At one of the year-end parties lately, I was asked if I’ve enrolled B in any math or english enrichment classes, now that he’s starting kindergarten? Honestly, I was a bit surprised and then had a little kiasu moment! I started thinking: What head start are other local school-going kids getting? How can B grow to love and excel in math and science? Will he face stiff pressure in a country where students have come out tops in the TIMSS international math and science assessment for years now?
Well, I don’t have all the answers to my questions but I do know that since he was a wee baby, math was part of our daily talk and B enjoys books, art and activities like puzzles that involve math. He’s developed decent number sense, ability to sort, compare magnitude, and sequence patterns. He’s getting better at (re)constructing, and spatial awareness in describing, acting, drawing or writing out locations and directions. He’s also building familiarity with number bonds through DIY manipulatives and games like our recent ping pong ball roll, as well as reading and writing numerals and numbers in English and Chinese.
We “talk math” all the time, be it tracking the dump trucks we pass along the highway, counting the number of kids that need high chairs, figuring out the change from the drink stall aunty, identifying patterns in modern art when we visit museums, guesstimating how many gingerbread men can be cut from the rolled dough and how many baking trays are needed. He’s also getting exposed to decimals when I time how fast he can wear his own clothes, fractions after reading the The Gingerbread Man book and eating away parts of his own cookie …
… and even subtraction by counting down the days till Christmas!
Most recently, B is also learning how to tell time (analog, not digital), nicely reinforced in Chinese by Sparkanauts too!
Perhaps Singapore math requires much more than what we’ve done so far, and maybe B might have received a more structured approach in a Montessori school, but I’m glad we’ve laid some basics in place in an organic, hands-on way. To quote Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” How have you helped your pre-schooler and primary going kid in math?
Hooray! B has finally joined the rest of his classmates who’ve turned four. As his last week of nursery approaches, I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving break together before he gets promoted to kindergarten. Here’s some reflections on his first full year in childcare.
You’ve shown social maturity and adaptability with the many changes this year. There were farewells to old playmates and adjustments to new friends and teachers at school. You didn’t like spending less time with mama as I not only returned to full time corporate work, but travelled away on business quite often – at one point for almost 3 weeks straight. Yet your teachers remarked on your “very positive self identify and sense of belonging”, 他会告诉老师:“妈妈不在新加坡”“我的爷爷来接我” as you figured things out and embraced the village of caregivers around you.
You are learning to persevere and not give up. You were frustrated that you couldn’t draw or write as well as some of your friends but I’m glad we encouraged you to keep on doodling and scribbling. Since you like mixed medium, illustrated stories and numbers, we incorporated math and sensory play, gave titles to your art and made collages of our holidays. Mama too has learned to be patient and not compare! Remember Leo, the late bloomer.
Speaking of perseverance, you completed your first sport events this year. Mama crazily signed us up for an 800m Cold Storage kids run (which I thought was only 100m – oops), and I am so proud that you finished it even if we held hands and walked part of the way. You also biked solo in the OCBC Cycle event and grew confident enough that you cycled with us around Maldives. You didn’t even realise that those training wheels never touched the ground! We’ll upgrade you soon to a 16″ big boy pedal bike once you’re tall enough 🙂
You’re starting to apply yourself in things that interest you, like violin. Though some days I bribe you to practice with car stickers, you surprise me with your progress and willingness to continue each term. Your teachers even invited you to perform as one of the musicians this year, and you did wonderfully! I’m glad you’re learning that “what separates the talented individual from a successful one is a lot of hard work.” While we’ll still explore many things and may drop others as you grow up, I’ll always support you in your pursuits as long as I can and you want to 🙂
Perhaps mommy and daddy could also work on two areas this coming year while your fantastic four is “under construction.” One is to more intentionally live out our faith as individuals and as a family. B may not like sitting still to pray, but he loves the bible stories and has made more friends at church. How can we help you grow into a godly man? How can we serve our church community together?
