Book: Beyond the Tiger Mom

I can’t believe it, I’m finally done with reading the 1st book of the year! I found myself so tired every night that I have no energy to pick up my Kindle to read. But I’m quite glad I have read this book and manage to finish it within 3 months (LOL, so slow).

Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age is written by Maya Thiagarajan who was born and raise in India until her teens, where she moved to America to study and later on to teach. After 15 years in US, she moved to Singapore in 2010. Her kids were 5 y.o and 18 months when they moved over. So it is interesting to see how she compares the parenting style in the West and East, particularly for education, which she dedicated a large part of the book to.

I have never stayed in the “West” before, so I do not know the parenting culture “there”, though I have read some of the styles before while trying to be a better parent myself. So I was presently surprised to read in her book that in the West, adults (like teachers) are often held responsible for kids performance in school. Or parents will actually come out with excuses for kids that did not do well. This is really so unlike our Eastern culture. I also agree with some the observations she made on “Eastern” parents. Like our “love” for drilling in education (particularly math) and filling our kids time with enrichment or tuition classes. She went on to explain the pros and cons of both style in education (reading, math and exam preparation), playing and resiliency.

However, I think a lot of Eastern parents are also changing and adapting more Western style parenting as the world becomes more connected and parents get to learn more of different parenting style.

For example, she mentioned that Eastern parents and preschool are not focused on reading aloud and discussing stories but more on phonics and sounding out words. Parents are reading things like Ladybird and Oxford readers to their kids so as to teach reading rather than the letting the kids explore in the fantasy world.

I do not deny many parents are making their kids read the “Readers”, especially when they reach the “Kindergarten” age. However, I think there are also many parents who read freely interesting stories to their children. Even when I was young, my Mum will try within her means to read to me and bring me to the library. In fact, I think reading is quite a common hobby in the past before technology took away our time.

Besides, there are growing number of parents who are also letting their kids go the non-tuition way for their education. An example is Christy from Kids ‘R’ Simple (hop over to her blog to read on how she is doing it).

In short, if you want to get the “best of both worlds”, you can read up this book as she makes the comparison and provide useful tips to implement.

Disclaimer: We received this book for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received and all views are my own.

Book: Milk Goes to School

The elder two love Terry Border books. I think they find it funny, and he has repetitive phrases which the kids can recite to after reading it for a few times. So they were very happy when we spotted this new title at the library last week.

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The main character of the book, Milk.

The story is about Milk first day of school. It started with Milk getting a little scared of her first day. So to boost her confidence, her father told her she is “la crème de la crème“, meaning “best of the best”. Given that she is “milk”, there was probably some pun intended here. When Milk reaches school, she tried to be friendly with everyone. But her jokes were insensitive and she also told everyone that her father says she is “la crème de la crème”. This puts her friends off, especially Waffle who commented that she is “spoiled”. As with all children book, the day always ends with everyone resolving their differences and became friends.

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This page shows the content of Milk’s bag spilling out. And we noticed that there was no books but lots of hair clips. From here, we realize that Milk actually changes her hair clip on every page of the book! The kids were quick to point out that this is not the right thing to do in school. LOL.

After our last book on puns, I’m actually quite glad to find another book to continue teaching the kids on “puns”. The most obvious “pun” is”spoiled”. The first time when Waffle commented she is spoiled, Milk actually “smelled” herself. I took the opportunity to explain to the kids what does “spoiled” means in this context (actually I was quite surprise the kids doesn’t know it, LOL. Maybe we didn’t read enough books!).

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Chicken nuggets hatching out of eggs?

We also enjoyed the humor, such as the one above. The kids couldn’t stop laughing when they saw the nuggets hatching. I’m just glad that they know that nuggets are processed food and doesn’t hatch from an egg naturally. LOL.

And of course the different learning points throughout the story. I actually asked the kids who do they think is a better person, “Waffle” or “Milk”? I’m glad that they both came to conclusion that both are not so nice and that we should be more sensitive to others when we talk or make comments.

As parents, this book also serve as a reminder of what are the appropriate words to say to the kids. We may think our kids are very great, but telling them they are “best of the best” may not be for their best interest. But we should also not stop short of giving them praises when they indeed earned it. Its how we phrase the praises that is more important.

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This book is available at our public library. Do check it out.

  • Library: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Central, Cheng San, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Geyland East, Jurong, Jurong West, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Queenstown, Sembawang, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Woodlands
  • Call Number: English BOR

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Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Parenting: My very ‘modern’ mother

In a few days time, it will be my Mom’s birthday. I have blogged a lot about my kids but this is the first time I am dedicating a blog post for my dearest Mummy.

