Habits for the new school year

Joy entered Primary 1 last year and as we progressed in school, I found that there are many things we need to keep track of. As we go along, I dropped many balls but learning from them, I have formed some habits which helped to keep us on top of things, as far as is possible.
Make school related documents easily accessible

I set up a specific folder in my google drive for all documents relating to Joy’s schooling. The categories and sub-categories I created as I went along last year are:

Admin

  • News / Letters ( newsletters, letters from school )
  • Events ( excursions, events )
  • Programmes ( school ballet, swimming programme)
  • Insurance (her school has an insurance plan for students)
  • Fees & Payment
  • Others ( misc admin like handphone permissions etc)

Subjects

  • English (spelling list, review papers etc )
  • Math (review papers etc)
  • Mother Tongue (spelling list, review papers etc)
  • Art ( I like to save her artwork digitally )

Any documents that Joy comes home with is either photographed ( the fastest way! ) or scanned (I prefer this when time permits) into the relevant folders as soon as possible. This way, if I need to refer to anything, it is always easily available to me and Joy’s father. If I need to share any information with anyone, I can do that quickly as well.

Google Drive School Documents

Initially I didn’t scan things like spelling and 听写 lists as well as newsletters and field trip permission forms, but I realised I was asking other parents if they had the information one time too often, especially when I was out and about. Hence, I made it a habit to do so in the end.
Set up an easy filing system for the papers

I thought of just discarding the documents after I have scanned them, but in the end I decided it would be prudent keep at least documents for the current school year.

Filing System for New School Year

My filing system is really simple. I get a file with built in dividers of 12 and I label them with the names of each month of the year. I file papers received in each month divider accordingly without any sequence or thought, as and when I am done uploading them to my google drive. There are not too many papers a month and I can easily find what I need without having to do the additional work of sorting them.

Key in upcoming school event dates into calendar

Every month, Joy gets a newsletter from the school that provides information on what’s happening in school including upcoming activities, events and any changes in dismissal times. We also get updated by teachers and school administration through a communication app.

Primary School Calendar Dates

There are really quite some information to note and dates to remember and I found it useful to make it a point to note down all dates of any activities and events in school in my google calendar as soon as I can, right away if possible. Any procrastination will inevitably result in us forgetting something, so I make it a priority even if I am busy.
Getting the child to note down activities and events

I like to teach Joy spontaneously and I saw an opportunity for her to start being responsible for what’s happening in school. After a few months of us receiving newsletters from school, I told her she needs to:

  1. Take ownership to pass me any documents from school that needs my attention. Even though we get a monthly newsletter, her school has a system where the girls write down notes in an organiser for school work and activities to be communicated to the parents and we have to sign it. So that’s included too.
  2. Note down key activities and events on to her whiteboard calendar every month, so that she can do some planning or count down to an anticipated event.
  3. Take ownership and make decisions on the number of words to learn a day in order to be ready for her spelling or 听写. (This needed a lot of time and patience to implement definitely.)

We use white boards to reduce paper waste. I simply bought a whiteboard calendar from Daiso that allows her to fill in the days for each month as we go along ( Also opportunity to learn about the calendar!), and sufficient space for her hand-writing to note down key events.

Noting down school calendar

When I think she is ready, my plan is to totally disregard the dates and leave it to her to inform me of upcoming activities, events or changes in dismissal times.

Note: I was also cautious about not being too eager to do so lest it becomes overwhelming for her at this period of significant change. You really have to gauge for yourself, based on your understanding of your child, whether they are ready to do this or when it might be a good time to start.
Staying in touch with fellow parents

I was a little resistant towards the idea of a parents’ group chat initially, because I have heard so many horror stories. However, the parents’ group chat has helped me so much over the last year.

I am super grateful for things like:

  • Having documents which our girls receive in school, photographed and shared so that others at work or those who do not see their children until much later in the day have some idea of what’s going on in school. Not that we need to see it immediately, but it definitely helped some of us.
  • Mutual reminder of upcoming events, activities and things to bring to school
  • This is also the place you can obtain lists and forms if you’re out and about but need access to it for any reason.
  • Discussion of happenings in school. Very often I already know what happened in school, before Joy tells me and sometimes, it gives me time to prep about how to discuss certain things with her.
  • Planning of playdates during school breaks
  • Gathering attendance for birthday parties

I am very lucky that, over the past one year, all of us in the parents’ group chat seem to be on the same page about not comparing results, not boasting about extra activities or tuition etc. so if you’re being asked to join one, I would say, go for it. Even if it does not start off being a mutually helpful group chat, when someone takes the initiative to show how it can work, there is a higher possibility that others will follow and reciprocate.

Hope this helps you as well in the new school year!

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