2 years ago when my first child, big J embarked on this milestone, I was all “excited” as it was a new journey for me as a mother to a primary school kid. I did have a p1 prep series on my blog covering mostly things I have gotten for big J for his primary 1 but as I was an inexperienced parents myself, I wouldn’t be able to elaborate on more intangible items which I will elaborate in this post as I have gone through 1 round with big J. Hence, I am better prepared as a parent as big C starts her journey next year. I wouldn’t say that I am expert p1 prep mummy but I have gone through one round, but by 2022 when my #4 small C enters primary 1, I will be an EXPERT!
After the excitement of the p1 registration was done and dusted 2 years ago this time, I went on a retail therapy to prep big J for his milestone journey (partly to counter my own anxiety as my first born enters his important milestone.. For this time round, I started much earlier in preparation for this blog series of p1 prep enlisting the help of some sponsors along the way and my own personal experiences. I hope that you will find this blog useful as you navigate through this milestone with your child especially for the next coming half year before school beckons in 2018.
Things to purchase
- Ergonomic table – You can read about my review and current on-going giveaway (giveaway has ended) of the I-Study T120.
- Ergonomic school bag – Ergo or non ergo? I believe this is what most parents will be asking. We grew up in the era where we have never heard of the word ergonomic and I think we all turn out pretty fine, though the loads that the primary school students carry today maybe be far greater than what we had carried during our time. I do acknowledge that ergonomic bags are much heavier than regular school bags due to its make and its spinal support, but I personally prefer to spend a bit more on a better structure bag especially as the child will be using it on a daily basis. There are many ergonomic bags which are in the range of SGD 100 plus and it probably can last 2 years or more. Some brands also offer trade in for the old bag for a discount for the new purchase. Big J has been using Impact’s Comfort Spinal Protection since start of p1. You can read my review here and 1.5 years old I must say it is still in pretty good shape despite being thrown everyday on the floor. There are many ergonomic brands in the market, Ergobag , SPI, Lego, Deuter, Dr Kong, Moonrock. My word of advise, do bring along the child when you try on the bag, what is pleasing to you may not be suitable depending on the child’s height and built. See review here for IMPACT IPEG 223 by Ergoworks.
- Pencil case, stationery etc -I will not encourage to prep the child with the fanciest stationery like from Smiggle etc. They are bound to lose at some point in time. Also fanciful stationery will attract attention and take the focus away from class proper. Some school teachers do find it a huge distraction when pupils gather to “play” or “fiddle” with the fanciful gadgets or stationery. The best place to get the stationery will be from Popular School fair which happen every year end where I will go on a massive stock up of stationery of school. This time round, I also manage to do get a personalized school kit from Stuck on You for big C. See my review for the school kit here.
- Name label, clothes label, shoe label – see my review from Stuck on You
- Lunch box/snack box – with the implementation of snack break, there is a need to bring a lunch box to school . In the past when there is no snack break, J prefers to buy from the canteen during recess (coupled by the fact I do not have time to prepare for him) , hence there was no need for any lunch box per say. For the new mandatory snack break implemented by MOE ie healthy food and less messy food are to be consumed in the classroom. Big J’s preference is fruits which is easy for me. For big C, I will have to think hard on what to pack for her. I got her a cutesy my little pony lunch box (I cant remember where but was at some departmental store and check out the Stuck on You label. Do check out the latest and newest personalised bento boxes from Stuck on You , newly launched – big C will get her own personalised bento box from Stuck on You – see my review here
- Wallet – I find the nicer one at Toys R Us or Smiggle and the elastic chain you can get it from Popular or the school’s book store
- Water bottle – as the kid will get to refill it often at the water cooler, there isn’t a need to get a giant size one. Also no particular need for a strap as they normally placed the water bottle on the designated table before purchasing the food
- School shoes and polisher – There are many brands such as BATA (there is a model which is lightweight that J particularly liked though it does not last very long – so far a pair last him half a year), the school uniform vendors also sell them especially for some schools which uses black school shoes instead of white . If you are making trips to Malaysia, the white shoes are generally cheaper in Malaysia too! White shoes are just more functional than fashionable at this juncture. As the feet grow in size and daily wear and tear, there isn’t a need to invest in a branded white pair of sports shoes (in my opinion those some parents may differ). There is also a brand called Raymax which seems to be a popular choice among students as well. http://www.raymaxscience.com.sg/
- For girls – hair accessories in approved colours ie black
- Name stamp or label printers (in substitute of of name labels) My mum actually used this for me during my schooling days! This is an alternative to pre-printed name labels. There are also printer labels from brands like Brothers or Dymo . See this for review of Brothers’ label printer.
