Hi, I understand that there is spelling in primary 1. My child’s childcare centre is not testing any spelling and he is currently in K1. I heard that other childcares are already testing them. As a kiasu (afraid to lose) mother, should I be worried?


This is a little tricky. When K1 provides spelling, the child will be exposed to spelling at an earlier age and will know what to expect when primary 1 comes round. He will be slightly used to the pressure and stress that is to be expected with spelling. Now, this is the tricky part. Your child may experience earlier stress because of spelling. This is when parents themselves put pressure on the child who want all the words to be correct. At this age, unless they learn phonics, they may not be able to get all the words correct as it may be difficult for them to memorize. This will cause boredom and may even be a tug of war with parents.

It’s not a measure of Love

Parents must make the child feel safe that spelling is not a test to show he is a ‘good boy’ or ‘smart boy for getting all right’ or ‘stupid boy for getting a word wrong’. Otherwise, the child may feel resentment and sooner or later, may associate good behavioural condition response with the right to feel love.


If you would like your child to undergo spelling, a lesson or two in phonics might ease some pressure off him as he will learn skills to spell the words by sound. That will take the load off his cognitive memory and he doesn’t need to rely on memorization to spell. You can even form a list on your own to test him from time to time.

Turn it into a Game

To make it more fun, try playing a game with him where you take turns to compete to spell certain words and keep score. Pretend to lose to let him feel confident of his spelling prowess. If there is fun and laughter while spelling, your child will be more willing to learn at a quicker pace. Who knows, he may even try to find some words on his own to keep score with you!