Category Archives: gymnademics

Warp speed ahead

My month long (un)common cold resulted in an excessive white blood count which was double the average and one day in A&E when all my joints were inflammed!  I finally caved in to see doc #1 who cleared B and I of bronchitis, but gave me antibiotics and allergy/congestion meds that I reacted badly to…. this led me to doc #2 who found some lung tissue scarring from my x-ray but nothing critical after various tests. He then prescribed painkillers, even more antibiotics and asked me to stop the previous meds. After 1 week of pill-popping and clinic hopping, I’m feeling closer to normal again.

Besides that, October turned out to be a full-on month of milestones and learning through play with B.  Even though I’m with him almost all the time, his growth spurts still amaze me, not just physically, but also how well he picks up vocabulary and grammar.  After accomplishing a task on his own (like his jigsaw puzzles), he claps and says “Yay! Good job, B!” or if he’s cheeky, “pandai boy” \o/ At breakfast one day, he placed his toy kangaroo on the table and said “Kangaroo watch B and mama eat pancake” and “daddy go 运动, then work” when dad went for his morning gym workout.  While in the car, he describes what he sees on the road and at times, will launch into a narrative, mainly on vehicles (of course), e.g. “Fire engine park in fire station, make loud noise nee-nah-nee-nah, lights go blink blink, firemen put out fire, many smoke, hot!”

We covered Geography and Astronomy which mommy and B thoroughly enjoyed.  We looked at continents, oceans, water and land formations, and then, our solar system. He started asking questions about rivers, stars and satellites … hence, the odd mix.

Books – this time, the library selection was quite good:

 

 

 

 

 

 
Art and craft:

Map of the world on a paper plate (rubber band = equator between the hemispheres)
Ocean/rockpool diorama, using a re-cycled shoebox
Penguins and icebergs in Antartica
Land and water formations (can also use for clay modelling)

 

 

 

 

 

And last but not least, space: the final frontier – a perfect opportunity to learn comparatives and superlatives, i.e. planet Earth is smaller than Saturn, Mercury is the smallest, Jupiter is the biggest. Now he applies these words in all sorts of situations 🙂

Solar system puzzle
Space sand art
Space sand art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month was also about confidence building and independence. He started to enjoy scooting on the YBike glider which we have on loan from a friend.  He’s walking his balance bike, an early birthday gift from 爷爷.  He even climbed out of his toddler cot bed once, alarming everyone! B grew more cautious climbing since that incident while I placed his large foam playmat under the bed until we switch him to a kid bed (or just a mattress). And on a bittersweet note, B got off the waitlist for N1 next January – it’s a half day, drop off for the year they turn 3. Lots of implications there, some of which I’m still processing internally.

Wheeee!

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

I did what I knew, and when I knew better, I did better

June was an exercise in child-led learning. Forget about class or mommy’s “lesson plans,” our theme was on B’s all time favourite things…

Theme:
(1) Things that go:  It started out with us reading Brian Biggs’ excellently illustrated vehicle series, esp.  Everything Goes: In The Air for days up till (and after) B’s first flight to Phuket.  Shortly after, his Chengzhu holiday program took the Playclub tots on the Duck Tour bus AND boat.  Then we ended up flying again (aka the unplanned haze-cation) to Penang. For a boy already crazy about wheels and diggers, it only seemed natural that this ended up as our special monthly theme

(2) Shapes: Learning shapes is fun and easier as B recognises his rainbow colours (he calls indigo “dark bool” 😉 Besides the hand-me-down shape sorters, blocks and a timely Gymnademics home package set, we reinforced shapes through bean bag games, geometric foam pictures and playdough

Routine:
We used lots of puzzles this month given B’s growing interest (and affinity) for this. Besides the wooden peg puzzles, we took out slightly harder board and magnetised ones.  It takes him some time to get the alignment right even if he knows where it should go. But he takes them out from the boxes himself to work at it almost every day.  For a boy that can’t stay at a task too long, this is quite a feat! We also used more representative learning to support what B would see in real life, i.e. block building a “duck bus/boat”, drawing the jet pilots and helicopters flying by for National Day rehearsal, browsing through books, transportation art and flashcards with photos and/or illustrated print, role playing with toys and sound effects, etc. We even tried threading with his Good Night construction site set. Speaking of which, B can thread in and occasionally flips it over to thread out but doesn’t quite know? have patience? to keep threading the next sequence.

