A child’s transition from preschool to formal schooling is always an exciting time for parents.
There is the slight reluctance to accept that your little ones have grown so quickly, but there is also that eagerness to see what other great things they can achieve as they become more independent in their own ways.
The big leap from kindergarten to primary school
For most parents, the progression from kindergarten 2 (K2) to primary 1 brings about the most anxiety because there is a worry that your child may not be ready for primary school.
So, what constitutes this “readiness” that you often hear about?
How do you know if your child is ready for primary 1 and what can you do if your child is not ready yet
1. Social Independence – the ability to make friends
Social skills are extremely vital in allowing a person to develop and maintain positive relationships with the people around them. Children learn to socialise at a young age if they are exposed to other children of a similar age to them. Through the interaction, they learn how to solve their differences, share their toys and care for each other.
Talk to your child about the changes in his social circle, such as the new faces in the classroom, and the possibility of not being in the same school as his preschool best friends. Preparing your child for this friendship development emotionally empowers him to manage expectations on the first day of school.
2. Reading and Writing – more than just your ABCs
While knowing the alphabet is a great milestone for young children, it is simply not sufficient to have that knowledge alone when your child enters primary 1. At this level, your child should be able to read basic words, comprehend the meaning behind the stories read, write the alphabet in both lower and uppercases, and construct meaningful short sentences independently.
Daily reading to your child will help in this preparation work as he learns to listen to the stories and put the sound of the words to the print of the text. Encourage your child to ask questions about the story or the pictures as that helps in the comprehension of the story.
3. Responsibility – their belongings matter
When your child begins primary 1, there will be plenty of new items that he will be taking to school for the first time compared to K2. He will have to be responsible for his pencil cases, books, stationery, water bottles, lunch boxes and packing his own school bags.
Training your child at a young age to tidy up after himself will help greatly in honing the necessary skills to take responsibility for his belongings. You can also help your child by labelling his belongings so that it is easy to identify his things.
It is frustrating when your child comes home with missing items but rather than yell at him, use the opportunity to educate him to look after his belongings carefully.
4. Handling money – the importance of the value of money
Your child will be going through the most exciting part of school life in primary school – going to the canteen and bookshop to buy food and stationery. Handing your child his daily allowance is not enough to equip him with the skills to use the money. He needs to learn the value of money in order to maximise spending and potential savings out of his allowance.
You can teach your child to recognise the Singapore notes and coins and count the value of the money together. Then, offer him hands-on experience by taking him to a shop to spend a set amount of money on something he needs. This will not only give your child the confidence to buy food at the canteen, but it will also help him to understand the process of how money changes hands.
5. Rules, routines and timetable schedules – adhering to school settings
In primary school, there are more rules and regulations to follow compared to kindergarten. The rules are there to safeguard all the children and to ensure that the school can function properly with little disruption. Every school will provide a school handbook with the school rules and regulations clearly written in it. Take the time to go through these rules with your child to set the expectations clearly.
Prior to attending primary 1, it would be beneficial to set a routine for your child to follow at home. As most schools require pupils to be there early in the morning, it would help to alter your child’s body clocks a week before school begins so that he is ready to function on the actual day.
Designing a timetable to follow can also help your child to get used to reading the timetables provided by the school. This ties two skills together – the ability to follow a set routine and the ability to read the clock.
6. Communication is key – talk to your child
As much as most parents believe that telling their children not to worry about school is the right way to go, it is necessary to acknowledge that your child is nervous and anxious about going to primary 1. These feelings are perfectly normal.
Be positive about the words you use when talking about school and keep school a safe and happy environment where your child would want to return to. Avoid instilling fear in your child about school because that will only exacerbate anxiety and lead to further problems down the road. Children often feel safer going into a new environment when they are aware that their parents support them wholly.
Would English enrichment classes help to prepare my child for primary school?
Once your child starts K2 and is still struggling to read and write, you might want to consider some enrichment classes to boost their confidence level. One option which you could look at is the MindChamps Writing Programme which covers different aspects of writing from K2 all the way to Primary 4.
As for your child’s emotional readiness, just be there for him. Let him know you are always supporting him through and when he is ready, watch him soar and achieve things you could never imagine.
Written by Danielle Hee