The Big Leap Forward

Preparing your child for a new school experience

By Judith Xavier | 12 December, 2016

December is upon us, and in the midst of enjoying the holiday season, our family is also preparing for our youngest to start Primary One next year. It’s safe to say that I am far more nervous than he is (I also cried at the P1 Orientation, but let’s skip that part). As we get closer to the start of this new phase, these are some of the ways that we’ve tried to make it a smooth transition for our entire family.

Pay the school a visit.

A simple, practical way to ease your child into a new school and familiarise them with it, would be to visit the school together. For Primary One students, all government schools hold an orientation day where your child can visit his new classroom and meet with his form teacher and classmates, ahead of the school year. Often, a separate programme is held for parents where they hear from the Principal and other key staff that your children will be in contact with. This is also an excellent chance to ask any questions you might have while meeting other parents and your child’s new teachers. For a child who struggles with anxiety, this can help to ease their worries and fears.

Teach the basics.

In the months leading up to the new year, we’re focusing on teaching our kids some of the skills that they will need in school. For our 6 year old, this includes how to tie his shoelaces (goodbye Velcro straps!), telling time and managing pocket money. With every new skill learnt, no matter how simple, your child develops a sense of achievement which boosts their self-esteem and emotional resilience, and sets them up for a successful school experience.

Establish a routine.

It’s no secret that children thrive when they have a clear and predictable routine. Take a week or two prior to the start of the school year, to test-run your routine. Eternal optimist that I am, I tend to plan the kids’ routine down to the last minute, and assume that they will comply on the first day of school. This never happens. Give your children time to ease into their new schedule so they (and you) will be much more focused and ready to go when school actually starts. Our daily routine includes wake up and bed times, pockets of time for homework and outdoor play as well as meal times and additional classes the kids take.

Talk about your goals as a family, and for your child.

When school starts, there is a temptation to rush headlong into the ‘doing’ of things, and our entire week can end up devoted to checking tasks off our to-do list. This certainly isn’t a healthy way to be, for us or our children. We’re taking some time to sit down as a family and think about what our goals are as a family, and asking the kids what they want to achieve in the new school year. Some prompts to start this with your own children, would be to ask them:

What is one new thing you want to learn or try this year?

What is one thing you want to be better at this year?

Setting goals will help our children work purposefully, rather than simply completing tasks out of a sense of obligation to teachers or their parents.

I fully expect some bumps along the road (5.30am wakeup time!), but with some careful planning, and working together as a team, this new year looks like a promising one for our family – and yours too!

Be equipped for any problems the new year may bring your way. Sign up for the Parenting with Confidence workshop where you’ll be better equipped to better understand your kids and your own parenting style.

Copyright © 2016. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.


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