Reflect: April 2017

Our April doesn’t seems to be as busy as our March and yet I couldn’t find time to blog! Where has all the time gone? 时间都去哪儿了?

Primary School Life
The boy had his “holistic assessment” this month, before we even realize that it is happening. This is how not “on the ball” we are. Fortunately, he did fine in both his English and Math. He could do better without the careless mistakes. But well, kids are kids right? We all made careless mistakes when we were young.

His spelling and 听写 has some improvements after I made him write on exercise books instead of just reciting. This is because many times he know how to spell but would write his letters flipped. I realise its the way he write. He writes both “b” and “d” the straight line down first and decides which way to flip the “c”. So when he is anxious or not concentrating, his letters get flipped.

We have also decide to withdraw the boy from his student care, as we realise it is not very effective. Maybe because P1s don’t have much homework in the first place. So he spend a lot of his time at student care playing or watching TV. So instead of paying money for him to do that, we decide to keep him home. As the withdrawal requires notice period and they do not do half-monthly thing, his last day at the student care will be the end of the semester. So we have not start on the new schedule yet, but we shall see how. I intend to get him to do his homework and revise one subject every day. Wish me luck on our “remote learning”. LOL.

The boy also started learning Tae Kwan Do this month. I encouraged him to take out a sport or some enrichment that is outside of school work. The reason being when he gets very stress out academically, there is an outlet for stress relieve. He has enjoyed his class thus far. Lets wait and see how long he can last.

Preparing for P1
Not sure if it is due to the withdrawal of one of their classmate (due to difference in academic expectations), the teachers started loading the kids with more homework. There were reading every week and worksheets for weekend. Compare to many other childcare and kindergarten, I would say its not as much and definitely a good training for the girl to understand what does homework means. LOL.

So far she gets tired from writing and her words are still flying everywhere. I had tried to breakdown her work into smaller sizes and gave her more time to play in between. But this would means going back to the study table multiple times a day. For the boy, I usually tried the “one shot finish everything” stunt, as it is difficult to get him to come back to the table! Fortunately, the girl is able to do it and sometimes she will just walk back to the table herself and asked me to work with her on the rest of her homework. And she is always motivated to finish her work when she knows we are going out to have some fun later. Hope she stays this way.

Toddler Life
We finally got a small table for the Littlest, as he always like to come near us when GorGor and JieJie are studying at night. He had joined us on a few nights, sitting at his table doodling or playing with his rhymes props.

He is reading more books now. My trusty helper has been reading our Maisy collection to him when I’m working with the elder two. And surprisingly he is able to sit down and listen to them. And most of our Maisy books are the longer version and not the short board books which I read to the boy when he was this age. I’m really happy and thankful for that. Oh and he recently fell in love with “The hungry caterpillar” and made me re-read to him many times a night. Maybe he enjoys finishing the sentences when I read to him.

He also had his first Easter Egg hunt experience, thanks to the boy’s friend’s Mummy who organises it every year. He enjoyed himself so much that when he saw the photos on my phone, he was able to tell us what happened.

Decluttering

  • Health
    • I have been consistent at brining my own lunch to work for most days in April. And I usually include a serving of fruits in my lunch. So yay!
    • We were consistent in our Tabata until I fell ill on the 2nd last week of April and couldn’t work out. We need to get back to our routine again!
    • Junk food and ice drinks are still frequently seen in my diet. With the hot weather its really hard to cut down on the ice drinks. As for junk food, they are mainly consumed in office when its near to knock-off time as I would be hungry. I need to buy more healthy snacks for office and really switch myself to hot drinks at Starbucks.
  • Kids
    • Decluttering their weekend and holidays are a tough one. This is because the girl prefers to be out. She would asked us where we are going every weekend. While the boy prefers to stay home on some days to rest. So we got to balance between the two.
    • Miraculously, the boy read 2 very simple chapter books by himself. According to him, its a P2 chapter book that he saw in school and requested me to get it for him. We read with him for the 1st book and he read the 2nd book all by himself. He is now waiting for his 3rd book in the series to arrive. So now I have to get the girl interested in chapter books and start both on Chinese chapter books.
    • 1-to-1 date happened in a different way. As the girl has ballet classes every Thursday, we always bring the boy along. I usually go through his spelling with him at a cafe while waiting for MeiMei class to end and he will share with me his day or other things when we are done with work. For the girl, she always join us for breakfast on weekends. Some days the brother is too tired to join us, so it will become our 2-to-1 date. But 1-to-1 date for the littlest is still nil and difficult to manage. Maybe when he is older, we can try it.
  • Couple
    • Date nights has been consistent for us. Every Friday while both the kids attend their Chinese enrichment classes, we will go for our date night. Sometime its just dinner, other times it can be movies.
  • Self
    • I finally finish reading the first book of 2017! So slow, but I finally did it. Now its time to move on to the next book. But currently, I’m a little distracted with some drama series. LOL. When I’m done with that, its back to reading again. The TV kid in me, never left.
    • Decluttering my stuff never happened this month. I was busy shopping again! More like “decluttering” my wallet. LOL. Need to curb and really clean out the things I do not need anymore.

