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How to prepare your child for primary 1 in Malaysia

by on 01/03/2024 8403

Do you have a six-year-old who is currently in kindergarten? Then you know what comes next—primary school!

This can be an exciting and challenging time for both parents and their children. Primary education tends to be more structured compared to kindergarten, so your child needs to be prepared on what changes to anticipate.

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

As parents, we want to be there for our children as they take this next big step in their lives. If you’re not sure where to start, here are five things to get the ball rolling and ensure that your child’s transition from kindergarten to Standard One is as smooth as possible.

Talk about changes that will happen

School supplies like uniforms, stationery, books, and bags are a given when preparing for school—but parents should also consider addressing your child’s mental and emotional needs.

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

Here are some things you can cover:

  • Discuss any concerns or worries your child may have about starting primary school.
  • Explain to them how school life may be different from kindergarten or preschool. Talk about how they will be in a new place with new faces, and prepare them for changes in their daily routine, including longer school hours.
  • Validate their feelings and reassure them that it's normal to feel nervous or excited
  • Encourage open communication and let them know they can always talk to you about anything that's on their mind.

Help your child familiarise with his/her surroundings

New surroundings can be uncomfortable even for adults, what more children–but having you by their side initially may help to alleviate some of their fears about the unknown.

Most if not all local primary schools have an orientation session prior to the new school term, so this is a good time to visit with your child, show them the school buildings and facilities, and get to know the teachers, pupils, and other parents.

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

If your school of choice isn’t open for visits, show your child photographs of the premises, which are usually available through school websites, social media, or brochures.

This should give them a clearer idea of what school will be like, so their first day in Standard One will not come as too much of a shock.

As a parent, you can also build connections with teachers, staff, and other parents, so they can help you feel more informed and supported throughout the transition process.

Build their independence

Primary school typically involves a lot more rule-following and discipline than in kindergarten life. Children will not only have to get accustomed to this switch of routine, but also learn new habits, such as going to the toilet on their own and handling cash to buy things in the cafeteria or bookshop.

“Since it (transitioning to Year 1) involves rapid and unanticipated change, kids will find it difficult to manage themselves in school because they have been getting help most of the time in kindergarten,” says primary school teacher, Azureen Syed.

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

Foster independence by encouraging your child to do tasks on their own, such as dressing themselves, organising their belongings, and completing simple chores. This will make them feel more confident and capable when they start primary school.

Both parents and teachers can play a role in helping them in this transition.

Kindergarten principal Kelly Mook, who runs a school in Kuala Lumpur, organises role playing activities, where her six-year-old pupils play pretend as if they are in a real school canteen, where they can ‘purchase’ food from the kitchen.

“This gives them an idea of the kind of activities they will be expected to do when they transition to primary one,” she explains.

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

About two months before primary school begins, Mook (pictured above) also tweaks her teaching methods slightly to create a more formal, school-like environment.

Aside from implementing more structured modules of learning, she also integrates some Standard One material for additional revision.

Ensure that your child has reached basic academic expectations

Although attendance in preschool and kindergarten is not obligatory in Malaysia, pupils that enter primary one is expected to already have some grasp of the basic 3Rs, namely Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

Children who are falling behind in their academics might struggle once school starts, as there is less one-to-one assistance, especially in larger classes.

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

While some schools offer remedial classes, it’s always good to prepare your child with all the prerequisite skills.

Sports massage therapist Farid Zulkiffli makes sure that he allocates time each week to help his six-year-old daughter with schoolwork and revision.

“Teachers do what they can at school, but I think it’s equally important for parents to do our part in educating our children at home as well,” says the former schoolteacher.

He utilises worksheets and books from his daughter’s kindergarten, as well as supplementary materials such as Keywords with Peter and Jane, to help her brush up on her 3Rs before she enters the new school year.

Teach healthy social and emotional skills

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

For your child, the first few weeks of primary school might feel strange and unfamiliar, with new routines, faces, and added responsibilities. Which is why beyond academics, it’s equally crucial to teach them how to regulate their emotions and socialise with their peers.

Encourage them to build fresh relationships, communicate their needs or wants, and practice self-regulation. You can even go through coping strategies such as breathing techniques for when they are afraid or frustrated.

How to Prepare Your Child for Transition to Year 1 From Kindergarten

Farid (above) shares that he tries to expose his child to different surroundings to build her sense of confidence and social skills.

For example, she accompanies him under supervision when he goes to martial arts classes each week. “Good manners and etiquette are also core values that parents should be encouraging in their children, so they can be well rounded individuals,” he shares.

At the end of the day, while parents play an active role in guiding children through uncertain times, it shouldn’t be something that you need to worry too much about.

Kids are usually more resilient and adaptable than we give them credit for—all we can do is support their journey to the fullest and make it one that is as enjoyable as possible.

Will your child be progressing to primary school soon? Click here to read about the types of primary school education in Malaysia, and things to consider when choosing one.