3 Myths About Primary 1 That All Parents Should Know

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Wonder how to check if your child is ‘ready’ for Primary 1? Should your child attend a P1 preparatory class, or start on P1 assessment books and worksheets?

First, please know that it’s normal to feel anxious about sending your child to Primary 1. After all, it is a big transition from the carefree days of kindergarten!

The good news? If your child attended kindergarten, he or she should already have the skills required for P1.

In fact, most P1 students will find that they’re able to keep pace with their schoolwork after an initial adjustment period. However, it is true that some students will need extra help — past estimates have indicated that 12 to 14 percent of P1 children require additional support each year. 

This is why all primary schools have a Learning Support Programme (LSP) to help students catch up with their peers. LSP sessions are run by trained teachers, and they are typically held during school hours, in small groups of eight to 10 students. 

Want to know exactly what skills your child will need for P1? It’s not what you might expect — read on to be surprised!

Myths About P1 Readiness

To help parents separate fact from fiction, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has debunked the biggest myths about P1 preparation, and here’s what you should know. 

MYTH: Before entering P1, my child must count up to 100, know how to use the ‘+’ and ‘–’ symbols, and solve simple addition and subtraction problems. 

This is not true. In fact, the P1 maths syllabus does not assume or require a prior knowledge of maths. What’s more important are the pre-numeracy skills that children have picked up in kindergarten, which will help them to grasp maths concepts more easily. These include:

  • Matching
  • Sorting
  • Comparing

As for counting, children are only expected to count to 10, as well as have a basic understanding of numbers. For example, they should know that 5 is more than 4, or 4 is less than 5. They should also be able to add and subtract by counting the fingers on one or both hands.  

To help your child with these basic skills, you can:

  • Practise counting objects around the house
  • Get your child to count groups of objects and compare them, e.g. counting how many carrots you’ve brought home from the supermarket, versus tomatoes. 

MYTH: For English, my child needs to read, speak, and write in full sentences before starting P1.

Many parents would agree that a child who can do the above by the start of P1 is almost guaranteed school success — or at the very least, a breezier school life.

However, we would like to stress that this is not an expectation by our local schools. For P1, a child only needs to be able to:

  • Express personal needs and wants
  • Ask and respond to simple questions (e.g. who, what, and where?)
  • Talk about personal experiences using simple words

The best way to help your child with English is to have daily conversations with your child, as well as encourage a love of reading. For reluctant or struggling readers, you can try ‘immersion reading,’ where a child reads printed text while listening to an audio track at the same time. (Find out how to do this!)

MYTH: My child should be able to read, speak, and write in the Mother Tongue Language (MTL) before starting P1.

The MOE has clarified that children entering P1 only need to:

  • Show an interest in learning the MTL
  • Understand simple instructions, and respond to simple questions in the MTL

That said, it will be difficult for any child to be fluent in the MTL, if there is little or no exposure to the language at home. 

Parents who can afford it will typically hire tutors or enrol their children in enrichment classes — even from the preschool years. Those who are less concerned with grades may let their children take the language at the Foundation level in the upper primary years. (Read about Foundation subjects and how they affect the PSLE score.)

For parents who are willing to help their children with the MTL, there is plenty that you can do at home. Activities include watching movies, listening to kid-friendly audiobooks and podcasts, and of course, conversing in the mother tongue.

Want to chat with other parents about getting ready for P1? Browse our KSP forum and look for a suitable parent networking group to join!