Your Biggest Questions About Primary 1, Answered!

Submitted by KiasuEditor

Will your child be starting P1 next year? The first day of primary school is a milestone moment — not just for children, but for parents too!

Apart from the social aspects of adjusting to primary school, many parents are also concerned about academics. For instance, they wonder if their children are truly ‘ready’ for school, and how they will cope in class. 

Below, we highlight the biggest questions from our parent community about P1, with tips and resources to help ease the transition.

What should a child know before Primary 1?

Are children expected to solve problem sums or write simple stories as soon as they enter Primary 1? Not at all! 

In fact, the Ministry of Education has been very clear about what children need to know:

  1. For Maths, children are only expected to count to 10, and 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. 
  2. For English, children should be able to express their needs and wants, ask and respond to simple questions, and talk about their experiences using simple words.
  3. 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.

Need help to prepare your child in these skills? Read our P1 readiness guide.

What do kids learn in Primary 1 for English and Maths?

Many primary schools use STELLAR readers during their English lessons — STELLAR is an acronym for “Strategies for Teaching English Language Learning and Reading.” 

The STELLAR programme helps students to acquire English proficiency through activities and exercises that develop the following skills:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Visual literacy (understanding the message conveyed by images)

Even if your child’s school is using a different set of readers, these will be the typical skills tested during non-weighted assessments. For more information, read our guide to helping your child with Primary 1 English at home.

For maths, many schools will use the “Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract” framework for their lessons:

  • ‘Concrete’ refers to using manipulatives, such as counting blocks. 
  • ‘Pictorial’ is about using drawings, diagrams, charts, and graphs. 
  • ‘Abstract’ refers to the use of symbols, i.e. numbers.

In a typical progression, a child will first learn to count, add, or subtract using blocks and other physical objects. Next, the child will proceed to do the same with pictured objects, and finally, the child will learn to represent this with numbers.

To coach your child in Primary 1 maths at home, you can use the same approach — click here to find out more.

Does my child need tuition in Primary 1?

The most common reason for starting tuition in Primary 1 is to brush up on the MTL. 

It can be difficult to gain proficiency in a second language, especially if it is seldom used at home. Research has suggested that a child needs to be exposed to a second language for at least 30% of the time, in order for effective learning to take place. This is not feasible for many homes, which explains why second language tuition is so popular!

Another good reason to seek help early is if you suspect your child might have a special learning need. For instance, if your child has been identified for the school’s Learning Support Programme but does not show improvement after several weeks, do talk to the teachers to see if you should have your child assessed for a learning difficulty such as dyslexia. 

For primary schoolers, learning red flags might include:

  • Reading challenges, e.g. remembering sight words, sounding out words, and reading comprehension
  • Difficulties with basic spelling and grammar — it takes hours for your child to prepare for a spelling test
  • Finding it hard to grasp maths concepts
  • A lack of organisational skills, such as not being able to pack one’s schoolbag
  • Not understanding oral instructions 
  • Difficulties expressing oneself
  • Acting out over minor situations
  • Being easily distracted

Want to chat with other parents about special needs and learning difficulties? Join the conversation on the KiasuParents forum.

How should I prepare my child for the first day of Primary 1?

To help your child get ready for the first day of school, focus on daily life skills, such as:

  • Getting dressed — your child can practise putting on the school uniform before school begins
  • 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)
  • Copying or writing a teacher’s instructions into the student handbook
  • Ordering food — when dining out, let your child order his or her meal
  • Handling money and 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

If you care about your child’s academic performance, you should also help your child to establish good sleep habits. Research has shown that better sleep leads to better grades, especially in maths and languages!

Children aged seven to 12 will thrive if they can get 10 to11 hours of sleep each night. But if you’re unable to bring bedtimes forward, the next best thing is to ensure that your child’s quality of sleep is not compromised, by:

  • Having a no-devices-before-bedtime rule, as device use can affect sleep quality
  • Keeping to a consistent bedtime routine — showering and brushing of teeth, a bedtime story, and lights out
  • Ensure that your child is not consuming caffeine in the evening, which could keep him or her awake

Need more sleep-friendly suggestions? Read our step-by-step guide to making early bedtimes happen in your home!

Tue 13/12/2022