Art and Craft:  So many this month given the special occasions, but no time to complete a big special project (that one’s already WIP for next month). Our faves were:

(1) Fathers’ Day card (done at one of our home playdates)
B made 3 this year, 1 for dad, 1 for each grandpa!

(2) Garden montage to reinforce shapes and colours

Using ziplocked paint, bubble wrap prints and cut-out shapes

(3) B’s first personalised photobook. To make reading (pages, prints, photos) more personal and fun, and also as an alternative to flicking through photos and videos on my smartphone. He seems to enjoy flipping through it and it grounds him esp. when we are away from home and as we have more periods of separation. Worth continuing and building on…

Includes pictures and a few sentences about our home, family, friends, places we frequent like parks, library and outings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outings:  June was children’s season and school holidays.  So… You guessed it!  We went back to the Singapore Art Museum (awesome Enchanted Garden kids exhibit) and Gardens By The Bay (Flight of Fancy’s hot air balloons). We also visited the Philatelic Museum to see geek!mom’s Star Wars exhibit.  With the Singapore Duck Tour, Phuket and Penang trips, B is slowly touring his way through Southeast Asia 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Personal:
– Mealtimes are back to normal, even better in fact since our Penang trip.  B feeds himself, has a robust appetite, is keen to try new things, and most importantly, happily eats fruits and veggies again! At his 18.5 month check in/jab, B weighed 12.5 kg.  He couldn’t stand still to measure the height, but based on his ex-pants shorts and pajamas, he’s definitely over 86 cm!

– Sleeps well overnight (~11 hours straight) but his naps have gotten shorter (~1 hour average) even on days when he’s so tired and nodding off by 1130a!  He tends to wake up crying from his nap yet will only sleep longer if we rock and hold him.  Another regression? Separation anxiety again?  Just roll with it?
– Resumed potty training which I started / stopped earlier this year.  This time, we are going the distance  i.e. no diapers while at home and playdates.  Also bought another, lighter single piece “portette”
– At times, he shows a little stubborn and willful streak so I’ve been more firm with discipline, insisting he continues with the basic home “routine” (incl. helping out, cleaning up), and not giving in to his temper tantrums. So far, nothing unmanageable (yet! yet!)
– Steady progress language and cognition wise. He’s started to fill in missing words from familiar stories and songs, repeat new words that he’s able (willing?) to vocalise and put 2 simple words together like “eat/no more”, “back door.”  Oh, and he’s asking “WHY?” 😉 It helps that I’m reading more specific books with big fonts, few words like the Dr Seuss and Margaret Wise Brown classics, in addition to our usual dialogic, fun but variable stories. Besides English, he seems to find Malay/Bahasa easier to pick up but that could be b/c I’ve been quite negligent with Chinese since our holiday break! Of course, if I were honest, for a verbal mom like me who talks, sings and reads to him constantly, I do wish at times that he could say more earlier! But he’s developing at his own pace and all is well
– We STILL haven’t committed to 2014 nursery for B next year …. Talk about kiasu!  Yet even with my sporadic homeschooling efforts (longer task/wishlist than actual), I still feel we’re doing ok and giving B a better experience at this age
For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

Same same but different?

Time to reflect on what we’ve tried, what’s worked, what’s not – one month into our revised schedule. Basically, our weekday “homeschool” time has become a bit more intentional.  It’s been mostly fun, often stretching both our discipline and creativity, but I trust there’s positive returns from all this!

Weekdays:  “Homeschool” with mom, plus Chinese, music, swim, playdates
Saturday:  Daddy bonding @ Gymnademics, family time
Sunday: Sunday School @ Sunbeam, family time
As/when: Outings at Macritchie Reservoir, Botanic Gardens, theatres, museums, etc

Routine: Besides the usual bilingual words, math and puzzles, I added right brain activity books and printed worksheets this month.  IMO, these are still quite hard for his age, but I’m trying to introduce matching and memorising as a game and build his competence in tracing and controlled colouring.

