After all the worry and anxiety registering the child for primary school, it’s time to sit down and start preparing him and ourselves for the “Big Day” which is the first day of school in Primary One. Here are a few things you should take note of.
Attend school orientation
All the primary schools will invite parents to attend their school orientation programme to understand the school policies, rules and regulations, get to know the principal, teachers and classmates, tour the school facilities, know the timetable and anything related to starting the child in the primary school.
Tips: Be prepared to ask any questions during the orientation programme to find out more about the school so as to help your child adapt to primary school life. It will be easier for parents to get answers from the principal and teachers during these sessions rather than after school starts. Also, it will be good to have both parents attend the orientation programme so that one can help to queue, if necessary, while the other parent can be around to talk to the principal and teachers.
Purchase school uniforms
After attending the orientation programme, parents will be given instructions on where and when to buy school uniforms for the child. Some vendors will set up counters at the school so that it will be more convenient for the parents while other vendors will require the parents to travel to their shops to purchase.
Tips: Do bring the child when purchasing the school uniform to ensure that the correct size is purchased. Some parents will buy bigger sizes so that the school uniform can last the child for a few more years to save money. However, the child will look very sloppy in oversized school uniform and will not be proud to wear it to school.
Purchase school textbooks
School textbooks can usually be purchased at the school bookshop or their main store. Parents will be given a book list for all the books required. Some parents will buy all the books in the list while some will use second-hand books handed down by siblings or children of friends who moved on to the next level.
Tips: MOE will review its syllabuses every six years to ensure that children learn contents that are current. Changes from feedback by principals and teachers will be incorporated into updated versions of textbooks. Thus those parents who will be getting hand-me-down books have to ensure that their books are not more than 6 years old and not out of the syllabus. Another tip when purchasing textbooks is to call the bookstore directly to see if you can preorder the books and pick up without queuing so as to save you hassle and time.
Adapt to the routine
The school will pass the timetable to the parents during orientation, which the child is expected to follow. Typically students will need to reach school before 7.30am for assembly and lessons will stretch past 1.00pm before they can go home and take their nap.
Tips: Going through and explaining the different activities in the timetable with the child will pre-empt him/her before starting the first day of school. The parent can share with the child on what to expect and how to behave in between lessons so that they will not be restless and misbehave. As most of the children will be transiting from preschool to primary school, they will have the difficulty of waking up so early in the morning and delaying their nap time to a later time. Parent can discuss with their preschools on the adjustment of their daily routine to be in line with primary school. Some of the preschools actually do consider this and start the adjustment as early as Kindergarten 2. It also helps by getting the child to sleep earlier at night so that he/she can wake up earlier the next morning. Ensuring that the child have enough sleep is important so that he/she can concentrate better in class.
Pack school bag
The teachers will expect the children to pack their own school bags and to take out the books and materials as and when needed. The books and materials are different everyday based on their timetable.
Tips: To motivate and incentivise the child to pack and know what to put into the school bag, the parent can go shopping with the child for a new set of school bag and stationeries in their favourite character.
Build up confidence and social skills
While in preschool, children would have been with their friends for almost five to six years, from as young as infant age. When they move on to a new primary school, they have to start making new friends. Children will be happier and look forward to attending school when they have friends to play with in the school.
Tips: Children who are more introvert will have problems opening up to new friends especially in a new environment. Parents can talk to these children and build up their confidence and social skills. Try to bring the child for playdates or events so that they are open to meeting new people. In fact, some parents are already sending their children to attend enrichment classes to build and strengthen confidence and social skills. Preschools are also including incorporating these skills in their core curriculum.
Children are only seven years of age when they reach Primary One. The concept of independence is still a very new thing to these young ones. Yet they need to quickly learn to go to the toilet, queue for food at the canteen and buy stationery all by themselves once they transit from their preschool days, where they were still very much guided and assisted by preschool teachers, to primary school.
Tips: Parent should check with preschools if the child is taught how to go to the toilet and clean up by themselves when they pee or poo. The children should also be taught on how to count their money and pay for things they buy. There are some preschools which organise activities such as supermarket visits where children learn to buy things themselves using their own money. They also organise trips to primary schools to orientate the children around the school facilities.
Communicate with your child
When the child is in preschool, teachers and parents communicate via a personal communication book. However in primary school, the child is expected to remember the teachers’ instructions given on their homework and daily classes.
Tips: Parents should spend some time to talk to the child every day no matter how busy they are at work so as to cultivate a habit for the child to share on the daily happenings in school. It is also a good bonding time between the parent and child.
Arrange for transport
Whether the primary school is near or far from home, there has to be arrangement on transport to fetch the child to and from school. It could be the grandparents or helper walking them to school, parents driving them to school or taking the school bus.
Tips: Parents who will be driving their children to school should familiarise themselves with the route to and from school before school starts. Take note of the traffic conditions especially the morning traffic so that there can be a better gauge of the timing to set off from home for school. Similarly for helpers fetching the children to school, ensure that the helpers are familiar with the way to school and back home. As for children taking school bus, search for a school bus vendor few months before school starts and check if the vendor has friendly assistants to help the children up and down the school bus.
Arrange for after-school care
Working parents are concerned about after-school care for their children as primary school is now half day instead of full day compared to when the children were at the childcare centre. This also applies to school holidays when the children do not need to attend school and need someone to take care of them.
Tips: Some after-school care centres have long waiting lists so register your children way before the school starts to ensure that they have proper after-school care when school begins. Check out the centres’ credentials and strengths, such as if their teachers are trained and if they have enrichment classes provided for the children. It is recommended that the after-school care centre is near the primary school so that the child does not have to travel too far from school to the centre.