket money, so that she can buy food during recess.
HOW The next time you dine out as a family, task your young ’un to buy items from the drink store or her own meal. Offer to tag along at first, on condition that she’ll have to be the one doing the ordering. Remind her to always check her change before walking away from the store. Find a time when the store isn’t as crowded to avoid having to deal with grumpy store owners, which can lower your child’s confidence. And since it is likely that she’ll make a couple of mistakes at first, be sure to keep a watchful eye on her. As most hawkers are more fluent in their mother tongue, encourage your child to speak in the same language where possible. This can help her see the relevance of her mother tongue, too.

After getting her order, remind her that it is always safest to use the trays available when carrying her food. Teach her to position the bowls and where she is going while looking down at her tray from time to time, to see she hasn’t spilled any food. All this will take time and patience. Just remember to offer lots of praise when junior completes the task!

7) Instil the importance of being honest

WHY In time to come, when her assignments start to pile up, your child may start lying that she has assignments to avoid doing them. She may also lie because she’s worried she won’t be able to complete the work or doesn’t know how to do it.
HOW Don’t penalise your child for lying. It will only cause them to tell a bigger lie to avoid getting into trouble. Dr Adams explains that you should talk to your child about the values you have in your family and how important it is to be open with each other. Koh advises, “Show that you love and care for them unconditionally and be ready to talk and work with your child rather than against them. If they see that you listen, care and are fair in working together, they will feel safe [enough to] trust you.”

“If they see that you listen, care and are fair in working together, they will feel safe [enough to] trust you.”

8) Talk to him about working in a group

WHY No man is an island; there will be occasions when your kiddo will have to work in teams and there will be times when he hates the guts of the person he’s working with. The sooner he learns how to work with others, the easier group work is.
HOW Dr Adams advises you to maintain open communication channels. She explains, “The more they are able to open up to you, the easier it is for your child to express himself. And expressing oneself is important in group work because your child will need to speak up for himself.” Discuss concepts like compromising and teach him how to talk through ideas with a classmate. Remind your child that if the team cannot work well together, she should approach her teacher to resolve any issues.

9) Stay updated on what’s happening

WHY As your child’s school curriculum can be altered any time, you’ll need to know what the changes are, so that you can help her adapt to any changes.
HOW Scott advises, “When you have a moment, access the Ministry of Education’s curriculum online and get a better grasp of the areas that are covered in Primary 1. Parents should also try to attend parent workshops at the school, so they can keep up to date with current events and practices.” Being in close contact with your child’s teachers can also help you ensure that there’s another person who’s keeping a close eye on your kid.

10) Do a dry run

WHY Everyone’s first time is bound to be an experience filled with jitters and nerves. Doing a dry run before the big day will let your kiddo know what to expect.
HOW Set aside a day where everyone will wake up earlier in the morning and follow the regular school schedule ― either walking junior to school or taking public transport. Along the way, remind her to take note of where to place her wallet after scanning her EZ-Link card as well as knowing which stop to get off.

Dr Hana Ra Adams is a psychologist at The Change Group LLP, Matthew Scott is the head of preschool courses at the British Council and Daniel Koh is a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre.

Photos: iStock

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