The 'need' to prepare for P1 worrying

While I agree that children attending preparatory classes for Primary 1 would largely benefit from them ("Helping kids make leap from pre-school to primary school"; Monday), I find it somewhat worrying that such classes are needed in the first place.

It is up to parents to decide whether to send their children to such classes.

But the very fact that they even feel the need to do so - when Primary 1 is supposed to be a relatively relaxed educational stage - demands further attention as to whether more time should be given to facilitate the transition between pre-school and Primary 1, particularly in the areas which such preparatory classes aim to address.

This issue cannot be attributed to the "kiasu" (fear of losing out) nature of most Singaporeans alone, since every "kiasu" decision stems from some legitimate concern or problem.

Some difficult questions need to be asked. Is there too much content in the Primary 1 curriculum such that too little time is spent on each topic?

Why would misconceptions arise so easily and why might they be insufficiently addressed by some teachers? Is there too little time given for pupils to adjust?

Furthermore, despite the availability of remedial programmes in primary school, why might parents rather have their child attend private preparatory courses even before knowing whether they would face difficulties in school?

Preparatory lessons can be a quick fix to the problems implied in the above questions, but they can never be the long-term solution (unless, of course, they are made compulsory for all).

Such lessons were never meant to be part of the formal education system, yet, I suspect that some parents have come to see them as being so for their children.

Ng Chia Wee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2015, with the headline 'The 'need' to prepare for P1 worrying'. Print Edition | Subscribe