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We Love KidsSTOP! (Part Two)

Finally we made it to faraway Science Centre again! This time we managed to cover five exhibits.

Critters

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Hmm, nothing much here – tree frog, gerbil, freshwater fish, hermit crab, chicks, incubator. There is also a short complimentary presentation at 4.30pm daily where the staff introduce the animals and the kids get to touch the chicks.

Kiddie Theatre

Alas, I don’t know how to introduce this section. Firstly, I am not familiar at all with filming equipment etc. Secondly, my kids aren’t exactly enthusiastic performers. So this section did not really catch our fancy.

Math & Tinkering

Rather disappointed with this section too. Some sensory play with green beans and a few containers… Some magnetic shapes… Two toy cars and tracks…

OK, probably I was too excited and expectations were too high. Furthermore I only found out today that the Innovation Lab and Kitchen Lab are only open to school groups. That leaves 20 exhibits for us then.

Flight & Space

Magnetic blocks with the planets’ names for the kids to match with the planets, and rubber bands to form constellations.

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Pedal or turn the handle to power the fans.

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Airport scene with flaps for the kids to open.

Pilots in action! (Actually just a few buttons to press the make the dashboard change colour :P)

The Flying Machine Factory! Our favorite stop for the day. The materials provided are very basic – balls, strips of fabric, pieces of foam, all with velcro to attach them together. Place them into the wind tunnel through a hole at the bottom, and watch them fly! The more successful machines (or the very light individual pieces) will fly right up to the top of the tunnel and drop out after they clear the top. Flying action, falling action, of course the kids were thrilled!

Built Environment – Blocks

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Nice blocks.. But from my observations of the boys and other kids, they prefer to use the long blocks as weapons. 金箍棒!

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Like this. No kidding.

Virtual Pond

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Virtual fish… step, step, step…

That leaves nine more exhibits to go!

Sadly, I noticed some ‘deterioration’ in the exhibits even though KidsSTOP is only two months old…

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Most of the tools are… gone… So are the excavators.. The crane wasn’t in use either – ‘upgrading in progress’. (See their previous glory in my earlier post.) Hopefully they will be replaced soon!

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《男孩应该这样穷着养》

Have you heard of the saying “穷养男,富养女”? According to the author 云晓, this method will produce boys who are strong, brave, exhibit leadership qualities, able to take hardship, successful, wise, filial, rational and confident. How does it actually work?

3 main principles: Respect, Rational Love, Let Go

Before we go on, the author explains the eight common inclinations of boys and the corresponding parenting response.

  1. Likes to take risks – parents should be understanding of the ‘trouble’ caused by boys.
  2. Likes to lead – parents should avoid being the ‘almighty’ leader.
  3. Likes to compete – this can be a positive motivating force, parents should teach the boy fair ways of competing.
  4. Stubborn and fixed in thinking – instead of criticizing, parents should use facts to guide the boy.
  5. Weak self-control – parents should focus on building up the boy’s self-control.
  6. Keeps his feelings to himself – more communication, to approach the topic in a roundabout manner.
  7. Likes to be hero – try to satisfy the boy’s desire to be a hero.
  8. Rebellious – do not criticize or scold, communicate with sincerity.

To Develop A Strong Boy

What the father can do: A boy needs a male role model, and the father is in the best position to model positive traits. No matter how good a job the mother is doing, it is not the same as what the father can do.

  1. Demonstrate being strong and resilient in the face of problems.
  2. Not to do too much for the son, to allow the boy to solve problems himself.
  3. Solve challenges together, e.g. repair household appliances, change lightbulbs.

What the mother can do: Despite the importance of the male role model, the boy is still very much influenced by his mother due to the amount of time they spend together.

  1. Demonstrate being strong and resilient in the face of problems, and not to cry or give up easily.
  2. To show some weakness in daily problems, so as to allow the son chances to help the mother.
  3. To be the ‘student’ and ask the son for answers, e.g. what to do when the light is spoilt, so that the son tries to seek answers and solutions.

