Preparing Kids for Primary One: Essential Skills Guide for Parents

Preparing Kids for Primary One: Essential Skills Guide for Parents

Welcome to a day in the life of a Primary 1 (P1) student! From buying their own food at the canteen, making their journey to the toilet themselves, or diligently jotting down homework assignments, P1 students need to learn soft skills like independence to effectively manage their daily tasks and responsibilities. With every step towards independence, they’re not just learning lessons from books, they are also building essential life skills that will serve them well beyond the classroom.

The transition from Kindergarten 2 (K2) to Primary 1 is a significant milestone in every child’s educational journey. They now have more teachers for each of their subjects and need to sit for longer periods of time as lessons are conducted over extended periods. They are also required to complete their homework and test grades become more crucial. P1 students must also adhere to stricter school rules such as wearing their school uniform neatly and being punctual for classes..

There are various aspects that parents need to consider to help their child transition to Primary 1, especially in mainstream Primary Schools in Singapore. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore essential skills and strategies parents can use to prepare their kids for Primary 1.

Subject Knowledge

  • Language Skills

Language proficiency is crucial for success in Primary 1. Encourage your child to read regularly and practice speaking and listening skills. Exposure to a rich vocabulary and proper grammar usage will help them communicate effectively in English, while exposure to Mandarin or Mother Tongue language will aid in language acquisition.

Here are some recommendations from the “Bridging From K2 To P1” series:

  • Reading & Writing (English)
  • Grammar & Vocabulary (English)
  • Chinese Comprehension
  • Word Recognition (Chinese)


Each book provides a wide variety of interesting exercises to engage preschoolers in active learning. By doing the exercises, preschoolers will be equipped with the necessary skills for the transition to primary school.


  • Numeracy Skills

Basic numeracy skills, such as counting, recognising numbers, and simple addition and subtraction, are essential for Primary 1. Practise these skills through everyday activities, for example,during a visit to the supermarket:


  1. Have your child count items as you put them in the cart. Ask them to count how many apples you’re buying. How many different types of items are inside the cart?


  1. Show your child price tags on different items and ask them to compare prices. Ask questions like, “Which one is cheaper: a box of cereal for $3.99 or that bag of chips for $2.49?”


  1. Teach your child to count the changes from the cashier after payment. Ask them to slowly count and add the coins and dollar notes. 


  • Reading Readiness

Help your child develop early literacy skills by reading together regularly. Encourage them to ask questions, make predictions, and retell stories. Instilling a love for reading from a young age will lay a strong foundation for their academic success.

Choose age-appropriate books suitable for 5-7 year olds with simple language, engaging illustrations, and relatable themes that can help build essential pre-reading and early reading skills to transition to Primary 1.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

  1. Phonics-based storybooks: These books focus on teaching letter sounds and basic word recognition through simple stories and engaging illustrations. Examples include the Biff, Chip and Kipper series by Oxford Reading Tree.
  2. Sight word storybooks: These books use repetitive text and simple sentences to reinforce high-frequency sight words that children need to recognize automatically. The “Bob Books” series is a popular choice.
  3. Predictable pattern books: These stories follow a predictable pattern or rhyme, which helps build reading fluency and anticipation skills. Examples include books by Dr. Seuss or the “Elephant and Piggie” series by Mo Willems.
  4. Concept books: These books introduce basic concepts like colours, shapes and numbers through engaging stories and illustrations. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle is a classic example.


  • Writing Skills

Practise writing letters, numbers, and simple words with your child to develop their handwriting skills. Encourage them to express their thoughts and ideas through drawing and writing activities, gradually progressing to more structured writing tasks as they approach Primary 1.

Soft Skills

  • Independence

Promote independence by encouraging your child to take on age-appropriate responsibilities such as packing their own school bag. Parents can demonstrate to their child how to organise their school bag by laying out the items they need (books, pencil case, water bottle, etc.). Practise packing the bag together with your child, then gradually let them take the lead.


Make a simple checklist with pictures or words of the items they need to pack. A visual aid will help them remember what to include in their bag each day. Slowly, let your child pack their own bag independently each night before school. Offer praise and positive reinforcement for their effort.


  • Resilience

Imagine a situation where your child feels disappointed after not being chosen for a role in their class’ school play. Here’s what  you could say to your child to build their resilience:


Parent: “I can see you’re feeling sad about not getting the role you wanted. It’s okay to feel disappointed; that’s a normal reaction. Remember, there are many opportunities ahead, and sometimes things don’t work out the way we hoped. What’s important is how we handle problems. You can try again next time and I’m here to support you no matter what.”


By acknowledging your child’s feelings, validating them, and offering encouragement, you help your child understand that setbacks are a part of life and that they have the resilience to overcome them. 


