I’ve been travelling a lot for work this year, with a particularly intense past few months. The person most interested in my trips is B, who peppers me with questions – besides just “When are you coming back, mama?!” So I decided to transform my work trips to mini-lessons in geography and history. It’s become such a regular occurrence that B looks forward to these “special projects” with mom on free weekends when I’m home!
We’ve been working through a lovely colouring book country by country, supplementing the maps with library books and internet searches to make it more interesting and interactive. I too learnt something new as we saw highlights of the India-Pakistan cricket matches, the tough life of elephants in Thailand, the history of junk boats in Vietnam, and so on.
I also try to get souvenirs for folks back home and sometimes the best things are free too! For example, B loves activity books at this age, and luckily many hotels have good fun ones they’re usually happy to pass to “your little one waiting back home.”
B has always loved working with his hands and solving puzzles, so activities like these 3D puzzles or LEGO blocks are also a hit. It amazes me how he’s able to sit down, and painstakingly put these together (with help as needed) – some times for 1 hour or more! Now that B reads decently well, he also enjoys discovering information on his own, and likes to cite (sometimes random) facts about popular places and people.
Did you know? The Taj Mahal is a World Heritage Site in the city of Agra in north India, built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died at the age of 39. “That’s too young,” says B!
So if you’re travelling, and wish you could but can’t bring your kids along, try these. They’ll feel involved, learn about the world, and can perhaps view your trips in a positive way by looking forward to these moments. We know it’s hard to be apart – so check out the video for a little something to cheer you up 🙂
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…
(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
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)
(2) Garden montage to reinforce shapes and colours
(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…
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 😉
– 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