The days of small classes, loads of teacher attention and patient hand-holding might soon be a thing of the past for your child. Don’t fret though, primary school is an important and exciting step towards independence and a brighter future.
Since schools are currently closed due to coronavirus, parents are getting more involved in their kids’ education, and naturally, their preparation for Year 1. Kindergartens normally play a role in prepping 6-year-olds for that next stage (with parental involvement), but now we’ll just have to do the best we can from home.
Let’s go through 4 things you can do to make your child’s transition to primary school as smooth as possible:
1. Talk About the Change That Will Happen
Call up the primary school your child will join (or is interested in joining) and arrange a visit with your child, if possible. During the visit you could show your child the school buildings, facilities and point out teachers and students.
This should give your child a clearer idea of what school will be like, so his first day in Year 1 won’t be too much of a shock.
If your school of choice isn’t open for visits, show your child photographs of the school. Try getting these images through school websites, social media, or brochures.
Sabrina Malar, a school headmistress, says it’s important that parents begin preparing children mentally by telling them how school life is different to preschool. Explain to your child that he will be in a new place, see new faces, and that there will be changes in his daily routine (including the longer school hours).
Possible separation anxiety during the transition is also something that parents should be aware of. Although it’s normal for young children to experience this when entering Year 1, your child will feel more secure if he knows what to anticipate.
2. Work on Independent Living Skills
“Since it (transitioning to Year 1) involves rapid and unanticipated change, kids will find it difficult to manage themselves in school because they have been getting help most of the time in kindergarten,” says primary school teacher, Azureen Syed.
Primary school typically involves a lot more rule-following and discipline than in kindergarten life. Kids will not only have to get accustomed to this, but will have to learn other new habits, such as going to the toilet on their own (yup, some kids in Year 1 still want to be accompanied to the toilet) and handling cash to buy things (like in the cafeteria or bookshop).
3. Check That Your Child Has Reached Basic Academic Expectations
Did you know many kids enter Year 1 not knowing how to write? Writing is a basic skill expected of students. If your child is falling behind on academic standards, he might struggle once school starts, as there is much less one-to-one assistance. This is especially true for classes with big numbers of children.
Some schools might offer remedial classes, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared with all the necessary prerequisite skills like reading, writing and counting for Year 1.
4. Teach Healthy Social and Emotional Skills
Other than academic abilities, social and emotional skills are also highly important. When facing a new environment, kids will have to build fresh relationships, communicate their needs or wants, and practice self-regulation.
Teach your children how to ask for help, give them tips on how to make friends, and go through some coping strategies (like breathing techniques or asking to take a break) for when they are afraid or frustrated.
Sabrina adds, “Teach children it's ok to make mistakes as mistakes are our best teacher. Encourage them to keep trying. Do not focus on grades only but ensure children are understanding concepts and how to apply them in daily life.”
At the end of the day, try not to worry too much about your child’s transition, as most schools do have an orientation period for those who join Year 1. These periods can go up to a whole month
As Agnes Yeoh, a kindergarten teacher and owner says, “Just be there emotionally. We cannot replicate what a teacher does at school but we can create our own learning journey.”
This article was first published on Kiddy123.com.
Written by Irina Myriam
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