Tag Archives: education

G starts Preschooler I at Heguru!

Time really flies! It’s been one and half years since G started classes at Heguru. I know I’ve not been updating much on his progress on this blog, but yes, we have been continuing classes at Heguru. 

G has been attending the toddler class since Jan 2013, and last weekend, he finally moved on the the preschooler class! I don’t know about him, but I’m definitely excited about him progressing to the next stage. 

Transition from toddler to preschooler

In order to better prepare the children for the change from parents-accompanied class to attending class by themselves, the school had arranged for a transition period for the children. For the first half of the toddler class, parents would sit with their children as usual. However, during the second half of the class, parents and children were separated for the activities. The usual activities like mandala coloring, iroita, tangrams and number memory were done independently by the children. 

During the first session when the parents sat away from the children, I could sense some insecurity (from both adults and children!) However, our minds were set at ease when we saw how well our children were managing without our help. I was so proud to see G coloring his mandala and doing all the activities with minimal help from the teachers! 

After a few transition classes, G was ready to go in independently for the Toddler class. I met up with his teacher to review his progress, and was pleased to note that he was paying attention in class and did well in his activities. He even managed to draw the shapes in the colour mandala. 

More about Heguru Preschooler

The preschooler class at Heguru is meant for 4-6 years. There are 2 stages – Preschool I (4-5 year olds) and Preschool II (5-6 year olds). 

The objective of the preschooler class is “to consolidate what the children has learnt during the Infant & Toddler class and connect it to the left brain”. Activities that are done help to prepare the children for Primary school. 

Compared to the Toddler class, there were quite a few changes to the class:

Longer duration:

At the preschooler stage, the children start to attend classes independently. Preschool I class duration is 70mins (vs 50mins for toddler class) , while Preschool II class will be 90mins (same as the Primary level).  

Environment:

To prepare for the primary school environment, chairs and tables are used in the preschooler classes. They are no longer seated on the floor throughout the class. 

Activities: 

<As the classes are not accompanied, the following information will be what I gleaned from G and the teacher>

First half will consist of right brain activities, similar to what was done in toddler class. Then, there will be physical activity, followed by desk work in the second half. 

In each class, the child will be handed 3 booklets of worksheets – C, R and H.

Booklet C is done in the class. Some examples of activities include tracing, puzzles (pelican, iroita, tangram, plate), mandala, craft work, dot bar, listening comprehension and matching. 

Puzzles : Plate (top left), Pelican (top middle),Tangram(top right), iroita(bottom)

Booklet R is the review booklet, to be done at home. It is essentially a duplicate of the activities done in class, meant for reinforcement of the concepts gone through in class. 

 

G working on booklet R

 
Booklet H is the homework (!) booklet. It includes extension activities based on what was done in class. For example, there could be a different set of matching, tracing etc. This is meant to be handed up the next week. 

Parents information session:

After every class, there will be a 10min session where the parents are invited into the class and the teacher will go through in detail the activities that the child has gone through that day. The objectives of each activity are also explained clearly so parents have a clear idea what to do. For example, the teacher explained how they taught the children to use scissors correctly, how much time was given in class for each activity, how to reinforce concepts at home. 

G’s reaction

I’m not able to observe him in class, but based on the teacher’s feedback, and the worksheet activities, he was able to complete most of the activities independently and on time. Some of the activities that I needed to reinforce are the Pelican puzzle and Mandala drawing. 

As usual, he is happy to go for Heguru and he loves doing the worksheets (he completed both Booklet R and H over the weekend in one sitting!). We are also doing the S2 worksheets and I had to persuade him to stop 😝

My thoughts

I had some reservations initially when I found out that the preschooler class was not parent-accompanied, as I would not know how to guide him at home. 

However, my concerns were addressed during the parents session, where the teacher explained each activity in detail, and we were provided with the booklets to continue with the reinforcement at home. 

In my opinion, the preschooler syllabus is well thought-out, covering aspects such as fine-motor skills training, mathematical concepts, logical reasoning and listening comprehension. As the activities are timed, and parents receive feedback via the timing written on the worksheets to see the areas where we can continue to work with the child at home. 

I’m definitely looking forward to see how G progresses in the preschooler course. 😊

Do stay tuned for more updates! 


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Book review: How Are You Feeling Today?

