Friday 8 January 2016

Preparing for Primary One

We survived the early rises in this first week of school! Jazz's enthusiasm was only evident on the first day, when she jumped out of bed instantly upon the ring of her alarm. The lethal effect of early rises set in from the second day onward, when she started negotiating with her body for another 10 to 15 minutes of sleep. How did she take this trait after her parents?!!

Jazz had a relatively smooth transition in school, but not without some adventures. On the fourth day of school, she lost her way to the classroom as assembly venue was different from the previous days, and it didn't help that she misplaced her P1 lanyard. While she related that she was near to tears, I'm glad she picked up the courage to ask for directions, not once, but thrice. It was a major achievement for us! She does have silent lips when it comes to strangers.

And on one of the days, I volunteered to shepherd a class of P1 in school. I realised for some, it was a huge leap of change. Kids were crying, anxious and threw up. While the best we can do as parent, is to calm down and watch them school on. Here are some ways I gathered to help our kids prep for the initial phase of P1 to gain more independence:

1.  Pack their own bag
Teach them to recognize their books, go through the timetable and leave them to the subsequent packings. Having seen and recognized her books, she had no problem identifying the books required by the teacher. Days which she missed out some books, she will learn to be more attentive during class time.

2. Label or write name
I realized it was common for kids to miss out writing names on 'unconventional' items. Like huge files, journals, diary or other submission that doesn't prompt them to specifically write their name on. There's a higher chance of retrieving labelled belongings when lost.

Sticker by Sticker Kid

3.  Teach girls to tie their hair
For girls, perhaps, we should start the hair academy at home. Jazz still doesn't know how to tie her hair, but we have been practicing. I saw myself helping some girls tie their hair, while some approaching me for help. 

4.  Tissue and wet wipes
Does your child have noon snack in the classroom? It helps to pack mess free snacks, along with dry tissue and wet tissue. It can be quite a queue to wash their hands after snack.

5.  Make use of under desk
While I do encourage Jazz to leave some books and stationery (we do have staplers, sharpeners, scissors and colour pencils at home) under her desk, I told her to be cautious on what is or not needed for home. Textbooks may be needed for homework reference. It helps to either get duplicates for home or carry them daily. We have no intention for duplicates though.

A common sight that morning was little P1s carrying heavy bags. I could tell from their movements, drags and pleas that it was quite some toil on them. Perhaps it was books submission week. Most were offloaded after collection.

6.  Pack light
So then, I've learned that we should try to pack as light as possible. She contentedly settled with her light weight pencil case and snack box. A little love note doesn't take up significant weight, so that stays.

7. Toilet hygiene
Much more for girls than boys, the wiping of seat and cleaning up. Toilet paper is found outside the cubicles for Jazz's school. Told her to play by ear, depending on the type of 'business' she intends to do. It's also important to remind them on flushing and cleaning up after themselves, so that experience is pleasing for the next user. Taps are not commonly automatic for schools, most were seeking help because they had to juggle between soap, washing and pressing the knob down for running water. Practice makes perfect though.

8. Seeking permission
Most P1s struggle with staying focus for too long. From long assembly to longer classroom time, they need to learn how to hold their bladder. And if they can't, some do forget they need to seek teacher's permission before heading to the toilet. It's some herd mentality when it comes to toilet, when one goes, subsequent kids got reminded that they need to go too! Excitedly without seeking permission for some.

9. Food and money sense during recess
We have been practicing food buying for the longest time ever. Right from the beginning of last year. While school's buddy system did ease her from ordering and paying for food this week, she is still hesitant about buying on her own. We did all we could from getting her to speak up in restaurants and food court, but still a tough nut to crack. I don't know why and I don't recall her having any bad experience with stranger uncles or aunties. So parents, maybe we should stop threatening our kids that, "Auntie or Uncle will scold if you do this or that." Especially when it's a minor act.

We also talked about choosing food wisely, getting the mains first and saving up! Do lots of pretend play at home with real money, to improve money sense.

We 'sneaked' ourselves in as courage booster

10. Teach time
Use whichever watch that is comfortable for your child, the digital or analog. Teach them to tell when is recess up and how much time they have left to finishing up food or to ending a lesson. How long is each period and when is school over. I told her different watches and clocks may differ in minutes, as I didn't want her to worry if I am late for pick up. Approach the general office if she needs to reach me.
11. Emergency money
There will be days she will forget his/her wallet. I used a compartment in her schoolbag to put in $2. That will be touched on the day she forgets her wallet. She won't forget her school bag right? Remember to top up though, once it's used.

So yeap, 11 ways we can help our P1 kids ease into school. And a friend just threw me another tip, Make friends! Yes, so essential in this phase of growing and learning. More than just gaining new knowledge, we should focus on the social too. Teach them how to be a friend, more than just looking for a friend. Enjoy the friendships fostered! It is heartening whenever Jazz reports a name of her new friend.

I do hope she will enjoy this school journey with many exciting colours!

Let's continue adding colours to school life!

Any more tips? Feel free to share and expand.


  1. Oh i like that picture you placed in her wallet =) Wow! School allows kids to leave books and stuff in class now? I remember we had to bring back every single thing home and leave none in school back in our days. You make it sound so easy but it's also super overwhelming for the children. I read that she bravely asked for directions when she was lost a couple of times too right? Good on her! She's always been a good girl whenever we meet. Always watching out for the didis and meimeis too =)

    1. Oh yes, books and stuff under the desk now! Not bad huh.

  2. come to think of it, I didn't prepare as much when my kids were in p1. Lucky for me...I guess somehow everything falls in place and very soon, they adapted to primary school.

    1. Great to hear that they adapted well in Primary school!

  3. I'm very happy that Lil Pumpkin has taken to P1 pretty easily too.. I think being in preschool / childcare for a few years before has helped her lots to be more independent and understanding to a school structure. Last week she was really excited to jump out of bed for school too.. slowly, I think she's realising the lethal effects of early mornings like you mentioned haha

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    1. Yup, I do think the preschool years help much in terms of new friends and class settings. Glad she's taking it well.

  4. Entering primary school is indeed a big milestone for the children. With all you have put in place for her (great job!), I'm sure she will do well and enjoy her time in school.

    1. Thanks Ashlyn! Really hope she'll enjoy school.

  5. Thanks for sharing, 2 more years for me to prepare!

  6. Your post reminds me of last year when my son has started with P1 and it is indeed a transition period for kids and parents as well.

    1. I know right. Most times, it's harder for parents to transit, than the kids.

  7. My girl is lucky to have my elder boy to explain about what's happening in school and she somehow could anticipate what to come. We try to keep her relax by talking to her, hug her and praise her.

    1. Nice that she has a big brother in school to bring her around. Siblings, the best friends they can find.

  8. My girl is attending nursery for the first time in 2 weeks time. Not quite the same prep methods but there's a few tips here that can be useful too. Thanks!

    1. First time into nursery is a milestone too! Hope she enjoys her time in school.

  9. Thanks for sharing these tips, my girl will enter P1 in 2017. I agree with you, a lot of social skills needed to go through the schooling years with confidence.


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