Adversity training 挫折教育: Seems to be what parents most commonly think of when talking about “穷养男孩”, but it does not mean purposely ‘torturing’ the boy like making him work in a factory during school holidays at a very young age, or to study outside the house in the rain. That is ‘吃苦教育’! 挫折教育is to let the boy experience obstacles or challenges which he will eventually face in life, to let him understand that life will not always be smooth-sailing.

‘Natural consequences’ would be a part of adversity training, e.g. when the boy forgets to pack his schoolbag and the mother does not help him send the forgotten item to school.

Not to satisfy all of his wants, to let him understand that he will not always get what he wants in life. This will also help him learn to accept rejection.

Strengthen the boy’s ability to recover from adverse situations by modeling how we solve real-life challenges (e.g. financial difficulties) in a calm manner. Thus he sees that problems do not mean the end of the world, that problems can be overcome.

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In Defence of Cry-It-Out

Quite often, I come across articles condemning the CIO method of sleep training, usually links posted on facebook. Seriously, with three kids and a firm confidence that CIO is the right thing for my children (in hindsight!), I can’t be bothered to even comment on those links anymore. One man’s meat is another’s poison, to each his own, and all that.

Sure, I have no doubt that non-CIO methods can be just as good, if not better than CIO. How can letting a baby cry and cry be good anyway? Who cares about a baby being independent anyway. I am just quite sick of those articles implying that mothers who do CIO are lousy mothers.

And what’s not mentioned in those articles is the opportunity cost for the rest of the family. And I don’t mean the mother. It is obvious that the welfare of the mother is of little importance in comparison to the baby, not going to argue with that. And ya, it’s not just about the baby and the mother.

The other children

So, when the mother is doing her best to soothe the baby to sleep, what happens to the older siblings? I guess they will either be playing on their own… or being taken care of by another adult (maid?)…. or maybe the TV or smartphone is babysitting them. Baby gets mummy’s loving attention and time – good for him, perhaps not so good for his siblings.

Or what happens if the older sibling is still young enough to need a nap? And to need the mother to soothe him to sleep as well? I don’t know how the mother is going to juggle that. Maybe end up neither child get to nap at the time that he should nap? Or get the amount of sleep they need?

The baby’s father

Baby sharing the matrimonial bed. Hmm. Or perhaps the husband doesn’t even get to sleep in the bed anymore.

The mother

OK, even though nobody cares about the mother’s well-being, I still must mention this. It might not matter that the mother is exhausted and stressed – that’s the price for having a baby what, how can let the baby cry just so that the mother can rest, no way. But the quality of her relationships with the whole family will probably be adversely affected when her fatigue makes her impatient, or just no energy to play with the other kids, ya?

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I know there are mothers out there who seem to be able to do it all – multiple kids, homeschool, outings, fun activites, no maid, cooks, does all the housework, takes care of all the kids herself, and does NOT use CIO. But but but, I am sure there’s some compromise somewhere. It is just not possible to really do it all.

If not for CIO, I would not able to homeschool my children. I would not be able to manage taking care of my three kids without a helper, be it family or hired help. Since I really want to homeschool, I would really really hate it if I had to send the older kids off to school just so I could take care of the baby, and I would feel it was really really unfair to them.

I did CIO for my first child even though I only had to take care of one then, because I knew there would soon be a younger sibling (before I got pregnant). We had planned to have a second child soon, and I needed to think for the near future. (I started calling Kor Kor ‘Kor Kor’ when he was three months old.) I did CIO for my third child even though there would be no more younger ones, because I was already taking care of three young children then. (In all my plans, a maid was never in the picture.)

Not everyone want to homeschool, so most people won’t be bothered about sending the older kids to school. There is nothing wrong with not homeschooling anyway. My point is, other than whether it’s good for the new baby, there are many many other factors to consider. Is it good for the old(er) baby? Is it good for the father? Is it good for the mother? Different priorities for everyone, just remember to consider the whole family!

