If your not-so-little one has just embarked on his on her primary school journey, congratulations! Welcome to the world of primary school life, where alarm clocks ring too early and mad morning rush begins. It is also the beginning of a journey for the children who will need to take on more responsibilities as they embark on formal schooling.
Parents might be feeling lost navigating the many details of primary school life, as it is strikingly different from that of preschool. No longer will the children be coddled, or helped to perform certain tasks, not brought to the washrooms. They will need to be listening to many of the instructions different subject teachers will be giving and be seated at their desk for longer hours.
Here’s our guide for all noob parents – you can help ease the load of your child and assist them in the primary school phase as independent learners.
Since there are more subjects to handle, different school hours and plenty of school rules to note – the amount of details can be managed well. Here’s what you might find useful!
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This app will be an important one, so download Parents’ Gateway through which the school teachers and administrative staff will be posting vital information. Notices here should not be ignored, yes I repeat, they should be put on multiple alerts because that’s where you will get majority of the information regarding what to bring, spelling and assessment dates, instructions from teachers, school closures and so on.
Some teachers may use other apps such as Dojo for communicating with parents, so know which platforms are being used.
Teachers’ Contacts and Phone Number of School General Office
Do make a note of all the teachers’ contacts which would primarily be email addresses. This would be an important point of communicating with each subject teacher. Primary school teachers usually teach more than one subject, hence you will need to note their specialty and email them accordingly. Do respect their personal time and space should they be giving you their personal mobile numbers.
Keep in touch with the Form Teacher especially if your child has any health issues or special needs that need to be monitored. It may also be helpful to send an email once a term to check if the teachers have any feedback concerning your child. The primary school journey is not just the child’s alone but teachers together with parents are there to provide needful guidance.
One other number to note would be the contact of the General Office, and the administrative staff. If there is an emergency and you need to contact any teachers or your child urgently, you should be calling the General Office. You can also take note of the numbers for the school bookshop, or school dentist if you want to make enquiries.
School Calendar for the Semester/Year
Download the school calendar for the semester or the year. It informs you about the dates of school holidays, assessments and important dates you will need to note. This helps you plan ahead when booking spots for attractions. There are school holidays unique to the school due to certain occasions such as Founders’ Day. It also prepares the child for assessments and exams that will be conducted throughout the year.
Encourage your child to note down the dates on his/her own calendar as well so there is less reliance on parents to remind or nag. This also spurs your newly minted primary school child to be more responsible for his/her own work.
Each school distributes a handbook containing school rules, hours, drop-off/pick-up information and other necessary details. Keep this close to you as it would be handy. Schools have different rules for attire and some schools allow children to don their PE attire through the week. Such useful details can be helpful for wardrobe planning and laundry schedules.
Whatsapp Class Group Chats
Whatsapp class group chats can be a panacea for the “lack of alertness” but they can also be a Pandora’s Box. The group chats I have been in have been quite cordial and helpful thus far.
Refrain from ranting, gossiping, or asking questions about homework daily. It is a platform to connect, clarify and update one another on class matters. I have found it especially useful whenever my child forgets or fails to record certain important details. Other parents are usually happy to assist.
The responsibility should still be the child’s to find out what homework there is as well as what to pack in bags and dates of Spelling tests. Thus, making enquiries on Whatsapp should not be a daily affair.
School Runs, Pick-ups, Drop-offs and School Bus Matters
As experienced, school runs can be chaotic. Expect traffic jams and congestion especially on rainy days. One strategy we have used for school runs is to beat the traffic by heading out early. During pick-ups, some parents also ask the child to wait at a spot where it is likely to be less congested. Also check on traffic rules lest you face fines or complaints for illegal parking or obstruction of traffic.
Children on the school bus might get picked up and dropped off earlier, I have found school bus services timesaving. However, because of the different dynamics on school buses, younger children can be more vulnerable to unpleasant incidences such as rowdiness, bullying, arguments. Do prepare your child if they were to take the school bus and let them know the protocol should they face any unpleasant scenarios. Keeping the bus driver, teachers informed may be helpful.
Buying Food from Canteen and Visiting the School Bookshop
One of the exciting things in exercising independence in primary school is to purchase snacks, food and stationery! The canteen and school bookshop are favourite haunts. Your child can choose to make cashless payments with the POSB Smart Buddy watch or in cash. I prefer the latter as it would teach the child essential money management skills using tangible currency.
Packing of Snack Boxes and Lunch
Some may prefer to pack snack boxes for recess or for elevenses (11am break). We have shared some suggestions on fuss free snacks here. Don’t forget to write a note!
Schedules and Time-tables
With an increased workload in school, longer hours coupled with earlier wake-times, it is wise to come up with a schedule for your primary school child. Aside from homework time, the children should also be given some down time for play and outdoor fun. Staying seated at a desk for extended hours can be difficult for the child to adjust to. After school, let the child decompress with some play or perhaps a nap before the homework.
Enjoy this New Phase of School Life
Every season of school life may be very different and comes with its challenges, be there for your child amidst the changes. It might take some time to adapt to primary school hours but with support and guidance, your child will enjoy primary school. After all, we went through the same rite of passage.
All the best to the families embarking on a different journey!