Starting Primary One: Term 3 Update

I can’t believe that Term 3 is coming to an end soon. “Time flies” is indeed an understatement in our times. Don’t you agree?

Much to my delight, Term 3 seems to be the shortest and easiest so far. Maybe we’ve accustomed to the primary school routine now. Sleep early, wake up early, learn, play and have fun. That’s how Term 3 turned out to be.

Prior to registering him in a boys’ school, I was most worried about school bullies. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Instead he talks about making new friends and sometimes losing them, the joys of recess, the funny things that his friends do or say, how his teachers make the boys stay back for recess if they misbehave, etc.

He talks when he’s in the mood to do so. Otherwise when I ask too much, he goes “Mama, I think there are enough of questions now.”

Even though there is no end-of-semester exam in Primary One, there are various assessments and tests starting from Term 2. Spelling test is a weekly affair. We struggled so badly with Chinese spelling test in Term 1, but I’m glad that he’s most improved in this area now.

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I pretty much leave it to him to practice on his own now. I will test him one day before the spelling test – just to make sure he didn’t miss it. I also pasted his test schedule on the wall so that I can check it regularly and do some revisions with him before any tests or assessments (if I know what are the topics to be tested).

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Semester 2 Test Schedule

Until now, his school didn’t release information about the highest or lowest grades in each subject, as well as each boy’s standing in his class. So, I’ve no idea how he’s faring in school. Judging from his scores which usually fall within the range of 70 to 80, I think he’s doing pretty okay.

Looking at his test questions, I really don’t expect him to get full marks. Some questions are really too challenging for his level. And it doesn’t matter to me whether he scores 90 or 60. The learning at this stage is still very basic. What’s more important to me is that he learns from his mistakes and gradually improves himself from there on.

As he grows up, he also needs to learn other important skills like managing his time efficiently during test, check his answers and make sure he doesn’t miss out any questions, etc. He will slowly pick-up these skills by himself after going through several tests at school.

Our major challenge, however, is still the Chinese Language. The fact that he’s studying in a SAP school, it’s even tougher as he’s learning the Higher Chinese. This term, he had his first Chinese Show & Tell. That was a HUGE challenge for a boy who rarely speaks in Chinese at home.

The script is 8 sentences long and the topic is about his school. I made him memorize one sentence each day, and he took 1.5 weeks to memorize the whole script. He came back with 29/36 for that Show & Tell, and I was completely amazed.

Since the beginning of the year, my decision has been made that I’m not going to send him for tuition classes after school. As much as possible, I want him to stay at home, rest, read at his own pace, more outdoor playtime, and have a carefree lower primary life.

But unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Thanks to all the distractions from TV and electronic games. We’re both at work, and my parents-in-law has been a little too lenient to him. So I finally succumbed to my tiger mom instincts and enrolled him for a Chinese tuition class after school on Wednesday.

I thought it’d be good to have a teacher to teach him Chinese after school, and expose him to more Mandarin-speaking environment. The class duration is 2 hours, and I ask my parents-in-law to send him there. I will pick-up him up when the lesson is over.

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He just started the Chinese tuition two weeks ago, and so far so good. He’s adapting well and no complaint. I’m glad to ‘outsource’ the Chinese Language to a qualified teacher as I’ve difficulty teaching him the language myself. At home, we play some Chinese word games and read Chinese story books to develop his interest in learning the language.

I encourage him to take up a sport and start learning it since young. I gave him a choice, and he chose golf. So, he started his golf lessons three months ago. One hour every Saturday, and he totally enjoys it.

Sunday

And Sunday will be all play day for him now.

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Enjoy Quiet Times

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I love quiet times – time away from work and everyone else. It’s getting increasingly rare now when I have to juggle work and family without a helper.

My quiet times happen once a week on Saturday morning after I send Edison to his weekly English enrichment class.

The class duration is 1.5 hours and I will wait for him at the cafeteria. The time is too short for me to drive back home, so I rather stay there and wait.

During this hour, I will slowly eat my breakfast alone and watch my favourite k-drama on my tablet. It’s really very enjoyable; I don’t know how to describe it. It’s one of the most precious “me alone” times that I really enjoy.

On a side note, do you know what k-drama that I’m watching? If you look at the tablet screen, you can get the clue, and the love candy that I put on this picture is a very important item in this drama too. I’m seriously hooked on this drama now.

Would you like to have at least an hour of quiet time every single day?

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8 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Primary One

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I’ve recently received e-mails from readers asking about Primary One registration and preparation. While I’ve tried my best to reply to all your e-mails, I apologize if I’ve missed out any of you, or if my replies seemed too short for you.

