The transition from preschool to primary school can be daunting for most children. For one, the new style of learning and classroom setting is drastically different. Unlike in preschool where students learn and do activities together, in primary school, tasks are a lot more routine with individual work and rules to follow. Classrooms in primary schools are also systematically organised in rows with tables and chairs, but in preschools such as First Steps Preschool @ East Coast, students are used to colourful and tiny furniture that mimic playtime instead.
Thus, what students struggle with the most when transitioning from preschool to primary school is finding balance — most will find that they lack playtime as school work gets to pile up. Preparation for primary school requires effort not just on children but on parents too. Parents need to be a lot more involved and support their children along the way as primary school comes with a new set of responsibilities, from taking care of their belongings to dealing with money.
To ease your child’s anxiety of entering primary school, here’s what you can do to ensure a swift and pleasant adjustment:
Mentally prepare your child
Communicate to your child what primary school is about and lay out the differences between primary school and preschool. For example, you could emphasise that in primary school, the teacher’s main responsibility is focusing on school work. Hence, children have to be a lot more independent and face new responsibilities like handling money, buying food, and going to the toilet on their own. Go through everyday routines, basics about what will happen in the classroom and other little details.
In general, you want your child to gain an understanding of primary school as much as possible. Make sure to address any concerns so your child feels confident for his/her first day of school.
Attend the school’s orientation programme
There’s no better way to adjust your child to school than to visit the school and attend its orientation programme. Typically, the orientation programme is held before the school term begins. During which, parents will be briefed on what to expect on the first day or week of school. They will also be given a school tour including areas like the general office, assembly area, canteen and bus drop-off point. This will help familiarise your child with the school’s compounds. While at the canteen, it would be a good opportunity to teach your child how to buy food and where to wash their hands and return food trays.
Ensure academic readiness
Now, this does not mean sending your kids for tuition and ensuring they have all the knowledge they need in the Primary 1 syllabus. You do not want to stress them out. Rather, brush up on their literacy and numeracy skills to make sure they don’t fall behind in class. Are they able to read simple sentences, identify colours, write their names in English and Mother Tongue and understand instructions? Are they able to count money, read time? These are the things you want to focus on. From there, leave the teachers to do their teaching.
Practice everyday school routines
Give your child a taste of schooling life by practising some schooling routines. This do by acting out scenarios. For example, you could role-play as a teacher or food vendor to get your child to practice raising hands to ask questions or ordering food and handling money. This is to familiarise your child with certain necessary motions so they would be less nervous in school. At the same time, you could also discuss things like how to take the bus.
Whichever way you do it, remember to set a positive setting and teach it in the way that makes your child excited to actually put these practices into action.
Set up routines at home
Before first day of school, start to cultivate good habits and help your child ease into a routine. For example, draft a timetable. This could mean allocating time for reading, watching TV, playing games and napping. A timetable would teach your child the importance of time management, which would definitely come in handy once school starts. In the timetable, take into account school hours. So if school starts at 7am, it might not be the best idea to allocate a long nap time as bedtime must be early. Similarly, if school starts at 1pm, then it isn’t ideal to schedule nap time at 2pm.
On top of that, ensure your child gets into the habit of eating a good breakfast every morning so they will have no issues having breakfast once school starts. You might also want to set up a study area for your child to do homework. Try getting him/her to use the desk for homework purposes only, and not for playing computer games. This space should be clutter free with good lighting and free of distractions.
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