Preparing Your K2 Child for Primary 1

Submitted by KiasuEditor

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What does a child need to know, in order to adapt well to the first year of primary school?

If you are wondering about academic readiness, here are some guidelines given by the Ministry of Education: 

  • For Maths, children should be able to count to 10, and have a basic understanding of numbers. For example, they should know that five is more than four, and four is less than five. They should also be able to add and subtract by counting the fingers on one or both hands. 
  • For English, children should be able to express their needs, ask and respond to simple questions, and talk about their experiences using simple words.
  • For the Mother Tongue Language or MTL, children should be able to understand simple instructions, and respond to simple questions. More importantly, they should have an interest in learning the MTL.

Apart from the above, it’s also good to ensure that your child is equipped with the following daily life skills:

  • Getting dressed — buttoning a shirt, putting on shoes, and tying shoelaces (if not using shoes with velcro)
  • Packing a school bag
  • Keeping track of one’s belongings
  • Asking for permission (e.g. to use the bathroom) and asking for help (e.g. alerting the teacher if one feels ill)
  • Writing instructions in a notebook
  • Ordering food
  • Paying for purchases and handling change
  • Eating within a specified timeframe
  • Basic hygiene habits, such as ensuring that a toilet is clean after use, and the washing of one’s hands

Beyond this, how should you help your child to develop the joy of learning? It’s certainly not about trying to enter the ‘top’ secondary schools. To adopt a big-picture approach, think about building your child’s character, and fostering an environment where every experience is seen as a learning opportunity. 

Read on to find out how you can do this for your child who is entering P1.

Learning to Ask Questions

As Singapore’s education system shifts towards inclusivity and a reduced focus on testing, the art of asking questions will become increasingly vital. 

Questions not only alert teachers to learning gaps, but also foster critical thinking and self-awareness among learners. What’s more, in this era of abundant information and AI chatbots, the ability to ask specific, well-thought-out questions is crucial. 

As a parent, what’s critical is how you respond to your child’s questions. For instance, saying “Don’t you know this already?” can be more damaging than you think. Such responses may negatively impact your child’s confidence, and stifle their curiosity and willingness to learn. In contrast, responding with questions of your own — such as “Why do you think this is so?” — encourages your child to consider possibilities without the fear of getting it wrong.

To stimulate learning, what questions should you ask your child? Let’s say you’re visiting a science exhibition together. A good approach would be to avoid labeling questions like “What is this object?” or “What is this part called?” Instead, ask thought-provoking questions like “Why do you think this planet has rings?” or “How do you think this machine works?” Then, together, explore the answers to see whose guess was closest. This approach encourages observation and inquiry, engaging the whole family.

Cultivating Healthy Habits

What are some good habits that your child should aim to develop while in primary school? Three essential habits are screen time management, getting ample sleep, and exercising regularly.

When it comes to screen time, several studies have tracked school performance alongside screen usage, and it’s been suggested that even one or two hours of recreational screen time per day could have a negative impact on test scores. We know that this is a tricky area to navigate, especially when parents rely heavily on their screens too. But it’s good to be aware of what the experts have recommended: no more than one hour of screen time daily on school days, and four hours per day on weekends.

As for sleep, studies have shown that students who keep to the same bedtimes — and get a restful sleep at night — tend to get better test scores. 

And finally, exercise is known as a natural brain-booster, because it increases blood flow to the brain, providing more oxygen and nutrients. This helps create new blood vessels in the brain, and strengthens connections between brain cells.

In short, although balancing screen time, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly may seem like simple habits, they can make a big difference in your child’s overall success and well-being for the next six years.

Building Key Skills

Want to prepare your child for the future? Focus on skills that will serve them well throughout their education and beyond. 

Analytical Thinking: This involves the ability to think logically and solve problems. To develop this in your child, you can introduce them to strategy-based board games (like chess), which challenge them to think ahead and plan their moves. Puzzle-solving activities and simple science experiments can also encourage them to ask questions and seek solutions.

Creative Thinking: This skill is about thinking innovatively and imagining new possibilities. Simple coding games can teach basic logic and creativity, encouraging children to approach problems in new ways. Storytelling exercises are another way to enhance creative thinking. By creating and sharing their own stories, children learn to imagine diverse scenarios and characters, which develops their ability to think outside the box.

Resilience and Agility: These life skills are about adapting to change and overcoming challenges. Physical play, such as participating in obstacle courses, team sports, and martial arts classes, can teach young children how to navigate new challenges, be flexible in their approach, and recover from setbacks.

Tech Literacy: In our digital world, being comfortable with technology is essential. To make technology engaging and educational for your child, introduce age-appropriate computer games, interactive learning apps, and basic robotics kits.

Attention to Detail: To encourage your child to be more thorough in their efforts, involve them in activities that require concentration and precision, like origami crafting, building with blocks, or cooking under supervision. 

Leadership and Social Influence: Developing leadership skills involves learning to take initiative and influence others positively. Look out for opportunities where your child can take on small responsibilities in group activities, engage in cooperative play, and participate in discussions. This will help them to build confidence and social skills.

Need more advice? Get answers to your biggest questions about Primary 1, or join the conversation on our KSP forum!

Mon 04/12/2023