Six golden preschooler years passed by very fast. The sounds of K’s first cries is still deeply etched in my head.
K will be Primary 2 next year, or rather just next month. She had survived her P1 orientation and the rest of the school year very well. I wasn’t surprised that she didnt cry, and that she managed to get thru with buying her own food during recess time on the 1st day of school too. She’s always been independent although she also has her nerves to overcome when in a new environment.
I have prepared K very well for P1. Aside from all the home-learning i do with her at home using the materials I sourced and downloaded, she also attended right-brain training lessons, mental/arithmetic abacus classes, Chinese, phonics, swim, ballet and art lessons.
With all these above, I used to think that maybe it wasnt enough and I was always worried for her primary school journey after reading tonnes of horror stories online 😦
Only in the 2nd half of K2 when she was continuously doing P2 maths without much effort from my end, then it struck me that perhaps i have over-prepared her. Surely after spending so much time and money on her, it should be enough to tide her through even though she may not be the best of the bests right?? So with hubby’s blessing, i stopped all her remaining academic classes (at that time left with only Chinese and abacus) but kept alive swimming and art which i felt was important and relaxing to go for.
True enough, life was a breeze for her in school this year. She clears her school curriculum fast and accurate, hardly bringing home any homework except for drawing and colouring, and even has time to neatly colour her term test papers during test time! Every test paper is full marks except for 3 careless mistakes in Maths which costed her overall loss of 4% for the whole year. She would have scored full in Maths too if she had bothered to read the question properly.
In her school, there wasn’t alot of homework compared to other good schools my friends’ children were in. Half the time i dont know what’s being taught in school. But I let it go because I felt that she can manage. And so since she is so free, i paced her with past year papers on a weekly basis. I captured the curriculum though the contents tested. Aside from that she also attends creative writing classes and Higher Chinese lessons. Other remaining time was left for swimming and art, then playing with her favorite friends the whole weekend.
So, as a little message to most nervous parents with children going to Primary 1, do not need to worry too much. The current MOE system may not be the best, but they are trying to align things and the teachers are there to support our children in their learning. Primary 1 is fun, fun and still fun. With the preparation that we as parents had given to them during their preschool year, it is definitely more than enough for the kids to sail through Primary 1 effortlessly.
Coming to the part about Go-To-School preparation for soon-to-be Primary 1 kids, it would be great if parents can spend some time to go through ALL their belongings. Here’s sharing some tips thru my own experience.
Name & Class Labels
Do label every textbook, workbook, whiteboard, whiteboard eraser, markers, tangram set, pencil case (including every item inside it) and even the daily story books they have to bring for silent reading during assembly time if your child tends to be careless with personal belongings. Don’t forget school shoes, socks, water bottle, wallet and watch. They do have to remove shoes and sometimes socks for certain classes like ballet, PE and music class. I’ve seen lots of watches, wallet and water bottle at the Lost & Found corner, all of them without labels.
Use labels that stick on well, or ink stamps if there’s too much to label. For eg the 2 boxes of Chinese word cards. Self-inking stamps would be the best solution for that.
Things NOT to bring to School
The school is meant to be a safe learning environment for children. Do note that the below items are not allowed in school. Children who needs to talk to parents are encouraged to make calls from the General Office.
- Trading cards / Game cards
- Chewing gum
- Pen with invisible ink
- Electronic devices like radio, MP3 player, hand-held games, mobile phones, etc
- Sharp or dangerous objects like metal rulers, pen-knives, etc
Some parents may opt to prepare bento boxes for the child on a daily basis. Reasons maybe due to choice of healthier home-cooked food, worry over child not having enough time to buy food, worry that child don’t dare to buy food, etc. I have found out that schools do regulate on the variety of food sold in the canteen. For eg, fried chicken wing is not allowed for sales on normal school days, only days when school is open to parents during special events like meet-the-parent sessions, Sports Day, Curriculum Day, etc. Food stall operators are also not allowed to use MSG.
My personal view is that children should be encouraged to make purchases for themselves. Through food purchases, they get to pick up social skills, decision-making skills, time-management and also not to forget about picking up the ability to count money.
I am glad that I have stuck to letting K go buy her own food for recess. It has saved me lots of time and stress over the preparation for bento. Firstly, her school bag is already heavy enough even though most things are left in school daily. It varies between 2 to 5 kg on some odd days. Carrying an additional bento box is like 500-800g more to her load though it doesn’t seem like a lot. Secondly, pre-prepared bento food would have been cold for at least 4hrs by the time it is recess period. Not many variety of food can go through the 4hrs and still be tasty and nutritious.
I give K $2 daily and she mostly brings back half the amount as savings. She hardly buys sweet drinks or tidbits as I have told her to let me get from NTUC for her since it costs so much lesser.
Communication with Teacher / School
While some teachers feel secured in giving out their personal mobile no to parents, i believe they would secretly hope that parents will not abuse their personal time. If there is really a need to address or enquire about anything, do email or write down inside the Comms Book. Base on my experience, I get a reply within 2 days which I feel is good enough for me.
What I did once I receive the entire contact list of who’s who, I keyed them all into my phone. I found that I didn’t have the need to call anyone much except that doing this gave me a peace of mind that everything can be just within a phone call away.
Class Seating Arrangement
It seems that classroom table arrangement is no longer like that of our times with tables arranged in row & column formation. The classroom is arranged in groups of U-shaped seating formation now to facilitate group work. I observed that there are some weird seats which will be badly blocked by other students when they look towards the blackboard / teacher. Do keep a lookout for such seats and do highlight to your child’s teacher if it is a strong concern at your end. I do feel that current seating arrangment is not good as most students will not be keeping their heads straight when they look towards the teacher.
No School Days : PSLE Dates & e-Learning Days
Some friends of mine, including myself, were not prepared for this. Aside from stipulated school holidays, P1-P5 kids also need not go to school on PSLE days (oral & written & marking days). It can be quite a distress knowing about this only the week before. Full-time working parents with 1st kid going to P1 and not sending to Before/After School Care may like to find out these dates from the teacher well in advance so that planning for the no-school days can be taken care of both at work and at home.
Enrichment Classes organized by Parent Support Group (PSG) via School
During orientation, the Principal told parents not to waste money going to private enrichment classes but to invest in travel during the school holidays instead. The PSG actively searches good and relatively-unknown enrichment classes, work with the school on the curriculum offered by them, and if okay-to-go, school will provide the premises for the classes, rent-free. In doing so, school gets to work with these course providers and also to allow them to keep costs low so that more students can benefit. Here is a list of the enrichment classes available for 2014 and similarly for 2015.
Typically, schools do not have any full-time dentists. MOH dentists rotate around afew schools in the same neighbourhood and offer basic check-up for students. School dentists also do not carry out any scaling/polishing services for the students. They simply do general dentistry health check and OMG pluck teeth. I would strongly advise parents to still continue the 6-monthly dental visits at your own time, either at National Dental Centre (Paediatric) or private clinics.
The above sort of concludes my thoughts for P1 journey. K has taken her first steps in formal schooling and I hope that she has many more wonderful school years ahead. For the moment, let’s just take it one year at a time. Happy schooling & parenting! 🙂
– Posted by Shirley.