For most parents in Singapore, getting their little one to primary school is a challenge. Perhaps, it’s not any different for you. Either some schools don’t provide the infrastructure or faculty that are most desirable or have very limited seats and too much competition. But, even if you manage to get a place, the challenge does not end. You have to then move on to the next level, which is to prepare your little one for Primary 1.

Primary 1 is the first milestone that your child achieves in their academic journey. This is the stage where they start building a base in learning and discovering interests. The transition from a pre-school environment to a classroom setting is certainly a big one for your child. It can be overwhelming for six and seven-year-olds, but you can help them settle comfortably into the new setting.

Here are a few ways in which you can prepare your child for Primary 1:

#1: Communicate well

Before you even pack their school books and get everything else ready, you need to talk to your child. You need to establish clear lines of communication with your child so that they feel free to share their feeling. To prepare them for Primary 1, you should consider sharing your own experiences from school and how much you enjoyed it. Things like making new friends, recess, sports and the bus ride are small aspects that can evoke interest in your child. Talk to them about what to look forward to and how school life is the most memorable part of one’s life.

#2: Make the school environment seem familiar to your child

Every child will dread the unknown. Since Primary 1 looks like a drastic change from their playschool setting, it’s natural for them to feel nervous. The sight of the school compound and the classes and a large number of students can daunt your child. But, fret not; the first step to familiarise your child with the school is to attend the school orientation programme. During these sessions, you can take your child through briefings and tours—something that gives them an idea of what experiences to expect. These sessions also allow your child to meet their classmates and feel more comfortable about stepping into a new stage of their academic life.

#3: Create a routine at home

They say charity begins at home. You should follow the same saying when preparing your child for Primary 1. The routine that kids used to follow when they were in pre-school is undoubtedly different from what they have to stick to in primary school. A typical school day starts at 7 AM and goes on till midday. For your child to get through the day, they need to sleep and eat well. They have to wake up early to catch the bus or even walk to school. You should create this early-to-bed-early-to-rise routine from at least a month before starting Primary 1. This prepares them for a regular schedule and helps them plan their time for snacks, play, homework and crafts much better.

#4: Inculcate necessary skills

Navigating the daily challenges in a class of 30 or more pupils becomes a lot easier for your child if they have certain skills. These skills include money-handling skills, public speaking skills, reading and writing skills and time management skills. You should teach your child how to recognise denominations so that they can buy food on their own at the canteen. Building strong public speaking skills will boost their confidence while introducing themselves to the class or presenting something. You should also get them to practice reading texts out loud and writing alphabets. Having these makes learning a lot faster for your child and prepares them better for various academic challenges.

#5: Teach them fundamental school rules

A lot of things about your child’s school may seem new to you, but certain basic rules remain the same across all primary schools. There will be many rules that your child has to abide by while on the premises of the school. But it would be great if you could teach them these rules in advance. These rules include classroom etiquette, asking permission from the teacher to go to the toilet, or taking turns to do something during group activities. If they are familiar with these rules from before, they feel more at ease when they visit the school for the first time. Teaching them basic school rules sets clear expectations of your child, thereby allowing him or her to let go of any fear or nervousness.

#6: Teach them about responsibility and ownership

Primary 1 is also the best time to teach your child about taking responsibility and ownership of something. It is the time when they will have to do everything on their own for the very first time. From calling for snacks to calculating the cash to clearing up after littering the place, your child has to know how to be responsible. You should introduce them to what taking ownership means and how they are the only ones who can take care of their belongings, be it their books, stationery, school bag, or anything else they carry to school. Also, try to reward them with something whenever you see they are responsible for their homework, textbooks and other school activities.

The above are some ways to prepare your child for Primary 1, which is a very significant stage of their academic life. It is the first step your little one takes towards a better, brighter and more rewarding future. So, you must be with them at all costs to make the transition easier.

Also, as a parent, you should have an open mind and manage your emotions and expectations in the first place. More often than not, children are sensitive to their parents’ feelings and actions. So, don’t get overly anxious in front of them. Make them understand that the next few years at school will be full of learning and fun experiences. As such, keep reminding your child that they will learn the best by going through challenges and problems.

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