Is your child a preschooler who is about to enter a primary school next year? In this blog post, we will be looking at how parents can help prepare their little ones for the transition to the next phase of their education journey. More specifically, let us look at the type of challenges that may arise, especially with regards to coping with a new set of curriculum and the shift to a more academically-inclined environment.
Before we proceed, we would like to point out that holistic development (which includes social and emotional skills) is far more important than the pursuit of academic excellence. We are certainly not advocating pushing children to master primary-level concepts, but it would be good for parents to be aware of what to expect when their children start attending classes in primary 1 and help them build a foundation prior to that in a nuanced manner. This way, they can better adapt to handling new and unfamiliar information especially in a new setting.
Preschool Versus Primary School
There are three P1-level subjects, and here is the overview of the kind of content each subject will cover. Click on the respective links below for the complete syllabuses and to check out some of our P1 lessons and worksheets.
- Listening and Speaking
- Reading and Writing
- Numbers to 20
- Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division
- Shapes and Patterns
- Length, Time and Money
- Picture Graphs
- Mother Tongue (Chinese)
- Listening and Speaking
- Reading and Writing
- Hanyu Pinyin
With longer school hours (usually from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM, with a 30-minute recess break), expect more work and less play. As of 2019, all examinations and weighted assessments have been removed for P1 and P2 students so as to reduce the over-emphasis on academic grades. However, this is not to discount the importance of learning and gaining new knowledge. School will not be completely stress-free, as there will still be assessments and teachers will assign homework to your child, which may or may not be familiar to him or her.
Building a foundation
Students are expected to already possess basic literacy (eg. knowledge of alphabets, vocabulary and writing) and arithmetic skills (eg. counting numbers and carrying out simple addition/subtraction) before starting P1. Most preschools would have a set of curriculum that will cover these concepts in order to sufficiently prepare their students for the transition to primary school, and you can help to build on this foundation.
Keeping up in school
Entering primary school marks the start of your child’s formal education and your child is expected to keep up with the stipulated syllabus for each subject. Your child may encounter topics that he or she finds difficult to follow and keep up with. With larger class sizes, teachers in schools will not be able to provide undivided attention for every student or respond promptly or adequately to learning challenges your child may be facing.
What Parents Can Do
Create a conducive learning environment
Allocating a proper study space for your child will help him or her adapt much better during the transition to a classroom setting in primary school. It could just comprise a simple study table and a bookshelf but more importantly, this space should be free of distractions (no toys etc.). This way, your child can understand that there is a time and place for work and for play.
Besides the physical environment, your child’s social environment is crucial too. There is no denying that parents play an important role of being their children’s first educators during their early formative years.
Doing so exposes your child to both the English and the mother tongue languages. This should come naturally in your daily conversation with your child. Try to spend time having reading or story-telling sessions to build up your child’s vocabulary bank and knowledge of sentence structure.
Prior to entering primary school, you can introduce some beginner topics that your child will be learning in term 1. After that, create simple questions or print out some worksheets for your child to attempt and gauge his or her understanding. This way, your child will not feel overwhelmed once he or she starts receiving school homework.
Cultivate curiosity and the love of learning
Learning does not have to be all academic-oriented or coercive. Here are some ways you can help your child find joy in learning.
Expose your child to new experiences and encourage him or her to find and develop interests and hobbies. Engage your child in discussions and encourage him or her to think critically and form individual opinions. Try your best to answer his or her questions instead of being dismissive. Doing so gets your child into the habit of asking questions. So, when he or she faces a difficult homework question or has trouble grasping a concept taught in school, he or she will be more inclined to ask for help and seek clarification to clear existing doubts.
Keeping your child motivated
Creating a conducive learning environment and instilling curiosity are intrinsic ways to keep your child motivated to learn. Externally, you can also create a reward system such that there is something pleasant (such as a treat or additional play time) your child can look forward to after every study session or upon completing a set of homework.
Set realistic expectations
Adapting to a whole new environment may be overwhelming for some, so be sure to manage expectations and run through the transition process thoroughly with your child. You can also set some learning goals and objectives that will help your child stay on track with his or her studies.
The transition from preschool to primary school can be a daunting experience but with adequate preparation and a good foundation, it can still be a smooth-sailing process that will mark a strong start for your child as he or she embarks on a brand new learning journey!
Sources: [1, 2, 3]
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