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
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.