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  • Primary One- preparing your kid for a new chapter

    You’ve registered your kid for Primary One, bought the school uniforms, the new textbooks, school bag, water bottle, and booked a seat on the school bus back and forth... What else is there to prepare for? Here are some things you might overlook when you prepare your kids.

    Prepare her to sleep early and wake up early for morning sessions at School

    Well, for starters, if your child is going to be in the morning session, it would be good to start getting her prepared to wake up in the morning. dont’t wait until the first day of school to get her into the habit as you might have a grouchy or reluctant kid. Around mid Dec, you could wake her up in stretches, starting perhaps at 8am for the first 2 days, then 7.30am for the next 2 days, then 7am, followed by 6.30am until you hit the time you need to wake her up by for school days. You could got for a short walk and an early morning breakfast. Help her body clock get used to sleeping earlier as well. It is important for kids her age to sleep 10-11 hours a day in order to be at her most attentive and to develop well. If she has to wake up at 6.30am, it might be good to prepare her for bed around 8- 8.30pm.

    Kids can take a while to sleep so remember to give leeway for nights where they are more awake than you want them to. If you can, get her to take a short cat nap in the early afternoon for half an hour to an hour to ensure good rest later on at night.

    Prepare him to handle her allowance for recess

    It will be good to find out how much food in the canteen costs if you intend to let your child purchase food from it. Then set aside a daily amount that should get them a decent meal. You can do this by speaking to parents whose kids are already in the school, or by popping by to check the school canteen stalls out.

    When you go out to make small purchases at shops, let your kid handle the payment and count the change as you supervise him. This will teach him to handle purchases on his own.

    Remind your child not to splurge on knick knacks at the school bookshop. Let them know that they can always inform you of any stationery or book they would like to purchase and you can look for them in the bookstores yourselves.

    When my firstborn started school, he came back with a ping pong ball painted to look like a football. His friend had urged him to buy it with his pocket money so they could share it. It cost him $2! I explained to him that for $2, we could have bought more ping pong balls and drawn on it so that it could look like the various types of balls (football, basketball, baseball). I also explained that buying 5 of those ping pong balls could have gotten him a book that he liked. Doing a comparison like that helped him understand how much $2 was worth.

    If you are packing food for recess instead, it will be helpful as it means they will not have to waste time queuing for meals and it is probably healthier. However, sometimes kids value play time over meal time- this means that they might skip recess to play. Be prepared to see untouched food in lunch boxes. A way to avoid this is to make the meal interesting.

    Alternating between giving them packed meals and having them buy their meals on their own will train them to be more independent, a skill especially needed when they have to stay back for enrichment classes or CCAs.

    Prepare her by signing her up for Orientation day

    There are parents who would rather go on a family holiday and skip the Primary 1 orientation day, but this is not advisable.
    Your child will meet her new classmates during the Primary 1 Orientation and most likely be introduced to her classroom and form teacher. It helps her to familiarise herself with the environment so that she will not feel too anxious on her first day at school.

    She might make her friends already during the Orientation and might feel left out if she misses the orientation, goes to school on the first day and everyone knows everybody else already.

    If the trip has already been confirmed before you found out about the date of the Orientation and you can’t skip the trip, take her on an excursion to the new school so she can check the place out.

    Also do a self-orientation practice at home, tell her where her school uniform, shoes, socks and school bag should be placed, how to pack and organise the things in her bag, as well as take her to the location where the school bus will pick her up and drop her off on school days. If your parent or helper will be doing the following with them instead of you, do make sure they accompany you both during the self-orientation so that everyone is on the same page.

    Prepare her to encounter new teaching experiences and methods

    The teaching styles of both kindergarten and primary schools are vastly different. Although many primary schools now implement a fun element to their teaching methods such as show-and-tell sessions to test language understanding and capabilities, the two are really polar opposites.

    You do not have to scare your kid, but explain that in Primary School, teachers will treat them as a big boy/ girl, not so much as a little child. This means they will be expected to listen carefully to instructions during class and not interrupt the teacher when she speaks. Kindergarten teachers are generally more tolerant, but in Primary School, the teachers will expect the children to keep to certain rules.

    In Kindergarten, there is a lot of play time during class hours, and although Primary School has its share of fun classroom activities, play time is reserved for Recess.

    Talk to her about homework and explain that homework is to help them revise what they have learned in the classroom. It is important that she writes down what homework she has in a note book and check it off when she done it. Let her know that she should finish her homework before the day is done and to prioritise it.

    Talk to her about what tests and exams are. You can explain that in Primary School, tests and exams help parents and teachers find out how well the children are learning and understanding their subjects. Encourage your kids to view them, not as a chore, but as a challenge for themselves or as a game to see how much they can comprehend and recall.

    Do not give them pressure by saying things like, “If you dont’t do well for your tests, you will get into trouble with me.”

    Keep things positive, “Daddy and Mummy love you regardless of how well you do for your tests, but we want you to try your best so that you can feel good about yourself at the end of the day and see how much you have come to learn.” Emphasise that you appreciate the effort that they will be putting in and that you value her not based on his grades, but because you love her.

    Also do ask your child if she has any existing anxieties or concerns about Primary School. Have her air them out and do your best to answer her queries and to reassure her. Do not brush her anxieties aside as being insignificant, but try to empathise with her and to put yourself in her shoes. This shows that you value and respect her feelings which will in the long run; make it easier for her to communicate with you her concerns when she is in school.

    Geraldine Wee

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