The other area of course, is Chinese. Although we found a good programme at Sparkanauts, I still wish for more time with you since no one else speaks Chinese at home. Your teacher suggested that we use videos, games or apps – 在家中可以观看有教育意义的卡通短片或者儿歌 。或者通过 ⼀些华文的电脑游戏来学习华文。家人可以使用华语和他进行沟通,增强他的日常生活⼝ 语。老师可以在和他的沟通中纠正他的句型错误并完整他的句子 – beyond continuing to speak in Chinese. Mama has been quite strict about screen time, but perhaps we could try this in the coming year? That way, maybe ama and 公公 could get immersed too 🙂
My darling B, you melt my heart when you say, “I love you more than all the numbers, mama” and you make us laugh with “Now I like daddy, but I really like mama … when I’m old and I like mama, I’ll really like daddy.” I thank God every day for you and how blessed we are as your parents.
Although there were moments of doubt, all things worked out in the end for me to race in this year’s Great Eastern Women’s Run! We had cool and cloudy weather, amazing running buddies that encouraged me on when I was too tired or lazy to train, and … a timely (albeit too short) break between work trips this weekend.
This year was the race’s 10th anniversary. A total of 17,000 women participated today, setting a new record as the largest number of participants in an all-women run in Asia.
What I love about the Great Eastern Women’s Run is that the event celebrates women and encourages us to live a more active lifestyle, while acknowledging the many facets of our lives – from healthy living, social causes, group activities … even, children! The fringe activities include training runs, Piloxing and Kpop X dance fitness classes. Though I’m rather choreographically challenged, I had a fun time following along in the spirit of looking good (I mean, aerobic and body toning). For the first time, participants could donate and donned colourful tutus in a myriad of hues of pink, blue, yellow and purple, in support of three women and children-related charities — Breast Cancer Foundation, Community Chest (Children with Special Needs) and the SingHealth Duke-NUS OBGYN Academic Clinical Program. Furthermore, the race featured its inaugural Princess Dash as 500 girls aged three to nine years, clad in pink princess-like tutus participated in a 100-metre dash, and were rewarded with a “finishers tiara.” What a nice opportunity for moms with girls – making me wish I had a girl too, even though I love my little guy to bits!
So thank you, Great Eastern Women’s Run, for inviting me again this year and making it so hassle free, including delivering our race packs right to our home, sending us useful training tips and timely updates given the perpetual haze. It was a wonderfully organised and meaningful event. I’ll definitely be back next year and maybe, improve my time 🙂
We’ve spent more weekends indoors than we’d like lately, but the good thing is, B has had more time to play his cars, trucks and trains, draw and write, practice violin, of course, craft with mom.
The DIY ping pong ball runs with toilet paper rolls has been a regular activity at home. But this year, inspired by a fellow mom blogger, I decided to use this to reinforce addition. Here’s how we did it:
Start storing your rolls! Even with a 5 person household (+ grandparents!), we could only do enough for numbers 1-5 to start.
Find a board that’s big and sturdy enough, preferably as tall as the kid and sufficiently wide so that you can do a lot of creative (and long) runs. We used our TV box – as we’d just upgraded our ancient flat screen TV in time for our SG50 NDP party.
Cut some into half lengthwise, and a few others into half heightwise. The longer halves will be used for the ramps while the shorter rolls as your numbered “holders” or entry points.
Get the kiddo to help you paint the box and rolls. We didn’t have much time, and B was eager to get rolling, so we just painted 10 short rolls and numbered them from 1 to 10. He could do all of this by himself now – another plus!
Start sticking them onto the box, testing the roll as you go along. By now, B could also figure out where to put things and we had fun cutting out the tape and placing them together.
On a separate paper / nearby easel, put together the sums for them to do. We started from the basics, i.e. 1+1= ? to 1+5 =?, which B already knew from finger counting, so he could draw the connection from adding the balls.
Start rolling based on the sums that you see, e.g. for 1+3, put 1 ball in the #1 holder, and 3 balls in the #3 holder, check how many balls land in the box to see if you got the sums right!
