I wrote a post on how I prepared my girl for primary school 2 years ago. Time flies and now I am going to prepare my boy for primary school next year. When I relooked into my list of preparation, I still find them very useful and they shall be applicable to my boy with some adjustment in expectations though. It shall also be more challenging this time round as I will be preparing for XX to wake up early for morning school after 2 years of afternoon school in Primary 1 and 2. YH will be in afternoon school. Hence, I need to adjust for both kids concurrently.
1. Eat a good breakfast
I find this a challenge to implement when I am not at home to ensure this goes through smoothly. I had tried for the past 2 years to prepare nutritious breakfast for XX but it was difficult to do it everyday especially on days I am running late for work. Also, sometimes, she wakes up late and as it is close to lunch, she skips my breakfast entirely. Come next year, I will be there for her breakfast and hopefully she is able to eat a good breakfast before school, not in big portions, but something small and nutritious that will see her till recess time. As for YH, he should have no problem eating whatever I prepare for him since he is an early riser.
2. Earlier bedtime
This has been the top challenge in our family. The evening is so short and time so precious, it is always a struggle for me to give more time to my kids and yet insisting that they have enough sleep. Recently, our best lights-out time is 10:40pm. In Singapore, morning schools start early at 7:30am, and XX has to catch the school bus at 6:15am, that means she has to wake up latest at 6am! (I will have to wake up earlier than her to prepare her breakfast, oh!!) We will have to start having lights-out time at 10pm for her to have an 8 hr of sleep. Wish me luck in this one! One good thing though is YH gets to have slightly more sleep as a result. As he will be forgoing his afternoon nap, I hope the earlier bedtime will help compensate for that.
3. Follow a fixed time-table
I will start preparing 2 different time-tables for both kids. YH’s one will be on morning and night activities and XX’s one will be on afternoon and night activities. I find having a time-table useful as the kids will know what to expect at certain timings and not wander aimlessly in the house. However, I find that such time-tables are only useful for probably a few weeks and need constant revisit or re-emphasize with the kids again to see which area requires updates and changes.
4. Familiarize / do a check on academic basics
Academic basics are important for kids in Singapore to not feel overwhelmed when they go to Primary 1. Even though such basics are taught in pre-school, many Singaporean kids attend Primary 1 preparatory classes and academic enrichment classes. This usually put them much in advance on the syllabus that are going to be taught in Primary 1 especially the first semester. For those who are just on the right pace at the syllabus may feel inferior compared to these kids who already know the topics well. My take on this is having kids too advance in knowledge will make them feel bored and not concentrate in class. I want my kids to be just on the right pace to let them enjoy school. But having said that, they still have to be good in academic basics like:
– simple addition and subtraction within 20,
– simple English sentence structures,
– simple spelling,
– know the correct Chinese characters strokes order, and
– simple money counting for school recess (read here for simple games in learning through play)
At least this will provide them with just good enough knowledge to step on the Primary 1 syllabus, so that they will not be left behind.
5. Take down notes, write faster
Just like XX, YH had problems writing fast, or at least, his writing speed is considered slow. How do I know? During his lessons in Yamaha, he has to take down homework with simple writing of date, ticking the right boxes, and writing one, two words remarks. His teacher, Ms Daphne, commented he was slow in writing and when I observe him, he wrote big alphabets and numbers and wrote carefully. I think what he needs is practice and I encourage him to write smaller and faster. This is important when he goes to Primary 1, where he may be left behind in listening to instructions and this could lead to frustration and problems in class learning.
Kids at 6,7 years old are capable of many things that we, parents, may often overlooked and assumed that they are still babies. This is a good age to teach them to pack bags before each lesson. For XX, I started her in packing her bags daily. But for the initial period in Primary 1, she doesn’t have much changes in what she needs to bring to school everyday. Then she started to stop packing bag and bring everything everyday subsequently. When I realized that her bag is like a 10kg burden on her small shoulders, it surprised me what she brings to school! 7 pencils, multiple erasers, 3 story books, lots of unnecessary stuff and even sweet wrappers that enticed ants which we were struggling to find out where they were heading to!
For YH, I think I would face similar or worse things in his bag since he is a boy. I learnt that packing bag is a habit that needs to be reinforced into them. I will do a spot check on their bags once in a while just to make sure no expired food, sweets, excessive stationery, etc in their bags. But packing bag daily should still be their job and it is only a 1 minute check every night.
Next year will be formal school for YH. My wish is that he is diligent and independent like his sister who need almost no reminders to do homework every night. It’s less than 3 months to the first day of school and also less than 3 months of carefree childhood without homework. I hope he can get to enjoy as much as possible before school starts and assimilate well into minimal daily homework schedule. One good thing is that XX and YH’s primary school (they will be studying in the same school, thanks to it being a co-ed school plus super good balloting luck during XX’s school entry!) does not have excessive homework for the first 2 years so far. Most of the time, 20 minutes is the maximum time to finish the homework daily. Even till now, XX still gets to enjoy lots of play time everyday and I would want YH to enjoy the same albeit only for 2 more years before the school workload goes up from Primary 3 onwards.
How do you prepare your child for Primary 1 formal school?