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Primary 1 : What to Expect?

I've received queries on this topic and most of it goes along the line;

  • I do not remember what I learned in P1.

  • I do not know where to get the syllabus.

  • How do I prepare for my P1 child?

  • What will they be learning and how will they be assessed?

  • Multiplication was introduced in P3 back then, now its done in P1!??

  • What if he starts crying for me or gets lost in such a big school?

I am going to try and give you bite size information on what to expect and how best to prepare your child that is heading for one of the biggest milestones in his life. Do note that this post is a sharing based on my best knowledge after going through it with 3 different children recently. You can still seek other expert advise and tips. Bear with me as this is quite a lengthy but informative post.


Before we can head on to the syllabus and education aspect which many of us are most worried about. Lets take a look at other equally critical points.


Social Skills


Before prepping the child for learning, lets talk about their social skills. In kindergarten, they are used to have teachers constantly on the look out for their cues be it emotional or physical. A certain jumpy action can trigger the teacher into sending the child to the toilet knowing he needs to go. It is going to be a culture shock for him if he is not told what to do under different situations. In a classroom of 30 students, there will be only 1 teacher at the front and may not able to pick up on your child cues.


Here's what to focus on:


  • Teach them to have the courage to speak to teachers, friends, canteen vendors, bookshop aunties, bus attendant, student care leaders, admin staff or anyone that holds a role in the school. You can start by getting him to speak to you in this manner, "Good Morning Mama, can I please go to the toilet?" or "Hi, how much does this cost?" Tell them its ok to put up their hand if they have an urgent request. Do try to introduce to them who is safe for them to speak to in school. I had this issue with my 2nd daughter. She have always remained silent to the extend that she starts to answer her worksheets wrong even though she clearly understood her concepts. Turned out she couldn't see the board and needed glasses. We found out only after an intervention in school.

  • Put up a timetable at home and set blocks of times for certain activities. If that timing is over, teach him that he can not return to the said activity till the time comes again. This will teach him patience and understanding that there is a time for everything. At the same time it establishes a good routine. For example, home, shower, lunch, rest, homework, leisure, dinner and bedtime.


  • Role play with your child by giving them their exact recess cash and teach them how to make purchases quickly. I find that by teaching them just the face value of the notes and coins, they understood quickly. For example, an item cost $1.50, you give $2, look out for the 50cents coin. That's it.

  • Typical, during orientation, the school will give you a menu list with pricing of what's selling in the canteen. So you can estimate your child's recess money. Most meals are sold at an average set price of maybe $1.50 that comes with a meal and fruit. Again, this differs between schools so do look out for it.

  • Go through many many different scenarios but making sure they recognize the face value 1st without fully understanding the math behind it. Make it into a game. I hope this makes some sense to you. Do Dm me if you need further tips on this. Once they master this, its easy to go to the next step which is understanding the math behind it.

  • Teach them to focus in blocks of time. Give them an activity and get them to sit for 30mins and get it done without running around or leaving the work undone. Kindergarteners are used to moving around. Some are kinesthetic learners and they will not do well if they cant sit, focus and get work done but chose to run around and disrupt lessons.

  • Most schools, due to Covid, do not have the buddy system in place anymore. Remember those days , we have an upper primary buddy to help us during recess. It made things a lot easier right? They are now replaced with teachers stationed at different areas in the canteen to help the students. So rest assured they will still receive help if they need any.


Learning to Roll With It


Failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. I've always kept this in mind whenever my children gets into something new and I need to quickly make them acclimate to it. At the same time, I have to teach them to learn and roll with whatever comes their way.

  • Give them scenarios and solutions to it. For example, if you go to the toilet and wet your pants, go tell your teacher, do not keep quiet. If your friend steals your stationaries, if you lose your wallet, if you lose your water bottle, if you forgot to do your homework, if you do not know where your class is etc. Be as exhaustive as you can with this list.

  • Do not sit and pressure your child with this facts because instead of prepping him, you may end up scaring him and boost his anxieties. Best time to do is when both of you are chilling at home maybe watching something on tv or over a relaxing meal.


  • Tell him that its ok to make mistakes during the 1st few months as its new for both you and him. If a bad situation happens, its ok, manage it to best of his abilities. Come back and we can discuss it together. Do remember to be gentle on them and do not set unrealistic expectations. A child that excels very very well in K2 might not be the same when he enters P1. Take it easy, take it slow.


Academic


Now comes the most heavy weight concern we all have. A quick search from the MOE website will give you a comprehensive list of what is expected of your child. However, I do admit that it is quite a read. So I am gonna try and make it simpler and easy for you to digest. You can click this link for a better understanding. However, here is a quick summary for you.

