How kids can be better prepared for Primary One education

Straits Times recently interviewed me, an educational consultant and English language school founder, Carean Oh, Writers Studio in a Monday feature on how kids can be better prepared for primary one education.

It is always a whole new experience for a Primary One child to embark on a new journey in a new school. Especially when it is a much larger school like a primary school, it is always best to help our kid feel safe, confident and positive by providing more support at home. Based on my years of experience in helping parents and students cope with life in Primary One, I would like to share my views as an educational consultant by including more advice here.

Preparing for Primary One

Some parents believe that they need not prepare their child for Primary 1 as the pre-school/school will do everything. Some parents believe that they need not to prepare their child for Primary 1 as the pre-school/school will do everything. Here are my, Carean Oh, Writers Studio thoughts: 

Each preschool has its own curriculum, which may not adequately prepare a child for higher levels of learning. However, if the preschool is holistic in its instruction, we must consider whether there are additional areas to strengthen in order to increase a child’s confidence. At higher levels, new abilities must be developed and new challenges must be overcome. Preparing a child extends beyond academic skills; a child must learn how to adapt to changes in the environment and in instructional approaches. I would urge parents to focus on soft skills such as organizing their bags, adjusting to a larger class size, developing the courage to ask questions, and also adjusting to extended school hours. The capacity to deal with new challenges effectively by themselves gives a young kid a greater edge than intellectual abilities alone.

Common Mistakes Made by parents

What are some mistakes parents make when preparing their child for P1 by focusing on the wrong priorities academically and emotionally. Here are my thoughts:

On Academically Over-preparedness:

I have seen parents on 2 ends of the continuum: taking a relaxed stance and having their kids embark on the primary school journey without preparation. There are also those who wear their emotions on their faces, losing sleep and signing up for too many enrichment classes just to prepare their kids for primary school.

The children receive no assistance and have no expectations. They are forced into a world of formal chores, extended classrooms, stricter teachers, larger class sizes, and increased effort. These shifts might present difficulties early on and can have a detrimental effect on a child’s confidence later in life.

Parents who are over-prepared exacerbate a child’s learning curve. A parent may request English lessons for their child five years before they enter primary one. Additionally, I’ve been questioned how a parent may hothouse a child under the age of six for the purposes of the GEP. While these are admirable ideals, they limit a child’s freedom to select what to do when not learning. These children’s schedules have been filled with additional lessons, review, and memory exercises. They may not always outperform. Some children burn out before they reach the fourth grade. While parents benefit from a well-prepared child, we must realize that such expectations typically do not end after one year.

On Emotional Over-preparedness:

Parents often are over-protective towards their children, thinking that they are repairing their children emotionally. Examples include what to do and not do, and who to make friends with. I’ve seen a parent watch over every school buddy their daughter makes, from bad friends to messy kids.

This robs a child of the freedom of choice. Stigmas form early in childhood, impeding healthy social relationships. The youngster grows more reluctant, aloof, and this can limit their social circle.

About Acceptance of Mistakes

When it comes to criticisms, a kid may be frequently chastised for errors on their workbooks. This can be disheartening. In the early years, I would encourage a kid to make errors and then correct them. A parent should act as a consultant and assist them in making sound judgments. This way, kids will be more receptive to peer criticism during group work or when reprimanded by a teacher.

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

- Carean Oh

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