Update 12 Jan 2020
I had wanted to give an update after small J’s first month of formal schooling as a followup to this blog post but with daily routines, schedules and also the virus outbreak it actually slipped my mind entirely until this came in my letter box last week.
For a good start, there were no calls from his form teachers (no calls equate to good news as from experience, teachers only call when there is trouble). I also don’t want to ask the teacher so early in the term to give feedback on small J.
With the exception of small reminders, small J is adapting formal schooling very well (evident by the sweet note from his form teacher last week).
He packs his school bag everyday, bring out papers for me to sign, write on his journal (of course teacher will guide them), ensure there is enough pocket money, very aware of the on-goings in school (in fact he reminded his older sister of her activities in the school bus as the sister almost took the school bus home) and generally very happy and well-adjusted. He is even appointed the PE ranger and very happy to have this responsibility. I know he has been eating the same kind of food at the canteen , slowly encouraging try more variety. There are days when he dozes off in the afternoon after a long day but other than that he is seems to have grow from a preschooler to a primary school kids almost overnight! I think that The Little Executive P1 Prep Camp has really give small J a taster, a good start and a foundation of the demands of formal schooling hence he was better prepared and well adjusted. I hope that he will continue to improve on all the 10 essential skills as outline by the camp!
Finally, the day has arrived for small J to spend almost 2 full days with The Little Executive. He was super excited to spend two days away from his child care (though he only has less than 1 month with his childcare that he has been with since 18 months -super bitter sweet -sorry for the digression).
I do not believe that I need to prep my kids academically for primary 1 as they may lose interest in what is taught in primary school. School is for learning and I would like to keep it that way and not to learn ahead of the school curriculum, so long the kid can read and count, I think these are sufficient academic knowledge to handle the rigour of formal education especially in the first year, especially with no exam in primary 1 and 2, I think we can let loose a bit on the academic front of formal education.
What I am more worried is the emotional side of the transition. From a smaller class setting to a bigger one, where there is less attention from teacher as it is 1 teacher to 30 as compared to a way smaller ratio in childcare, some kids may find it hard to have themselves heard.
At the get-go, the kids were given a school journal/diary – scheduling and timetable skills. At the end of the day, they will have write down the timetable of the activities they had done for the day. Later, this will be further develop into planning and prioritizing which is a skill that is required even as a working adult!
To introduce the concept of emotional regulation , the kids were introduced to the “emotion wheel” where they need to be able to express their own emotions and communicate their needs, ie simply put it not to show their unhappiness through tantrums and cries.
I love how each kid has been given responsibilities and roles within the small class setting on the onset. The first thing small J shown me when I went during his lunch break was that he was proudly announcing that he was the “whiteboard monitor” ! (develop responsibility and leadership )
We as adults and parents often overlook and take for granted simple things like asking for helping (it is not a sign of weakness but this is vital especially when the level of independence up many notches above child care), raising your hands when need to answer questions take time to do your work carefully, my shirt is always neat and tidy (personal grooming is important for work and school too) and finishing their work on time (this is super important, kids like to “kepo” and chit chat with other pupils).
The ability to get organised and to pack their bags is also a very important skill set that I often overlook. Hence, as part of the 2-day camp they will discuss items to bring, whose responsibility is it and what if the child forget to bring something to school. (independence)
Initially, I didn’t quite grasp what skills you will get from playing games , and I quickly found out that by playing team games is also one way to develop social skills and sportsmanship. The kids learnt how to play fair, what happen if they win or lose , how to be a gracious winner or how to persevere.
In the camp, they also simulated recess time, about making the right choices (small J chose to buy stationery!) and most importantly , money skills and counting the right change.
Another important skill is classroom skills – manage work and behaviour in class – learning to check one’s work, learning how to be careful , having a growth mindset and most importantly if an activity was difficult, how can they be resilient and persevere.
