10 Tips to Prepare Your Child for Primary School
Starting primary school is an exciting (and daunting) time not just for the kids, but for parents as well. Compared to kindergarten, primary school feels more “serious.” This new school environment is more structured, with longer lessons, larger classes, new faces, more homework, and different routines to get used to. That’s a lot to cope with! But don’t worry – here are some effective tips to prepare your child for P1.
1. Make checklists to help your P1 kid adjust to new routines.
In the midst of big life changes, kids thrive on routines because it help them know what to expect. Checklists allow kids to follow new routines more easily. Try the following checklists:
- Create a pre-bedtime or “night before school” checklist to build the discipline of preparing ahead in your child, while helping them to prevent chaotic mornings.
- Some suggested checklist actions are: “Put money in wallet; pack school bag; lay out uniform, socks and shoes; bedtime at ____.”
- With more homework to do and tests to prepare for, it's important that your child makes the most out of their time after school. This will facilitate productivity and responsibility, making them less likely to spend hours watching TV listlessly after school. At the same time, instilling two important life skills – prioritising and time management.
- Some suggested checklist actions are: “Eat lunch; shower; complete the day’s homework; study for this week’s spelling words” etc. When creating a timetable, be sure to include some breaks for your child to relax between tasks.
2. Do a transportation practice run.
Talk to your child about how they will get to and from school. For instance, if they are taking the school bus, discuss where they will wait for the bus, who will wait with them, how to identify the right bus, and what time they will get on and off.
If they are taking public transport, walking, or being driven in a car, consider doing a practice transportation run before school starts. Parents can also better gauge the time required for travelling, ahead of the actual first day.
3. Prepare them for buying food at the school canteen.
Buying food from the canteen for the first time can be surprisingly nerve-wracking for kids. Help your child feel more confident by following these tips:
Act it out: Do "role play" where you pretend to be the canteen aunty/uncle and have your child practice dialogue and handling money. You can also reverse roles. This will help familiarise them with the interaction.
Introduce the idea of saving: Give your child a bit more than what the food costs so they inculcate the habit of saving. They get to practice money management at an early age – an essential skill that will help them succeed later in life.
Optional: You can pack "emergency recess snacks" or sandwiches for your child in case they don't have time to queue or find it too difficult to manage all the recess hustle and bustle. After a couple of weeks, they should be able to manage.
4. Talk about making new friends.
In the beginning, your child may miss their preschool friends a lot. Acknowledge their sadness about leaving their old pals, but let them know that there may still be chances to meet up in the future. Then gently talk to them about things they can do to make new friends.
For instance, ask your child to pretend they are meeting you for the first time and practice introducing themselves. Once they start school, you can ask them who they met, the names of their new friends, and who they sat next to in class and at recess. Be encouraging and celebrate their efforts!
5. Go to orientation together.
If you have not toured the school before, make sure you and your child attend the P1 orientation to get a sense of their new school environment. Usually, children are taken to their classrooms to meet their form teachers and future classmates. At the orientation, parents will meet other parents too, it’s a good opportunity to check if there is a parents' chat group for your child’s class too.
6. Involve your child in their primary school supplies preparation.
Let your child participate in buying and labelling their school books and supplies. At home, they may enjoy flipping through their textbooks and going through their new art supplies and fresh notebooks. Take this time to talk to them about which items are for what subjects to get them interested in what they will soon learn. As they partake in the process of labelling their materials, they will feel a greater sense of ownership over their belongings.
7. Set up a work space at home.
Children get distracted easily. Help your child focus on their homework by dedicating a special “work space" just for them. Even if it is in the middle of a common area, such as a dining or kitchen table, your child’s work space should have the basic features of having good lighting and being quiet and clutter-free.
If you decide to get them their own desk and chair in their own room, let them have some say over what they like. If they like where they work, it might help them want to spend more time there.
8. Get organised.
Primary school kids bring home lots of papers. Both you and your child will have to keep track of different notices, events, school forms, and assignments for various subjects. Here are two ways to stay organised:
Keep a tray for school-related papers: This tray should hold all the letters and forms that your child brings home. You can also have your child deposit their homework in this tray after they've completed it for your review.
Keep a daily homework planner: In line with being organised, make sure to teach your child how to stay organised with their homework. Once school starts, they should write down their assignments in a daily planner. This teaches them how to be responsible.
9. Ensure their well-being and safety as they continue this next phase of life.
While you ensure that your child is well-prepared for their new school, new routine and environment, don’t forget to prepare for their health and wellbeing too.
As their mind starts to cope with the change in environment, and their body begins to get used to the new routines, they might experience a fall in immunity. Aside from ensuring that the child has sufficient rest, health insurance plans that help to cover hospital and surgical expenses, can come handy in the event of unforeseen illness.
Check out Income’s easy-to-use portal, where you can see what health insurance plans are available and suited to your family. If you find something suitable, it’s just a few easy clicks to setting up valuable protection for your kids.
10. Be encouraging, interested and engaged.
At every turn leading up to, and throughout, your child’s primary school experience, let your child know that you are there for them by being encouraging, interested and engaged.
If they are worried, run through challenging scenarios that they might encounter at school (i.e. what do to if their teacher says something that they don’t understand; what to do if they are lost in school, etc.).
Ask your child about their feelings, and be interested in what they tell you. This makes them feel important and valued. Lastly, have confidence in them! Be excited for them to take on this new chapter.