“I have friends, I don’t need any new friends!” Muhammad shouted at his mother, when she dropped him off on his first day of primary school. Mashithah Bte Mansor tried to give her son a goodbye hug but he withdrew and looked nervous. His first-day jitters were getting the best of him.
For Muhammad, the transition from kindergarten to starting a new phase of life at Chongzheng Primary School was challenging, especially when surrounded by many unfamiliar faces. He was apprehensive towards his new school.
Muhammad had problems making new friends during the first few days of school. He was unreceptive towards the opinions of others and would argue with his classmates. Muhammad sought attention by interjecting conversations, blurting out answers without raising his hands and refusing to comply with instructions.
Muhammad’s form teacher, Mrs Ivory Ho, implemented a few strategies to improve his social skills and behaviour.
Understanding students’ characteristics
“I spoke to Muhammad’s mum so that I could understand his situation. He has a best friend in pre-school since he was 2-years old so it was difficult for him to accept new friends,” said Mrs Ho.
When educators get to know their students’ background, it provides an insight into their behaviour in school.
Creating a strong parent partnership
Mrs Ho spoke to Mashithah regularly to discuss Muhammad’s issues and together, they helped Muhammad understand the difference between right and wrong. Through constant interaction with parents, issues during the transitional period can be identified quickly and remedied.
“Her assurance and frequent updates to a first-time mother of a Primary One student like me was comforting,” said Mashithah.
School Transition Programmes
The school’s Primary One 3-day induction programme provided opportunities for students to take part in hands-on bonding activities with peers and teachers. They played games like “Bingo” and explored art and craft activities.
The buddy system also provided new students like Muhammad with a welcoming experience. Primary Four students are assigned to guide new students on new responsibilities such as buying food from the canteen during recess as well as answering their questions when they were uncertain about anything.
Fun and engaging lessons
Through the Form Teacher Guidance Period (FTGP) and Social Studies lessons, Muhammad became more receptive towards his friends. Activities like “My Classmates and I,” “Making New Friends” and “Knowing Myself?” allowed students to interact as they learnt more about their friend’s interests. Realising how fun school could be, Muhammad’s interactions with people and engagement during class time improved and he took a liking towards school.
Mrs Ho also took time to speak to Muhammad understand him better.
“Focusing on students individually will benefit the child’s academic development as well as help us discover their strengths and weaknesses,” said Mrs Ho.
Mrs Ho shared that parents should attempt to identify their child’s strengths and weaknesses early. Once identified, chat with them about it and work together to rectify their weaknesses and praise them for their strengths to boost their confidence.
Muhammad is now well adjusted. Both parent and teacher observe that he is more easy-going and has good rapport with people around him. He mingles well with his friends and raises his hand to answer questions. He is very pleasant and polite.
“It took him some time to adapt but now he’s ok,” said Mrs Ho happily. Check out more tips on helping your child to transit to Primary School.