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Helping your child make the leap from junior to senior primary

The leap from junior primary in Grade 3 to senior primary in Grade 4 – the so-called Intersen Phase – can be a significant change and adjustment for children. They are faced with new subjects, new teachers, new expectations, new routines and new challenges. Some children may find this transition exciting, while others may feel anxious, overwhelmed or resistant.

Parents have an important role to play to prepare their children for this progress between grades and help them take this important next step in their academic journey, an education expert says.

“Parents should prepare their children for the change, by talking to them about how their school days will be different when they move to Grade 4,” says Desiree Hugo, academic head of ADvTECH Schools Division.

“In Grade 4, they need to start taking greater ownership and responsibility for their own learning, including an increase in workload, homework and assessments, plus they are expected to develop independence,” she adds.

For parents who have children heading to Grade 4 in 2024, the following guidelines can assist them to ensure they start the year on a strong footing, ready to perform to the best of their ability and enjoy the exciting challenges ahead!

Create a consistent routine

Children thrive on structure and predictability, especially during times of change. Establish a regular routine for your child’s daily activities such as waking up, getting ready, having breakfast, going to school, extra-murals, doing homework, having family fun time and dinner, and going to bed, preferably with a story book. Try to stick to the same schedule on most school days, and make sure your child knows what to do and when to do it. Try to keep deviations to a minimum, so that the rhythm of their daily routine becomes second nature.

Support your child’s learning

In senior primary, there may be a wider range of subjects that may be new or challenging for your child. You can help your child learn and master the content by providing guidance, encouragement and feedback. For example, you can review the lesson notes with your child, help them with their homework, quiz them on the key concepts, praise their efforts and achievements, and discuss their mistakes. You can also provide extra resources such as books, websites, videos or games to supplement their learning and spark their interest. However, avoid doing the work for your child or putting too much pressure on them. Let your child work at their own pace and level, and respect their learning style and preferences.

At the start of senior primary, getting into a healthy learning routine is probably one of the most important milestones, which will assist your child throughout their educational journey.

Encourage your child’s social and emotional development

Senior primary is not only about academic learning but also about personal growth as your child develops and continues to grow and develop their unique identity.

Your child may face various social and emotional issues such as making friends, dealing with peer pressure, coping with stress, managing emotions, developing self-esteem and expressing opinions. You can help your child develop these skills by being a good role model, listening to their feelings and concerns, validating their emotions, offering advice and support, teaching them coping strategies and encouraging them to join extracurricular activities. You can also help your child build positive relationships with their teachers and classmates by communicating with them regularly, attending school events and resolving conflicts independently and peacefully.

Celebrate your child’s progress and achievements

The transition to senior primary is a big milestone for your child, and they deserve recognition and appreciation for their hard work and accomplishments. It is important to celebrate your child’s progress and achievements, while at the same time avoiding comparison with others or focusing only on results. Emphasise the process, the effort, mastery and the improvement that your child has made. Consider failure as a first attempt in learning, and support them in building resilience to ongoing relearning.

“Senior primary is an exciting and illuminating period in a child’s life. They continue to build their own identity, learn new skills, and encounter new challenges. This is an important time to help them cultivate a love of learning and a growth mindset. Parental and teacher support during this time is crucial to ensure continued connection, while also learning to strike a balance between supporting the child and giving them the room to discover their own strengths and abilities; we want to maximise children’s success and gratification in life,” Hugo says.

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