Emotions are tricky things to handle, even more so when you are a young child. For someone like C, who tends to internalize her emotions, it takes a fair bit of coaxing in order to get her to discuss how she feels and identify ways to cope. The phrase “I’m upset” could mean anything, ranging from jealousy, anger to just plain old grumpiness.  

We’ve read stories about dealing with emotions, and discussed how the character should react in the different scenarios, but somehow, I found this method somewhat lacking. I needed a quick go-to book about emotions, something that C could use as an aid to help her deal with all the feelings that were going on inside her.  

A few weeks ago, I was browsing through an online book sale when I came across How Are You Feeling Today? by Molly Potter.

I was drawn by the description of the contents:

Providing children aged 6 and above with straightforward, entertaining and (most importantly) appropriate ideas to help them deal with a selection of significant emotions that might not be so easy for them to decide what to do with, the book lets children choose a feeling that relates to them and offers child-friendly strategies for dealing with that emotion. 

This book sounded like just what I needed!  

There were no look-inside pages available online but I knew C would definitely be enticed by the illustrations (yes, the cover is so very important!) So I went ahead to buy the book!

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How are you feeling today?

When the book arrived, I knew that I had made the right decision. Done in picture book format, the first few pages quickly summarized the range of feelings covered by the book. The first two pages worked like a quick index – the reader could simply refer to the correct page based on what they were feeling that day.
IMG_7581 IMG_7582 Age-appropriate strategies for dealing with each emotion were suggested. For example, if C was feeling worried, she could choose from the serious (confiding in a trusted person) to the not-so-serious (imagining a giant machine sucking worries away!) IMG_7583 IMG_7584     IMG_7585 C’s review 

Almost-8-year-old C really liked the illustrations, as expected. She started flipping through the book as soon as she saw it. I know that she appreciated some of the suggestions given because she was chuckling to herself and mumbling “a giant bubble, really?!” When I asked what she thought of the book, the immediate answer was “It’s really easy to read!” Well, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be in the mood to read a chunk of words when she was in a bad mood. 😉 

My review 

Most of the children’s books I’ve read dealt with emotion handling using a storyline. I appreciated that this book was presented as a self-help book, and went straight to the point to identify different emotions. By giving suggestions to the child to deal with each emotion, it empowers them to handle their emotions in a constructive manner. Using illustrations, the author also helped to provide pictorial clues to identifying more complex emotions, such as jealousy. At the end of the book, there were also tips for parents on how to improve emotional literacy. 

This book helped me deal with some difficult times when C was frustrated. I would point to the book, “Please read the book and try some of the suggestions!” – even if the suggestions didn’t work, it still bought me time and gave C a cooling off period! I would definitely recommend getting this book for 6 to 9 year olds. 

Do you have any recommendations for self-help books for kids? 

You can buy the book here: 

Bookdepository 

Amazon 

Linking up with:

Growing with the Tans

Book review: 布布爱上动物园 (Bubu loves going to the zoo)

In a previous post, I promised to introduce some books that piqued C’s interest in Chinese. Here is a recent series that she has read.

布布 series was introduced by C’s school as part of the recommended reading for Primary 1 students. Written by Singaporean author Lee Kow Fong, also known as Ah Guo (阿果), this series of books follow the life of a boy named Bubu (布布). In this review we will take a look at the first book in the series.

IMG_4187 Continue reading

Book review: Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids

<This post contains affiliate links.>

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Have you filled a bucket today?

I have been on the lookout for books that teach kindness and empathy. So when I came across this multiple award-winning book on Amazon, I did not hesitate to buy it. In the reviews, Have you filled a bucket today? is described as a “heartwarming book”. Once you open the pages, it’s easy to see the appeal of the simple prose and beautiful illustrations.

In the book, author Carol McCloud uses a simple analogy to describe our state of emotional well-being. We all carry invisible buckets!

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Everyone carries an invisible bucket

The metaphors “bucket-filling” and “bucket-dipping” are used to describe the effects of our actions and words on others.

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You never fill your own bucket when you dip into someone else’s

Examples of day-to-day bucket-filling actions are given: saying “I love you” to our parents, being nice to friends, writing thank-you notes to our teachers.

