What your child is learning in Primary 1
Find out what your child is learning in Primary 1, and what you can do to support her or him.
The primary years are arguably the most important years of your child’s life. The concepts of language, writing, reading, history, math, science, social skills — all of these are introduced and built upon during the primary years.
As a parent, it is your job to provide an atmosphere that enhances and builds upon the skills learned at school — in such a way that your child enjoys learning and using what they learn. After all, that’s the point of education — to use what you learn.
So if your primary-aged children see the value in what they are learning, their interest in learning remains strong. They will remain attentive in school… and there’s no better time to start showing them this value than in Primary 1.
Why it is important for you to know what your child is learning in Primary 1
Tan Weiqiang, owner of Junior Wonders Tuition Centre, says, “We highly encourage parents to be actively involved when it comes to supporting their children in Primary 1. Quality time spent with your child will go a long way to help your child.”
He adds, “It is important to note that the pedagogy and curriculum applied at Primary 1 is aimed at cultivating a strong foundation for our children. Some children may take a longer while and require a little more help but academic excellence at this stage is not required.
“The Ministry of Education has gone as far as to eliminate semestral paper and pen examinations in order to bring this point across to parents.”
A brief overview of what your child is learning in Primary 1
Children beginning their primary education are often at different levels of comprehension and attentiveness based on individual personalities, exposure to books and learning at home and/or in daycare and their learning style.
These factors require Primary 1 teachers to be innovative, patient and enthusiastic in their methods of teaching. That being said, here is what your child is learning in Primary 1 (or should be learning, at least):
- Language: Students are taught to write and recognize letters, how letters are put together to form words, and to read simple words and sentences. They learn basic writing skills with a pencil and on the computer, and how to compose simple thoughts into writing in the proper form and context.
- Oral communication skills: Students will develop listening and speaking skills using English. They will be given opportunities to use their skills in a number of situations. Etiquette and social conventionalism will be taught and practiced in the classroom.
- Reading: Students will use their language skills to read level-appropriate books. They will also be required to recall what they read orally and in writing (age-appropriate). They will discover the fun in words through silly poems, rhymes and limericks.
- Mother Tongue: With more and more households being primarily English-speaking, Mother Tongue languages are taught in various degrees but with respect and dedication to the heritage of the people of Singapore.
- Art and Music: Students will be introduced to a number of different mediums and encouraged to express themselves creatively. Music is taught much the same way.
- Math: Math skills including basic mathematical concepts, reasoning skills and simple problem solving.
- Social studies: The emphasis is on the ‘social’ part of the studies. Communities, people groups, culture and other similar concepts are introduced in Primary 1, and will grow into deeper studies in the subsequent early primary grades.
- Physical Education and Extracurricular Activities: Both are stressed as being a part of the holistic teaching of the Singapore education system. Children need to run, play and develop the ability to fine-tune their coordination and motor skills. They also benefit from being a part of a ‘team’ and from learning sportsmanship, playing by the rules and following directions.
The love for learning should be emphasized
Tan Weiqiang emphasizes, “Children are taught basic numeracy and literacy skills when they are in Primary 1. These are done through play, story telling etc.
“It is very unlike the old days when these skills are drilled into the students in the 80’s and early 90’s and it is important for parents to understand this so as not to kill the love for learning in our children.
Tan adds, “The subject English refers to literacy skills. School usually make use of stories that surround a particular theme to teach grammatical rules and vocabulary.
“Sentence structure and basic punctuation skills are also taught. Composition or loosely referred to as creative writing is eased in later in the year when the children have a better grasp of basic grammatical rules and sentence structures and they usually start with the formation of simple sentences.”
He also says that it is important to note that writing should not come before the basic understanding of grammatical rules and sentence structure — “so do not jump into courses that offer creative writing without a focus on the basics,” he advises parents.
When it comes to Math, Tan says this refers to numeracy skills. “Basic skills such as addition and subtraction are taught through the use of manipulatives and a whole host of other ‘toys’ that schools acquire to aid our children to better understand the concepts of addition, subtraction and multiplication,” he explains.
Tan also says that simple visualisation skills is one of the things your child is learning in Primary 1 and these skills are taught primarily through the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) approach.
“These skills will form the foundation for the training of more complex visualisations and problem solving skills as they move on through the years,” he adds.
Going beyond the classroom
As a parent, you should be actively seeking out and offering your children opportunities to enhance their skills in fun and creative ways — ways that will allow your child’s uniqueness to shine through. This could happen in the kitchen, kid’s clubs, in the garden… you name it!
To give you a few ideas, Tan suggests a few simple things that parents can do:
– Bring your children out to the park, beach, etc and ask them to look around them. Go ahead and explore. Get them to talk. Talk about what they see.
For example, pick up a dried leaf. Ask them, how does the leaf feel, what sound does it make if you were to step on it, how does it fly to the ground etc.
By doing this, you are helping your child pick up important skills such as observing, describing etc. Your child will pick up vocabulary an grammar while you are at this.
You can also help them by counting the leaves that are on the floor.
You can weave in simple addition and subtraction skills by adding and taking away a leaf and allow your child to count them physically. Then move on to asking them to imagine the addition and subtracting of the leaves.
– Bring your child to the library. Allow your child to pick up a book and read to your child.
Our libraries have very cozy and nicely decorated children’s sections that make such activities very conducive. Be animated and read the book slowly.
Apart from reading the words, pick out points to talk about from the pictures and ask your child questions. Get them to reply.
You will help your child immensely with his comprehension skills and vocabulary by doing this.
-If you need to get an external party to help, do look for someone qualified. Some qualifications to look out for would be an NIE diploma, Bachelors Degree or Post Graduate Diploma in teaching.
These tutors may be more costly but they will know how best to help your child. If you are looking for a tuition centre to help, do take time to visit them and talk to the operator or teachers.
Pick a centre that does not simply get your child to drill and practice as this would kill the interest of learning in your child. The same applies to private tutors.
Most importantly, if you have found a place which your child enjoys going to, do not switch unless you absolutely have to. Centre or tutor hopping will only serve to confuse your child further.
The ultimate goal
As we all know, as parents, all of us want to give our children the very best that we can give them. However, as Tan advises, we should be careful to keep this enthusiasm in check.
“Keep learning subtle and meaningful,” he stresses. “That way, our children will discover the joy of learning and stay as learners for life.”
Do you know of other things your child is learning in Primary 1, specifically those that are not mentioned in this article? Do let us know by leaving a comment!