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More than just a pretty desk

24 Aug 2020

Punggol Green Pri collage

From left: Aira (P1), Raushan (P4) and Jolene (P6) show us the decoration on their desks, which they did together with their family members at the start of the school year.

Mdm Cai Aimei, Year Head (Lower Primary) at Punggol Green Primary School, tells us how the school’s desk-decorating tradition is more than just a fun activity. By Neo Wen Tong

Walk into any form class at Punggol Green Primary and you’ll be greeted by an array of colourful desks – decorated by the students.

Every student gets the opportunity to personalise their desks with their favourite things. After all, this is where they spend a considerable part of their week days.

“This initiative started in 2013, when our school first opened. We wanted to help ease the transition for Primary 1 students, from kindergarten to primary school,” says Mdm Cai Aimei, Year Head (Lower Primary). 

“Looking after their social-emotional health is very important to us, and it’s something we want to spend some time on during this transition. The initiative helps students feel a sense of ownership and belonging in their classroom, and teachers get to know more about their students’ families,” she adds. 

Parents of all Primary 1 students are invited to join their children in class for a day during the first week of school, to decorate the desks together. Prior to this day, parents are asked to spend some time at home discussing the decoration with their children, selecting and printing photos, and preparing the materials to bring to class. 

For the Primary 2s to 6s, the students work on their pieces at home with their families and put everything together with their form teachers in class. This offers a good opportunity for teachers to build bonds with their students at the start of the school year too, explains Mdm Cai.

“Parents are very supportive of this initiative. They’re quite involved in the process, and some write encouraging quotes for their children to put on their desks.”

This desk-decorating initiative has shown benefits that go beyond the one-time exercise at the start of the year. 

For example, when the lower primary students say that they miss their parents, teachers use the desk-decorating activity as an example to remind students of how much their parents care for them. Mdm Cai says. “Teachers will say things like: ‘Your parents are so supportive of you. They came to school and did up your desk with you so that you have a beautiful environment to help you learn well in class’. There is a strong culture of care, and when the young ones know and feel that their parents are there for them, they are more ready to learn. The impact of this is especially strong for the Primary 1s.”

This effect continues as students grow up. Primary 6 student Jolene Chan shares that the photo of herself and her family is her favourite part of her desk. “Looking at pictures of family and cards from friends makes me feel refreshed. When I feel tired in class, they motivate me to learn better!”

Here’s a glimpse at what goes onto a few students’ desks!

Nur Aira Adelea Binte Mohamad Farik (P1)
“My desk is colourful and I like it because of the different colours and the pictures of my family, siblings and cousins. My parents decorated it with me, and I did some of the drawings myself!”
   -- Nur Aira Adelea Binte Mohamad Farik, Primary 1

A R Muhammad Raushan Nafis (P4)
“My parents assisted me and completed this with me. They printed the photos, I selected my favourites and pasted them on my desk. I like the parts where my name is written and the Lego character best!”
-- A R Muhammad Raushan Nafis, Primary 4

Jolene Chan (P6)
“My parents suggested ideas, provided me with the materials and I followed their advice and completed it myself. The pictures were arranged the way I like it. I planned it in my head and found that they looked better if I arranged it diagonally. I also added flowers and glitter but I made sure it was not too glittery and bright in case it distracts me. The card I’m holding is from my best friend, Sarah.”
   -- Jolene Chan, Primary 6