I came from a humble family. My Dad is a taxi driver and my Mom started working as a hospital attendant when I was in K2 (they are still a taxi driver and a hospital attendant now). When we were young, my Dad works hard. There was a period of time, he was a container truck driver in the morning and a taxi driver by night, just to bring bread home. My Mom was not working then, so she stayed home and took care of us. But after a while, my Dad’s health suffered so my Mum decides to come out to work to help out the family.

Despite her work, which starts from 8am and ends at 5:30pm, my Mum still takes up all the housework by herself and even cook our lunch and dinner. It was only when we were much older did she get us to help sweep and mop the floor. We were very well taken care of. I didn’t have to iron any of my uniform in my entire life. Neither do I need to wash my own school shoes. Dad also doesn’t need to do much house work. My Mum works it out alone. She sleeps a mere 3 hours a day. She is that traditional probably learning that from her Mum.

Am I going to follow their footsteps, in becoming a Mother like her? Of course, she is my role model. However, not in that sense of doing all the housework. I think I’m very fortunate that I’m born in an era where we are a little more well to do. We can afford a domestic helper to help out on these. So apart from the housework, there are some things that I have learned from my Mum.

Breastfeeding
Before I became a mother, my Mum has been sharing with me about the benefits of breastfeeding. I have always assumed that is a common knowledge. Little did I know that breastfeeding is actually not common in her era. I was very impressed that my mum is actually so “knowledgable” in this area.

During my own breastfeeding journey, my Mum was one of those that kept me going. She was never discouraging and spur me on when I struggled in the initial phases. She reminded me breastfeeding is so much easier these days and we have electronic dual pumps while in the past, she has to use her own hand to “squeeze” the milk out.

Reading
You know how we are advocating to read to our kids when they are young so that they will have a love for reading. 30 over years ago, my Mum has been doing that with me. Before my Mum went out to work, we will have some time alone when my siblings are in school. I remember very clearly, she will read me nap time stories. My Mum is Chinese educated, and frugal but that didn’t stop her from buying some English books to read to me. I remember and cherish those moments I recalled having with her. After she started working, those magical moments no longer happens. But she still take a conscious effort to bring us to library whenever she can. I contributed my love for reading to all these little things she has done for me.

I’m doing the same with my kids now. I try to read to them whenever possible. There was a time where I slack, and allow screen time to take over. But now I’m trying to keep the momentum and read to them as much as possible, especially before bedtime (sometimes even getting ‘scolded’ by Chubby or my MIL for keeping the children up).

School Work
I was lamenting to my Mum how I’m kind of worried about my eldest going to P1 next year and whether he can adapt to structured school. I told her how my colleagues were sharing with me that their kids have spelling or 听写 every week or at least some will bring home worksheets every weekend as homework. But my boy school has none, though I’m not complaining.

You know what my very “modern” mum told me? She asked if my friend’s kids are from ‘PAP’ school. I told her, yes. She told me ‘PAP’ schools are like that. My siblings both have homework when they were in kindergarten. While me, who studied in a church during my Kindergarten has none. And that didn’t make me “lose out” (in fact my academic results were the best among my siblings). So she asked me not to worry.

Seriously, I’m impress with my Mum. And I do recall, she doesn’t pressurize us in our studies. If we do well she is happy for us. If we doesn’t, she will ask if we tried out best. If we do, she doesn’t scold us. She just ask us to try even harder next time.

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My mum and the littlest sometime last year. Mum is not one who likes taking photo, and for her privacy sake, I chose a photo that is not so ‘clear’. But this reminds me also to take more photo of her with me and my kids.

My Mum is amazing isn’t she? I was very surprise that she has some modern parenting back in the old days, when she is such a traditional person. I am inspired to be a good mother like her and hope that my kids will love me as much as I love her. LOL.

Happy Birthday, Mum! I LOVE you! Wishing you happiness and health!

Parenting: How to get kids to pack up

I used to struggle a lot in the past to get the kids to pack up. Until one day, I saw this billiant idea on Pinterest, and it worked for me too! It’s called “Ransom Box”.

I’m not sure about others. But for our family, before the “Ransom Box” was introduced, we always threaten the kids that the items (toys, books, etc) will be thrown away if the kids don’t keep it (there was one occassion that Chubby really threw some toys away ). However, this is not a good method as most times we just threaten, and it is not environmental and pocket friendly to be throwing toys away like that. So when I saw the idea of “Ransom”, I think it is a better option.