- Watch – big J didn’t have a watch in p1 and he survived through it. There is a wall clock in the classroom and school bells at the end of every period,hence there isn’t much need for a watch. However, if the child start attending cca outside school hours and when you think time management is a critical skill , you can invest in a rather inexpensive watch such as Casio. Big J started to wear a digital Casio in p2 to better manage his time and have some sense of time. Digital smart watch is currently in the rage, some are rather pricey and you require a sim card plan in order for it to function at its full capacity. It has phone calling and GPS capability. It is targeted who pupils who does not own a smartphone – an in between till they are officially allowed to own a smartphone. The prices of such high tech gadgets cost from SGD 60 to SGD 200++ This device will be useful when the child take public transport on his own and leave the vicinity of the school compound on his own – location tracking. If the child is either in student care or school, there isn’t a real need to do location tracking. Big J already lost a Swatch watch (not brought for p1 but his birthday present) in school , so no thank you for now, and I don’t feel the need for a smart watch at this juncture and more so for the p1. As in point above, the more fanciful an item that the child brings to school , there is more distraction created which is most unwelcome by the teachers!
- Uniform – a tip – buy more PE attire than uniform, it is more comfortable. I cannot speak for all school but big J wears it every day because it saves me the trouble of ironing and more comfortable as well as he is in the afternoon session. The school’s general rule is on days of PE and CCA, they are allowed to wear PE attire. It may differ from schools to schools so do check with the school teachers on orientation day and gauge the correct proportion of uniform vs PE attire when you are about to purchase from the uniform vendor during orientation day.
- Textbooks – most parents will purchase them lock, stock and barrel during school orientation day as it is all pre-bundled with exercise books, folders,book covers etc . However, if you have the book list you can also purchase the text book at Popular with some additional savings and credit card rebates, however, you will still need to purchase some school specific items like journal, exercise book etc (hence you still need to make a trip to the school book store) So in short, if you want to save the hassle (as the savings is not huge), do get it all at the school book store. Some school book store also offer delivery service saving the hassle of carrying it all home. Do remember to get the plastic book covers as well to save you from the hassle of cutting and wrapping their textbook.
- Alarm clock – this is good to train independence, however if you have sleeping log like big J, the loudest alarm clock wouldn’t rouse him from his deep slumber
Skills to learn
- Handling money – Money counting skill and most importantly how much to bring if the child eats in school and saving. Some preschools and child cares will also organize a trip to a nearby primary school’s canteen to let the current k2 the joy of purchasing food on their own. In this aspect, I am not too worried for big C as she often tag along her brother to buy “safe” food and drinks at the hawker centre but she hasn’t really learn to count money. Rest assured even if the child is unable to count money by the time they enter primary 1, the canteen aunty are always helpful to return the correct change to you, and it is a skill they will learn in no time. Its for the parent to gauge the correct amount of money to be given to the child in the initial periods. Some school canteens have electronic payment system whereby it can be deducted from the child’s preloaded student pass. A trip to the canteen on orientation day will give an idea the average cost of the food. Recently, big J’s primary school introduce healthy meal eating which has raised the cost of canteen food due to inclusion of healthier food such as fruits and multigrain rice etc. Some school also have a buddy system during the initial days at the canteen or some school will have parent volunteer to assist them in the first few days of schooling.
