XX is going to Primary 1 (P1) next January which is less than 2 mths to go.
Many parents around me have been preparing frantically for this BIG day.
Some ensures daily one hour “homework” to accustomize their kids to this “habit” of doing homework when P1 starts.
Some decided to stop nap time.
Some send their kids to Preparation class for P1 where such classes drill P1 exam papers onto the pre-schoolers.
For me, I have not done anything yet, and I think I should… but based on a few principles:
a) nap time – since my girl will not get to enjoy this anyway from January next year, I shall let her enjoy for 6 weeks more
b) homework – since my girl will bound to have homework from school from Jan next year, I shall let her enjoy more play time for 6 weeks more. However, I will still give her fun worksheets to play while at the same time reinforce some academic basics.
c) preparation class for Primary 1 – since my girl will get to know how it will be like in P1 next year, I shall not expose her 6 weeks earlier.
With the above principles in mind, I will prepare my girl for Primary 1 in the following ways:
1) Eat a good breakfast
This is initially difficult as the time gap between wake up to out of the house is really short to cramp in milk plus breakfast. My kids are not used to eating breakfast immediately when they wake up, except for milk. I started implementing this 1 year ago and I learnt that I have to have good variations in breakfast every morning to entice their appetite. I believe a good breakfast is essential to a good start of the day. Kids do well in school and have better concentration when they have breakfast. This will be important when my girl starts school.
2) Earlier bedtime
This is tougher to implement than the first. There are so many activities to do with my kids that I find it extremely hard to off the lights at 10pm. And not to mention, all these activities do not include any one hour homework time. Hence, I need to work hard on this one, and I know 6 weeks is a bit too late to start this routine, and what makes it worse is that we’ll be travelling for 3 weeks in a 7 hour time difference country just prior to school starts. That brings me to the next preparation – to have a good time-table and FOLLOW IT!
3) Follow a fixed time-table
I have drawn up a clock time-table which my kids have drawn in the picture here.
Having drawn up a time-table together with my kids help them remember and let them refer to it whenever we exceeded our time in any activity. There will be little protest on this agreed routine since they are involved in the process. With this, my kids will be able to know how to follow the time stated, train them in reading the clock, and hopefully it will help my girl in transition to homework time when I incorporate it into her time-table next year. In this case, I need not purposely start her in doing homework daily in order to get her into following a fixed routine.
4) Reinforce her academic basics
I have printed some fun activity sheets for my kids (in separate difficulty levels). I take these sheets out, explained how to do in game rules style, so that they will not feel like it is a boring homework. Even though I don’t stress too much academic activities on my kids, but I still think my girl has to know some basics to not feel overwhelmed in Primary 1 classes. I need to prepare her moderately especially most kids will be much more “advanced” from their P1 Prep class from the first day of school. She just needs to know the basics and learn the rest in school so that she will not feel bored or switched off when the teacher starts to teach something she already know too much about.
5) Take down notes, write faster
My girl has a habit to day dream, and write slowly. I am glad that her Yamaha teacher, Ms Tan has taught her to take down notes quickly in her music class. Also, the Yamaha fast paced lesson forbids her to day dream too much and she is forced to listen attentively to not miss an instruction. However, at home, she still reverts back to old self and I have to constantly remind her to write faster. This will be very important in Primary school and I am training her speed in writing. I have yet to train her by the clock and I will not do so for fear of stressing her too much. So what I have been doing is constant reminders and also correcting her way in holding the pencil.
Independence is extremely important for any kids, and not only to prepare for Primary 1. Kids are easily trained in independence if we start them young. I want my girl to be responsible for her own books and what to bring to school. I shall only do the checking and not pack her bag for her. Again, her Yamaha Ms Tan taught her before I do, to pack her bag and ensure pencils are sharpened, erasers are in the pencil box, her Repertoire and Solfege and Ensemble books are in her bag. All these to be checked every Friday night before the Saturday Yamaha lesson. I shall take a leaf from here and make sure she does this everyday when she starts school. We have started to let the kids, including the young one, the moment they step into the house, to put their shoes on the shoe rack, bring the dirty uniform from the childcare bag to the laundry basket, put school letters in the letter holders, and put their school bags into the cubby hole.
Independence applies to learning for spelling tests. I used to remind my girl endlessly on whether she has learnt her spelling. Soon after, it seems to become my responsibility! But recently I have tried to cut down on my reminders and told her it’s HER responsibility to remember when she has her spelling tests. Parents should not be the ones to be responsible for everything including learning for tests. Kids have to learn their life skills too. The only way to encourage independence is that parents trust their kids and let go, with some checks along the way.
Nowadays, parents are so involved in their kids’ lives, we seem to be the ones attending school.
Whatever we do, I feel the element of fun learning and enjoying childhood should always be the fundamentals in parenting.
How do you prepare for your child’s first day of formal school?