Our April just zoomed pass again. We are looking forward to May, which is the end of Semester 1!

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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.

Reflect: March 2017

We survived 1st Term of School in March and we are now in the 2nd Term of formal school! This calls for a celebration in March plus its the Boy’s birthday. So generally, March is a happy month for us!

The Boy’s Birthday
The last time we held a birthday party for the Boy was when he was 2. Since then, he celebrated his birthday in school with his friends. This year I didn’t plan to have a party. But one of his best friend’s (from childcare) Mum asked if we are interested to hold a party together, since their birthday is 1 day apart. And I know the boy misses his friends so we agreed. It was a no frill affair as we merely ordered food from a restaurant where the kids ate before they rush off for some indoor playground time.

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The boy and his childhood friends during the “party”.

The boy enjoyed himself and told us it’s one of the best day in life for him (so exaggerating). But we are glad he manage to spend time with his best friends and hope it bring some relief to his primary school life.

Fun, Fun, Fun!
The kids had their first taste of “Chalet” fun as I booked a villa to mark the end of Term 1 (and yay! more sleep for me for a week). The kids enjoyed themselves and were not willing to leave when time is up. LOL. We also manage to catch “Disney on Ice”. As I bought the tickets real early, we manage to get discounts and very good seats for our price category. The kids especially the girl were very happy to see their favourite “Elsa”. We also manage to pay Art Zoo a visit and the Littlest had a very good time bouncing around, though we were so afraid for him. LOL.

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Quite surprise the Littlest actually enjoyed it so much. Though I think its kind of dangerous for him as there were so many big kids and adults who can fall on him any moment.

Primary School Life
We established the “Spelling” and “听写” learning routine last month. I think its working out well though there was some resistance the week after school holidays and the boy fell ill. But I think breaking the list into half each day makes the boy feel its more manageable and more willing to learn. So we will continue with this practice. As for revision, we didn’t really manage to do much due to his amount of unfinished homework and also the need to practice his show and tell. So coming April, we will need to buck up on that. I have decide to let him use online resources for his revision, as it is really difficult to make him do “assessment” book now. Maybe I will try to slip in a few pages of assessment books on weekends to let him get use to the idea. LOL.

Preparing for P1
Last Friday when I went to pick the kids from their Chinese Enrichment, the Girl’s teacher approach me. To speak the truth, I was a little worried about what the teacher is going to share. But I was pleasantly surprise that the teacher told me that the Girl is performing well in class and is able to read all the flashcards from last term. I was also surprised too. But I think the Girl has really put in effort and I think we should continue on our sight-reading in English and Chinese. Now our daily revision is sight-reading in both languages and about 4 pages of “assessment” books every night from Monday to Wednesday. And reading on Thursday night. 4 pages doesn’t seems to be a lot for a kid preparing for P1, but I don’t feel like overworking her before she even start formal school.

Reading with 2 y.o.
Over the last few months, the Littlest is finally able to sit for a longer period to enjoy reading. I have also “caught” him reading to himself a few times. He opened up his 大卫 book, flipped through the pages and started telling himself about the pages. I will like to continue reading with him and have just took out a set of books I bought for the Boy when he was young but we never got to read it. Hopefully, the Littlest will like that set of books. I have also bought him a small table (which we are still awaiting for it to arrive from China) and some sticker books, so he can work on them beside his GorGor and JieJie when they do their work as he likes to come to their table and “disturb” when they are working.