By the way, I don’t mean to say I first tried CIO because I only considered the welfare of my husband and children. I wasn’t so noble. I tried it because back then, I was feeling so tired and frustrated and stressed and helpless. Other than knowing I must not start co-sleeping if I wanted to take care of my second child on my own in future, the other sleep training methods we tried had failed, namely by schedule and pick up put down.

Frankly speaking, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for mothers to do CIO just so they can have more rest. Even if it’s the only reason for you wanting to sleep train your baby. No need to feel guilty. Happy mother, happy baby. Happy mother, happy family. Happy wife, happy husband. So go ahead, no need to justify your decision!

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Teaching Chinese

This is not a sponsored post.

I recently attended a short workshop conducted by Eeva Chang, the principal of Eduplus Language Centre (among the many other hats she wears). It was a free workshop which anyone could attend, so it’s not considered sponsored, right? And nobody cared that I was a blogger lor. Frankly speaking, when I realised she was the principal of a private tuition centre at the start of the workshop, I felt quite sian and thought it would be like an advertisement and that it would be a waste of my time. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise. I even took notes when I felt what she was saying made sense, and good things must share! The main gist of the workshop is on three factors which affect a child’s grasp of the Chinese language.

Family Language vs School Language

According to Eeva, the child’s grades start to fall as the discrepancy between the standard of the language spoken at home and the standard in the syllabus widens. Typically, this happens in Primary 3 as the syllabus in Primary 1 and 2 is still relatively simple and sounds like the casual Mandarin spoken at home. Thus, for the child to be able to catch up with the school requirements, the home environment has to provide progressively higher standards of the language.

My thoughts: As I listened to the speaker’s examples of different standards, I knew that while I have no problems understanding up to Primary 6 standards (she didn’t go beyond that), I only spoke perhaps Primary 3 standard or lower to my kids. Isn’t it such a waste when I have the ability to ‘teach’ my kids but I am not doing it?? After pondering on it for some time, I concluded in my case, it’s not so much a worry that it would be too difficult for the kids to understand… but that I am too lazy to speak properly to them! Cannot, cannot. I must stop being lazy!

Also wondering, if I continue to be lazy, or if the parent isn’t confident in speaking Mandarin, will reading Chinese storybooks with level-appropriate chim-ness be adequate? I am sure it will help somewhat, just not sure whether it is enough. Hmm. (I didn’t ask the speaker cos I prefer to be a silent participant. That’s me – shy :P)

The Golden Law 黄金定律

The sequence of learning Chinese is from Listen >> Speak >> Recognise >> Read >> Write >> Use.

听、说、认、读、写、运用。

The more the child listens to the spoken language, the more he will be able to speak with ease. As he speaks more in the language, it will be easier for him to recognise the words he sees. Eeva gave the example of 举一反三 — when the child knows this idiom, he will be able to recognise it just with the words x一x三.

听了就会说。说得多,认得快。

Then reading is about recognition anyway. And once the child can listen, speak, recognise and read, he won’t feel tired writing and using it. This is in contrast to what many parents and teachers make students do – copying words many times in an attempt to memorise them.

以口为文。修口,不是修手!

Visualisation 语言视觉化

Eeva told us that the image in the child’s brain when he hears the word is his understanding of the word. Thus she often asks her students to draw a picture based on a word she gives. From the picture, she can then assess their language abiilty.

She did a simple exercise with us at the workshop – we had to do an action based on the word ‘flower’. Many of us used our hands to do something like a cupping action. Eeva demonstrated that there were many other ways to do ‘flower’, e.g. taking a deep breath to show the flower’s fragrance, or pointing to herself to indicate she was pretty like a flower. The more varied the child’s visualisation of a word, the more he will be able to describe things or emotions etc and write well.

The above points are what I remember from the workshop and my translation based on my understanding. I was intrigued by Eeva’s sharing and had almost decided to attend her talk in September, despite the hefty ticket price. I think it will be an useful session, but it’s in the afternoon so childcare will be a problem. So it’s no go for me. But do click on the link to find out more about her talk if you are interested.

Meanwhile, I shall start reading books on teaching languages, especially Chinese. No idea where to start, shall visit a Chinese bookstore soon for recommendations. If you know of any good books on this topic, please share with me! If it’s good, I will do a review and summary here after reading. Thanks in advance!

