Help At Your Fingertips

What parents can do to prepare their child for primary school

Some children may need more time to adjust to a new routine and environment.
Some children may need more time to adjust to a new routine and environment.ST FILE PHOTO

Parents are keen to see their pre-schooler succeed in school but they may not know how to create the environment for success. They may have misconcep- tions about their child's readiness for school, said Ms Zhang Gui Yue, a psychologist at the child development unit of the National University Hospital.

MISTAKE 1

Parents often equate school readiness with academic preparedness

Academic skills like reading and counting are crucial to school readiness but being good at schoolwork does not mean that your child can cope well with the transition and learning in school, she said.

Basic skills, such as the ability to work independently and follow classroom rules and routines, are more important. The lack of communication and self-help skills can lead to stress and anxiety, she said.

Ms Zhang advises parents to be positive and encouraging. "Rather than chasing academic excellence, it is more important to make learning and the school experience an enjoyable process," she said. "A happy and well-adjusted kid is more likely to learn better and achieve success in school."

MAKE LEARNING ENJOYABLE

It is more important to make learning and the school experience an enjoyable process... A happy and well-adjusted kid is more likely to learn better and achieve success in school.

MS ZHANG GUI YUE, a psychologist at the child development unit of the National University Hospital

MISTAKE 2

Some parents think their child will be ready for primary school, no matter what, just like his elder brother or sister

Every child is unique, said Ms Zhang. "Each child has his own temperament, learning style and abilities."

Some children develop certain skills earlier or later than others, while others need more time to adjust to a new routine and environment, she added.

She gives some suggestions on what parents can do to prepare their child for primary school:

1 COMMUNICATION

• Talk to your child about what to expect in school. He will feel more at ease if he is aware, ahead of time, of the environment and routines, and the need to buy his own food during recess time.

• Encourage him to talk about his perceptions, feelings and concerns about going to school.

•Get books and videos about school life, and go through them with your child.

•Most schools will hold an orientation session before the new school term begins. After the visit, ask your child if he has any questions and discuss possible solutions to problems.

2 SKILLS TRAINING

•Go through the various challenging situations that your child may face at school. Tell him when, where and how to seek help, if needed.

•Tell him about the changes in social relationships. For instance, he will be separated from his old friends and meeting new ones. Set up play dates with his pre-school classmates so that he can maintain the friendships.

• Teach him basic social skills, such as asking for permission and taking turns to do something.

•Get him to pack his school bag.

• Practise buying food at recess time with your child.

3 ADJUST TO A NEW ROUTINE

•Try to get your child adjusted to the new routine three to four weeks before the start of school. Get him to go to bed early and wake up early. Ample sleep and adequate nutrition are essential.

•Set up an after-school timetable with your child so that he can learn how to organise his time in a better way.

•Allocate time for homework, rest and play, and decide if there will be any restrictions on TV time in the evenings.

Joyce Teo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2016, with the headline 'What parents can do to prepare their child for primary school'. Print Edition | Subscribe