5 secrets to helping junior survive Primary 1

Ensure junior navigates his first year in Primary School smoothly with these useful strategies.

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Entering Primary 1 is the first step your child will take towards greater independence and responsibility. They’ll need to do everything with minimal guidance from you and their teachers ― from making friends and completing their work to juggling various subjects.

Needless to say, helping junior navigate their P1 journey may be challenging not just for junior, but you, too. So, put the following strategies into action to help them breeze through P1…

1) Managing schoolwork

WHAT After a long school day, the last thing your offspring wants is to complete a long list of assignments. It’s worse if they have difficulty focusing, completing their tasks or requires help in subject they are weak or lack confidence in.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Nurturing good study habits from the start sets the stage for conflict-free studies later on, so start on the right foot! Get your child to understand the purpose of assignments. Encourage them to reflect on the consequences of not finishing their homework. Tell them that consistent work helps them perform better in tests ― versus the likelihood of failing because they have not been putting in any effort.

Daniel Koh, an Insights Mind Centre psychologist, advises that you gradually increase the amount of time junior spends on homework. Break down your kiddo’s assignments into chunks that he can compete in 30 minutes or an hour. Be sure to also include breaks — of about 10 to 20 minutes — in between.

“Taking breaks will help the mind to relax and recharge. It’ll also give your child the time to move around.” Remember to also offer praise when junior successfully completes their assignments on their own, for working hard and not giving up.

“Usually children copy their friends’ assignments because they do not understand the assignments or avoid doing the work for some reason.”

Do also speak to your child’s teacher if they’re really struggling with homework. Stepping in to help your child will prevent issues like copying their classmate’s work, explains Koh. “Usually, children copy their friends’ assignments because they do not understand the assignments or avoid doing the work for some reason.” Talk to your kiddo to understand what’s causing them to be frustrated with homework allows you to assist them better.

Refer to our handy guide for more tips on helping your child to complete their homework.

2) Getting along with classmates and teachers

WHAT Besides gaining lots of new skills and knowledge, your kiddo’s Primary school years gives them the opportunity to make lifelong friends. Also, a building a good relationship with their teachers will also ease their Primary school journey.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Good communication skills form the basis of successful relationships. Koh says you should always model good social skills by responding to others in an appropriate manner. Recognising non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, gestures and making eye contact are just as important as what is being said.

Stress the importance of obeying school and classroom rules to get junior to be respectful to their teachers. Try these steps:

* Remind your child to raise their hands to ask for permission to speak in class or visit the toilet.
* Ensure your kiddo’s appearance complies with school rules, usually printed in the student handbook.
* Complete and submit their homework on time.

As parents, you also play a crucial role in bridging the gap between your child and their teachers. The things you say during the school’s meet-the-parents session can make or break these relationships. Besides zooming in on your child’s academic performance, you may also want to ask your child’s teachers the following questions:

* Is he nice to the people around him?
* Does he interact well with his friends?
* How can we work together to help him improve?

These questions show that you are keen to listen to your child’s teachers and are also keen to involve him or her in looking out for junior.

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3) Dealing with peer pressure

WHAT Around the time your child enters primary school, they will start to care more about what their peers think of them and less about what their parents think. Approval from their peers may compel them to take part in undesirable and risky activities. It can start from small acts of misbehaviour like stealing or allowing their friends to copy their assignments.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Junior should learn when to be assertive and firm, so as to fend off bullies and peer pressure. Internationally-renowned parenting guru Dr Michele Borba advises that you make sure your child know what values they stand for.

Share your beliefs over and over again, so that your child understands the reason for saying “no.” to their friends. Tell junior, “The next time a friend dares you to (name something bad eg: bully someone, steal something), just stand up and walk out. You need to stick up for what you know is right.”

Pointing out courageous individuals either in the news or in your family can help your child see the value of being confident and standing up for their beliefs.

Pointing out courageous individuals either in the news or in your family can help your child see the value in being confident and standing up for their beliefs.

Dr Borba also stresses the importance of being zero tolerant of your child’s excuses. For every instance your child is caught doing something bad out of peer pressure, take clear action to re-establish your rules and remind your child of their need to be assertive.

4) Coping with test anxieties

WHAT Your child will have to sit for minor spelling tests or pop quizzes throughout the year, even though they do not have to take any major exams in Primary 1. Helping junior manage their test anxieties ensures that they remain calm and can recall what they’ve learnt.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Every child has their own way of learning, so Koh advises that you find out what your child’s strengths are. For instance:

* If your child is better auditory learning, Koh says reading his notes out loud may aid his recall.
* Tactile learners will excel if they are coached to jot down notes as they revise their work.
* Visual learners learn better with flowcharts and mind maps.

Dr Borba notes that it’s normal to experience test jitters. But if nerves are hampering your child’s performance, then you should approach their teachers for assistance as you’ll want to know if he needs any professional help.

5) Becoming a motivated learner

WHAT Igniting your child’s curiosity for the world around them nurtures their passion for learning. Becoming a motivated learner will also help you and your young ’un avoid future fights over their studies. Also, don’t be a helicopter parent, constantly monitoring their school assignments.
​​​​​​​WHAT YOU CAN DO Getting your child to see how their schoolwork applies to real life lets them appreciate the value of studying. Simple daily activities like knowing how much change to get when they buy a meal in school, would be impossible if they didn’t understand basic maths. Nor would they be able to communicate effectively if their command of the language is weak.

You should also avoid overemphasising the importance of grades. Koh stresses that as long as you keep learning fun and interesting, you will fuel your child’s curiosity. This hunger for knowledge is an all-important ingredient in nurturing your child to be a motivated learner.

Also, use the weekends as an opportunity to help your child uncover their passions and interests — whether it’s in sports or the arts. Once your child knows where their interests and strengths lie, it gives them a clearer direction as to where they want to go and what they need to do to hone their skills.

Photos: iStock

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