Category Archives: education

Outstanding books for outstanding teachers

I’ve been helping B’s school plan a “surprise” Teachers’ Day celebration with the rest of the Parent Support Group. While researching various gift options, I came across some inspiring, some tongue-in-cheek books that would be perfect for teachers.  After all, “a book is a gift you can open again and again” (Garrison Keillor), right?  So if you’re looking for an idea for your kid’s teachers, check out the titles below by clicking on the links for more info.  Don’t forget to use our blog readers discount of 15% off with the code “FINALLYMAMA” when you purchase from the NoQ store.

My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not) by Peter Brown.
My teacher is a monster

Because You Are My Teacher by Sherry North.

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! by Dr Seuss

To Sir, with Love by Rick Braithwaite

Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith

What If There Were No Teachers?

Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Motherhood across generations: Compare less, celebrate more

A friend recently asked why we seemingly struggle to raise our kids while our moms raised larger families without help from hubbies or domestic helpers. I was typing out my reply along the lines of “Different times, different approaches, different expectations” when I came across this DDB Life Style Study. This got me thinking why today’s moms often feel they “have to” and “need to” be different from their own moms, and hence, our greater perceived struggle.

We have to as families living in a highly materialistic society in the post women’s movement era.  Modern women are wired to aspire for equality with men at work AND excel at home. In a way, this has led to the imagery of today’s woman as both domestic goddess and corporate high flyer.  This is an impossible task without a corresponding social and institutional change, leaving many moms frustrated with their identity and choice of career – whether you are a stay at home mom (this label is really quite a misnomer), work full time, or somewhere in between like me. It’s also the curse of our 21st century that “the more we have, the more we want” and the technology that boosts productivity has also broken down the walls between work and home. For better or worse, we grew up wanting to do more and better than our own moms (those born pre-1960s). The breadwinner(s) today feel a constant pressure to improve their social standing, to rise above. The irony is our moms had less pressure to achieve this “feminist” ideal and lived in an economy with a simpler, less dispersed, standard of living. As a result, they derived more joy from parenting and spending time with their kids.

Although motherhood brings joy, it is not without its challenges. Millennial moms are significantly more likely than Boomer moms (22% v. 11%) and Gen X moms (22% v. 15%) to view parenthood as a real burden. The toll motherhood exacts on Millennial moms is even more apparent when considering how they view time spent with their children. 34% of Millennial moms say that if they had to stay home with their kids day after day they would lose their minds, while only 21% of Gen X and 18% of Boomer moms feel this way.*

We need to so that our kids will not just survive but thrive with smaller families and a “bigger” world. Women today tend to have children later, resulting in fewer siblings to help out at home (and also to take care of their own parents one day). Add to that the lack of grandparents due to death, divorce, separation, etc. or aging grandparents who also need caretaking during your children’s early years. The tighter family unit and close-knit communities in the past have also expanded to a wide diaspora due to the search for a better “life” – overseas study, work opportunities, cross-cultural marriages, etc. With less support from traditional sources, moms today look for help from their spouses, or outsource to nannies and child care centers. While this is happening at the home front, our world is also gaining complexity and losing boundaries, leading to higher expectations and greater possibilities, higher cost of living and greater pressure to succeed at school and work. To paraphrase Voltaire: With greater knowledge, comes greater responsibility. Today’s moms are more educated and/or aware, and feel this responsibility towards their children keenly.

Millennial moms, more so than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts, want to make certain their parenting efforts aren’t for naught. 61% of Millennial moms say they do whatever they can to make sure their children get preferential treatment, whereas only 46% of Gen X and 44% of Boomer moms do the same.*

There’s a saying: “Mothers and daughters become closer when daughters become mothers.” For all the differences we face, the reality is that every mom is doing the best they can given their situation and understanding. So let’s NOT compare one generation with the next, or even one mom with another. Let’s NOT say “You have it easy!” or “You don’t understand!” But rather, celebrate and affirm the unique bond that is motherhood. Happy Mothers’ Day!

Image*Generational guide: Millenial (1980s through 2000s), Gen X (1960s to the early 1980s), Boomers (mid 1940s to early 1960s)

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Special Review and Giveaway: Flip For Joy Books (Bilingual)

What has made us dance for joy lately? Flip For Joy! This online bookstore is run by a fellow mompreneur and former Chinese language JC teacher who believes in helping “parents choose the best for their children.”