Decluttering

  • Health
    • I have been bringing my own lunch for the last 2 weeks! So glad I found some easy cook recipes to help me with this. They are definitely more healthy than what is served at my office canteen.

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      A lunch I made one of the days. I need to add in more greens to my mix.
    • I didn’t swim or run once a week in March. But I did manage to start a routine of Tabata every day for about 10 minutes one week ago. I hope I can continue with this by doing everyday and for longer periods.
    • Did I mention “Ice Shaken Hibiscus Tea with Pomegranate Pearls” are my favourite drinks from Starbuck these days? And oh, there is like 1-for-1 every weekday. How am I going to declutter chilled drinks and tea out of my life with these?
  • Kids
    • The kids weekends for the whole of March were filled with activities. Mostly birthday parties including the Boy’s. And there are 2 more parties coming in April. It looks like a busy month for them again. Well, decluttering their weekend schedule seems like an uphill task.
    • As for reading, we are still reading some new books, but progress for Chapter Books is still slow. When will we finish our Matilda? I have resort to bringing their books out to read while waiting for food to be served. But only manage to do it once, let see if we have more chance to try this out in April.
    • 1-to-1 date is nil for me again. But I’m glad Chubby manage to bring the Boy out on the last day of his school holidays, Just the two of them. I need to really set a date for a 1-to1 date with all of them.
  • Couple
    • Date nights are still ongoing once every week. I hope this can continue, although at the expense of having a 1-to-1 time with the Littlest.
    • Oh, did I mention that we did our Tabata together? We encourage each other on and remind each other to do it every evening after work.
  • Self
    • Manage to read a little bit more this month. Though I slipped again in the last week of March, as I grew tired and fell asleep the moment I hit the bed. LOL.
    • Cut down my shopping from last month, but still made some purchases this month. I need to stop looking at shopping sites. I started tracking my expenses in March. I hope this will make me more conscious of where I spend my money.

That was our very busy March. How was yours? Are you ready for April?

Book: 大卫,圣诞节到啦!

I know it seems weird to be introducing a book about Christmas when we are in March. However, we chance upon the book in the library and I’m afraid the book won’t be available when its near Christmas period (talking about kiasu, LOL). Besides, the Littlest (2 y.o.) really love the book. It’s the few book he allows me to read from page 1 till the end without pushing my hand away, flip to the last page and declare “The End”. So I think it’s really worth the mention here.

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See the little foot here. The Littlest was trying to snatch the book to “read” when I was trying to take photo for the post.

We are not new to 大卫. We read about him in the other book “大卫惹麻烦” (see pic above) and we know that 大卫 is not a really good boy. In this book, 大卫 continued with his “mischief” on the days leading to Christmas.

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大卫 trying to take a peek at the present.

I use the book to explain to the Littlest (the elder two should already know) what is the wrong thing to do. For example, it is very dangerous for 大卫 to stack the chairs so high and climb on top of it. He could fall off and hurt his head like “humpty dumpty”. The littlest seems to understand it and could say “humpty dumpty” whenever we are reading this page. And when I asked “可以把椅子叠这么高,然后爬上去吗?”, he could reply me “不可以”. But well, in reality, the boy still climbs up chairs around the house when we are not looking. So it’s really, knowing is one, doing is another thing. LOL.

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Another page showing a “mischief” act.

When we were reading this page, I actually asked the elder two, why 大卫 should not be eating the Christmas cookie. I was glad that they actually observed that the cookies were probably not baked yet and 大卫 will probably get a tummy ache from eating it (cause and effect). For the Littlest, he always exclaim “吃饼干” when we come to this page. LOL. He probably couldn’t understand the concept of “uncooked” food yet.

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This is the Littlest favourite page. He burst into laughter and exclaim “naked body” whenever we are at this page.

The kids obviously knows that they need to be clothed when they are out in the street (including the 2 y.o. understand this). Before proceeding to the next page, you can actually ask the kids “你觉得为什么大卫会光着身子出门去?”. This will simulate their creative thinking and helps in their 口语表达 and probably 看图说故事 next time. There is actually some clues in the written words, see if your kids manage to guess it. And I think it will be a joy listening to their answers.

