Primary school is a time for new faces and friends.
Registering your child for primary school may seem daunting. But for many parents, the real challenge comes in helping their children make the transition from kindergarten to the primary school environment.
This is what Mdm Jackie Kok Chow Hiong hopes more parents will realise as they make preparations for that often nerve-wracking first day of school. According to Mdm Kok, who is Principal of Gongshang Primary School, one useful task for both parents and would-be pupils is to join in their school's orientation programme, which many schools hold before the term begins.
"It's important that parents and their child attend the orientation programme, as it will give them an idea of what to expect for the first few days of school," explained Mdm Kok. "The children will also get to meet their classmates for the first time and may even see familiar faces - this will make them feel more reassured."
The start of an exciting journey
Parents can also drum up excitement and eagerness by engaging their children in conversations about school life, sharing their own stories of a typical school day and how it is like to take the school bus. Adding to this, Mdm Kok remarked that parents could put unspoken fears to rest by reminding their children that they can approach teachers for help if they don't feel well.
Learning, playing and growing in the school environment.
It also helps to mentally prepare children by commuting to the school together and getting your child familiar with the school and its surrounding environment. Mdm Kok also suggested that the family visit the school's website and together explore the facilities and activities offered by the school.
Looking ahead to the initial period after school starts, Mdm Kok noted that children would often be very excited about their new experiences and have lots of stories to share with their family. "Parents should listen with discerning ears and not be overly protective," she said, adding that parents should help address their children's concerns but not over-react to new and strange encounters.
For instance, Mdm Kok pointed out that in a large classroom, a teacher might have to address as many as 30 pupils at once. "She has to project her voice and it may be quite loud," she stated. "Some children are not used to this and may think the teacher is scolding them." Some children may also be intimidated by the sheer size of the school and number of fellow pupils, or having to learn new rules and routines different from those in kindergarten, such as longer class sessions and the absence of a nap time.
Keep in touch and be prepared
Parents with particular concerns or children with special needs, she added, should actively communicate with the teachers through email or make an appointment with the school. Mdm Kok offers an assurance that schools will closely guide new pupils through the teething phase, showing them around the school premises and teaching them how to seek permission to visit the washroom or get help from teachers.
"While the teachers will go through some of these tasks in the first few days, it is always comforting for the children to note that their parents had already prepared them," stated Mdm Kok.
Primary school is a time of new routines, experiences and stories.
To help parents better understand primary school programmes and what they could do to support their children in their transition to Primary 1, MOE will be organising a seminar for parents on 19 Nov 2011 at Corporation Primary School. At this seminar, parents can look forward to sharing sessions by the school principal and a parent volunteer, as well as view the various programmes our primary schools provide. The following schools will also showcase their niche programmes at the seminar:
• Corporation Primary School
• Jurong West Primary School
• Juying Primary School
• Lakeside Primary School
• Pioneer Primary School
• Xingnan Primary School
Primary 1 registration
For parents who are not familiar with the Primary 1 registration process, here's an overview of the various phases involved:
Phase 1: For a child who has a sibling studying in the school of choice.
Phase 2A1: For a child whose parent is a former pupil and alumni member of the school (joined not later than 30 Jun of 2010), or whose parent is a member of the School Advisory/Management Committee.
Phase 2A2: For a child whose parent or sibling has studied in the school of choice, or whose parent is a current staff member of the school.
Phase 2B: For a child whose parent has joined the school as a parent volunteer not later r />than 1 July 2010 and has given at least 40 hours of voluntary service to the school by 30 June 2011; or whose parent is an endorsed member of the church/clan directly connected with the school; or whose parent is endorsed as an active community leader.
Phase 2C: For a child who is not eligible or unsuccessful in earlier phases.
Phase 2C Supplementary: For a child who is unsuccessful in gaining admission into the school of choice at Phase 2C.
If the number of applications exceeds the number of vacancies in any of the above phases, balloting will be conducted according to the following order of priority:
1. Children living within 1 km of the school of choice
2. Children living between 1 km and 2 km of the school of choice
3. Children living beyond 2 km of the school of choice
Phase 3: For a child who is a non-Singapore Citizen or non-Singapore Permanent Resident. This phase also applies to a child who is a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident but had not registered for any school in earlier phases. Registration in Phase 3 is on a first-come-first-served basis.
Parents who are relocating with their family for a limited period should still register their child and secure a place in a school. Thereafter, parents can place their child on the Leave of Absence Scheme and the place will be reserved while their child is overseas.
Parents who are currently overseas and returning after the registration exercise can approach MOE for help in placing their child in a school. Alternatively, they can approach the school of choice to apply for direct admission.