SINGAPORE - Primary 1 pupils across Singapore started attending lessons at primary schools for the first time on Tuesday (Jan 3), some with excitement, others with trepidation.
"Be brave, be curious, ask questions," Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng told some of them at Princess Elizabeth Primary School on Tuesday.
Addressing a group of 210 Primary 1 pupils, as well as their parents and teachers, Mr Ng added that parents and educators should "take a step back and let kids have a little space to learn responsibility".
While he noted that having a strong academic foundation is important, children should also be able to learn in informal spaces, be more independent, and explore beyond school work.
Some schools have been making special efforts to help their new pupils settle in.
At Unity Primary School, for instance, pupils were greeted by two animals mascots at the school gates. The school is also running a carnival on Friday (Jan 6), allowing Primary 1 students and their parents to get to know the school better through team-building games. They also have a buddy system pairing Primary 1 pupils with their seniors from Primary 4.
And over at Westwood Primary School, there was a photo booth set up for parents and their pupils to capture this milestone in their lives.
On Tuesday, Princess Elizabeth Primary School's Primary 1 pupils started school at 10am, instead of the usual 7.30am, to make it just a bit easier to settle in.
Said programme manager Faridah Abdul Karim, 40, who took time off work to accompany her son Muhd Fazil Yazid, six, to school on his first day there: "The great thing is, the school started later and there was no morning rush."
Even though Muhd Fazil's three older siblings all attended Princess Elizabeth Primary, their mother said every child's experience is different.
"It always feels like the first time we are doing everything, even though it's our fourth one," she said.
Muhd Fazil's fellow schoolmate, Tristen Tan, six, said he was "excited" to start school.
Said Tristen: "I feel happy, because I can make new friends. I'm quite a nerd, I like reading lots of encyclopaedias... I want to learn every fun subject."