What your child should know before starting Primary One

The New Year is just around the corner and some of you have kids who will be starting Primary One very soon. If you're worried about how they will cope with starting formal education, have a read through our list of important things your child should know.

You watched with joy when your little baby learned to crawl by himself, you celebrated the day your tiny toddler took his first steps on his own, you beamed with pride when your small preschooler learned to write his own name, and now you are holding back your bitter-sweet tears just thinking about sending him off to start Primary One.

The years seemed to have flown by and your little one is not so little anymore and soon he’s going to start his formal education – but is he ready to graduate from Kindergarten and move on up to Primary One?

What are the important things your child should know before he goes to Primary school?

Primary One preparation

Is your child prepared for Primary One?

1. Reading and writing

Your child may have learnt his ABCs in Kindergarten, but he will need to know a lot more, such as to:

  • Read articulately
  • Write the whole alphabet (26 letters) in capital and small letters
  • Read simple words
  • Write simple words
  • Construct simple sentences in English

What you can do to help

Cultivate good reading habits from an early age and this will be a great way for your child to build his early literacy skills, spark his imagination, help with brain development, and understand the patterns of language.

2. Take care of personal belongings

When your child starts Primary One, he will probably have a lot of brand new things to bring along with him to school such as a pencil case filled with stationary, a watch, his school bag, a folder, and his wallet.

He has to learn to be more responsible and take care of his personal belongings by making sure not to misplace them or lending something to someone and ensuring it is returned to him afterwards.

What you can do to help

Your child may already be feeling a bit of stress from starting Primary One and the last thing on his mind would be to keep an eye on his personal belongings.

You can help him out by putting name labels on all his things so that it doesn’t get mixed up with someone else’s and should it somehow end up in the Lost and Found box, he can easily identify it.

 

Primary One preparation

Good personal hygiene and cleanliness is important for your child’s health.

3. Have good personal hygiene

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) advises parents to teach their children how to have good personal hygiene as they are most vulnerable to get infections, so it is very important for their health and well-being.

Keeping their hands clean will help reduce the risk of infections and just the simple act of washing hands with water and soap is enough to prevent illness to themselves and to others.

Teach your child to wash his hands during these moments:

  • Before and after meals
  • After going to the toilet
  • After wiping or blowing his nose
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • After touching common surfaces (such as lift buttons, door knobs, handles, table tops)
  • After touching rubbish or something dirty
  • After laying with or touching pets

What you can do to help

As a parent, you should set a good example by demonstrating good personal hygiene habits, such as washing your hands properly.

You should also make this a habit for everyone at home to wash their hands thoroughly at all times and remember that washing hands with soap and water for 30 seconds can actually reduce germ count by up to 99%!

4. Tell the time

At six to seven years old, your child is a entering school-age so should already understand the concept of numbers and be able to tell the time.

He needs to understand the importance of time and how to keep track of it so that he isn’t late for class, or miss his school bus!

What you can do to help

Even though it may seem easier to give your child a digital clock, it is actually better if he learns to tell the time by using an analog clock instead, because the hands will help give a visual indication to help with their comprehension of time and to count by fives.

You should also have him memorise numbers up to 60 in their correct order and regularly review his understanding of double-digit numbers — as these can be quite challenging for some children — by pointing out any double-digits you see when you’re out and about (such as bus numbers, lift levels, street signs, etc) and have him repeat those numbers to you.

5. Know how to handle money

Once your child starts Primary One, that’s when you will be giving her an allowance or pocket money, so that she can buy lunch, stationary or other knick knacks in school.

Some Singapore mums agree that SGD$1 – $5 a day is sufficient for a Primary One student, although if she needs bus fare then it may be up to $10 instead. If your child has co-curricular activities, some suggest that she should be given an extra SGD$5 for that day.

What you can do to help

Let her practice handling money when you are out together, such as when you’re eating at the food-court, buying movie tickets at the cinema, or paying for groceries at the supermarket, so you are there to help guide her along.

You can also participate in a pretend-play activity together at home by “setting up shop” and have her pretend to be a “customer” and slowly learn how to correctly pay for the items she wants to purchase.

Primary One preparation

Primary One students should know how to handle money when they buy their own lunch or stationary in school.

6. Have good manners and etiquette

Singapore kids are probably familiar with the adorable Singa the Courtesy Lion, who was the official mascot for the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), and encouraged everyone to be courteous and kind to others.

It is a good for your child to understand basic courtesy and good manners such as:

  • Saying “please” when asking for something
  • Saying “thank you” when receiving something
  • Don’t interrupt when someone else is talking (unless it is an emergency)
  • Saying “excuse me” when you need to get someone’s attention
  • Asking permission first before doing something
  • Not making negative comments about someone
  • Knocking on closed doors and waiting for a response before entering
  • Refrain from using any foul language
  • Not calling anyone mean names
  • Saying “sorry” if you hurt someone (even if it was unintentional)
  • Not teasing or bullying others

What you can do to help

Model good behaviour and lead by example. If you expect your child to say “please” and “thank you” to you and those around her, you should also make it a habit to be polite to her too, as well as to other people.

Teach her that it is wrong to call other people hurtful names or make fun of others, and if she slips up and forgets her manners, you should gently correct her so that she can learn from her mistake and remember to be more polite in future.

 

Primary One preparation

Teach your child to be neat and organised.

7. Be organised

Some parents worry that their child will have a lot of things to carry in their school bag, which will cause it to be overloaded and possibly affect her posture and gait.

A general guideline from the Health Promotion Board is that children in their first few years of school should carry no more than 15% of their body weight (around 3.5kg – 5kg), so if your child learns how to be more organised and plans what she needs for school each day, it will save her a lot of headache (and backache!)

What you can do to help

Go through her school schedule with her every night to make sure that she is not bringing any unnecessary items in her school bag, such as text books for subjects which will not be taught the next day.

Or clear out her old Art & Craft project which has been smashed at the bottom of her school bag for the past two months.

8. Go to the toilet on their own

Once your child was successfully potty-trained when she was a toddler, teaching her to know how to wipe properly after she does her business was probably a pretty tricky task.

Even though she knows how to control her bladder and go only once she’s in the toilet (instead of in her underwear), you have to remind her not to hold it in for too long and not to be afraid to ask the teacher if she could be excused to go to the washroom.

What you can do to help

Now that your child is older and able to understand more, you can explain to her why it is important to go to the toilet on her own and make sure that she cleans up properly afterwards, by using the following tips:

  • Explain why she needs to clean up properly
  • Show her the correct technique
  • Ask if she prefers to use toilet paper or flushable wet wipes (and provide the latter for her to bring to school)
  • Provide words of encouragement

Academics may be important, but remember that this is your child’s very first year attending Primary school and it was a big transition from Preschool, so it is also essential for her to be equipped with practical skills so she can be independent and have more confidence in her new environment.

What else do you think is important for Primary One students to know? How did you prepare your child for Primary school? Do  you have any funny stories about your child’s first day in school? Share your comments with us below!