- Cleaning own-self in the toilet – When I ask my fellow mummies what are the main concerns in primary 1, one common response – cleaning themselves after big business. I didn’t have an issue because big J never did big business in school (don’t ask him how he does it, but he only does his big business at home) but letting the child try on his own (with monitoring) and maybe bring along a Kleenex toilet tissue will ensure a cleaner wipe than regular toilet paper.
- Reading analog time – This is similar to handling money, even if you don’t read time, with the school bells ringing at every period end, you will be able to survive p1. Then said, it is part of the p1 Math syllable but nearer to the end of the year. It will still be good to teach the kid to teach analog clock during the school holidays but do not stress over it too much!
- Class of 40/30 kids vs a small size class setting in childcare or preschool – I was not prepared for this until big J started p1. I didn’t think it was an issue but it was for big J. His K2 class was smaller in size and he is often the one contributing in class etc. When he transited to primary 1 and in a class size of 30 (all strangers to him) he is unable to contribute as much as he wish to as the teacher would want to give every one an opportunity especially the more quiet kids. I do not have a solution to this for big C but I would have to mentally prep her that it is a much bigger class than her current k2 class with unfamiliar friends and teachers.
- The school book store – Some kids discover this early, some not so. But as parents we have to navigate it carefully. This is similar to the snack store in school. First rule of them, do not give them excessive money – when there is no excess they will not be able to buy unnecessary items. Then again there are kids who skipped the meal entirely to buy unnecessary items or snacks. From the start of the school, parents have to be firmed on what the money can be spend on. If there is a need to buy something from the book store, ask for permission before purchasing it. Big J had been caught a few times buying country eraser and some fancy erasers from the bookstore. If all stern warnings do not solve the issue, then the most extreme measure will be cut away the pocket money entirely.
- Journalling – the habit of writing homework, outstanding items etc . Most school will require students to purchase My FTGP Journal ie diary where the main purpose is to jot down notes, and most importantly school homework so that the child/parent do not need to rummage through the whole school bag to search for undone homework. Do not worry as the teachers will guide them through the initial weeks and they will be an expert in no time.
- Being responsible for items required in school ie no helicopter parenting -School not allowing parents to bring missing items to school, I am totally for it. The child will need to learn to be responsible for his /her own items.
- Adapting to student care – some student care encourages the p1 going child to join in Dec so that the child can get use to student care before p1 begins, you can explore this option with the student care when enrolling your child in the student care
- Phone call – As the p1 are not encourage to bring handphone to school, if there is ever a need to call the parents, there is a coin telephone (ie your child need to remember the handphone of either parents or both) or the final resort will be to seek the assistance of the school office admin who will definitely have the parents’ phone number in file.
Knowledge to acquire
- Hanyupinyin (“HYPY”) – There is heavy emphasis in HYPY in primary 1, even more so that the Chinese character recognition. It is best to expose them to some foundation before going to primary 1. I do know that most k2 syllable and Chinese enrichment classes which will touch on HYPY in K2.
- Handwriting – I was shocked when I discovered there is hand writing book in p1 and even p2 called Stellar. It looks rather elementary to me but I had realize that legible and neat handwriting is very important and should be inculcated from a young age. Generally girls have neater handwriting than boys based on my general observation . That said, I realised big J has improved on his handwriting neatness so that hand writing book does help in a way.
- English– you can check my review on some supplement material for your p1 going kids. I found this interesting write up on young parents on 8 things your child must know before he starts primary school from the English language perspective
- Mathematics – you can check my review and here on some supplement materials which could be useful for your p1 going kid
- I found a few articles on young parents website on the level of knowledge your child should have entering primary 1- English, Math and Chinese. That said, do not be overly worried as most schools will have remedial classes for weaker students as early as the beginning of primary 1 so that they can catch up with their peers. The articles’ content were mostly provided by enrichment centres hence expectations maybe on the high side. I also know some schools which practice segregation to cater to students of different learning abilities by class too.
- Silent reading books (most school do not encourage comic, even it is from general knowledge magazine like Young Scientist etc) . Personally I prefer a light thin books or books from the library, non hard cover etc as the school bag already weigh a ton! Especially for Chinese books, there are many suitable thin Chinese books from the Singapore collection that you can borrow for your child to bring during silent reading during assembly. For your home’s Chinese book home collection, I would recommend Flip for Joy to build your own library of Chinese books. See my review here.
