It is so exciting! No.1 will be entering Primary 1 next year. We were invited by the school to attend the P1 orientation talk.
1. Program Outline
2.15pm Parents and children to arrive. The children were grouped into alphabetical group randomly and were seated in accordance to their allocated grouping at the back of the hall. Parents are seated in front, similarly in accordance to the grouping.
2.30pm The children were brought to classrooms accorded to their group for games and quiz.
2.45pm Principal began orientation talk. She began with "primary school education is not all about PSLE". 3 other teachers followed up with topics on PAL, Holistic Assessment and administrative matters. I will cover these in more details later.
Food and drinks were provided by the student leaders throughout the talk.
4.00pm Children were brought back from the classrooms. The Parent Support Group gave their final presentation.
4.15pm Orientation ends
Prior the orientation, we were informed by the school to prepare a pencil, an eraser, a box of coloured pencils and water bottle for our child. I believe the children were brought to the classrooms to “play” and were assessed for their academic capability. Truly, No.1 came back with some simple writings and drawings.
At the start of the orientation, each parent is given a cute adventure book to go through with their children. The book is intended to help the children’s transition into primary school a smoother one. There is also another guide from LTA on road safety matters.
2. Primary school education is not all about PSLE
I would love to embrace what the Principal said. Can I? Singapore is well-known to be a paper chasing society where excellent academic performance is of utmost importance.
Anyway, the Principal continued to manage our expectations. From 2021 onwards, there will be wider bands for the PSLE score. There will be greater emphasis on Physical Education, Arts and Music. Other than academic capabilities, our Ministry of Education wishes to place more focus on character building, citizenship education as well as holistic education.
In 2016, our primary school organised activities such as inter-generation boot camp for the children to guide elderly in using apps, the creation of apps to help other children learn maths. I like these meaningful programs.
3. Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
Something which the Principal said caught my attention and I would like to share it here. She emphasised on developing a growth mindset. This is not just lipped service paid for parents’ consumption during the orientation, but also an important concept consistently conveyed to the students in the most recent newsletter shared with parents, teachers and students.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
- Self-pity and negative - Looks at bigger picture and seeks solutions
- Sees efforts as fruitless Sees effort as path of mastery
- Desire to look smart Desire to learn
- Wants to be the best Wants to be better
Having a growth mindset has been something my husband and I want to inculcate in our children all along. In our daily lives, we try to demonstrate to our children problem-solving skills, guts to be imperfect and our enthusiasm in learning.
In fact, she reminded us that in 20 years’ time when our children are out in the workforce, the world would have changed beyond our imagination. Thus, rather than getting our kids to perfect their scores in the traditional subjects, perhaps we should act as facilitators to help them develop traits such as resourcefulness, creativity and developing a critical and analytical mind. Traditional learning practices such as memorising timetable or essays may no longer be relevant in this modern world where information is readily available on the internet.
Forbes recommended a book “The Industries of the Future“, written by Alec Ross, senior advisor for Innovation of Hillary Clinton. In the book, Ross examines the specific fields that will most shape the world’s economic future over the next 10 years, such as robotics, artificial intelligence and digital technology. I believe this book can help parents have a better view of what the future may become. I have ordered the book, which will be one of my To-Read books for 2017.
Coincidentally, I just bought a book ” The Most Magnificent Thing” for the kids to encourage them to develop a resilient mindset.
See related post – children books for building resilience.
My… I am beginning to like this lady.
4. Programme for Active Learning (PAL)
The Vice-Principal continued the talk by explaining PAL. This is meant for the P1 and P2 children to transit them from preschool to primary school. PAL will cover outdoor education, performing arts, visual arts, sports, and games. The intent of these activities is to give the children broad exposure rather than mastery of any particular skill. And through participating PAL, the children will gain holistic development (socially, cognitively, aesthetically, morally and physically).
5. Holistic Assessment (HA)
At Primary 1, there is less emphasis placed on semestral exams. Instead, there will be an ongoing collection of information of the children from various sources.
2 types of assessments will be carried out.
- Assessment of Learning (AoL) inclusive of the quantitative CAs and SAs, i.e. term tests and semestral exams.
- Assessment for Learning (AfL) which takes place regularly.
The Vice-Principal reminded all parents to support the children’s HA, by monitoring their daily work, giving regular encouragement and engaging the teachers.
6. Other Administrative Matters
- While school starts at 7.40am, the children are to report earlier by 7.25am for the morning assembly and pledge taking. On the first day of school, the P1s will report later at 8.15am
- There will be a P5 buddy attached to each P1 student for the first week. This is to help them adapt to school life. The P5 students will guide the P1 students on routines during recess, a variety of food stalls available and how to purchase their food and clear the table after eating.
- On the first 2 days of school, parents are allowed into the school premises to observe the children during recess. However, guidance to recess routine will be entirely handled by the P5 students.
- Textbooks and school uniforms were also available for sale on the same day. Interestingly, the books are sold and ready packed in a box. What a highly organised exercise.
There will be another talk for the P1 parents on the first day of school. I will share my experience again if the talk interesting.
Disclaimer: Orientation topics and administrative arrangements may differ from school to school. My experience mentioned herein may not apply to all schools in Singapore.