  • Problem-Solving Skills

Let’s say your child is struggling to understand a maths problem in their homework. First, remind your child that it’s okay to encounter problems and that it’s important to keep trying.


Help your child break down the problem into smaller, more manageable parts. For example, if it’s a maths word problem, identify the key information and what the question is asking.


Encourage your child to use the resources available to them, such as their textbook or notes from class to help them understand the concept. Brainstorm different strategies your child could use to solve the problem. This could include drawing a picture, using objects to represent the problem, or working backwards. Let your child try different approaches and see what works. If one strategy doesn’t work, remind them to keep trying or to try a different approach.


Praise the child for their efforts and for any progress they make, even if they have not found the solution yet. After completing the homework, discuss with the child what they learned from the problem-solving process. Ask questions like, “What strategy worked best for you?” or “What would you do differently next time?”

Habits and Routines

  • Establishing a Routine

Establish a daily routine that includes designated times for waking up, home meals, homework, nap, play time, and bedtime. Consistent routines provide structure and stability to help your child feel more secure and prepared for the day ahead. 


  • Time Management

Teach your child the importance of managing their time effectively to execute daily routines, breaking them down into small manageable steps. Create a timetable to illustrate to your child their daily schedule. 


Morning Routine 

   – Wake up, brush teeth, take a bath/shower and get dressed.

   – Breakfast time with the family.

   – Leave for school.


School Hours

   – Focus on school activities, including lessons, breaks, lunchtime, and extracurricular activities.


After-School Routine

   – Arrive home, have a healthy snack, and relax for a short period of time

   – Complete homework and review what’s been learned in school.

   – Engage in leisure activities: playing outside, drawing, or reading.

   – Dinner time with the family.


Evening Routine 

   – Pack their school bag for tomorrow.

   – Take a bath or shower.

   – Read a bedtime story

   – Bedtime.


  • Organisation Skills

Help your child stay organised by providing them with a planner or calendar to track homework deadlines and important dates in their school life. Encourage them to keep their school bag tidy and to pack everything they need for the day ahead.

Parental Support

  • Open Communication

Maintain open communication with your child about their feelings, experiences, and concerns regarding Primary 1. Create a supportive and nurturing environment where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and seeking guidance when needed. Here’s an example:


Parent: “Dear, how was your day at school?”

Child: “It was okay, but I felt a bit nervous.”

Parent: “That’s completely normal! Starting something new can be scary. What made you feel nervous?”

Child: “I didn’t know where the toilets were, and I got lost during recess.”

Parent: “I understand. It’s a big school, but don’t worry. We can ask your teacher to show us where everything is tomorrow. How did you feel about the rest of the day?”

Child: “I liked meeting new friends, but the homework seems hard.”

Parent: “It’s great that you made new friends! We can work on your homework together, and if you need extra help, we can also ask your teacher. Now, how about we make a plan for tomorrow to make things easier?”


  • Positive Reaffirmations

Recognise and celebrate your child’s efforts and achievements, no matter how small. Positive reaffirmations boost their confidence and motivation, encouraging them to continue striving for success. Here’s how to do it:


  1. “You worked really hard on that drawing! I love how you used so many colours.”


  1. “I’m so proud of how you tried your best to read that new book.”


  1. “Even though that maths problem was tricky, you kept trying until you got it right. Great job!!”


  1. “I saw you helping a classmate with their puzzle. Teamwork makes everything more fun!”


  1. “You did a wonderful job singing in the school assembly.”

  • Collaborating with Teachers

Build a positive relationship with your child’s teachers and stay involved in their academic progress. Attend parent-teacher meetings, participate in school events, and communicate regularly with teachers to ensure a collaborative approach to your child’s education.


  • Empathy and Understanding

Be empathetic and understanding towards your child’s concerns and anxieties about starting Primary 1. Validate their feelings, offer reassurance, and provide support as they navigate this significant transition. Some sentences that can be used:


“I understand that starting Primary 1 can feel scary. It’s a big change, but we’ll face it together.”


“It’s okay to feel nervous about making new friends and sitting in a bigger classroom. I felt the same way when I was your age.”


“If you ever feel scared or unsure during class, just remember that your teacher and I are here to help you.”


“I’m here to listen if you want to talk about anything that’s bothering you in school.”

Preparing your child for success in Primary 1 involves nurturing a well-rounded set of skills and habits that go beyond academic knowledge. By focusing on subject knowledge, soft skills, instilling habits, and providing parental support, parents can prepare their children to excel in their primary school years. 

Mulberry Learning empowers young learners to prepare for Primary 1 life, by combining the Habits of Mind approach with Reggio Emilia-inspired learning to offer a holistic curriculum for your child’s growth.

With patience, guidance, and encouragement, parents can support their children to welcome this new chapter in their educational journey with confidence and enthusiasm.

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