English


There are specific aims that the schools would like to achieve through lessons and they are:

  • Listen to, read and view critically and with accuracy, understanding and appreciation a wide array of literary and informational texts in standard English

  • Speak, write and represent in standard English that is grammatical, fluent, intelligible and appropriate for different purposes, audiences, contexts and cultures.

  • Use standard English grammar and vocabulary accurately and appropriately, and understand how speakers/writers put words together and use language to communicate meaning and achieve impact.

  • Use English with impact, effect and affect.

And they hope to achieve this through teaching and embedding the following:

  • Listening and Viewing

  • Reading and Viewing

  • Speaking and Representing

  • Writing and Representing

  • Grammar

  • Vocabulary

Sounds so cheeeeem right? So how am I suppose to support this at home? Lets look at the summation simply. There are 3 elements that are key. Read, Write and Speak.


Read:

  • I know its not written specifically but it's mostly expected that children entering P1 can at least read some basic words. Gone were the days where kiddos who cant read enters P1 and its perfectly fine cause 3/4 of class cant too.

  • Introduce reading as a habit or hobby to your child. My best go to are the Peter and Jane series cause there are many difficulty levels to push your child out of their comfort zone. All of my children started on it at K1 at least.

  • If your child is still currently struggling to read, I started using Dolch List on my children too. It works wonders. We are basically introducing high frequency words to them. One level at a time. Notice I did not mention teaching through phonics. Its because I have never explored that option and I didn't really know how to and since reading High Frequency words worked faster, I stick to it. Click on the link to see a demo of me using the Dolch List with my daughter.

  • Other wise you can approach your child's kindergarten teacher and and ask what methods was used and you can reinforce it at home.


Write

  • At this stage, if your child are good readers, you can encourage simple sentence writing. 4 words per sentence and increase once they are confident.

  • If they still struggle with reading, I would focus on penmanship. In fact, I am always battling with penmanship especially with my boys even though one have hit upper primary. Good penmanship is necessary especially when they start doing sums in Math.


Speak


Right now I believe most of our households are speaking English as our first language. So how are we gonna boost their language?

  • Use proper English. Not Singlish. We seldom use Singlish in my home.

  • Stick to English and do not mix languages. Try to speak complete sentences in full English and avoid adding mother tongue language into the mix.

  • Use 'bombastic' words. Up your language game and at the same time your child will benefit from it too. I am always in love with the English language and I always use big words. Even to my two year old. Expose them to bigger words and encourage usage. Do not laugh or giggle if they mess up. That would affect their self esteem.

  • Encourage public speaking at home. I will sometime record my children and make them do presentations. Or somedays when they would want something from me, I would let them "Plead their case" to me and I will judge and decide based on what they present to me. Use this opportunity to correct the manner they speak. Here is an example of my daughter giving a presentation on weight balancing. I will record her presentation so that she can correct herself when she presents it in class.

Mathematics


I used to remembered learning about multiplication and long division when I started primary three and learning more about it when I began primary 4. Currently, at primary 1 they are already introduced to grouping which is basically multiplication. There were many times, I will help them with their homework and they will come back with all marked wrong cause the concept I used was wrong. Answer is correct, but method of arriving to the answer was wrong. So be very prepared for this. A big revamp was done.


In my opinion, the current method is in fact more confusing to explain. A simple straight forward concept is now broken down into smaller ones to encourage understanding for children but confusion for parents. I will suggest reading through their textbooks before attempting the questions or find assessment books that have good answer keys. But fret not my dear parents, its doable and like we always say with math, practice makes perfect.


Once again from the MOE website, these are the aims for Mathematics Syllabus

  • acquire and apply mathematical concepts and skills

  • develop cognitive and metacognitive skills through a mathematical approach to problem solving

  • develop positive attitudes towards mathematics

Many of us dread doing math from way back in school, so we have to change that mindset for our children. I am happy to say that with my children, whenever I tell them to go grab their assessment books and lets start work, 100% of the time they all grab math books. The fear for the subject is no longer there. Here are some tips to make them more keen and motivated in learning math.

  • Make the subject positive and do not show fear. Remember, how you approach it is how they will perceive it too. So whenever they come to you with a problem, use words like "Ok lets work on this together" or "Oh wow, you are learning this right now! You must be getting smarter in math!"


  • Do not say things like, "So difficult! I hated math back in school! Urgh dunno la, go ask *insert spouse name*! I've always failed math, so don't come ask me. " All these will imprint in their mind and they too will feel the same way. Don't do this please.