Get the kiddo to write the answer down. Good practice here 🙂
After almost a month away on an extended work trip, I left a land of clear blue skies to return to a hot and hazy Singapore, in time to vote in the 2015 General Election. What a difference a few weeks makes.
As a mom, I became more intentional about play since B was around four months old – and I still am, even though he’s almost four now. We would host messy, artsy playdates at home and look forward to discovering kindred spirits or new places that offered similar activities. Messy-sensory play is a great way for kids to engage their senses and learn through exploration, discovery and meaningful play.
MyMessyBox provides our children, who are natural explorers, with the opportunity for observation and manipulation through a hands-on learning experience with play tools and materials that encourage sensory exploration. The monthly boxes make it easy to conduct purposeful, sensory play in the comfort of your own home. Read on to find out more, and if you’re interested:
Get a 5% discount off your own MyMessyBox orders by using “FM5“
Here’s what came in the “Way Up High” themed box that we received to review. Quite appropriate too, as this has been a busy travel period for the family, and for mama especially.
There are currently 13 themes for the individual boxes, involving a different theme per month, ranging from Under Construction to the Whimsical Garden. One of these will be offered in this month’s giveaway.
In the box, you’ll receive three packs supporting the theme, thoughtfully curated for active, creative and explorative play. Each pack is accompanied with suggestions on self-contained activities that are easy to follow as long (or brief) as you like. Or if you’re like us, you can leverage what they provide to combine and create your own project.
MyMessyBox runs on a subscription basis: Monthly (for S$34), 6 months (for S$192) and 12 months (for S$360). The box also contains specially sourced tools for explorative play, i.e. a basic toolkit (for 6 months subscriptions) or a premium toolkit (for 12 month subscriptions). Here’s the premium toolkit which came neatly stored in a plastic box:
As I was making arrangements for B to join the first leg of my work trip (i.e. to Tokyo), we used this opportunity to learn about Japan. Utilising the Explorative and Active Play materials, referencing a library travel book with some guidance from mama, he made a collage of what impressed him about Japan – the red Tokyo Tower, tall skyscrapers (my office is in the Mori Tower), sakura (cherry blossoms) and Mount Fuji. Can you spot them below?
We also took advantage of the two theme-based craft included in the Creative Play pack, both were easy and entertaining enough to keep our 3.5 year old busy for a good 45 minutes … freeing mama to do some packing!
There was also a wooden airplane base that involved some rather sticky stuff that B normally wouldn’t play with. At first he poked at it with the pincer (from the toolkit), and then, his index finger, and finally, got used to it enough to complete the project. While simple, this was a good reminder on why early sensory play benefits kids – as it helps them make sense of different stimuli and information.
Given the daily 100+ PSI levels, our review is proving quite timely if you’re cooped up indoors all week. Why not try something different (i.e. no screens, no loud playgrounds, no malls) that’s fun for kids and keeps them occupied?
For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram. Views expressed here are solely my own. We received a complimentary MyMessyBox for purposes of this review.
“A bridge to the past, which reminds us what was here, what our previous generations did here, what our parents built here and what we have inherited and want to make here.” – PM Lee Hsien Loong, re-opening of the Pek Kio Community Centre, 28 July 2013
Pek Kio is bordered by Balestier Road, Kampong Java Road, Moulmein Road, and Serangoon Road. It’s named after a “white bridge” (in Hokkien) that once spanned Kampong Java Canal. When Singapore’s bridges were first built, they were named after the colonial authorities – and promptly nicknamed by the locals who couldn’t quite pronounce ang-mo names! So the areas around the bridges were named after their colours, such as O-Kio (Black Bridge) = Balestier, Pek Kio (White Bridge) = Moulmein and Ang Kio (Red Bridge) = Ang Mo Kio. Pek Kio was also known as Little England, as many roads are named after English places, such as Cambridge, Hampshire and Oxford.The (redesigned) Pek Kio Market and Food Centre was completed in 1984. Although not as large or popular as the nearby Tekka or Whampoa Markets, it’s a place we visit almost every Saturday morning as it has something for everyone: Eat, shop, play and exercise!
