Jul 11

3 Key Skills To Learn in Primary School

Primary school is a comfortable age in many ways - the kids have learnt basic life skills, they’ve learnt enough social skills to play with their friends, and entertain themselves without close supervision. Parents can finally enjoy more free time or dedicate time to the younger children. Yet, primary school stage is crucial in developing love of academic learning and exposing kids to various learning environments which the school alone is unable to provide.

In this article we’ll explore major educational goals of primary school education in developing Reading, Writing and Math skills, and why parents should focus on helping kids mastering these skills during primary school.

This article was prompted by visiting the website of the Victorian Department of Education and looking through selective entry high school practice tests. I was curious about the skills kids need to learn throughout primary and secondary schools, in order to pass exams to selective public schools.

Interestingly enough, the information I found was in many ways similar to other states, and also TOEFL, IELTS and GMAT* exams to universities and business schools around the world. Thus, the same skills and knowledge can benefit the children long way if they decide to pursue Bachelor's of Master’s in the future.

In summary, there are 3 skills tested by the during selective high school entry exams:

  • Reading
  • Maths
  • Writing.  

The foundations of all three are built in the primary school. Without these skills preparing for and passing high school entry exams may become a big challenge, for some students – big enough to give up on studies, or find a short cut by finding a job instead of continuing education.

How Reading, Writing and Math is measured?

Reading is tested through Reading comprehension where students need to answer questions based on the text; Verbal Reasoning, such as making word inferences from the sentence structure, finding words similar or different in meaning, grouping words based on one feature; and Numerical Reasoning where in order to find the right answer, the task is heavily worded often using complex sentence structures. Therefore, reading is an essential skill to decode the task and operate the language confidently in figuring out the correct answer.

Reading also goes hand in hand with 2 writing tasks: Creative and Persuasive writing where students are given prompts and asked to compose comprehensive texts following the sandwich structure, building in supportive evidence or defending an opinion. Apart from neat handwriting which is obviously trained in primary school, confident reading skills are crucial in using rich language features and demonstrating vocabulary as well as correct spelling, and thus delivering high quality writing.

Finally, math skills are tested through algebra and geometrics, as well as general maths that requires confident knowledge of numbers in order to answer as many as possible questions within 30 minutes.

What main skills primary school students need to learn?

Primary school age is the time when love for reading is nurtured. It is also when children learn to operate numbers so in the future when they need to calculate circumferences, they make calculations by using the right formula and do not get stuck performing multiplications or divisions.

This is when they develop academic skills that work for them in acquiring more complex knowledge in secondary and high school. Thus, the objective of primary school is to teach kids 

1) Read and comprehend context
2) Operate numbers quickly and confidently
3) Write neatly, correctly and express their thoughts with a clear flow.

Some of you may say that this is the teachers’ job to educate kids about all of these. Let me respectfully disagree: teachers deliver the knowledge, parents provide opportunities for kids to practice and apply this knowledge in real life.

In other words, it is up to us the parents, to identify talents in our kids and drive development of those talents. Equally, it is our job to work on the gaps in kids’ knowledge to boost their confidence and curiosity for learning.

The good thing is that you don’t need to be a teacher or have profound knowledge of the subject. All you need to do is create the environment in which kids will want to connect academic knowledge to life so that learning makes sense for them.

Whether it is learning about city designs, writing and illustrating a book of their summer adventures, or starting a business for kids to make money – all of these are life-based scenarios in which children are stimulated to learn new skills and apply the skills they already know.

Thus, primary school is the ideal time for mastering basic academic skills, such as Reading, Writing and Maths to the degree that future studies build on these skills without overwhelming the child, and navigate them smoothly through secondary and high education to the future they look for.  

* IELTS (The International English Language Testing System), TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language), GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test).

Free parent guide about supporting your child's reading skills

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