  • Dedicate a fix timing for them to work through their math assessment books. Make it a routine and do not give in to excuses. Daily practice will most definitely help!


If you are wondering what are the topics involve for Mathematics, here is comprehensive list.

  1. Whole Numbers ( Numbers up to 100)

  • Counting to tell the number of objects in a given set

  • Number notation, representations and place values ( tens, ones etc.)

  • Reading and writing numbers in numerals and in words

  • Comparing the number of objects in two or more sets

  • Comparing and ordering numbers

  • Patterns in number sequences

  • Ordinal Numbers ( first, second, up to tenth) and symbols (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.)

  • Number bonds for numbers up to 10

2. Addition and Subtraction

  • Concepts of addition and subtraction

  • Use of +, - and =

  • Relationship between addition and subtraction

  • Adding more than two 1 digit numbers

  • Addition and subtraction within 100

  • Adding and subtracting using algorithms

  • Solving 1 step word problems involving addition and subtraction within 20

  • Mental calculation involving addition and subtraction (within 20, of a 2 digit number and ones without renaming and of a 2 digit number and tens)

3. Multiplication and Division

  • Concepts of multiplication and division

  • Use of X (not algebra per say but simple concepts)

  • Multiplying within 40

  • Dividing within 20

  • Solving 1 step word problems involving multiplication and division with pictorial representation

4. Money

  • Counting amount of money (in cents up to $1 and in dollars up to $100)

  • Solving 1 step word problems involving addition and subtraction of money in dollars only

5. Measurement and Geometry

  • Length - Measuring and comparing the length of objects in non-standard units.

  • Time - Telling time to the hour, half hour, minutes.

  • Identifying, naming, describing and classifying 2D Objects (rectangle, square, circle and triangle)

  • Making or completing patterns with 2D shapes according to one or two of the following attributes; size, shape, colour and orientation

6. Statistics

  • Picture graphs - reading and interpreting data from picture graphs


Mother Tongue


In all honesty, I am struggling to keep up with the Mother Tongue subject. My children are taking Malay Language. It is seriously very very hard for me to find assessments books in well known book stores or even smaller ones. The ones that I do find are not very comprehensive and the kids will sit and finish it in 1 week and then ask me what's next? Speaking to the teachers and asking for resources for many years have not been successful yet. Am still looking for an awesome teacher who can help me out with this aspect. If you know of any do share with me so I can spread the good word.


However, with that being said, for all Mother Tongue subjects, I will stick to the methodologies I have shared for the English Language. After all its about language right? A quick click on this button will bring you to the different Chinese, Malay and Tamil syllabus expectations. I hope it helps.

Assessments


Finally we head to the crucial aspect, assessments. Children in Primary 1 and Primary 2 do not need to sit for exams. However, they do have mini class tests and topical reviews which the teachers will conduct normally after they finished a topic. Based on my children school, its normally a 20 question paper with mixture of MCQs and problem sums. For English, there's show and tell with proper rubrics and also oral / reading tests. If they had focus and grasped the concepts, they can easily ace these tests with no issues.

Teachers will also include their general assessment of working with the children in class into considerations. Like their attitude towards the subject and how well they are progressing in lessons. All this will be reflected in their report books with some level of grading such as Developing, Achieving or Succeeding. You will not see the typical method of banding or class positions like we used to have.


Learning Support


Should your child need additional learning support, there is a great system in place.

For English Language and Mathematics, students will be identified at Primary 1 through screening that will be conducted upon school entry. For Mother Tongue languages, they will be identified at Primary 2 to join the program at Primary 3 and 4.


These sessions are conducted by trained teachers in small focus groups over a period of time.


Conclusion


Wow that's a lot!! Breathe Breathe Breathe! It is best for us to follow the children progress day by day, followed by monthly. Always sit and review their school work and have chats with them on how they find the new school, how the transition is for them and if they face any problems in school. Keep an open mind that this is something entirely new and scary for some of them. Be the assuring parent not the anxious parent.


If you are anxious and still have separation anxiety with them, it will definitely rub on them too. No matter how you are feeling, try to appear confident for them and promote excitement and joy towards this new journey they are embarking on.


I hope this post helps in answering any questions you have in mind on starting Primary 1. If you still have any doubts, feel free to Dm me on my Instagram @letsaskmama and I can help you further to my best ability. Please help me share the content so many more parents can benefit from this as it is my aim to reach as many as I can and ease their mind. Thank you so much. Good Luck to P1 Parents and Kiddos. You've got this!!


(PS: Do comment below if you think I should share more tips on how to approach and teach the different math topics I've stated above. Thank you.)


Lotsa Love,

Ana

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