Then, hop by the wet market to re-stock on local goods and browse fresh supplies while the kiddo heads off to the (many) playgrounds nearby with dad. We don’t do our entire week’s shopping here – as there are 6 of us at home and we’ve got rather varied diets! IMHO, the selection isn’t that fantastic here, but it’s a good place to pick up something you’ve missed (or couldn’t find) – and it’s definitely cleaner and less crowded than many other wet markets.
How to get here:
Bus 131 – bus stop B50081 right in front of the center
Farrer Park MRT – 8 mins walk from Exit D
Ample parking around Cambridge, Dorset and Owen HDB sites
Follow our “To Market, To Market” Blog Train as we visit a different market each day with a different parent blogger!
Next up is Meiling, a mom blogger who blogs at Universal Scribbles about her parenting adventures with her two children and her personal growth as a mom, wife and business woman in sunny Singapore. While she has fond memories of her weekly trips to the Tiong Bahru and Chinatown wet markets with her mother, she has no such luck with her children who much prefers the appeal of newer marketplace. Check out her post next and see where she takes her kids to market to market…
Last weekend, hubby and I went to Maldives with little B to celebrate our tenth anniversary. It was a magical time where we unplugged, soaked in nature – sun, sand and water, ate fresh organic food, and rode bicycles, boats and buggies as our only mode of transportation from sunrise to sunset.
Last week’s trip did wonders for my soul, but this recent long weekend back in Singapore warmed the heart. The SG50 celebration meant a lot to us in big (national) and small (personal) ways, and it was this extended time – with family and friends, locals and expats – who all call Singapore home, that made it so special for us.
Like many, we had a wet start to the celebrations and tried to visit a few SG50 public events (e.g. Marina Bay Sands, Botanic Gardens). In the end, the highlights were the parties we hosted at home – an evening NDP 2015 viewing party with good friends, and a brunch playdate for B’s friends the next day. There was more fun and laughter, food and drinks, adults, kids and babies, and TV watching (i.e. live streaming via AirPlay) in our house than we’ve had in a long while! We spontaneously broke out into ooohs and aaahs when the jets flew past and the fireworks came on, sang along to HOME when Kit Chan took the stage, stood up to sing Majulah Singapura and recite the national pledge. Hubby and I also had a sense of nostalgia as this might be the last time we could view all of this – from a distance at our balcony as we will be moving next year.
The kids got on famously (thank God!) and devised their own impromptu games and craft (who said creativity is dead in our age of technology?) We even made our version of old school pick-up sticks with some paint and extra wooden chopsticks 🙂
B and I had some 1-to-1 learning moments together too, thanks to the Sparkanauts National Day parent bonding package:
My heart is full as this long weekend draws to an end. Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore! I’m grateful and proud to call you my country, my home.
Hope everyone is having a great, not too wet, start to our Golden Jubilee celebrations! I’ve been looking forward to the long NDP weekend all week. We caught a fleeting glimpse of the RSAF Black Knights before the aerial show ended early, lunched at MBS and snacked at the nearby home cooked food fair (tip: don’t bother). We’d also planned to visit the Art Science Museum but the queues were just too long. Still, that and the rain didn’t dampen on our spirits as we found other ways to celebrate while being thoroughly drenched!
I’m also excited to kick off a blog train on “What Singapore Means To Me” with my thoughts as a naturalised Singapore citizen. Links to all contributions will be updated below – do join us this month and/or simply enjoy browsing through the posts about Singapore 🙂
Home and a bright future. We relocated here 8 years ago from the US, and friends and family from all over the world would often visit or transfer in and out due to work. One day, I realised that hubby and I had stopped thinking about Singapore as a place to “transit” but one that we truly wanted to raise our family in, stake our careers on, and play our small part in nation building too. So I took up Singapore citizenship 2.5 years ago – and look forward to what lies ahead.