Themes and special project(s) were around:
(1) Food – new.  Building on B’s fascination with our kitchen and groceries (he enjoys role playing cooking!) supplemented by Gymnademics home material
(2) Colours – reinforce. B correctly identifies primary colours, though he can’t say them all clearly yet.  Colours also translate into teaching other stuff like shapes, numbers, music et al.  To expand on later

Books: Courage of The Blue Boy by Robert Neubecker; and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (great excuse to dig B’s torn and tattered copy out!)
Learning thru play: Rather than buy new toys, we made colour sorters and counters using recycled caps and straws. He likes this though finishing them all in one go is the toughest task 😉 He enjoys it even more when we mix it up i.e. figuring out how smaller straws fit into the bigger ones, grouping the same colours, counting with sound effects as he puts them in…

 

Music:  Inspired by Schoenhut pianos, I added coloured stickers to  help draw attention to the actual keys on the electronic keyboard, as he would be drawn to the buttons and lights more (downside of not having just a piano). He’s learning to play specific notes based on colour prompts and maybe one day soon, I’ll colour code simple songs to help him play by sight!

Art and craft:  We do this almost every day (crayons, markers, stamps, pens, playdough, paint on paper/easel/canvas/etc).  But once in a while when mommy is motivated, we collaborate on something bigger. This month we made a food pyramid using pictures relating to the new words in his vocab, coloured different segments per food group, added dots to indicate number of servings, etc.  When we were done he said “Yum!” A few days later, while eating his pumpkin/carrot risotto, he even pointed to the pumpkin and said “dot dot dot dot” (i.e. there are 4 dots associated with the “green” segment).

Outing: Culture heaven for B!  We attended FOUR delightful toddler events @ Singapore Art MuseumEsplanade PLAYtimeCircus Minimus and the Gymnademics Big Day Out.

Character: B is unofficially in his terrible twos, and it’s time to actively focus on character building.  As his personality and preferences emerge, we need to also model and enforce the right behaviours.
– He now says more words each day (finally!). No surprise, a popular phrase is “no no no” even if he means “yes.”  How do we constructively encourage him otherwise?  Also should we consciously avoid using “NO!” in our own speech, esp. with him?
– His sleep has also regressed slightly. From consistent 11+ hours overnight and ~2 hours mid-day to occasionally waking up in the wee hours and/or crashing earlier for his nap. His 18-month brain must be on overdrive!  How can I be sensitive to this, adjusting and accommodating as needed?
– Mealtimes have also become more challenging.  Our eat-anything-yum boy could self feed with a fork and spoon at 16-17 months BUT now struggles to complete meals on his own and even rejects foods he used to like (e.g. tomatoes!).  How to keep trying though it’s frustrating, messy and sooo inefficient?

This past Sunday School gave us some food for thought. They taught that gentleness is touching others gently, moderating your strength, helping others, obeying your parents.  This is part of the series for 18-29 month olds based on Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Which brings me to the final lesson this month: No matter how much I plan, accomplish or wish I did more or less of, ultimately I need to lean on Him and trust that all will be well. God is the BOSS!  Not B.  Definitely not me.

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

The only constant in life is change

We made plans to drop B off at half-day childcare sometime this year, thus freeing my mornings for personal and work time while pregnant. Since the start of the year though, too much has changed and the original Plan C didn’t make sense as I’m now working flexi time but no longer pregnant 😦

Also, the childcare center we had registered B in – when I was still working full time – was going through a lot of change too. After visiting again to refresh my memory of the place and meet the new staff, I had more doubts and was feeling so uneasy 😦 I knew it wasn’t just a normal mom-thing about to leave your kid for the first time, so I read Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Solution for Separation Anxiety, spoke to others in similar situations, even checked out and trialed a few other options.

I soon realised two things after the miscarriage: I desire to treasure B’s remaining toddler-hood (18 months now) and I want to be more intentional with our days together. So I’m tweaking Plan C to do “more with less” i.e. to better integrate what he learns externally in (Chinese, music and gym) with our own homeschool plan, weekly playdates and outings.  All this should keep us engaged through year end!

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