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A smile is a good clue that you have filled a bucket

C’s review

It was a simple read for 8-year old C. I know she liked the book because I caught her flipping through the book by herself on a few occasions. It definitely made an impact on her because she started referring to her friends as “bucket-fillers” 😉

G’s review

The simple text and vivid illustrations helped to keep his interest. While G understood the literal meaning of “bucket-filling” and “bucket-dipping” (or bucket-emptying in his words),  I had to explain that a full bucket means that the person was happy, and an empty bucket meant that the person was sad. He was also able to describe how he could “fill buckets” – by helping his friends and sharing his toys.

My review

I loved the fact that a bucket was used as an analogy instead of an emotional tank so that the kids could easily relate to it. The examples of “bucket-filling” actions were also easy for kids to follow. I really appreciated the fact that they made an effort to include different nationalities in the illustrations 🙂

The language used is simple and it makes for a great read-aloud (helpful when you have to read the book over and over again!) I enjoyed reading the book with the kids, and it was a good starting point for a discussion on positive and negative behaviors and their impact on others.

I would definitely recommend this lovely book to kids as young as 2, to 9. There are also follow up activities available on the web.

You can get the book here:
Bookdepository
Amazon

Do you have any book recommendations to teach empathy to kids?

 

Linking up with:

Growing with the Tans

Book review: 可爱的鼠小弟

In a previous post(eons ago :p), I mentioned that I would be introducing some books and tools that helped C gain interest in Chinese. Here’s the first of a series of posts on this topic.

One of the first Chinese books that C really enjoyed was the 可爱的鼠小弟 series. shuxiaodi This series is translated from a Japanese picture book collection by Yoshio Nakae, first published in the 1970s. The stories follow the exploits of Little Mouse (鼠小弟) and his animal friends. The story lines are easy to follow, and the charming illustrations hold their attention. Language used is simple and repetitive, like most early readers are.

Here’s a sneak peek into the contents. In the first book, Little Mouse shows off a new vest that his mother made for him.

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Little Mouse’s Vest

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This is the vest that my mum made for me, doesn’t it look good?

As the story progresses, each of his friends admire and compliment him on his beautiful new garment, and asks to try it on.

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Your vest is so beautiful! May I try it on?

The problem is… his friends are all bigger than Little Mouse!

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It’s a little tight, but doesn’t it look good on me?

I’ll leave you to guess the ending 😉

C’s review
C enjoyed the simple text and repetitive phrases in the book. She found the mouse really cute, and laughed along with Little Mouse’s experiences.

G’s review
I introduced this book to G recently. Like C, he was able to appreciate the humour in the book. Since C was already familiar with the book, she played the part of a big sister to read it to G. Win-win situation 🙂

My review
I enjoyed reading this picture book with the kids. The text was repetitive but not boring. The illustrations, while simple, did a lot to bring out the humour in the situation without being distracting. As I’ve mentioned earlier, C was really resistant to learning and speaking in Chinese, but she was willing to repeat the phrases after me, and learning to recognize some of the characters.

This is definitely a good book to start with young toddlers or even older reluctant readers like C 😉 Do try it!

For those who are residing in Singapore, this series is available at the National Library.

For those who are interested in the English version of the book, it can be found on Amazon.

Do you have any recommendations for Chinese books for kids?

Learning Chinese – the journey

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Chinese? Difficult!

Chinese has always been a tough subject for C. When she was much younger, around 2 or 3, she used to ignore anyone who spoke to her in her mother tongue.

Who could blame her? To her, it was a totally foreign language.

Although we are ethnic Chinese, 99% of our conversations with her were held in English. We read English books, she watched cartoons and DVDs in English, even the punishments were meted out in English.

Our initial attempts at introducing Chinese were half-hearted at most. Truth be told, I had assumed (or maybe, hoped) that she would be able to pick up the language sooner or later. After all, she was Chinese, wasn’t she? Her grandmother watched Chinese shows, and she was exposed to the language at school. We had also enrolled her in a weekly 2-hour Chinese enrichment class. I never remembered any difficulty picking up the language myself, so I thought it would be the same for her.

How wrong (and deluded) I was. At 5 years old, she was barely able to conduct a conversation in Chinese. She could read some Chinese sentences, but understood little.

Alarm bells started ringing for us when we attended the Primary One Preparation Seminar conducted by the enrichment centre in May last year. In the seminar, the speaker covered the syllabus for primary school Chinese, in which the oral component played a major part (gasp!). We were shown sample test papers, and I found myself shaking my head… C had a loooong way to go, and it was all uphill.