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Oh.. 大卫 has been looking forward to Christmas and his present. But he is not going to receive any?

This is my favourite page. LOL. We use this page to describe about emotions and also to tell the kids that they are not going to get present if they misbehave, just like 大卫. So they better start behaving now. And that is the reason why we should be reading this book even before Christmas comes. LOL. As to whether 大卫 is really not getting any present, read the book to find out for yourself. 🙂

Overall, we love this book as it is (1) funny, (2) easy to read (only a few words per page) and (3) a lot of room for discussion. Like the few pages we showed above, there is so much to talk about in the illustrations that can expand the kids vocab in Chinese and also their creativity.

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This is actually the back cover of the book, but it’s equally funny. Like a “chocolate cow”? I asked the kids if a “chocolate cow” will give “chocolate milk”. Obviously, they are old enough to provide me the correct answer. But you may be surprise at what younger kids might think.

This book is available at our local libraries:

  • Libraries: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Central, Cheng San, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Geylang East, Jurong, Jurong West, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Queenstown, Sembawang, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh, Woodlands
  • Call Number: Chinese SHA
  • Location: Junior Lending Picture Book
Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Book: Maisy’s Plane and Maisy’s Tractor

Some people grew up watching Sesame Street or Mickey Mouse, my kids grew up watching and reading Maisy. Not so sure how many of you actually know of this mouse.

I learned about Maisy as it was one of the recommended books for young children. I borrowed Maisy from the library and chance upon a Maisy DVD when I was shopping at Popular one day, it complimented what we were reading, so I allowed the kids to watch it once they are above 1 y.o.

I think the kids love the simple drawing and storyline of Maisy. Even my elder two (7 y.o and 6 y.o) can watch Maisy with the littlest (2 y.o.) now and still enjoy it. There are many Maisy books in the library. Today, we are sharing two of the books meant for younger kids. There are other ranges for slightly older pre-schoolers, which I hope to share in the future.

Maisy Plane - Cover
The pilot driving the aeroplane is (of course) Maisy, guess where is she going?

In “Maisy’s Plane”, Maisy is driving her aeroplane to Eddie’s (another main character) birthday party. But the emphasis on the book is definitely about transportation.

Maisy Plane - Parts
This page exposes the kid to related vocab like ‘Engine’, ‘Vroom’ and ‘Propellers’.

At this age, the kids probably wouldn’t understand what each part of the vehicle is for, but we can still expose them to the vocab and do simple explanation.

Maisy Plane - Different Vehicles
If you notice, the different characters came in different types of transport.

As you can see, the exposure on transportation is gently worked into something the kids know and can identify with, i.e. birthday party. Although there is not much words, again, there is a lot to discuss in the drawings. The littlest love to point to the different objects and name them (including the small gingerbread man), this also trains their observation skills.

If you have a child that loves transportation or you wish to expose your young kids to transportation, consider reading this book.

Maisy Tractor
Maisy is now working on a tractor.

This book is not really about the tractor, but what Maisy does in the farm using the tractor.

Maisy Tractor - Cow
Maisy milking the cow in the farm.

Well, if you are bringing your young kids to farm trips (near or far), can consider reading this book before the trip, to get the kids excited about farm as well as letting them learn more about the work of farmers.

Maisy Tractor - Numeracy
This book also have exposure on numeracy as Maisy counted her sheep.

Both books are available from the public library:

  • Library: Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Central, Cheng San, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Geylang, Jurong, Jurong West, Queenstown, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh, Woodlands
  • Call Number: English COU-[BA]
  • Location: Junior Lending Picture Book
Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Book: 这是什么队列?

They kids read this book in school and borrowed it from the library when we chanced upon it. And my interesting 7 y.o. boy decides to borrow the English version when he spotted it in Molly.

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Sorry for the blur photo as the Littlest (2 y.o) was trying to snatch the book from me. He loves to point at the animals and tell me their names.

This story is about the different animals lining up for something. So what are they queuing for? Read to find out, LOL.

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As you can see, the name of the animals are listed.

If your kids are really into animals, this is really useful for them to know what each animal is called. Especially when we have both the English and Chinese version, we can do a one-to-one match to know the names in Chinese. LOL.