The topic of preparing our child for Primary One is too broad, and I can’t really summarize it all in one e-mail or comment. Thus, I’m sharing with you in a blog post – which took me quite a long time to prepare. Hope you’ll find it useful.

First of all, I’d like to emphasize that preparation for Primary One does not require a major effort. In fact the simpler and more relaxed the process is, the easier and more relaxed it will be for your child. So, please bear this in mind.

In fact, the preparation process happens more naturally through the everyday experiences that we give to our children. We can provide additional opportunities for them to practice their independent and self-help skills at home too.

8 Tips for Getting Ready for Primary One (Non-academic version)

1. Learn to ask for permission & practice the proper use of toilet independently

This used to be my primary concern because Edison is a shy and quiet boy. To help him muster the courage to speak up, we role-played. I (the student) raised my hand to ask him (the teacher) for permission to be excused, and vice-versa. While he’s plucking up his courage, I also trained him on the proper use of toilet by himself.

2. Learn to pack and organize things

Children need to be taught on how to take care of their own belongings at school. Missing item is a common problem, especially on first week of school. For a record, our boy lost three water bottles within the first two weeks of school.

Teach them how to pack their school bags, organize things, label their belongings, and most importantly, keep their pocket money securely.

3. Learn to take the right bus

There are usually some forms of identification given by the bus service providers. Talk to them to understand the process, i.e. their identification method, bus number, pick-up location, emergency contact, etc.

Give yourself the confidence to know that your child can do it as long as he knows what to expect.

4. Train them to buy food and eat faster

This is obviously one of my concerns too as Edison takes half an hour to eat his meals at home. Recess time at school is only half an hour, but it also includes queuing time to buy food, finding a seat, going to the toilet, etc. At the end, he probably has just 15 minutes to eat.

I’ve repeatedly informed him that he cannot take his own sweet time to eat at school because when the bell rings, he has to go back to class.

Our children need to know how to check for food prices, count and use money to buy food, carry their own food to the table, and properly dispose their used plates and cutleries after eating.

So, we can create the opportunities for our children when we’re having meals outside. Give them a chance to decide on what they want to eat, check the prices to see whether they are within budget, count and use money independently.

If you’re still worried, you can always pack some food for your child to eat at school.

5. Build confidence & familiarize themselves with school

Between now till the start of P1, I would advise parents to start sharing their positive experiences in school with their children. Give them assurance that they will make new friends at school and have fun.

Talk to our children on what they can expect in Primary 1 – longer school hours, big school, more children, school rules, class size, what to do during recess, etc. Also, take the opportunity to familiarize themselves with school. The best time to do it is after the parent-orientation, so please spend some time to tour the school with your child.

Some of the important places include their classroom, hall, canteen, toilet, general office, bus pick-up point, dismissal point, public phone, etc. It will be good if you can take some pictures so that your child can view them regularly.

If possible, you can also introduce him to the people that he will be meeting at school, i.e. Principal, Vice Principals, Form / Co-form Teachers, Subject Teachers, etc.

6. Coping with new routines

One of the must-haves in Primary 1 is TIMETABLE. All primary school students need to adhere strictly to a timetable when they are in school. We can impart that understanding to our children before the school starts.

Time is easy to teach because children naturally love to learn it. So, start teaching them how to tell time so that they can manage their time according to the timetable.

I would advise you to create an ‘after-school’ timetable for your child too. Allocate time for him to complete his school homework every day. Also make sure he has sufficient play time and rest time too. Construct the timetable with him so that he will learn how to organize his time in a better way.

7. Teach them how to relay information between the school and parent

School will distribute notices, progress reports, and other important information to parents via the child. So, teach your child on how to do this effectively to prevent any miscommunication in the future.

8. Encourage as a family

Assure them that starting Primary School is a new and exciting experience, and it will also be fun and enjoyable. Show lots of encouragement to cope with challenges in new school. Always be positive and encouraging!

To me, I always believe that it’s more important to make learning and going to school an enjoyable process, rather than chasing for academic excellence.

8 Important Skills to Practice

1. Ask for permission
2. Buy things on their own
3. Counting and using money
4. Going to the toilet independently
5. Write their names in Chinese and English
6. Organize school bag
7. Take care of own belongings
8. Relay information between the school and parents

Entering primary school is the start of a new phase of life for all children (and parents too!). From a relaxed kindergarten to a formal education in primary school, many children will find it challenging, especially on their first day in a big school surrounded by many unfamiliar faces.

By planning ahead and having a longer perspective, we can ease our children into the primary school education system seamlessly.

Last but not least, if you have a child starting Primary One next year, I hope you and your child will have a smooth and happy start to the new school year.

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Click HERE to read all my posts on Starting Primary One series

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