The “Ransom Box” works by putting items, that is left lying around by the kids, into the “Ransom Box”. And it will be held “ransom” until the kids do something to redeem it. Usually a household chore. But do note that chores within their “scope of work”, are not considered. For example, the kids don’t get to redeem items from the box if they say put their own dishes into the basin after meal, or making their own bed, etc. It has to be something extra.

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I chose a big and transaparent “Ransom Box” so that even bigger size toys can fit in and the kids can see what is inside.

If you search around the Internet, they usually put a notice on the “Ransom Box” explaining to the kids what happened. But when I started this, my kids were barely 5 and 3.5 y.o.  They couldn’t read well. So I sat them down, told them about the rules and place the ransom box in a very obvious place as a reminder (very much like red light camera on the road).

Tip: Do remember to inform all adults (including domestic helper) about it. If there is anyone who packs up for them, or unknowingly takes out the items from the box, the method will not work.

For us, the kids’ cousin come over on weekends, so the same applies to them. If they leave the items around, I would help them pack up but they will have to do a household chore at their own house in return (I make my SIL take video as proof to show me. Oh the wonders of technology. LOL). So going home doesn’t mean they get away with it.

The first week, we implemented it, the ransom box got filled quickly. The kids got around to helping me clean up their younger brother (they particularly hated cleaning his poo) and the house too. The cousins got to help bring out the dirty rubbish to the common rubbish chute. Bascially, think of chores that they will not willingly do. So after a while, they realize it’s easier to just pack up.

Nowadays, all I need to do is say “I think I need to bring out the ransom box…”, and they will rush before me to pack up their toys. There isn’t a need for constant nagging, isn’t it great? Our ransom box has been empty for about a year already. But it is still there as a reminder.

Tip: In order for younger kids to help pack, the toys must be arranged for easy packing. 

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We love these shelves as it allow us to organise the kids toys easily. Each box holds a different category of things (e.g. Peppa Pig, Cars, Poli, Musical Toys, Playdoh, Lego, board/card games, etc). The kids just need to dump them in the correct box and thats it. Something even my 3 y.o. nephew can do it easily. Ok, we don’t have the neatest or prettiest looking shelves, but it does its job and is not too messy.

So how do you get your kids to pack up after they are done?

*P.S. This is not a sponsored post. You don’t have to get the exact model of shelves or ransom box. The idea is to have a big ransom box so it can hold most of the toys. And toy storage that helps in packing.

Review: 赏识教育 and 魏建惠老师

I have been contemplating whether to write this post, cause I’m afraid it will lead to some controversy. But I need a place to sort out my thoughts and that is one of the reason I’m blogging right? Anyway, I’m not some famous blogger, this blog post may go unnoticed, however, for some reason you manage to stumble on this post and is curious enough about whether you should spend a decent amount of money to listen to Wei Jian Hui (魏建惠)laoshi talk, then u can read on to find out more.

Last August (2015), Chubby and I attended a parenting workshop at Suntec. One of the speakers that day was Wei Jian Hui laoshi. During the workshop, he share with us some very interesting view points about parenting. He emphasize on teaching less and let the kids explore more. This is because in our modern world, information is just a click away. So by just forcing the kids to learn information, we are restricting their creativity and the ability to innovate. And many parents “came forward” to share how they have benefited from his talks and how 赏识教育 (appreciating your child) is good. Unfortunately, the workshop is a short 1 hour sharing so he wasn’t able to share more. And the organizers encourage us to sign up for his seminar that is held in Mar 2016.

So after some deliberation we finally sign up for the two day seminar at SGD1800 for two pax. Fast forward to March and I was actually quite excited that I’m finally going. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as what I expect. I left the seminar after half a day and didn’t return the following day. Read on to find out why. but to be fair, I will first share the positive things I take away from the short half day there.

聞.思.修 (Know, Think, Act)
Wei Jian Hui laoshi is advocating 聞,思,修。聞 is knowing aka knowledge. 思 is to think and digest the knowledge. And lastly 修 is applying these knowledge after thinking thru. Sounds very logical to me. He explains how education system in America and Japan is very different to that of China. For example in Japan when they learn a out World War II, unlike China the kids are not tested about when and where, what happened. But rather using the WWII as a case study to do forward thinking like if China and Japan is to go to war again, what will be the main causing factor. And who will win. So seeking knowledge is not the end means, it’s the process to help in analytical thinking.

