Friday, 13 June 2014

Preparing for Primary one (part 2)

Aside from academics preparation, parents should also consider preparing their kids in other aspects like life skills and outer physical needs. Here are some of my list.

Life skills

1) Obviously, learning to buy their own meals is an essential skill. They need to be able to count money, order appropriately, learn to queue, where to queue etc. I won't elaborate on this as this is quite apparent to most parents.

2) Toilet hygiene. What? You say? Well yah. I read from Ing, who was a former Primary one teacher and now a blogger, she realised some kids didn't know how to clean themselves after a big business in the toilet. Right up to 6 years of his life, I have been cleaning for Sonshine after a big poo. I just didn't trust him to clean himself well. But after reading her account, I realised it was an important skill to learn! 

3) From another teacher's account, she noticed some girls don't know how to tie their hair and of course she had to help them. So if you have girls, teach them the know how!

4) Personal hygiene. Again, from a teacher's account, some kids don't know how to clean up after themselves after a meal. Even during meals, their sense of personal hygiene is quite poor. Teach your kids to wash their hands before & after they have their meals at recess and to clean their mouths with tissue after meals. 

5) For me, I was worried that Sonshine didn't know how to zip & unzip his pants. Up till then, he always had to pull up or down his pants, never to zip or unzip. It didn't occur to me that he needed some practice until his very first day of school. But fortunately, he picked it up quickly. If your kids need a longer time to practise, make sure you let them try to put on and take off before they start school. 

6) Taking care of their belongings. It is very common that primary one kids lose their things. While you should be mentally prepared to never see their stuff forever and standby multiple lunch boxes, water bottles, pencil cases, pencils, erasers etc. You should also teach your kids to have a sense of ownership for their belongings. Honestly, I don't know how to. Maybe, 2-3 months before school starts, let them carry a belonging out and make them accountable for it. Before we go out, I ask Sonshine to remember what he brought out of the house and he is to make sure he brings everything back home.  I'm very fortunate. Sonshine rarely loses his things & we didn't prepare him for this at all. There were occasions he forgot to bring his stuff back, but he always get them back. 

7) Handwriting. Sonshine has been penalised a couple of times because of his less than perfect writing. Some teachers are lenient some are not. Sonshine was marked wrong even though his answer was correct just because he wrote '2' without a curve at the top. Even though it was a multiple choice answer and it's obvious that he's answer was a '2' the teacher still marked him wrong. Some teachers are less gracious like that. While his mandarin teacher would correct his writing but still grant him the mark because he's answer is not wrong. What I'm trying to say is, don't assume every teacher, even at Primary one, is lenient. Some can be quite strict. Hence, if your child has less than average handwriting, do give him more practise before school starts. 

Physical needs

1) I know most parents are concern about buying the appropriate bags for their kids. I don't have much tips here but if every school is like Sonshine's, in primary one, you don't really need an ergo bag. He's bag is pretty light on most days. He only needs to carry his Chinese textbook back & forth. Personally, I think ergo bags are not necessary for primary one as it is too heavy for the kids and not worth to lug around if they only need to bring little things. But to each their own. :)

2) Stationery. This is one thing I learn; stationery is very important! I thought we can let him use cheap pencils, erasers, sharpeners and what nots. I chose cheap ones because I was afraid he would lose them. Gradually I realised it's important to invest in good quality stationery. Take erasers for instance. Sonshine's fine motor skills is not strong. He needs to put in a lot of strength when erasing and we could still see the shadows of his previous answers. In his case, it's important to get him a good quality eraser to help him erase cleanly and with less effort. Same for color pencils. I could see his coloring improved (he hates coloring) after we invested in a good set of color pencils). So far, Fable Castell stationery is working great for us! 

I hope these pointers help! As for academics, I observe that most children, who attended kindergarten, are well prepared. There's really nothing much to fret about. Of course this also depends on the schools. Some schools have higher expectations than others. But in general, I think most kids will do well. I think even the average student can hit a score of 90 marks for every subject, even 100 marks is attainable. Yes it is that easy; at least that's how it is for our school. As long as your child has been doing good in his or her kindergarten, I don't think there's much to worry about. Not now at least. I think the nightmare will only start later half of primary two or start or primary three. What is important in primary one is to get the kids into the groove of doing homework, revising & taking ownership of their own school work. Laying this foundation is very important for later years. The first year is the best year to train them up because in the following years, we probably need to focus more on their studies. 

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