Five months before Primary 1 starts is an ideal time to start actual preparing your child for the next stage in education, educators say. As Ms Grace Yong, the Executive Director of Character Montessori assures, “Children should be prepared for Primary One at the preschool they attend daily.”
She adds that the process of incorporating skills and content is best spread over the span of three years — from Nursery Two (N2) to Kindergarten Two (K2) — to gradually build P1-ready children. This is because preschool teachers are regularly updated as the lower primary school curriculum progresses; they know first-hand what skills and abilities the pre-primary children need to attain before they head off into the great big world of primary school education.
Of course, parents also have do their part — to nurture independence and a sense of responsibility for self and belongings. And here in Singapore, parents tend go beyond that. We want our children to be able to read, write, and count before they begin formal schooling. Actually, we want our children to be able to do all that at primary level even
before they’ve stepped foot into a primary school.
Roni Kayan’s daughter Cheryl grew up in a Chinese-speaking household and hardly spoke any English until one year ago. She believes that their preschool is preparing her child well for P1. However, Roni also teaches Cheryl Maths herself, and familiarises herself (and Cheryl) with the P1 syllabus through workbooks that she bought from Popular bookshop.
“I don’t want my son to suffer when he starts school,” says Lisa Tan, 35, whose son Gerald has been attending a Primary 1 preparatory programme since the June holidays. “There are more children in each class; the teachers will not have the time to coach each child individually so if the child is slower, he gets left behind. I also want my son to have a headstart so that he will not be overwhelmed when the time comes.”
Agreeing, Mabel Chan, mum to a six-year-old girl, says, “If the child cannot follow the lessons, she may lose interest and become unmotivated.” Mabel teaches her daughter at home, and buys Primary 1 assessment books for her child to do at home.
Obviously, there is no need to do any of this. Ms Amy Hutton, a teacher at Morris Allen English Study Centre, says that as long as the child can read and speaks confidently, he or she will be fine in Primary One.
But parents will be parents and chances are, some of you may be thinking about ensuring that your child is perfectly prepared for Primary One. In Singapore, there is no shortage of learning centres which offer enrichment classes for preschool children. Some of them offer intensive programs especially designed for K2 children. Compared to regular enrichment classes, preparatory classes cover fewer topics, but in a more in-depth manner.
Here is a list of some well-known ones:
The programme, which started on 27 June, runs for 22 weeks. After that, the children begin the P1 curriculum. Each weekly lesson lasts an hour and 45 minutes, with between eight and 10 students per class. The fee is S$288 per four weeks per subject, Math or English. Your child will have to undergo a complimentary assessment first before you are informed about scheduling options for his or her appropriate-level class.
The programme, which is held at United Square, has already begun. However, your child is welcome to join after a complimentary assessment. The fee is $450 per eight weeks per subject, English or Math. Each lesson is two hours long. Class sizes are small, with only two or three students in each. A $30 registration fee and a $50 refundable deposit are applicable.
Different branches may offer different classes. The Yio Chu Kang Community Club branch offers regular classes for K2 children but does not have a P1 Hanyu Pinyin Preparatory Class. The AMK Hub branch offers the P1 Hanyu Pinyin Preparatory Class, but does not have regular K2 classes. The weekly regular class costs $350 per term (14 lessons), plus a $20 registration fee. A new class will start in September. The P1 Hanyu Pinyin Preparatory Class costs $210 for eight weeks. Each 1.5 hour class takes a maximum of five students. The centre is likely to offer a P1 Preparatory Class for reading, writing, listening and speaking for the November-December year-end holidays. For details on this, check with the school in October.
With many locations islandwide, finding one for your child will not be a problem. Their weekly 1.5-hour P1 Preparatory Programme will start when a minimum of five children (maximum 12) have registered. The fee is $180 for 12 lessons in both English and Math. Registration costs $10.
Choose either an English or a Chinese P1 Preparatory Class at this City Square Mall school. The fee is $144 per 14 weeks for one subject, or $264 for two subjects. Each class has a maximum of right students. The programme is five months long. A $20 registration fee applies and the $100 deposit is refundable upon completion.
The P1 Preparatory Classes here cover both English and Math. Each weekly class is two hours long. Class starts when a sufficient number of student is gathered (minimum three) The fee is s$120 per four lessons for both subjects.
A new class begins on 16 September. There are 10 sessions in each term, and the entire P1 syllabus will be covered. Each class is two hours long.
Cynthia Lim, whose only daughter Natalie has been attending a P1 preparatory class since March this year says, “She enjoys her class, as the preparation class follow closely of Primary school standard and the pace is not stressful.”
Cynthia thought of including enrichment to her daughter’s schedule after her preschool teacher had mentioned that she was a rather slow-learner: “Natalie is enjoying her two-hour weekly classes — covering English and Maths — homework and all, with 22 other students in a class. It is like going to a mock primary school, and loving it.