孩子是什麼 (What is a child)?
In order for us to guide the child, we must first know what is a child. For example, in planting, we will just sow the seeds and water it. There is no need to pull it to make it grow. Similar with children we must understand what is a child so we do not take unnecessary step which burden us and is not appreciated. So to him, a child is an individual person with their own mind. An interesting point but not really helpful as there is no clear elaboration. Or maybe I left too early to know the answer.

不要要求孩子考100分 (Do not request your kid to score 100 marks).
He advocates that there is no need for the kids to score full marks in an exam with “correct” answer. Cause getting full marks only means that your kids memorize well, it does not show an understanding of the knowledge gain. So it is more important to look at the answers and know how or why your kid answer in that way.

So indeed in the short morning of about 3 hours he brought up some interesting points. Unfortunately (for us), there were stronger factors that make us walk out.

Overbearing Facilitator
Before Wei Jian Hui laoshi came up to teach, the beginning of class was conducted by a facilitator named 亚南 from China. She wanted the class to appear on time and not let the phone ring during the class. These are reasonable request, but the way she put across was just overbearing. And then came the unreasonable request of no walking about during “lesson” time. Not even to toilet. You are only to leave your seat during break time. And using her overbearing tone, she makes it sounds like we are small children. Besides, this totally contradict with what they are advocating of allowing kids to explore on their own. We thought we were the only ones who felt that way, but apparently a few other couples also went up to the facilitator to express their displeasure. Maybe it’s her first time in SG, she fail to understand that we are adults who pay money to attend the course. It may sounds like we are obnoxious or arrogant but please at least give us some respect. We are not kids.

Too long winded
Maybe because I’m a typical Singaporean. Time is very precious. Especially weekend time with my family. Having to sacrifice the time to attend the seminar, I hope for more concise information and examples. Unfortunately, Wei Jian Hui laoshi goes around in bushes and sometime lost the focus. An example was on the not seeking for full marks. He gave examples after examples of how the teacher “correct answer” may not be the only correct one. His example was very effective in highlighting, I think most people if not all in the class understood. However, he went on to give more other examples. I thought more time could be save if he knows when to stop and control his examples.

Need to attend more other seminar
Half way through the morning session, he not so subtly mention that we should motivate our child and we can learn more in his seminar to be conducted in May. It makes me wonder how many more seminar I need to attend in order to really understand this 賞識教育. Well, I’m not saying I expect myself to know it well with just two days, but the least is to convince me that this is worth pursuing before you mention more.

Not preaching what they teach
Before the class started, the facilitator collected a list of questions we have so as to let us empty our thoughts and we can then listen to what Wei laoshi have to say. She also mention to put aside our differences in view and listen. Unfortunately they didn’t do the same themselves. Wei laoshi was asking what do we think is the basis of education. It’s actually a very broad question which I don’t really know what he is asking. The reply that Chubby gave was that the end of education is to allow kids to be able to decide what is right and wrong independently. On hearing “right and wrong”, he put chubby down and mention that our kids will suffer. And he went on to solicit his “correct” answer of “love”. First he told us there was no perfect answer, yet he is seeking for one. Second, he told us to put down our differences but he didn’t. Upon hearing “right and wrong”, he jumped into conclusion. And during the question of what is a child, he also went around and solicit answers, but proceed to put them down. Yes maybe I’m egoistic, but I thought it could be more properly handled. If he ask us not to put down a child answer, then why is he putting us down?

Information are available in the Internet
This is what he told us before the lesson start. And I think it’s very true. And maybe this is the reason why I walked away from the seminar. The points he is trying to bring across is not new, and certainly available on the Internet. If he is unable to give us a more personalize info, I could read up more by myself and choose what is relevant. So instead of spending my precious weekend time with them, I rather spend it with my kids. So to cut my lost (time), we decide to leave during lunch break.

I’m not writing this in spite. I just want to share my point of view on this seminar. I think Appreciating your child concept has a lot of potential, but is whether you want to part with your time and money to attend the course.

Development: TT @ 10 months

Somehow I missed the 9th month development post. Hmm.. Anyway here is the 10th. Milestone chart from Baby Center.

Achieved Skills

  • Waves Goodbye
    Saw something similar but not sure if he is really waving goodbye or just waving his hands.
  • Pick things up with pincer grab
    Yes. He also master the art to stuff it into his mouth though not very well.
  • Crawls well
    Yes. And a fast crawler too. Though sometimes when he is very anxious he resort back to creeping just to be faster.
  • Cruises
    Yup. We gave away our push walker after Loi grew out of it. I wish we hadn’t as I’m quite sure TT will enjoy it now.

