Education & Enrichment

Starting Primary One: The Long Preparation

P1 PrepLearning about time, getting a haircut, wrapping all textbooks and workbooks, doing revisions

On 2 Jan 2014, our boy will be among the ~40,000 kids in Singapore who will be starting their formal schooling, and many mothers – including myself, will be quite sleepless this New Year, thinking about how our kids can adapt to their Primary One routine.

So, are you taking leave to join them in this VERY important milestone? No, I don’t. Not that I don’t want to, but it’s the school’s regulation that parents can only drop-off their kids at the foyer even on the first day. It’s a boy’s school, and we, parents, are reminded not to mollycoddle our boys during the orientation day. The school emphasizes a lot on discipline and independence. *sob*

In my days, primary one preparation only started on the first day of school, when my mom came along with me to the school to meet my teacher, make payment, settle registration matters, buy books, etc. From second day onwards, I was on my own.

Now, the preparation work starts months, or even years, in advance. You need to plan at least 2 years ahead on which primary school that you intend to enrol your child in, whether you need to shift (like us), whether you need to become a Parent Volunteer, etc.

In the middle of the year, we received a booklet from the Ministry of Education that highlights the primary school system and its objectives. Two months later, we went through the stressful registration process.

On the last term of Edison’s K2, his kindergarten has arranged a briefing on Primary One to all their graduating K2 children on what they can expect in Primary One. The teachers had also painstakingly arranged a mock-up food stall to teach the children how to buy food at the canteen.

Next came the Admin Day where parents are required to complete all the necessary forms (MOE form, dental form, GIRO form, parent and child personal details form, etc) at the school. And this followed by the purchase of school uniforms, PE attires and books. It’s interesting to discover SO MANY books that a primary one student actually needs. Luckily, the school has a locker. Else, I couldn’t imagine how much weight on his bag that our boy has to bear every day. Still, I wonder if a 7 year-old boy knows how to operate the locker.

The much-awaited Orientation Day came one month after the Admin Day, which follows approximately the same format across all the primary schools in Singapore. I, for one, was very impressed with the school for its effectiveness and efficiency in conducting their orientation program.

On the day itself, the children were shepherded to their respective classrooms to meet their teachers and classmates. It was definitely a good start for the children to get acquainted with their new friends and environment.

The parents, however, were ushered to the hall to attend the orientation where the principal, vice-principal, heads of departments, and school counsellor took turns to give their speech. Halfway through the orientation, it dawned on me that the P1 orientation was not only for the children, but more to educate and prep their parents as well.

A very important message shared to us by the school principal is that ‘loving is to let go’. We need to trust the school and provide support so that they can nurture our children. We need to ‘let go’ so that our children can learn to manage challenges on their own.

While this may not sound as reassuring as it should be, my main worry is still ‘school bully’, which is almost inevitable in a boy’s school. Then, the school dropped a diplomatic hint that if our boy gets into a dispute with another boy, we must inform the teacher immediately and NEVER confront the other boy, or their parents, on our own.

Also during the orientation, the practical do’s and don’ts were highlighted clearly. If we’re driving, we’re reminded to place the school bag in the back seat instead of the trunk, and give our goodbye kisses, pocket money, etc from home so that we won’t hold up the traffic when dropping our boy off. The school is famous for its notorious traffic chaos every morning when the school starts.

Lastly, we were given the important telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of the teachers, vice-principal and principal. There was a gentle reminder to parents that all their primary school teachers are always on-the-go and thus, they might not be able to respond to e-mails on the very same day. Thus, they seek our understanding on this matter. And the principal even joked that if their teachers have social medias, parents will even demand hourly updates on their Facebook or Twitter. *smile*

I’ve exactly two days left to do all the last minute preparation for my boy’s Primary One. I don’t think I can ever be ready for this moment, but it’s all happening. And all the best to you if you’re sending off your kids to Primary One this week!

This is going to be my last post for 2013. Here’s wishing all of you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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


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  • Shirley

    I feel so excited for your boy after reading your post! It must be real stressful during the planning period. I hope i can cope with all these in 4 years time! :}

    • Hi Shirley,
      Thanks. Yes, it’s really quite stressful. Luckily, I only have one son. Can’t imagine going through this process over and over again.

      Anyway, the big day is coming soon. We have to be ready, no matter what.

  • Livvie

    Hi there, may I know where you got the green timer from? Is that how you manage the time for him to do revision? Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Livvie,
      I bought the timer from IKEA. It has since become my good buddy to time my boy when he does his homework. He’s kinda slow, so I use the timer to ‘speed’ him up a little.