We set to work trying to get her interested in Chinese. In a previous post, I posted about doing a lapbook on China. I had a reward chart marking each day that we managed a short conversation in Chinese. It was difficult to stay consistent, and I lapsed back to speaking in English from time to time. I started reading more Chinese books to her.

Fast forward one year later. I’m pleased to report that some progress has been made, and in her first term show and tell, she scored 19 out of 20 points. She is now able to conduct a fairly decent conversation, and picking up more vocabulary from reading Chinese books.

Although the push to start picking up Chinese was academic, I hope that in time, she will be able to appreciate the beauty of the language, and not treat it as another subject to study for.

The journey has just begun.

Do you face difficulties introducing a second language to your child?

p/s: I’ll be introducing some books and tools that helped C learn Chinese. Do stay tuned!

Winter comes to Singapore! 2Degree Ice Art

Who says winter does not come to Singapore?

Two weeks ago, over the weekend, we brought the kids to the 2Degree Ice Art Exhibition. Held inside a thermal-insulated hall kept at -15°C, it was the best way to beat the sweltering heat in Singapore!

The kids (especially C) were really excited about being able to experience winter for the first time. Ok, it’s not really winter, but it’s close enough. There were thick coats for rent ($5 each, including gloves), and C was really pleased to get one with pink flower buttons. We brought G’s fleece jacket, and he was relatively warmly bundled up with the fleece inside his rented winter coat.

Tip: If possible, bring ear muffs or hooded jackets for the little ones. It really does get very cold inside.

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All wrapped up and ready to go!

I was amused to see that the entrance to the hall was literally a door into a freezer container. Once they ascertained that we were appropriately bundled up, they opened the door to let us enter. As we stepped into the hall, we were hit by a blast of cold air. The kids were thrilled to see their breath in puffs of steam (“Just like they described in books!” according to C).

Coloured ice-carvings were scattered around the hall, and the first to greet us was Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore.

Sir Stamford Raffles

Sir Stamford Raffles

My favourite was the ‘icicle forest’ (I’m not sure if there was an actual name for this exhibit). Pretty!!!

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My favourite exhibit

There were also ice-sculptures depicting various landmarks from around the world, lit by coloured LED lights.

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Famous landmarks – in ice!

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Recognise any of these ice sculptures?

If you asked C, the best part of the entire exhibition were the ice-slides located at the children play area. There was a big slide where we slid down sitting on a tube (which we had to lug up from the bottom of the slide) and a little one on the right. C didn’t need any encouragement – she literally ran up the steps to take the smaller slide down before we could give any instructions.

Note: It can be slippery at the top of the slide. I slipped and landed on my butt while attempting to sit down. It’s been ages since I last sat on a slide, and I think this fact was glaringly apparent, as evidenced by my clumsy descent down (video has been censored). 

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Whee!

Getting ready to slide down on a tube

Getting ready to slide down on a tube

There was a small area on the left of the slides, where there was real snow (instead of the usual foam that we find in tropical Singapore). The kids did not get to play there as there was a large crowd in the area, and G was too tiny to squeeze in with the adults and older kids.

After C came down the slide for the nth time, we decided to move on as G was complaining of not being able to feel his fingers (he had taken his gloves off as he couldn’t see his hand :/)

Note: It would be a good idea to bring your own pair of gloves, as the snow would make the complimentary gloves wet. Wet fingers = frozen numb fingers = no fun

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More ice!

Although the hall was rather small, there was enough to see and do for us to stay there for an hour. The ice-sculptures were not that spectacular, so I thought that the tickets were a tad expensive without discounts (I got them at a discounted corporate rate). It was a good experience though, especially for the kids. I think they took to the cold pretty well, though G did complain a little towards the end. Time to plan for a ski trip!

Do you and your children enjoy the cold weather?

More Information:
2Degree Ice Art will be on till 15th May 2014.
Opening hours from 10am to 10pm
Adults – $32.00 (10% discount for MasterCard holders, and also discounted entry on weekdays)
Child – $26.00
Children below 1.2 metres or less than 9 years old get free entry with purchase of adult ticket
Winter coat rental – $5.00 each (complimentary gloves with coat rental)
Located at the Junction of Bayfront Ave and Sheares Link; Standalone building beside the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and opposite the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre.
Parking is available onsite, but places are limited.