Emerging Skills

  • Says “Dada” and “Mama” to the right person
    Erm, nope. His speech development is a little slow, I’m a little concern but I think can wait it out still.
  • Reponds to name and understand “no”.
    Reponds to name, yes. Understand “no”, I don’t think so.
  • Indicates wants with gesture
    Opening up his hands and asking us to carry considered?

Advanced Skills

  • Drinks from a cup
    Nope. Actually we didn’t really let him try.
  • Stands alone for a couple of seconds
    Yes. Think since he was 9 months.
  • Puts object into container
    Haven’t seen that yet probably because he is not expose to this. It’s time I DIY some toys for him.

 

TT on his first kiddy ride @ 10 months
 
Dear TT,

Sorry Mummy missed out on the letter to you last month. There are too many things that Mummy need to handle especially with the new house coming. Hope you understand.

This two months you have shown some great development. You have started to cruise quite well. You can now squeeze through the narrow path between Mummy bed and the wardrobe by cruising. In fact this few days you have learn to stand up by yourself without a need to pull yourself up.

You have also grown two tiny teeth at the bottom, which gives you loose stools for the past few days. Mummy hope you get well soon.

You chuckle a lot lesser these days. I think you start to become more aware of your surrounding. You still let others carry you but will eye them and us carefully. And mostly without a smile. 

The only person that has never fail to make you chuckle is your JieJie. All she need to do is to baby talk to you and you will chuckle. You will also smile brightly and clap your hands when JieJie dances. I heard from Auntie Nerissa that you clap and smile when you were at JieJie year end performance that day. Sorry Auntie had to carry you to the back cause you were fussing and making noise. But Mummy is very happy that you adore your JieJie and she loves you too.

In a few months time you will be turning 1, Mummy can’t wait for you to grow up and have fun with us. But Mummy also don’t want you to grow up so fast as she will miss you in this state. Women are contradicting creatures which you will learn when you grow up. Lol.

Love you,
Mummy

Development: TT @ 8 Months

Blogging has taken a backseat this few months as I got busy at work and with preparation of our new house. So TT developmen post is also late. Nonetheless, before he turns 9 months.

Chart from Baby Centre.

Achieved Skills

  • Says “dada” and “mama” to both parents (isn’t specific)
    Hmm.. maybe yes. I have heard him say MaMa and BaBa. Sometimes he will turn to me and say MaMa at the same time requesting to be carried. But I have heard him randomly saying MaMa too. So I’m no sure.
  • Begins to crawl
    He has been creeping months back. This month I saw some three legged and four legged crawling. But he mostly creep.
  • Passes object from hand to hand
    Yes

Emerging Skills

  • Stands while holding on to something
    Yes. And he loves to pull himself up.
  • Crawls well
    Creep well.
  • Points at object
    Nope.

Advanced Skills

  • Pulls self to standing position, cruises around furniture while holding on
    Yes, and loves it.
  • Picks things up with thumb and finger
    No
  • Indicates wants with gesture.
    Erm… Is opening his arms asking to be carried considered?

 

Mummy and my SG50 baby going to Zai and Loi SG50 event at school.
 
Dear TT,

Mummy can’t believe you are out for about as long as you have been in Mummy’s tummy. Time flies when so many things are going on. Mummy must really apologize as she is spending less time with you this few weeks because of the new house. There has been numerous occasions that you didn’t get to see Mummy as I’m out before you wake and return after you slept. Mummy really miss you and hope that the works at the new house can start soon so Mummy can spend more time with you.

This month you started on porridge. Mummy must apologize as it was store bought cause Auntie was on off that day and we were out for too long and had to feed you. You also tried Hotcakes and seems to like it. I think you will enjoy food. Mummy hope you will have a good appetite like your GorGor and love vegetables like your JieJie.

I think you are at the teething stage too. Cause we see more of your hands going into your mouth. Mummy has also bought more teether for u as you seems to lost interest in Sofie.

You are still the joyful boy who laughs easily. Especially when your JieJie play with you. Think you both really like each other. However, you are also starting to recognize strangers. Mummy brought you to JieJie and GorGor school for the SG50 games day. Maybe because there were too many strangers so you got scared and cried when one of the teachers carried you.

  
Well, that’s all for now. Happy 8th month my littlest. Mummy love you.

Love,
Mummy