How to Prepare Your Child – and Yourself – for Primary One

Given the stress that parents face during the important transition period from preschool to primary school, we wanted to provide a checklist of sorts to help first-time parents better prepare their child and themselves for Singapore’s primary school system. As I wrote, however, it evolved into a detailed guide on what to prepare for primary one – not just academically but also in terms of daily life.

In this guide, we will be covering the following:

  • Why both parents and kids should get ready for Primary One
  • How to prepare for Primary One – learning related
  • What is the Primary One curriculum
  • How to prepare for Primary One – non-learning related

Getting ready for Primary One is for both parents and children

For parents, preparing for Primary One means equipping the child with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in primary school. However, the modern parent is expected to play a more prominent role during this phase. The Ministry of Education, for example, has put its focus on a more collaborative effort between parents and schools. Parents thus need to step up in terms of educating their child on both academic and non-academic skills, as well as working with schools on certain enrichment programmes.

For any p1 parents, it is no longer about just preparing your child. It is also about preparing yourself mentally, intellectually and emotionally. The best way to do this is of course to be educated on what is happening in primary schools. This is similar to how you will prepare for a job.

How to Prepare for Primary One: Learning Related

Preparing for primary one is an iterative process and not a one-day affair. The process is important for both parents and the child. Most people might have the misconception that the school’s orientation programme is sufficient. Unfortunately, it is not nearly enough in today’s learning landscape.

While there are options such as private tuition and enrichment classes available, nothing beats the attention given by parents. This is why it is so important to familiarize yourself with the primary one curriculum such that you gain more confidence in educating your child.

What do Primary One students learn?

Primary 1 students cover 3 core subjects: English, 2nd Language and Math. The full list of the curriculum can be found at the MOE website and has been reproduced here for your reference.

P1 English P1 Chinese P1 Math
Grammar 辨字测验 Addition & Subtraction
Vocubulary 识字练习 Money
Listening Comprehension 完成句子 Mulitiplication
Time and Tenses 看图选音节 Numbers up to 100
数笔划 Mass

How to Prepare for Primary One: Non-Learning Related

Besides the academic aspect of school, a Primary 1 child needs to prepare for other aspects of a life in primary education. This is where a host of other skills is needed to ease the child into the structured school environment.

Familarising themselves with the school

The best form of preparation is to let your child be familiar with the school’s physical surroundings. This will reduce any anxiety on their part.  Here is what a parent can do:

  • Navigating the school compound: navigating a big place like a school for the first time can be daunting for a young child. Parents can alleviate the anxiety by attending the school’s orientation talk and spending some time touring the school with the child. You can even teach your child how to read a map so that he or she can better orientate herself when in school.
  • Take pictures of the school: it is good to have some images of the school that the child can view regularly.
  • Pick-up and drop-off: let your child understand the scheduled pick-up times when you will meet him/her after school and where the pick-up zones are. If they are taking a school bus, let them know the bus’s pick-up point.

School routines

  • Understanding timetables: one of the biggest changes for a Primary 1 child is having to adhere strictly to a timetable when he or she is in school. Parents can impart that understanding to the child before he or she enters the school for the first time.
  • The concept of money: given that you will be giving your child an allowance to buy food and stationery in school, this is the time to teach him or her the concept of money.
  • Packing and Organisation: a child needs to organise her schoolbag to prepare for his or her classes. While some parents do this for the child, it is better if they can learn to do it on their own over time.
  • Communicating messages: schools will be passing notices, progress reports, and other important information to parents via their child. So, teaching your child about how to do this effectively will prevent any miscommunication in the future.

Primary One Preparation Classes

For the more concerned parents, you can even enroll in primary school preparation classes. These are designed to teach your child about the issues that we have covered above. Below are good options for parents to consider:

  • NTUC Childcare offers a class called “Getting Ready for School”. This class imparts important things about primary school life that a first-time parent will find useful. It even has a orientation tour of a primary school included.
  • MOE open seminars to parents: MOE hosts talks for parents of Primary 1 students quite regularly. These talks include sharing sessions by parents as well as principals who will talk about Primary 1 academic processes.


Preparing for Primary One goes beyond buying schoolbags and registering your child in the best school. It is the start of a new phase of life for you and your child. By having a longer perspective and looking to develop skills on all related fronts, you can better ease your child into the primary school education system.


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