- Daily cleaning of classroom – since the 2017, students are tasked with different cleaning duties, be it at the canteen table, sweeping the floor in the classrooms . Parents are also encouraged to reinforce such good habits at home.
- Have good personal hygiene– ensure they have proper hand washing technique and also when they should be washing their hands ie before and after meal, after toilet, after sneezing or coughing or after class duties
- Being involved as a Parent Support Group (“PSG”) – I am a PSG myself though due to work commitments (signed up on the first day of school), I am not the most active but I do try my best to volunteer my time for school activities and the week –long programme. When your kid sees that their parents are involved in school activities, they will feel a sense of support and pride. PSG also allows me to know the parenting networks and the teaching cohort better.
- Familiarising with the new environment – As compare to the childcare or preschool, the primary school compound maybe be intimidating to the child. Do take the child around the school during the school orientation day to familiarize themselves especially the important areas like toilet, assembly hall, canteen and office.
- Helping your child develop a routine – As more and more schools are turning into single sessions should, it’s time to get the child to go to bed early and waking up earlier. Do try to develop a routine closer to school reopening so that the transition will be smoother. Pace year end activities – do not come back at the tail end of the school holidays so that the child will get ample rest before his big milestone. It would also be useful to help them develop an after-school routine/ time- table, such as setting aside time for homework and play.
- Buy food and eat faster -To make the transition easier, you may to pack a small sandwich or snack for your child for the first 2 weeks of school so that they will still have something to eat if they find it too difficult to manage at recess time.
- Guiding kids to make healthier food choice – no child can resist snacks or sweets especially when they have their own pocket money. As parents we should model and guide them on selecting healthier food and leave the snack and sweet treats for special occasion or rewards.
- Do a Transport Dry Run– Whether you will be walking to school together, taking public transport, or using the school bus, it is always a good idea to do a dry run together –this is also to gauge the approximate travel time , though morning rush hours and traffic and bad weather will add on to the travel time.
- Set aside time to talk to the child after school – often the teachers will relay informations for the parents tthrough the child. You will also be able to find out about his emotions, fears and and on-goings in school. There are kids who would just spilled everything once they reached home, others will be only say when asked.
- Communication with teachers and other parents – the most popular will be an app called Class Dojo. This is a platform for teachers to communicate with parents (without divulging their phone number). For parents, there is the group whatapps chat group though they are two camps of thought on whether is it beneficial to join. Some parents do not feel the need to have the safety net of information if the child has missed out a spelling or homework. For myself, I use those reminder by parents as a reminder to myself more than that of the child as I have multiples kids in different schools, it is sometimes quite tough to remember it all.
- Tuitions for parents – For parents who wants to be more involved and guide the child, and not so familiar with the requirements and MOE Syllable, Marshall Cavendish Education organises parents workshop for subjects like Math and English for the lower primary students. Recently I attended a workshop on comprehension, you can read my review here. I thought it was time/money well spent on a Saturday and if you have multiple kids like me, you will bound to reap the most benefits….well until the syllable changes.
Here I share some useful links / videos that may be helpful to you and your child as you navigate to the “whole new world”
Last but not least, enjoy this milestone with your child. It may not be one that you are excited about (manage your own anxiety as your child will be able to feel it) but unless you going through the homeschooling route, you have the embrace the challenges ahead with an open mind and desire to learn this new journey with your child. For non first timer , I am sure you are like me, more confident to be able to guide the child as he /she navigate her way into primary school. And if there is anything that I missed out to make this list of mine more comprehensive, do drop me PM on my blog’s FB or comment on this post, I would be more than happy to include and make this list as comprehensive as I possibly can for future reference and sharing. Feel free to share this blog post with your friends who are going through this same journey as you -the 2011 babies and hopefully we can all help and support each other! And for all those still awaiting registration into the school of choice, all the best!
Share the article