Helping your Kid Cope in Primary One

With a few months left until the start of Primary 1 lessons in school, you can try adopting a month-by-month countdown of activities that you can do with your child. Here are some ideas that I would recommend.

In June, focus on creative play as it is the holidays. Make play fun, engaging and productive.  Since gatherings are not permitted, create mini spelling webs with children by using paper and drawing word webs. Use basic words for the child to build confidence. This also gives room for our children to expand on spelling naturally and gradually. Spelling is one area that young children find difficult to cope with when they start school. You can help them gain plenty of confidence by helping learn spelling at a younger age.

Make July a reading month. There is no better way to get kids ready for school by inculcating the love of reading. When reading a story that they like, make it fun. Prepare for writing segments in school by playing dress up fun with the child and reenacting scenes from the book. This helps the child see connections in stories and empathise with characters. Play-pretend is an effective way of acclimatising to writing elements, while also improving imagination for story writing in children. Better still, the child can modify the way characters respond, allowing them to learn predictions for storytelling. 

August is a good month since National Day is here. This is a month for our children to commemorate National Day. I would suggest taking the child through a collection of images from the internet such as the Merlion, the pandas in the zoo and asking the child to describe why these places are interesting. This is good practice for kids to prepare for the Show-and-Tell component in school (which are covered in Primary 1 and 2). Speaking up instead of writing down will help the child learn how to present and build some confidence.  

Interactive gardening and cooking projects are fun in September. This holiday activity is really suitable during the period as children can participate in a collective activity to learn how to work in a small group. Pair siblings up or work with a neighbour. You could even have a guided activity to plant some seeds in the garden, make cupcakes. Integrate Science concepts in the planting process or weigh some flour on the scale. This promotes collaborative work and teaching team work. While doing so, have a small celebratory session to celebrate the skills learnt. 

October is a good month for gearing our children mentally to organising his or her belongings, schedule. Time concepts and stock-keeping are good skills to learn. Let’s try to avoid planning for a child. Allow the child to think about consequences of not keeping things properly or doing his tasks on time. This helps the child cope in school as he needs to display independence. In school, there isn’t any parent to help and a teacher will have to cope with a number of students. Being independent can lead to great leadership skills and this gives our child a chance to be appointed as a group leader.

November’s the best time to hype up the excitement. Prepare early for school by preparing a work desk. Start practising endurance by having allowing your child to cope with mini worksheets and tasks. Make small markings and issue stars as grades. Teach the child the concept of incentives. This mimics a school environment and educates the child that he or she needs to be mindful of doing his work responsibly, just like how it will be in P1.

Finally, in December, brush up the basics by reading with the child. Do simple Math as well. Do not stress your child. Talk about making friends and how they can seek support from friends around them. Have siblings practise and learn together at home. Nudge them to work together and help one another. This removes anxiety and adapts the child to see the joy of collaborative learning, something that can remove any fear of ‘going to school alone without mummy’.

Here are more tips: 

Confidence building is critical for a successful start to primary school. Incentives are always useful distractions and provide a reason to look forward to something after school, as opposed to a ‘nice lunch’ or stationery. I would suggest creating a chart on the wall highlighting significant milestones. It can be vibrant.

Reward your child with a sticker or ‘token’ if he is able to share an accomplishment in school. For example, making a new acquaintance, doing his assigned task satisfactorily for his instructor, winning a short race during physical education, or receiving the correct change after paying for his lunch during recess. We want our children to love school, to look forward to learning and even to make mistakes.

By Carean Oh, Writers Studio, Writers Studio School of English

- Carean Oh

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