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Do you know Hyena is called 鬣狗 in Chinese?

We also love it that there are Hanyu Pinyin below some of the more complicated words to aid us in reading. Like the Hyena. And is also a book to expose the younger kids to numeracy and the concept of counting down.

There isn’t many words in this book, however, there is so much to discuss on the illustrations. The “behaviors” of the animals are shown, that allow parents to post some questions to set the kids thinking. Like “What do you think the Wolf is finding tasty?”. Reading for young children is not only about reading words, but also to examine the illustrations and stimulate their imagination.

This book is available at our Public Library. Do check it out:

  • Library: Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Central, Cheng San, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Geylang East, Jurong, Jurong West, Marine Parade, Queenstown, Sembawang, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Woodlands
  • Call Number: Chinese OHM
  • Location: Junior Lending Picture Book
Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Reflect: February 2017

February was quite a good month. We seem to have settled a few issues that were bugging us in January.

Primary School Life
We have established a certain routine for the boy. On weekday nights, he will revise his spelling and 听写 before the “test” date. And once its over, he will start learning next week’s spelling list. And he had to learn half of the list each day. I think he find this more manageable and is able to do it for the last 2 weeks. I have also set out to revise with him one subject each night, and weekends are reserved for learning his 听写 and doing his homework from Berries. He still complains a little on weekend, but there is less “shouting” on my part, and at the end of the day we achieve what we want to do. We are into our 2nd week of this routine, so we shall to see how it goes.

Waking up in the morning is still a struggle for the boy. We now adopt the no iPad or TV on Sunday to Thursday night rule, so that his brain is not over active and he can sleep earlier. It helps a little but this boy is generally more active at night. So we are still trying to find a way to make our morning happier. LOL.

Preparing for P1
We attended the girl’s curriculum briefing about a week ago and realize that many of her classmates parents are anxious about their kids academic development. This sets me thinking as I know the girl, for now, is not academically as strong as her brother. But she is definitely more hardworking than him. I’m not sure how she will adapt to school next year. But I told myself I have to work on her sight-reading in both English and Chinese, as reading is the basis of learning. She generally has no issues with Math, but I’m still working with her on that too, just so she has one less subject to worry about when she enters P1.

All Grown Up
Last month we were still talking about the littlest reluctance to go to school. And suddenly, after the CNY break, the littlest grew up. He can say “Bye Bye” happily to Daddy after he drops him, collects and eats his breakfast by himself. His teacher also shares with us that he is initiating play with his friends. So happy with his growth, but it suddenly occurs to me that he is shedding his baby-ness already. Oh~ I need to hide in a corner and tear.

Decluttering

  • Health
    • I aim to declutter the bad habits in my health like reducing chilled drinks and tea. However, I am not able to do it this month! Too many 1-for-1 promotion from Starbucks and I’m like drinking one every other day.
    • I need to reduce Starbucks and do exercises (haven’t done any exercise in February!). But I did manage to bring my own lunch for 3 weeks. Hope to continue in Mar!
  • Kids
    • Decluttering their weekend is what we did in February. However, it looks hard in March, as there are so many interesting activities going on in March. Now we adopt the, ask the kids first before going strategy. Let’s see how it works out.

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      Instead of cramping our weekends with activities, some days we just go for a simple outdoor playground time at the neighborhood.
    • Oh and I forgot to add, I couldn’t resist and bought the kids some toys and books in Feb. There goes the decluttering of their cupboards.
    • One-to-One dates are still zero, but we have pockets of one-to-one time like before school, while going for ballet classes and after GorGor and JieJie finishes their work. But I really need to find one-to-one date time for all 3.
  • Couple
    • I’m still trying to be more independent when it comes to handling the kids. And we manage to have date nights catching movie, play and concert! Hope this continues.

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      We manage to go for a culinary class to celebrate Valentine Day and caught a play at Huayi Festival and Jacky Cheung’s concert in Feb!
  • Self
    • Didn’t manage to declutter but did a round of online shopping in Feb! Argh..
    • Reading is progressing but not consistent as most nights I’m so tired that I fell asleep almost immediately after hitting the bed.
    • As for decluttering bad thoughts, I am making a conscious effort and I think I’m more positive now. I need to remind myself and hope that this can continue. 🙂

How was your February?