Little Green Dot. Growing up in Malaysia, Singapore was always perceived as the “atas” neighbour that was so lucky to have many parks and tree-lined roads. Today, from its freshly minted UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, to the ubiquitous sky-rise gardens, park connectors, nature reserves and neighbourhood parks, Singapore’s delightful and thoughtful approach to urban development has benefited residents and visitors alike, and inspired fans worldwide. What’s more, these are all FREE public spaces despite the immense effort in creating and maintaining them. So thank you, NParks, the late Lee Kuan Yew and our leaders for setting Singapore on a transformational path that started from the 1960s to become a Garden City and now, “City In A Garden.” What a living example of 前人种树, 後人乘凉 (“one generation plants the trees, the later generations enjoy the shade”).
Haven for multiple generations. Since making Singapore our home, we’ve also encouraged my overseas parents and siblings to not just visit, but consider staying on as longer term residents. Many cities don’t fully support the needs of a multi-generational family, with its complex mix of jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, security, social, emotional and physical needs. IMHO, Singapore meets and balances those demands better than many other countries. While not perfect, the government also constantly monitors changes and tries to make improvements on the quality and cost of living, childcare, eldercare, the school system and public transit, and has also acknowledged the role grandparents play in the decision to have (one or) more babies 🙂 Our lives have been so much richer and busier, with three generations in our family to care for each other and make memories together.
So, whether you’re Singapore born, a naturalised citizen, a permanent resident or just a visitor in “transit”, if you call Singapore home, this “What Singapore Means To Me” blog train has a stop for you. Hop on the MRT by adding your links below and include the blog button (copy the code) in your post. Majulah Singapura!
Next on the train is Jenn, who blogs at mylilbookworm. This is where she documents her thoughts on educational, parental, health and investment topics. Check out her blog post on what Singapore means to her and how she spent her National Day long weekend!
Does your kid find it hard to sit still in class?
Do you want to do more together, but have no idea where to start?
Do you wish your kid had better exposure to Chinese than you did?
We do. Before B started preschool, hubby and I would take him to Sparkanauts every weekend. We loved the energetic pace, observant teachers, stimulating environment and thoughtful curriculum designed for parent and child bonding, in and out of class. We were also inspired to try many theme-based extension activities at home together, and I attribute B’s interest in science today to the exposure we both had in his early years.
When we found out that Sparkanauts was planning a Chinese program, we were thrilled. Finally! A place where kinesthetic learners – like B – won’t feel left out, bored or discouraged with Chinese. Having been involved in their initial pilots, we are really pleased to share that the Leyun 乐云 Chinese program officially launches this August. There are different classes for 18 months and up; each class embraces a holistic approach with a range of physical, intellectual and social activities to grow our kids’ awareness, appreciation and understanding of Chinese.
I was surprised to receive this video of B sitting down to trace and write characters. Mama didn’t write Chinese characters till primary school, and had no idea what these strokes were called then.
Curious Class (快乐班） Age Group: 18 months to 30 months old Parent/Caregiver Accompanied Duration: 75 Minutes Frequency: Once a week. Tues 3PM, 430PM. Wed 130PM. Thurs 245PM. Fri 230PM.
Objective: The child will be exposed to the Mandarin language in a natural, fun environment. They will enjoy speaking, singing and reading in Mandarin as they are introduced to the language.
What to Expect:
– Thematic learning
– Mandarin Music and Movement
– Rhythmic Sing along
– Gross Motor Play
– Dramatic Show and Tell
– Story Time
– Snack Time
Witty Class (飞跃班) Age Group: 3 years – 5 years Drop Off (Non-Accompanied Class)
Duration: 60 Mins Frequency: Once a week. Wed 5PM, Thurs 430PM, Fri 1PM
Objective: This program adopts a story-based learning approach to engage the sense of fun and adventure in your child, helping them to learn more about the world around them. They will be introduced to key words (nouns, verbs, adjectives) on a weekly basis that will enable them to read the book of the month. Children will be introduced to basic Mandarin strokes and successfully write commonly used Mandarin words in this program.
