Primary 1: Communicate with school, teachers and other parents

Preparing for Primary 1 includes buying necessary items for Primary 1, teaching the child practical skills like counting money, and preparing the child socially, mentally and emotionally. And this is just the beginning. Knowing how to communicate with the school, teachers and other parents and help your child with Primary 1 academics marks a great start to the journey.

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Partner with the Teachers

If there is any concern, reach out to the teachers through official channels of communication. For my daughter’s school, it’s through emails – I have a list of names and email addresses of her form and subject teachers. In other schools, there’s the ClassDojo APP where teachers can communicate with parents without revealing their phone numbers. I recently learned that it’s not the official APP of MOE! It is so prevalent that I thought it was an official channel.

MOE’s official APP for schools to communicate with parents is Parent Gateway. This is where official and important announcements are made, e.g. early dismissals and school closures. Tip: Record such dates and timings in your calendar immediately to avoid forgetting the information. Google Calendar is a great tool for me. This way, I wouldn’t need to keep asking/bothering other parents and teachers for such information.

Be polite and respectful when talking to the teacher. Address the teacher’s name and use please and thank you. You want to be a good role model for your child to learn manners. Respect the teacher’s boundaries too – do not expect a reply after school hours or at night. Teachers have their own lives and families too.

Communicate with the teachers via the official channels first before raising any issue with the principal. I know it might be hard because you have your child’s interests at heart, but try not to jump to conclusions before listening to the teachers or to become defensive during communication.

At home, don’t threaten your child with, “If you don’t do this, I will tell the teacher.” Don’t make the teacher sound like a scary person to the child. Better yet, let your child know that the teachers are there to support her* learning in school.

*Because I am writing this article with my daughter in mind, I will use ‘she’ instead of ‘he/she’.

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Partner with the School

Parent Support Group (“PSG”) or Parent Teacher Association (“PTA”)

PSG/PTA facilitates cooperation and understanding between the parents, principal and teachers. Join the PSG/PTA in your child’s school and get updated school information. You will then better understand the challenges and issues of the school and in turn, provide solutions and make positive changes, such as volunteering at school events and raising funds for new facilities.

Through PSG/PTA, you can also be in a close community with other students’ parents to share experiences and discuss parenting and education issues. More importantly, you become part of a village that helps raise the children in school.

As your child sees you engaged with the school, she will likely be more involved and active in school, thus improving her performance in school. I believe your child will also have a sense of pride and support from you when she sees you involved in her school activities.

MOE provides a guide on PSG in PDF, detailing the roles and activities of PSG, the dos and don’ts, etc.

Praying Parents Group

If your child’s school is a mission school, there is likely to be a praying parents group. For example, the Parents’ Prayer Group of ACS. Parents will come together to pray for the school and its staff, students, etc. Not only that, you can fellowship with other Christian parents for encouragement and support.

Communicate with Other Parents

Communicating on Phone

Other than PSG/PTA, parents can connect with other parents through WhatsApp groups. Nowadays, it’s common for each class to have their own WhatsApp group through the initiative of the parents.

Parents usually join to keep track of homework, spelling and things going on in class. This is especially useful for parents with multiple children to keep track of their learning. However, some parents do not feel this is necessary and prefer the child face the consequences when she doesn’t pay attention in class.

Your Child’s Listening Role in School

Respect the teachers

Teach your child to respect the teachers, such as speaking politely, listening in class, and following the instructions (if it’s reasonable). However, I also teach my daughter not to follow instructions blindly but with critical thinking – but this is still a bit hard for her age to fully comprehend.  

Listen to Instructions

Parents Gateway and/or the WhatsApp group will inform you of early dismissal, school closure, dates for spelling, and other important information. Don’t tell your child what you know about them but let your child inform you. You can reply, “Thank you for telling me,” instead of “I already know it.”

If not, the child will assume you know everything and won’t tell you anything. Or, the child will rely on you for information instead of paying attention in class because “My parent will know anyway, and what the teacher says is not important.” I believe you prefer her to pay attention, take responsibility and be more independent in learning. Thus, try to avoid asking about information in the Whatsapp group too, unless your child is sick.

Student Handbook

Teachers will relay information such as homework and spelling to the child and expect them to remember. The students will usually copy the information into their student handbooks. It’s good to practise copy work before Primary 1 (“P1”) starts. Make it fun to write – like copying the restaurant menu. Teach the child to look at two to three letters at a time and copy instead of letter by letter. Remember to praise her!

Talk to your child after school to find out what the teachers have conveyed. Through conversations after school, you can also learn about her emotions and happenings in school, such as bullying, and be her emotional support. Refer to my post about helping the child emotionally and mentally.

That’s about it, look out for my next post about the academics in Primary 1! Before you go, you might want to check out my other posts for P1 children. Leave your comments or questions below. Love to hear from you. 🙂

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