How Can Your Child Strike A Balance Between Study and Play?


New year, new school, new opportunities for growth! Read our article as we share some tried and true tips for parents and children in the lead up to the first day of primary school.

A Whole New World Awaits

New classmates, new teachers, new school environment — your child’s tiny world is about to get a lot bigger. With these changes come opportunities for personal, social and cognitive growth.

The Countdown And Preparation Begins

In these weeks as you count down to your child’s first day of school, you may be wondering, “What will school be like for my child? Will my child be able to cope in the new environment?”

Parents can help by being proactive — research from professionals at Duke University suggests that establishing a strong communication channel with your child’s teachers helps and so does monitoring changes in your child's behaviour or mood when he or she first starts school.

Whether at home or in school, we’ve got some great tips for every stage of preparation that will help you (and your child) pave a smooth journey towards the new school term in January.

1. Create A Routine That Works

Studies have shown that routines help children feel safe and secure. Set up a routine that works for your child — whether it’s a shower before dinner or an afternoon snack before naptime, it’s important that your child gets into a routine that he or she is comfortable with. 

2. Identify Friendly Figures In School

Helping your child identify teachers or staff he or she can go to for assistance is important. When your child recognises trustworthy figures of authority, he or she will feel more secure in the new environment.

Related Article: Gear Up For Primary 1

3. Prepare An 'Emergency' Fund

You may want to consider setting aside an “emergency fund” for your child. Placing extra money in a separate wallet or purse to be kept in his or her school bag means that your child will still have access to money if he or she misplaces pocket money. However, you should set some strict rules about when this money can be used.

4. Test Out That Transport Route

It may be a good idea to have a few dry runs of your child’s journey to and from school to help your child familiarise himself or herself with the route. Help your child identify key landmarks and remember the specific place where he or she will be dropped off or picked up from everyday.

Related Article: Raising A Responsible Child

5. Set Mini Goals To Achieve Together

Help to make the experience seem less daunting by setting mini goals for the first day of school. Start with small tasks like “Leave the house on time” or “Remember to bring my water bottle home” or “Meet one new friend in class today”. These mini goals give your child something to look forward to on his or her first day of school!

Download Our Special Guide To Surviving And Thriving In Primary 1

The Learning Lab would like to extend our help as you and your child are preparing for Primary 1 and the new adventures that lie ahead. Download our fun and informative guide filled with 25 great tips to help your child survive and thrive in Primary 1!


If your child is in Primary 1 and 2, you may be concerned about how you can monitor your child's learning progress now that he or she no longer has exams. This translates into a greater need for your child to strike a healthy balance between academic work and exploration of personal interests.

There are many pressures that kids face — themselves, teachers, coaches, parents, peers and society. Making sure these pressures don’t become overwhelming and finding the right balance between work and play is key for a healthy childhood.

Signs that your child is under pressure include shifts in moods and behaviours such as tiredness and agitation, reduced interest in certain activities and reduced communication, among other changes.

If you've noticed that your child is showing some of these behaviours, it could be time to step in.

We have some tips to guide you. 


1. Limit Screen Time

Give your child screen ‘allowance’ or limits and be sure to stick to them so that he or she may move on to other activities such as homework, sports practice, or arts and crafts, once the allocated time is up.

It is important to keep an eye on your child’s digital consumption since it is very easy to stay fixated on devices.

This screen time limit does not just benefit your child’s productivity and work-play balance, it's also essential in maintaining good eyesight.

A 2018 article by All About Vision shares that “the rapid rise of myopia, or nearsightedness, worldwide has been linked to increased use of and exposure to electronic devices. In Singapore, for example, 65% of students in Primary 6 are myopic”.


2. Plan for Short but Effective Study Sessions

According to research, a student’s ability to retain information diminishes after about 25–30 minutes. We highly recommend breaking study sessions into multiple, smaller sessions.

Help your child recharge with playful activities during study breaks. You could, for instance, go for a short walk together, make snacks or play board games.

By breaking your child’s study time into shorter durations and injecting fun into the experience, he or she is more likely to stay motivated to learn.

Related Article: No Exams? Here’s How You Can Track Your Child's Progress


3. Be Mindful of Your Child’s Energy Levels

If your child comes home from school looking low on energy, allow him or her to first rest, have a bit of fun and recharge before starting on homework or other academic tasks.

If, on the other hand, your child comes home seeming more motivated to accomplish his or her homework, you can boost that motivation with a reminder that once the homework is done, he or she can have more time for play.

Every child is different, so take time to track and follow your child's natural energy levels through the day.

For that extra push on days where your child may feel especially uninspired, try reminding your child about the goals he or she is working towards. The key word here is to remind, and not to force.

Learners are intrinsically motivated to learn when they perceive that they have a high degree of autonomy and engage in an activity willingly, rather than because they are being externally controlled.


4. Create Study Schedules but Allow for Unstructured Play

Children raised without discipline or rules can be stunted and ill-equipped for adulthood.

Some children need more structure than others and inconsistency from parents can be unsettling. As they learn to navigate life, routines can provide children with a sense of security.

But children also need unstructured play that allows them restorative time to reflect and to dream.

Outside of the schedules and guidelines you've outlined, give your child time and space for spontaneous play that involves trying out different activities without goals or serious consequences. This could be anything from letting your child dabble in arts and crafts to learning how to rollerblade; any type of play that gives them a sense of freedom to explore their personal interests.


Maximise Learning through Play

You can even leverage on your child's playtime to impart important educational skills. Play is one of the most important ways in which children gain essential knowledge and skills.

When children are exposed to play-based learning, they cultivate critical thinking skills, develop language abilities, expand their range of knowledge and increase social emotional awareness.

For this reason, activities that promote play, exploration and hands-on learning are at the core of our programmes.

At The Learning Lab, your child can look forward to the engaging aspect of learning with experiential lessons that include components to build critical analysis skills. This helps your child gain a greater understanding of new topics and concepts. 

Through thoughtful planning and spontaneous interactions that build on children’s intrinsic curiosity, our teachers provide students with active and playful hands-on experiences that can help foster and enrich learning. Click here to find out more about how we integrate play into our curriculum.


The Learning Lab is now at 8 locations. Find a location that suits your needs.

If you have any questions about our range of programmes or class schedules, you may contact us at 6733 8711 or drop us an email at



Have Questions? We're happy to help.