Most parents of preschoolers share a common goal: that when the time comes, their little ones will be prepared for primary 1.
There are several steps you can take to give your child’s reading and writing skills a boost, including using effective strategies at home to improve reading comprehension skills and enrolling him or her in an English enrichment class – in which case, it is essential to determine which class is the best fit for your child.
How do you gauge how effective an English enrichment class will be in preparing your child for primary 1?
First, let us take a look at the academic abilities that are highlighted in the primary 1 English syllabus provided by Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE).
Reading skills in Primary 1
- Read, comprehend and respond to different types of age-appropriate literary texts (i.e. children’s literature, rhymes/poems and narratives) as well as functional texts (i.e. information reports, textbook and exposition writing)
- Develop beginners’ skills in word identification such as decoding and phonics
- Recognise the sounds of vowels, consonant clusters, vowel combinations, etc.
- Build vocabulary through reading various types of texts and learn to retain definitions in order to use words appropriately in context
- Comprehend and evaluate a conveyed message
- Develop core reading comprehension skills including identifying the main idea, identifying the details, making inferences, listening selectively (i.e., organise information by classifying and comparing), and making predictions
Criteria for English enrichment class that builds Primary 1 reading skills:
It is evident that phonics is just one part of the expected reading abilities, therefore do opt for an integrated reading enrichment class over a phonics class.
The MindChamps Reading Programme ensures that each child grasps the 8 essential skills of reading:
- Active Understanding
- Narrative Intelligence & Higher Order Thinking Skills
- Phonemic Awareness
- Structural Awareness
Sure, phonics is a part of the MindChamps Reading Programme curriculum, but what is covered goes well beyond a normal phonics class. Developing the aforementioned 8 essential skills will prepare your child for the MOE curriculum in primary 1 and reading comprehension tests to come.
Speaking and Communication skills in Primary 1
- Understand that listening is not a passive receptive task but rather one that requires engagement, feedback and/or participation
- Develop active listening skills
- Learn how to speak and represent ideas effectively in various situations and settings (e.g., one-on-one conversation, group interaction, poem recitation or a simple classroom presentation)
- Participate in conversations, narrate, explain, provide instructions, and recount and report information
- Recognise and utilise the various voice qualities in spoken communication (i.e., volume, pace, word stress and sentence stress)
- Listen and comprehend a variety of spoken and audio texts including DVDs, CDs, radio broadcasts, podcasts, and live presentations or performances
Criteria for English enrichment class that builds the above Primary 1 speaking and communication skills
An enrichment class for kids should cater to kids and their interests, which start with having fun. Opt for an English enrichment class that draws from dynamic activities to cultivate active listening, verbal self-expression and communication techniques.
The implementation of speech and drama, theatre, poems, rhymes and verbal comprehension question can enable students to learn essential communication skills – with the added bonus of creativity-building.
Here is a sample rhyme, “I Saw a Little Ladybug,” for kids to memorise and recite with facial expression, voice expression and movement.
Writing skills in Primary 1
- Learn to enjoy the writing experience
- Apply grammatical rules to words, phrases and sentences
- Learn spelling rules and develop spelling skills (often through regular spelling lists and tests)
- Learn different writing styles: Write various types of texts for creative and personal expression (i.e. a personal experience or narrative) as well as for academic purposes (i.e. expositions, information lists and factual recounts, etc.)
Criteria for English enrichment class that builds the above writing skills
Choose an enrichment class that emphasises creative writing for kids while helping them improve their writing standard across a mixture of genres. Your child will get an edge in primary 1 if he or she understands what style of writing is appropriate for specific writing tasks.
MindChamps Writing Programme is an experiential programme that complements and enhances the MOE English curriculum. The expert-approved MindChamps Writing Toolbox comes with six essential “tools” for writing success:
- Syntax Construction tools (i.e. grammar, punctuation, sentence construction)
- Language Enhancement tools (i.e. “feeling” words and descriptive writing that are widely helpful in creative writing for kids)
- Planning and Structuring tools
- Story Building tools
- Polishing tools (i.e. proof-reading and editing skills)
- Higher Order Thinking tools (i.e. critical and analytical thinking)
Telling signs of an effective English enrichment class
In addition to the aforementioned criteria for an English enrichment class that will prepare your child for primary 1, take note of the following signs that the class is a positive learning experience for your child.
- Your child enjoys attending class and looks forward to each session.
- The trainers at the English enrichment centre are helpful and communicative. Your child’s teacher keeps you up to date on your child’s progress and what to work on at home
- Your child shows an increased desire to read.
- There is a marked improvement in your child’s vocabulary, pronounciation, reading comprehension and written expression – as well as his or her confidence.