Helping Your Child Prepare For Primary School
Stepping into primary school is a milestone for all children. From a relaxed kindergarten to a formal education in primary school, many children will find it scary, especially on their first day in a big school, with so many unfamiliar faces.
As a parent, you definitely have the power to help your child reduce his anxiety and make the transition a happy and smooth experience. You can even help your child get a head start over his peers by preparing him well mentally.
You can start off by familiarizing the school with your child. You can bring your child to visit the campus before the semester kicks off. Show him where the toilets, canteen and classrooms are. You can also take some pictures of different areas of the school to show him. This is to help him familiarize with the new surroundings.
On top of familiarizing with the new surroundings, it is useful to help him familiarize with new school routines. Share with him how flag-rising and flag-lowering ceremonies are conducted and the timings of recess breaks and assemblies.
To get your child excited over starting of school, you can bring him along when you purchase school uniform for him. Let him put on the uniform first and let him see himself in the mirror. This will enable him to adapt to his new identity faster and easier.
You can also start to teach him some common communication skills, like how to ask for permission, how to order food, and how to organize their schoolbags. Get them to practice at home first. You can even do role playing at home where you can pretend to be the teacher and he be the student.
To help your child get a head start in his studies, you need to teach him how to manage their homework and timetable early. You need to support him at this stage, as he may find the sudden increase in homework and tests during primary school too much to take.
For a start, encourage your child to share his experience over what he likes and doesn’t like about school. Give him as much time to talk as possible, and from there, you can see his perceptions of schools through his eyes. If he says school is boring, don’t brush him off straight away. Acknowledge his feelings first followed by your own views.
Initially, your child will need you to work side by side with him to help him cope with his homework. This is the time when you can show your fullest support by praising him and helping him overcome his weakness. Don’t compare him with his siblings and peers and appreciate every little effort he puts in.
Take this chance to discover his strengths and weaknesses. If your child is weak in numbers but strong in English, praise his ability to understand words quickly and at the same time, give him more Maths exercises to do. Encourage him that he can do it, as long as he stay focused and determined. Reward him every time you see an improvement.
On top of schoolwork, make sure he has sufficient play time and rest time too. Help to construct a timetable with him so that he will learn how to organize his time in a better way. Make sure he has a conducive environment for studying, with no distractions around. When it comes to leisure, make sure he adhere to the timetable and don’t overspend his time on TV.
To nurture a child effectively, parents should work closely with teachers. To do that, you can spend some time talking to your child’s teacher over how he is doing in school. Avoid talking about his behavior in front of him as this will probably lead to a lot of criticisms which will hurt his self esteem. On top of that, you can even join as a parent volunteer to help out in school affairs.
In conclusion, entering primary school is a big step for many children. But with the right preparation and foundation from you as well as from the schools, they will be able to adept smoothly and have a fun and enriching time in school.
This article was first published in The New Age Parents online Magazine Aug 09 issue Page 24