Preparing your child for major transitions throughout their academic journey is important for building resilience and maintaining stability. And now, the time has come for your child’s next big change – starting primary school. If you or your child are anxious about the transition from K2 to P1, don’t worry! It’s normal to feel this way. 

After all, moving your child from a familiar, comfortable preschool environment into the new and highly structured world of primary school is a big step. Your child will experience different mealtimes, changes in friendships, new teachers, and finding their way around a new building. These are a lot of adjustments for a young child.

Young children are quite adaptable to change when they know it is coming. Sudden changes, on the other hand, may cause panic, distress, and fear. Kids feel more secure and in control when there is less chaos with a transition and when they are informed of forthcoming changes. 

Here at NewLife Student Care in Bukit Panjang, we prepared ways you can help your child adjust to primary school so they can learn better and feel more self-assured, making it easier to control their own behaviour.

1. Make responsibilities fun

Younger children thrive on being responsible for small tasks and increasing their responsibilities is essential for development and fosters competence. Children who complete a task independently feel a sense of accomplishment and pride, so with the transition to primary school, assigning them age-appropriate responsibilities is essential to building their independence. Take them through the process of taking books from the school library, placing a canteen order, labelling their clothing, and teaching them how to make and pack fun, healthy snacks for school.

2. Set new routines

Children often fear the unknown; while change is always a learning opportunity, it can be stressful. Establishing routines brings comfort, stability, and consistency to a child’s life, which positively impacts a child’s formative years. 

Everything is different when moving from preschool to primary school: waking up earlier, wearing a uniform, spending more time at a desk, and interacting with new faces. Do a few practice runs of getting up in the morning, putting on their uniform, and preparing the things they have to take to school. Create a schedule and go through the day’s events. This is also an excellent chance to teach them how to tell the time.

3. Establish healthy bedtimes

Although many kids may have attended full-day preschools, they may find it difficult to manage the busy schedule in primary school because they have fewer breaks and more focused instruction. Children need their sleep to optimally function throughout the day, so it is important to ensure they get sufficient sleep. 

Establishing healthy sleeping patterns are vital for a child’s learning, development, mood, and immune system. Parents can do this by denying access to TV and devices, as well as sugar at least an hour before bedtime. Allocate time for relaxation and reading and limit noise levels to create a calm and quiet atmosphere.

4. Plan new friend introductions

If your child is new to the area and needs to make friends, get in touch with parents to organise a playdate with a few children who will be in the same class. Having introductions in a social setting prior to starting at a new school helps to ease your child’s anxiety and stress and gives parents the opportunity to connect and support each other. Playdates also helps children practise critical social and emotional skills, and develop their ability to share, take turns, and collaborate. 

5. Have clear academic expectations

It is important to discuss and be clear about what you expect from your child academically and behaviourally. Parents’ expectations should be reasonable and in line with the child’s abilities so as not to create unnecessary stress and pressure. For example, set goals on presenting neat work or reading one book a month and discuss with your child how these goals can be achieved and rewarded.

6. Learn about the new school together

Spend time with your child going through the school’s website and doing a virtual tour. Together you can browse the teachers’ profiles, school events, sports, and clubs, and visit the school’s related social media pages such as Facebook. This will help you both to familiarise yourselves with the primary school and discuss the exciting new things they can try.

7. Keep communication open

In today’s world, it is especially important to keep open lines of communication with your child because of the increase in societal issues, bullying, online risks, and drug availability. Good communication between you and your child builds trust when they know they can always depend on you for support and advice. Encourage them to tell you about their day and work through tough issues in a loving and positive way. It’s important to build this foundation of trust with them so that as they get older and deal with adolescent issues, they will know who to turn to.

Closing Thoughts

Many children find the transition from preschool to formal primary school to be challenging physically, intellectually and emotionally. A child cannot adjust to and deal with change on their own; the facilitation of this transition process involves parents, siblings, and friends. Teachers also play a critical role in assisting students as they navigate through unfamiliar territory. Initially, it will require a lot of energy and effort from you and your child, but by reassuring your child and showing your continued love and support, you can make the first year of primary school manageable and fun!