This article was contributed by one of our teachers who teaches Primary 4 and 5 classes at The Learning Lab.
Why should you prepare your Primary 4 child for a smooth transition to Primary 5?
The transition from Primary 4 to Primary 5 may not seem like a crucial academic milestone. But what many parents like yourself may not realise is that this jump is often overlooked and many children and parents find themselves stressing out when it is already too late. The solution?
Enrolling their child for Primary 5 tuition for intensive cram sessions. However, the child will often find it unhelpful, which then spurs a negative attitude towards learning new topics, lessons and concepts.
A One-Year Runway to the PSLE
Primary 5 is a sneak peek into what your child will expect in the PSLE. This means your child will be faced with not just new topics and concepts, but also of a more difficult level. Students who are not mentally prepared for these new changes will not know how to manage the pressure, and will eventually will find themselves struggling to keep up.
So How Can You Help Your Primary 4 Child and Yourself?
As a teacher, I have witnessed the good and the bad and it is in my capacity to only ensure the good for my students.
Help your child by preparing them and yourself for this academic jump.
Here is a list of 5 things you need to know before your child enters Primary 5.
More To Learn and Understand
Your child will be expected to learn more in each subject. Across all subjects, your child will be exposed to not just more and new topics, but also more challenging questions that test their understanding and application.
The two main components to note are comprehension and composition as they form the bulk of the marks weightage, and cause students to lose the most marks.
For composition, students will see less straight forward composition themes and a greater diversity in the three pictures that may or may not be linked together like what they are used to seeing in Primary 4. This component will also now be worth 40 marks, which means it is more difficult to get a mark that is closer to the full marks.
Situational writing is a new examinable component. Initially not part of the Primary 4 syllabus, it is now part of Paper 1, together with composition in Primary 5.
Since situational writing involves more creative forms of writing that includes email writing, reports and letters, it will be helpful if your child is exposed to these writing styles early. One good way to start is by reading the “Opinions” section of The Straits Times, to capture the tone and style of writing.
For comprehension, your child will be exposed to tougher passages that are longer and have more inferential questions as compared to Primary 4. The weightage for this component is now increased to 20 marks. Your child will need to be prepared to tackle this component with more practice and question and answering techniques.
Here are some common misconceptions about Primary 5 Math.
The use of calculators will make calculation easier
Primary 5 is the first year which your child will be allowed to use calculators in examinations. However, calculators are actually only allowed for Paper 2, and Paper 1 still requires manual calculations.
Hence, it is important for your child not to be overly dependent on calculators. Students should continue to practice rudimentary calculations such as conversions between measurements, fractions and decimals.
Students can still solve by drawing models for most of the problem sums.
In Primary 4, students predominantly use models to solve word problems. While students can still draw models to solve word problems involving fractions, they have to pick up unitary methods. Questions in Primary 5 often involves large numbers and complicated intermediate steps, which make drawing models almost impossible for most of the questions.
Lengthy problem sums mean more difficult questions.
In Primary 4, students still come across some pictorial diagrams and shorter word problems. However, in Primary 5, students are exposed to much longer word problems, especially in Paper 2.
Quell your child’s fears by assuring them that lengthier questions do not necessarily mean that they are more challenging. As more information is provided in the question, students simply need to build up the perseverance to read through it and obtain the key information in solving the questions.
In Math, many topics in Primary 5 are extensions of Primary 4 topics so it is crucial that your child establishes a firm foundation in Primary 4.
Similar to Math, your child will be exposed to more topics in Primary 5. It is important to note that these topics are biology topics which are heavier in content and require more memory work from students.
A common misconception that many students have when they enter Primary 5 is that they do not need to revise the topics learnt in Primary 3 and 4.
On the contrary, they are expected to demonstrate higher order thinking and a more refined understanding of previously taught science concepts.
Simply put, a Primary 5 question of a Primary 4 topic will be tougher and requires more analysis in order to be answered correctly.
Similar to the English paper, the two main components that you should take note of are composition and language use.
For composition, there is an increase from three pictures in Primary 4 to five pictures in Primary 5. Your child will be expected to brainstorm further on the relation among all the pictures and still be able to form a sound and believable story. In addition, situational writing will also be introduced as part of this section. It is good if your child can be exposed to some writing practices towards the end of Primary 4 to avoid any shock when they enter Primary 5.
For the language usage component, there will be new sections tested. They include completing the sentences, choosing the correct sentences and cloze passage.
It is thus important to note that there is a heavier emphasis on testing your child’s language and vocabulary when they enter Primary 5.
Manage Your Expectations
We have to accept reality. You will see a dip in your child’s grades in his or her first test paper in Primary 5. However, it is important to understand that it takes time for your child to adapt to the new topics and more challenging questions.
Making comparisons between your child and their peers will not be a fair gauge in their academic progress.
Every child learns differently and at a different pace so it is a good idea to manage your expectations of their progress based on his or her learning ability.
Persevere and Work Hard
Constantly remind and encourage your child to persevere and be disciplined in working hard because their efforts will pay off by the time they take their SA2 papers in Primary 5.
They will see the benefits of this hard work when they enter Primary 6 and in the lead up to the PSLE because they will be able to handle the pressures of the exams better.
Start Early to Develop Good Studying Habits
By the last quarter of Primary 4, extend your child’s knowledge by exposing them to new question types under the topics learnt. This will prepare them for the new question types in Primary 5.
Ensure that your child develops good study habits and skills now at Primary 4. Most students do not realise submitting that their assignments on time and doing corrections promptly play crucial roles in maintaining consistent progress in their learning.
Mistakes should be analysed and corrections be completed thereafter to ensure they understand exactly what went wrong and avoid making the same mistake after.
A good tip in studying smart is by encouraging your child to highlight keywords in the questions. Whether is it a word problem in Math or an inferential question in an English comprehension, highlighting key words help students focus on important key points and information. For Science, creating concept maps for content-heavy topics will also help your child recall the necessary facts.
Work As a Team
Finally, understand that your child is not in this alone in his or her learning journey. You are their biggest motivators. Together with the help of their teachers, form a tripartite relationship to ensure a smoother learning journey for your child.
With the evolving curriculum in the MOE syllabus, you may find it difficult to offer the same help as you once did in your child’s earlier lower primary years. This means your child’s teachers play an even more important role in coaching your child.
At the end of the day, love your child for who they are because every one of them is unique and have different learning styles and abilities.