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New Enrichment Class!

After rockclimbing, Kor Kor has started gym class!

I can’t say much about whether the class is good, cos I don’t really get to be in the class. We can look at the kids through the big glass window, but that’s about it. Asked Kor Kor whether he enjoyed the class, he always said yes. OK…

But I am much happier with the environment! The gym school is at East Coast Park, so while Kor Kor is in class, the younger ones get to spend the one hour at the beach. (Instead of just waiting for him like what we did at The Rock School.) After class ends, we fetch Kor Kor together and return to the beach for more outdoor play.

Since we are already at ECP, we make use of its other facilities too!

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Learning to cycle

 

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Cllmb a tree!

 

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Long kang fishing

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Decluttered!

Last week, I suddenly got the urge to declutter. OK, it wasn’t just a random feeling, it was because I was inspired (again!) by Mum In The Making. I love her home decor!

I think the first step to a beautiful home is neatness (and of course basic cleanliness). I had done a few rounds of decluttering prior to this, but somehow, there were still lots more to clear! Once I got into the groove, I gave away many things and kept many things away in the storeroom and storage boxes.

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The result of my hard work over three days

The difference is not very obvious in the photo. (It’s like housework – very obvious if not done, not so obvious when it’s painstakingly done!) I cleared ALL surfaces in the WHOLE house, from kitchen to bedroom! Tidied and dusted the display shelves and cleared everything on top of cabinets and shelves (which was such a convenient place to deposit stuff!).

I used to try to keep the top surfaces neat, perhaps just one small filing rack. But everytime, more and more stuff ended up there.. until it was ‘overflowing’. So I decided to keep surfaces bare – everything must go inside drawers or cupboards. I can tidy the insides when I am free, but at least the house will look neat. If there isn’t any more storage space, that means it’s time to throw things!

This nth round of decluttering, I finally feel different. I feel liberated. In the mornings, I wake up feeling yay, the house is clean and neat. At night, if I get an idea about an activity to do with the kids the next day, I feel like anything is possible. And most importantly, I finally feel like I want to stop buying things for the kids. (If my hubby is reading this, he is probably jumping for joy haha)

So, having been a shopaholic-mummy (a very dangerous combi, cos there are just too much kid-related stuff out there!) for the past five years (the buying started before the baby arrived) and now a newly-converted minimalist (haha), what are my insights?

There is really no need to buy too many toys or educational whatnots. Not that the toy is useless, but there simply isn’t enough time to do all of them with the child. I have had sooooo many good toys, but I realised hey, the kids hardly touched them…

Take for example, a stacking toy. By the time the boys finally played with it, they were already old enough to do the stacking on their own, despite never having been ‘taught’ before… Which means, they ‘learnt’ how to do it without the toy… and without anyone teaching them… And since they now know how to do it, there was never a need for the toy in the first place! Argh!

Letting the kids see me giving away their toys is therapeutic. I posted on a freecycling group the items which I wanted to give away, and the recipients came to my place to collect. So the boys watched with their own eyes (in horror??) people going away with their toys. It was an effect I did not expect, otherwise I would have made full use of the impact. Now the boys know I am serious about giving away their toys and I REALLY will do it.

(I never had any qualms about carrying out my ‘promises’, but I knew that if I had to throw their toys away, I would feel quite sad. But now I actually feel zen and I think I will be quite happy if I get to clear more toys out! *rub hands in glee*)

When I first told the boys I would be giving away some of their toys, the boys cried and wailed and said they wanted to play with the toys. But seriously?? They had not touched the toys for years!

Kids’ imagination increase as their toys decrease. Perhaps it’s having more physical space, perhaps it’s having fewer things competing for their brainspace.. The very first afternoon after I started decluttering, the boys started using their remaining toys to ‘substitute’ for the toys they lost.. by pretending! And we are still in Week One After Decluttering. I am sure I will see more improvements in their play. Click here to read why fewer toys will benefit your kids.