Friday, December 02, 2016

Primary Prep - inculcating life skills

My little big one is heading to Primary 1 officially in about a month’s time. As shared in this post, we had actually started preparing her early. Kiasu? Nah… more like worried parents who want their little darling to be mentally, emotionally and physically prepared. 

In our last post, we shared about inculcating values. Today, let us share a little about what we have done to inculcate life skills.

Establishing a routine and setting a timetable together
Establishing a routine is essential, and this is something that EV and I have been doing together for over a year now. I get her involved in planning out her activities for the day and for the week. Other than her designated school and homework time, she designates her free time with her favourite colour, pink. 

This, I tell her, is when she can have her ‘quiet time’, which has to come only after she has finished her homework, whether at our home, or at her grandfather’s home. She can do whatever she wants during this period, whether it’s read or play. 

The only activity that is not allowed is any activity that has to do with a screen. Yup, I keep quite a tight reign on my kids’ screen times. All for good reasons - to protect their eyes, to develop their focus and to encourage face-to-face communication. So usually, they either get no screen time, or they get about 30 minutes of screen time a day, the most. And by screen time, I mean anything that has a screen, TV and mobile included. 

P1 Timetable 2

This is an example of a timetable EV and I did together for this year. AA has his own version too. We usually do them on the computer using Excel, print it out, then put it up in a prominent place, for example her bedroom and the living room. So far, she’s been quite diligent to follow the timetable. Of course, she doesn’t always follow it exactly; there are days when she does slack a bit. However, overall, she has reached an understanding that she must do her homework first before she gets her ‘quiet time’. And that, I think, will put her in a good stead when she heads to formal education.

This month, we’ll have to work together to prepare her timetable for next year. I’m glad to say that she’s quite excited about it.

Managing money
‘Money money money, must be funny.’ Eh… not really. Not when you’re dealing with a little tiny being.

A while ago, DaddySay and I started discussing with EV about needs and wants, and guiding her in distinguishing what is a need and what is a want. We hope that with this knowledge, she can make wiser decisions when spending money, and not just do so without thinking.

Which brings us to an important part about managing money and making healthy money choices. Three key habits come to mind: saving for the future, sharing with others and having a spending plan.

P1 Money box

We have a coin box from Daiso with several slots. We allocated some slots for each day of the week; this is where the daily pocket money goes. Then there are two other slots for Saving and Sharing. 

When EV receives her pocket money, she decides how much she wants to save, how much she wants to set aside for charity. She is also asked how much she plans to spend. Through this, she learns to set aside a certain percentage of her pocket money for saving, sharing and spending.

At the same time, she also learns to plan for her spending, understanding how to compare her intended expenses to her available pocket money, thereby deciding whether what she wants to spend money on is a need or a want, and then finally deciding whether to spend the money.

Here are two resources which I’ve found useful in coming up with ideas to teach financial literacy to EV: Making Smart Money Choices and Budget Basics. Best part, they are free!

Telling Time
This is quite crucial, so that EV is aware of the value of time, and how much time she has spent on doing a particular activity. At home, we use the analog clock and the digital clock to teach her how to tell the time. 

P1 Time

We also use Kumon books to help her. These colourful books teach the skill of time telling step by step, with each step increasing in complexity. The activities are repetitive, so that the kids’ skills are honed well. I think that the fact that the graphics in the Kumon book are so colourful and well designed, it makes it more interesting for kids to do the activities. EV does like doing these activities and it boosts her confidence; she is usually  so motivated that she wants to do them again and again.

Packing her own stuff
This year, she had to bring her own pencil box and purse to school, as preparation for Primary 1. To teach her to take care of her own things, we also get her to arrange and tidy up her own study table every time she finishes doing her homework. She also has to clean up after herself every time she reads or plays during her quiet time.

In addition, she needs to pack her own bags. For our day to day outings, she has a little sling bag that she uses to put her water bottle, jacket and maybe a book or two. For our recent holiday, we got EV to think of what she needed for the trip, from clothes, to toiletries, to her own reading books. She gathered everything together, and then put them in her little back pack, which she needed to take responsibility of. 

Of course, there are a lot more life skills that EV needs to learn and hone as she grows up. These that I’ve listed here are just some basic crucial skills we think are important to help her in her Primary 1 journey. Definitely, DaddySay and myself will be there every step of the way to help her, in her Primary 1 journey and beyond.

Do check out our earlier Preparing for Primary One Series, and do stay tuned for more.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 


  1. This morn, I was planning my boy's timetable for next yr too as he'll be attending a 3-hr nursery..hopefully he'll be able to stick to it too ;)

    1. Hahaha.. yes, I totally understand. Very often, the challenge is that the kids will follow the timetable. I think if they are able to follow at least some of it, it's a start.

  2. I think it's great idea that you establish the routine and set the time table with your child. In this case, she can 'neogotiate' on the routine and this will in turn prevent any unnecessary stress. Primary 1 is like a new milestone for you, so congrats on the milestone! :)

    1. Thanks! Definitely 'negotiation' is on the cards, and very often too. But at least she knows to ask before she even does it, and this allows us to plan ahead.

  3. Very useful tips Winnie! I'm so not ready for the Primary school yet... one more year before I start stressing all these things... for now I shall just chill and act like its still long way to go... Ha!

    1. Yes, please do chill and enjoy it! Honestly, though we are just weeks away from P1, I'm still dragging my feet in preparing her stuff for the big milestone, like writing her name on her school clothes, wrapping her books etc. I'm still not ready for it yet. Maybe on the first day of school, when I see her in her uniform, carrying her backpack, then will reality really sink in.

  4. Oooh I love the idea of having the coins in day-specific slots. Good use for these little containers or even pill boxes. My son is born in the year 2009 so this phase has been over for us. I wish you fun in journeying with your girl on Official School, Winnie! :)

  5. Oooh I love the idea of allocating the pocket money into day-specific slots. Good use of these little containers or even pill boxes. My son is born in 2009 so this anxiety period is over for me. I wish you will find joy & fun in journeying with your girl on Official School, Winnie! :)

  6. Wow u r so well prepared. It must have taken u a lot of effort and time to plan this out. Good job! :)

  7. Helped me to reminiscence preparing my own daughter's entry to P1 2 years back (has it been 2 years already!!??) ....good list. Thanks for sharing.

  8. It reminds me of the time when my son started with his primary. Loved that coin box and we too are doing the same where he saves his money.

  9. Good read, Winnie. I've started my older girl on time reading and packing her own bag. I shall try planning her timetable for her next! Thanks for sharing.

    Michelle The Chill Mom

  10. Indeed P1 is a milestone. For my younger son, I am trying to do a few of such things. Thanks for sharing.


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