The preparation for primary 1 and the overall beginning of the primary school journey can be a bittersweet time for parents.
It is such an emotional experience to witness your children grow up and enter primary school. Crossing the milestone from being a kindergartener to a Primary 1 student is a big step in their lives. As parents, we are so deeply involved in our children’s lives that we want to ensure their Primary 1 preparation process is smooth flowing.
How can you help your children in preparing themselves for Primary 1?
Besides seeking out for enrichment programmes for primary school preparation, take your time to talk and practise the elements of academic readiness, social skills, independence and concentration that will shape your children’s confidence and excitement in easing smoothly to primary school.
Primary 1 preparation does not need to be a daunting task. You can start by introducing the new environment, routine and skills through your children’s everyday experiences. Getting your children excited and happy about school is half the battle won.
Primary 1 preparation tips for parents
1. Help your children get to know their school environment
Prior to registering your children for a school, talk to them and have them involved in your thought process. They need to understand why you plan to send them there.
Perhaps the school is near home, so travelling time can be reduced greatly. Maybe either parent was an alumnus of the school and you would like to continue the trend. When you begin the process by involving them, you allow them to process those big feelings with you as they are given a space to talk about them.
Explore the school environment with your children. Prior to going to school for orientation day, look up the school website and show your children some pictures of the school. By doing so, you familiarise them to their environment so that they will feel confident as they step into school on their very first day. Talk about the prominent facilities in school and what your children will be doing there.
Try not to miss the orientation day, as this gives your children the opportunity to meet teachers, schoolmates and tour the school grounds. The first connection your children make at the new school while you are physically present will help in confidence building and developing their security that school is also a safe zone for them.
2. Talk about new primary school routines
Talk to your children about the new routines they will be going through.
As a part of the Primary 1 preparation process, there will be a huge change to their daily routine at home as well. For starters, your children may have to wake up earlier than usual to attend school. There is no more nap time at primary school.
Explain to your children about key activities such as the flag-raising and assembly in the school hall. You can also explain what the daily timetable and lesson hours in the classroom would be like. Discuss the topic of recess time and be sure to give your children the details on after school pick-up arrangement. This can vary from being picked up at school by a caregiver or going to an after-school care centre to wait for you.
Knowing about the new school routine can help your children prepare and anticipate their first few days of school with less uncertainties.
3. Explain school rules and classroom etiquette
It can be common for Primary 1 freshies to walk in and out of the classroom without their teacher’s permission. For most of them, seeking permission may not be emphasised much during their kindergarten and preschool years.
However, do not worry too much if your children are not able to get the hang of this yet. Primary 1 teachers understand kindergarteners very well and the environment that they are coming from, and they will guide the students to adhere to the rules.
If you want to have a head start, role play with your children on how they can practise asking for permission to the washroom or to drink water. Raising their hands and waiting to be called upon is a good way to help them understand the rules.
4. Teach independent and self-help skills
The significant move about transiting from preschool to Primary 1 is the student to teacher ratio. In your children’s new class size of 1:30, your children will need to learn to be more independent and have the social skills to help them defeat anxiety with the increased number of students.
Teach your children how they can buy food during recess and eat within time. Organise their school bag between lessons and stay mindful of their belongings. It is important too, that your children learn how to take down homework and reminders, as well as messages to pass on between teachers and parents.
5. Sharpen concentration ability
Concentration is always a wonderful skill. In your children’s new timetable in primary 1, lessons are longer and there is more information to absorb. Practice seat work and extend your children’s focus gradually. Assign them various tasks to be completed within a stipulated time.
That being said, do set realistic expectations on their level of concentration. Just like how we cannot sit down for more than an hour to complete something, children are the same too. To be able to sit and do something for 30 minutes straight is already a commendable effort for a primary 1 child.
6. Introduce literacy and numeracy skills
An advantageous skill to boost during the Primary 1 preparation journey is academic readiness. There are some enrichment programmes for primary schools that can help your children if you feel that there is a need for it.
While each child develops at a different pace, having a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy are skills that can help to give your children a confident start. At Primary 1, your children should be able to read simple sentences, understand written instructions and write their own name in English and Mother Tongue.
As for numeracy, help your children get comfortable with numbers by doing simple addition and subtraction. This is a much-needed skill, especially during recess when they buy food at the canteen.
Primary 1 Preparation: What to Expect
Not sure what to expect for your child’s first year of primary school?
We’ve put together a comprehensive collection of tips and resources from our curriculum team to help you along as you prepare your child for his/her primary school learning journey.
Written by Danielle Hee