As the new school year fast approaches, it is time to get your child ready for the next new chapter of their life. Primary 1 is an all-important year for your little one as it is their first step towards learning how to be independent in an unfamiliar environment. This is the start where your child learns how to interact with their peers, handle their own finances, manage their time well and be responsible for themselves.
Since the first year in primary school can seem pretty daunting for most children, here are some tips on what you can do to help your child adjust to their new primary school life.
Talk about what they can expect on their first day
Communication is key and in this case, it would be beneficial to talk to your child about what a day in primary school would be like. Encourage your child to ask questions or share any concerns they might have, and walk them through it. This gives you the opportunity to run through different scenarios that might occur, and provide your child with more awareness which would help them feel more at ease. Alternatively, you might want to invest in a few books or find videos online about this subject which you can go through together with your child.
Attend school orientation with your child
It is common for most schools to hold an orientation session before the official commencement of classes. It would be good if you bring your child along for the session as the school tour is an opportunity for you to figure out what the classroom, canteen, and washrooms would look like. This is a good way to help orientate your child to the school environment as you can help offer possible solutions to any new questions they might have after visiting the school. If your child is attending your alma mater, it might be beneficial to share some stories you have from your time there, which can help to create a more relatable experience on their first day.
Prepare for Recess
Going for Recess is probably going to be the most confusing encounter for your child. Having to manage not just the sudden horde of hungry students, but the process of ordering their food and even learning to pay for their meal can be quite stressful. Talk to your child about how they can deal with queues, manage payments, and make good decisions in this new experience.
You could also let your child have a hands-on experience at the supermarket or food courts during non-peak hours, where they can make their own food choices and count out the coins needed to make payment. If your child is a little slow at it, don’t rush them. Instead, go through some cashiering games with them at home that can help build their speed and counting accuracy.
Making New Friends
Starting a new school year at a new school would require forming new friendships with other students. This would also mean that your child might not be able to meet their old friends from preschool as frequently anymore. Speak with your child about what can be done to make the transition easier for them, and what concerns they might have about forming new bonds in primary school. Reassure them that they will still be able to see their friends and maintain their preschool friendships with some playdates.
Conduct a Transport Dry Run
Be it walking to school, taking the public transport or using the school bus; it is always a good idea to do a dry run of these scenarios together with your child before the actual first day. Practice waking up in the morning and getting ready before going to school as well as doing it in reverse for the journey back home. This creates a way for you to see if any adjustments are needed and if your child can cope easily with this new responsibility.
Create a new routine
Unlike their preschool years, heading to primary school means implementing an even stricter routine where your child adapts to a new time schedule that they may not be used to. Setting up a routine which you intend to keep to during the school week will help your child get used to an earlier wake-up time for school. Discuss with your child on where they should be doing their homework, and if there should be any restrictions on television time in the evenings. This is also where you can set some ground rules to carry on throughout their first year in primary school. In addition, consider setting up an after-school timetable with your child so that they can start picking up proper time management skills.
While entering primary 1 is the time for your child to learn how to be independent, it is also important to ensure your child is equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to keep themselves safe. Sit down with your child and go through all the different situations which they might encounter at school, or outside of school that seems like a threat to their safety. Touch on issues like fire safety procedures, how to identify potential hazards, the dangers of leaving the school grounds unattended, road safety and what they can do in the event that an adult or another child makes them feel uncomfortable. This will help to keep them better informed in recognising a similar situation.