What we like:
– A strong bilingual and hanyupinyin selection, including many bestsellers and award-winning translations. We were helpfully sent personalised recommendations for my 2.5 year old boy with an offer to type out/write hanyupinyin if needed. What a lifesaver for book loving, banana mamas like me!
– Flip Flip Hooray Starter Packs for different age groups (0-3 years, 3-5 years and 5-9 years) with at least one book from each of the three categories: Flip for FUN (highly interactive, engaging fun), KNOWLEDGE (insightful, rich stories), and LOVE (values)
– SGD$20 and SGD$50 Flip for Joy e-Gift cards available for purchase to share the love (or rather, joy)
– Free local standard mail for all orders and free courier delivery for orders above SGD$50

Here are some of the books that we bought and/or were given complimentary for review, all suitable for 0-5 years. As a bonus, there’s a special giveaway for Finally Mama readers, details at end 🙂

不行,危险!
With its cute car shape, real wheels and likeable animals, this was an instant hit with B who kept asking me to read it over and over again. We’d never read this before and without hanyupinyin, mama had to make up some words (shhh). As we got into the car later, B said “must wear seatbelt like animals” so clearly the road safety pointers are coming across! This book is miles better than constantly nagging our lil monkeys to NOT open the car window or door, kick and throw things, wriggle out of their seat and safety belt. A perfect toy-in-a-book-with-a-message!

不行,危险!
不行,危险!

鳄鱼不刷牙 Crocodiles Don’t Brush Their Teeth (bilingual)
Translated from Colin Fancy’s original, this tongue-in-cheek book uses animal illustrations and catchy text to reinforce behaviors like brushing your teeth, blowing your nose, brushing your hair, washing your face, saying please and thank you, and going to bed at night. The examples are quite funny and sticky. B insists on brushing his (very little) hair now as “lions don’t brush their hair, 可是我梳!”

Crocodiles Don't Brush Their Teeth
Crocodiles Don’t Brush Their Teeth

点点点 Dot Dot Dot
The original English version by Hervé Tullet has been a bedtime favourite since we bought it sometime in B’s first year. This highly interactive, imaginative and addictive book never gets old. A great classic first book that teaches colours, actions, sequencing, counting and language along the way. Just 按一下, press here!

点点点 Dot Dot Dot
点点点 Dot Dot Dot

翻翻翻变变变(4册) *注音 (hanyupinyin)
This series of four books is full of surprising illustrations that transform into animals, fruits, vegetables, vehicles and household items. B was thrilled to find what’s next as he flipped the flaps, and that in turn made it easier and more enjoyable to say the words in Chinese. Some objects are repeated often to support the overall design and retention of new vocabulary. Note: This is not a board book, so pages may tear easily if manhandled (or rather, tot-handled)

翻翻翻 : 动物,果蔬,交通工具,日常用品
翻翻翻 : 动物,果蔬,交通工具,日常用品

幼儿双语绘本(7册) (bilingual)
This series of seven books is based on a Korean best-seller. I found the illustrations and stories similar in style to Oliver Jeffers aka the artist behind How To Catch A Star. We were given two for review: 我想回家 (a boy who tries various modes of transportation to take him home) and 凯文在大海中旅行 (a boy who learns about sea creatures and body parts in his underwater search for a lost toy).  Each book includes stickers with English sentences and words as a reading or learning aid, and a teaching guide at the end (all in Chinese though).

幼儿双语绘本
幼儿双语绘本

奇妙洞洞书第一辑(6册) and 第二辑(8册)
Originally in Italian, this highly acclaimed series features innovative die-cut books with holes, written in both English and Chinese (with hanyupinyin). There are two sets in the series so far, six books in the first set and eight books in the second set. The board books are sturdy, wonderfully designed, and will grow along with your child. Each page spread includes pictures and key text (words, characters, numbers) on the right side, with a unique rhyme and/or story on the left side to further illustrate the concept. We first borrowed these at the local public library, but it was hard to find the whole series given their popularity. A must have for your budding Chinese reader and language learner! Here’s a sneak preview from B himself 🙂

And now … a special giveaway (Giveaway has ended, thanks for participating!)

Finally Mama readers stand a chance to win TWO books, one from each set in the series (each worth SGD$13.90) to get you started. Click on each book cover image below to find out more:

我家在哪里?
我会数一数
我会数一数

Just CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway and follow these steps:
1) Like Finally Mama on Facebook
2) Like Flip For Joy on Facebook
3) Tell us below what you like about Flip For Joy

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. Some books were  given complimentary for the purposes of review. I reserve the right to review the validity and authenticity of all participants, and to disqualify any entries from users with dubious, duplicate or illegitimate data.