P 1 kids take their baby steps

A cotton-tailed pal encouraging Primary 1 pupils at Unity Primary before they head off to class. Last week, about 37,500 Primary 1 pupils in 190 schools attended the first day of school.
A cotton-tailed pal encouraging Primary 1 pupils at Unity Primary before they head off to class. Last week, about 37,500 Primary 1 pupils in 190 schools attended the first day of school. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Westwood’s Primary 4 pupils (left) guiding new Primary 1 pupils (right) to the school canteen last Tuesday.
Westwood’s Primary 4 pupils (left) guiding new Primary 1 pupils (right) to the school canteen last Tuesday. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Westwood Primary 1 pupils figuring out how to place their fist on their chest before reciting Singapore’s National Pledge during morning assembly last Tuesday.
Westwood Primary 1 pupils figuring out how to place their fist on their chest before reciting Singapore’s National Pledge during morning assembly last Tuesday. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Parents watching – and taking pictures – during recess at Westwood Primary School last Tuesday.
Parents watching – and taking pictures – during recess at Westwood Primary School last Tuesday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

They play games, make friends and find their way around on their first days in 'big school'

Last week, about 37,500 Primary 1 pupils across 190 schools got their first taste of primary school life.

"I'm happy. I learnt new lessons and played new games," said Michelle Chan, six, of her first day at Westwood Primary School in Jurong West.

Similarly vocal in her enthusiasm was Rachel Lin from Unity Primary School in Choa Chu Kang, who was thrilled to have the chance to meet new people.

She said: "Now I have a lot of friends. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven... Seven friends!"

Before her first day of school, Rachel sought advice from her brother, who is in Primary 5. "He told me to just have fun and enjoy myself, before I get too much homework," she said.

Rachel's schoolmate Jovan Cahya Yap, six, said he was at first "afraid I would make a mistake and my teacher would scold me".

OFF TO A GOOD START

I'm happy. I learnt new lessons and played new games.

'MICHELLE CHAN, six, of her first day at Westwood Primary School in Jurong West.

However, he soon shed his initial jitters, enthusiastically taking part in school games.

"I got to tie my leg together with my friend's and walk together without falling," he said.

And what does he love about his new school? "It's big, big, big."

The first day of school is a testing time - not just for the young ones, but also their parents.

Before taking her daughter Rachel to primary school, housewife Yvonne Kok, 44, had a couple of concerns. "I was worried about whether there would be a lot of homework, about the stress at school."

She added: "I hope my girl won't compare herself so much to others. I tell her, 'Just try your best, and that's good enough for me.'"

RUN YOUR OWN RACE

I hope my girl won't compare herself so much to others. I tell her, 'Just try your best, and that's good enough for me.'

HOUSEWIFE YVONNE KOK, on her daughter Rachel.

A similar view was expressed by Jovan's mother, housewife Vivi Susanti, 40, who chose Unity Primary because, other than the fact that it is near their home, "they don't emphasise grades only, they have very good core values".

"I just want him to enjoy his school days, not worry too much about grades," she added.

The best way to shed these worries, perhaps, is to be prepared.

Michelle's mother, housewife Png Joo Boey, 41, said her daughter's kindergarten teachers had been prepping their pupils for primary school for the past year.

Acting on their advice, she taught her daughter how to buy food, and "guided her in academics so she wouldn't be so lost".

Bank manager Kenneth Tan, 36, whose six-year-old son Tristen has just started school at Princess Elizabeth Primary in Bukit Batok, said he and his wife will take turns accompanying him to and from school, and then "gradually get him to be more independent".

Tristen's first week of primary school was a reminder of how fast time had gone by. "It seems not long ago that he was a newborn. It feels too fast, too soon," Mr Tan said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'P 1 kids take their baby steps'. Print Edition | Subscribe