They are also taught how to handle bullies in school and what they must do when they are faced with a bully – social skills
I had the opportunity to catch up with the facilitator at the end of day 1 on small J’s progress and weaknesses that we need to focus and manage. He was unable to regulate his emotions well and he tends to walk around the class as he completes his task very quickly. It is really good feedback as this is not an observation from child care (perhaps he is very too used to the routine/rules in child care as he has been there for 4.5 years) unlike the P1 prep camp or Primary 1 which are entirely new settings.
On day 2, small J being more familiar with the other kids and facilitators was able to regulate his emotions better and even check his work carefully before handing it up. Phew, seems like he did managed to adapt quite quickly to the new environment and hope it will be the same when it comes to the real deal!
The Little Executive
138 Bukit Timah Road
There is only one final camp left which is from 17 to 18 December from 10 to 5pm, do sign up here . I may even do a follow-up post a few months after small J enter primary 1 , to see how well he has transition to primary 1 with the help of the P1 prep camp by The Little Executive.
Given that I have two kids in primary school, you might think that I have an idea how to prepare no 3, ie small J well for primary school. I had two very different experiences with the older two. With big J, given his easy going nature and he was well-liked in child care, I thought that he will transition to primary school easy. I was so wrong as he has a hard time getting himself heard in a class of 30 ( much bigger than his child care class size) and I often get complain from his form teacher of his misconducts. I couldn’t understand why he was behaving the way he was, I guess it is partly his nature of dealing with handle his own emotions and his form teacher was not the most caring of teacher. She couldn’t really handle the pupil well but I can’t really choose the teacher. Luckily, it did resolved after having new teachers in P3 (yes, it was 2 years of emotional rollercoaster with big J, almost like walking on egg shells)
When it was big C’s turn, she is very fortunate as she has one of the most caring teachers in school. And being a girl (more obedient of the two gender), I had zero complain. If there was ever any weakness is that she is very shy, unwilling to speak out loud enough for her class to hear her especially in the initially days as she is more introverted in nature. However, she did blossom well under the teacher and even was nominated as the model pupil too! The teachers were also happy to see her slowing gaining her confidence but it did take many months.
I guess, different child (ie different gender) and different teachers do make some differences in how well the child transition into primary school. For no 3, small J who is a boy, I am not leaving it to chance. I hope to prep him well emotionally to primary school (in hope I get less or zero calls from the teacher).
I am not looking for an academic preparatory class which is also offered in my child care as well, as they can read, write and count, in my honest opinion sufficient to start primary 1. However, I am looking more of the softer skills- emotion, communications , social skills and even the new buzz word – growth mindset.
Most P1 prep camp offered in the market are academic in nature. I think The Little Executive (“TLE”) has one of the most unique P1 prep camps in Simgapore – it is non academic, hoping to equip the P1 going kids with soft skills and confidence. If you have seen my initial sharing on social media on TLE, you would have heard of the 4Q (IQ, EQ and Executive Function, Resilience) which forms the core of TLE’s curriculum.
TLE hopes that after completing the 2-day camp, the P1 going kid will be equipped with problem solving skills (simple things like friend taking your eraser without your permission), take on challenges and simply to try new things (growth mindset) , independence (especially in a bigger class setup and less hands-on care givers unlike child care teacher), overcome fears of speaking up (this was what big C faced) or more vocal kids, when to speak , how to develop responsibility and leadership , money skills (choice between food and the lures of the bookshop), emotional regulation, social skills (new friends or even bullies) , classroom skills (focus and listening to teachers and executive function skills (set goals, self motivation).
These are the top 10 skills that they hope to equip the kids in the 2-day camp.
There is only 2 camps during the school holidays : 28/29 November and 17/18 December from 10 to 5pm, as the spaces get filled up quite quickly, do sign up here .
Frankly, I think preparing them emotionally is as important (if not more important ) as preparing them academically to face the challenges of primary school education.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
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