Building confidence

During orientation for Primary 1 pupils last week at Xinghua Primary School, Nor Audrie Lileanna Md Rafi kept looking to see if her mum was around.

Mum Nor Salienah Sapari, an associate administrative assistant, 26, says Audrie, her eldest of three children, loves her friends and teachers at Appleland Playhouse preschool, which she had attended for four years. She is afraid that her daughter "may not mingle with her new friends or take to the new environment, and not focus on her studies as a result".

It is a valid concern.

Psychologist Angela Khong says her eldest son Christian, now eight, wanted to be "home-schooled for a long time" after he progressed to Anglo-Chinese School (Junior) from a Montessori kindergarten.

It was tough for him to adjust to being among 30 pupils in a "less personal" environment, instead of 20 friends in his previous school, and attending school for up to six hours instead of four.

Ms Khong adds: "He didn't like waking up early and was just afraid of being scolded for whatever reason."

Her advice: Talk to your child about what is ahead - the longer school hours, class size and what to do during recess. Tell him about your positive experiences in school and assure him that he will make new friends and have fun in time. Visit the school website with him and check out activities he may like to join.

Between now and the start of primary school next year, set an hour after dinner to complete projects such as art work or research in a certain subject. This will ease him into the routine of sitting down quietly to complete his homework and also encourages independence. Knowing what to expect will reassure him and ease his emotional and mental fears.

Parents' involvement in the school also helps. Ms Khong volunteered in the school chapel and library, "so we had things to discuss and he knew I was involved and around".

She also held play dates with his classmates in her private apartment in the Newton area and they visited his new friends' homes when invited.

Ms Khong says her son is now "enjoying school tremendously".

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