What to Expect:
– Book based learning
– Mandarin Music and Movement
– Gross Motor Play
– Introduction to Chinese Idioms
– Writing in Mandarin
Bilingual Class (双语班) Age Group: 3 years – 5 years Drop Off (Non-Accompanied Class)
Duration: 1.5 hours Frequency: Once a week. Tues 1PM, Thurs 1PM.
Objective: This program adopts a story-based learning approach to engage the sense of fun and adventure in your child, helping them to learn more about the world around them. Children will also be introduced to the story in English, and their comprehension skills are further developed during the English segment of the class. They will be introduced to Mandarin key words (nouns, verbs, adjectives) on a weekly basis that will enable them to read the book of the month. Children will be introduced to basic Mandarin strokes and successfully write commonly used Mandarin words in this program.
What to Expect:
– Book based learning (English and Mandarin)
– Mandarin Music and Movement
– Gross Motor Play
– Introduction to Chinese Idioms
– Writing in Mandarin
Experience the difference for yourself!
We are offering TWO complimentary trial passes to any Sparkanauts Leyun Chinese class at Toa Payoh SAFRA, valued at $48 each. Please visit the Rafflecopter link here and follow the steps to stand a chance to win. Giveaway ends Friday, 7 August 2015.
From now until 6 August 2015, Sparkanauts is also running the following promotion:
1. Special trial class price at $10 (U.P. $48)
2. Parents who sign up for the package after the trial will enjoy the pre-launch promotional 10 sessions package price of $398 (U.P. $458) for Witty and Curious Class, and $498 (U.P. $550) for the Bilingual class. The pre-launch package price will be locked in as long as the child continues with the programme
3. Waiver of registration fees (U.P. $68)
Views expressed here are solely my own. We really do love Sparkanauts… and the water playground after class! 🙂
I arrived back in Singapore late Thursday night, and belatedly remembered that this weekend was Father’s Day! #mommyfail. With not much time (or energy left, honestly) to buy or book anything elaborate, including this weekend’s popular daddy activities like the Aviva Superfundae, B and I snuck in a few hours at home instead to make our Father’s Day gifts.
This is what we came up with: Stencilled vehicles on multi-coloured panels, monographed by our wee preschooler. They were a shout out to how hardworking dads are and wishing them time to take a break and take us on holiday too 🙂 This turned out to be a relatively easy and fun DIY project for B who’s still learning how to write and paint “neatly” and prefers drawing vehicles.
Here’s how we did it:
1) Cut out panels in the desired shapes, ideally using canvas or repurposed styrofoam or cardboards.
2) Let the kid select a few colours of his choice for the background. You could probably use any type of paint. We chose watercolour as that had the widest selection available, but also limited it to three colours per panel. I was quite pleased that B chose colours that blended really well, unprompted.
3) Squeeze out, mix and paint the colours on the boards. Dry overnight or in the hot sun for a few hours. We used foam rollers to generate some texture. Plus, it covers the surface area faster (and dries faster – remember, we didn’t have much time!)
3) Choose the design, shape and/or letters to draw on the backgrounds. We just selected vehicle stencils for each individual. I originally wanted to print each name in English and Chinese but I also knew how much B likes to “own” his artwork, and I’d be helping out too much to make things nice and legible at his age. So, finally – we get to use those art stencils from ArtFriends – which last came out of the box when we did our group playdate cardboard house 1.5 years ago. Alphabet stencils would also have been perfect here. I tried making them, but gosh, those are hard to DIY! I’ll just have to wait till B gets better at writing…
4) Select neutral colours for the stencils to stand out against the background, i.e. black/grey for lighter backgrounds and white for darker backgrounds. Make sure the brush and paint are relatively dry to minimise leakage. You may also need to help by taping over unused images or pressing the stencils down hard while your preschooler paints it over.
Bonus activity: Talk through who are the daddies in the family. In our case, we did a little revision of our old extended family tree, and B wanted to make FOUR gifts for daddy, 公公, 爷爷 and uncle M (mama’s brother in the US) who I hope to visit soon.