Tag Archives: right brain

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 ūüėĚ

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. ūüėä

Do stay tuned for more updates! 


G at Heguru – 2nd year update

Time flies, and I’ve realized that my last update on Heguru was from March last year (!)

G has been attending Heguru classes for a year now. Since Heguru groups the children born in the year 2012 and 2011 together in the same class, he is still doing pretty much the same activities compared to last year.

Course contents
With the new management taking over last September, there were some improvements made to the contents, for example, introduction of Chinese word flash cards. The physical exercises were also fine-tuned so that they were more age-appropriate (last year G was asked to hop on one leg at 1yo… )

Peg memory numbers 1-100 had been fully covered last year. With the start of the new year, we are starting with numbers 1 to 10 again.

The topics covered during the flashcards are not duplicated though, and new sets of cards are introduced every 4 weeks. I’m constantly inspired by the topics presented in class – ranging from guitar chords to types of whales to sources of calcium.

I’ve also¬†purchased a set of 24 booklets recommended by Heguru (12 books for intellectual development, 12 books for number concept). They contain simple exercises to be done with G on a daily basis (a page from each booklet a day). An example of the¬†contents in the intellectual development booklets¬†include identification of parts of the body (vol. 1) to identifying collective nouns¬†(vol. 12). For number concepts, they start with simple counting (vol. 1) to counting number of blocks in 3-D shapes (vol.12).

Heguru booklets

G’s progress
G is¬†turning 3¬†this May. In right brain training, this is the age when the children start to give “output”. (Previously, when they were younger, below 2 years old, the focus concentrated on “input”, where information was presented to the child). Since the end of last year, I’ve seen G responding to ESP exercises verbally, sometimes shouting out the answers before teacher finished the question. I’ve mentioned previously that I was surprised that G could do the ESP exercises, and I continue to be impressed by his output in this area.

Previously I had concerns that the introduction to colour mandala was not age appropriate. Now that G is a year older, he is able to do the colouring by himself. He¬†is now less distracted by the box¬†of crayons,¬†and able to focus on the image.¬†On some occasions, he is also able to start drawing the shapes on the mandala (but most times, I’m still the one drawing).

He has also grasped the concept of linking memory. Last December, on a whim I decided to try it with G using a set of cards. To my surprise, he was able to name all 10 cards I placed and could recite bits of the story that I told. Currently he is able to do about 15-20 cards (depending on his mood).

One of the areas that he has not made progress, though, is during self-introduction. The cheeky boy happily goes to the front of the class when called, but refuses to say his name or answer questions (he happily chatters on when he is out of the spotlight). Hopefully this stage passes soon…

I’m happy to see that G continues to enjoy his classes, and look forward to more pleasant surprises this year ūüôā

Which of your kids’ recent developments have surprised you most?

Home Practice with G (the budget version)

Some time ago, I had a discussion with some mummies who were interested in doing home practice, but were concerned about the investment needed to buy all the materials necessary to do so. This prompted me to do a short post on some ways we can DIY our own home practice material at very little cost, using items that we have.

Photographic memory
In class, this is done in various ways:

  • Flashing a picture, then asking the child which picture he saw
  • Flashing a picture, then asking the child to replicate the arrangement of the items on the picture
  • Placing cards in the order of the story told (Story memory/ linking memory)

At home, we can either replicate what was done in class, or use what we have at home:

  • Use lego. You’ll need¬†2 sets of bricks – one for yourself, another for your child. Arrange the bricks and show the child, then give him his own set to replicate what he saw.
  • Play peek-a-boo with his soft toys. Remove one of them and ask him to identify which is missing.
  • Tell silly stories using items that you have – be creative! An example of a story that I did with G just before he had snacks.

One day, G was driving his car (toy car) when he saw piglet (piglet toy). He decided to throw and eraser (eraser) at him to get his attention. Piglet was very happy (happy face sticker) to see him and they both decided to eat grapes (a few grapes) and raisins (a few raisins). They went to the zoo and saw Mickey Mouse (Mickey soft toy) and said hello to the panda (a panda biscuit). It was a hot day so all of them had water (a cup of water). Soon stars (star sticker) came out and they went home.

G had an incentive to do it, because he got to eat grapes, raisins and panda biscuits after ūüėČ

ESP

ESP practice in class is usually done using pictures – guessing the hidden item, shape, etc

At home, household objects/toys can be used:

  • guess the colour of the spoon in the bag by touch – place similar spoons but of different colours in an opaque bag or box and ask the child to touch
  • use poker cards to guess the shape (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades)
  • place animal stickers under bottle caps and ask them to “see” which bottle cap has a specific animal
  • using coloured pom-poms

The list goes on.

Home practice need not necessarily involve printing/laminating. Sometimes using real objects that are familiar can be more interesting to young children. Hope these tips will be useful!

Do you have any DIY ideas for home practice? Do share them in the comments below!

Why right brain education?

This post was written in response to some pms and emails regarding right brain training. In this post I’ve tried to answer some of the questions posted by readers. By all means, I’m no expert in this topic, but hopefully, by sharing some of my experiences here,¬†it¬†can help to encourage others to share¬†too.

Both C and G started attending right brain classes when they turned one. I had little knowledge about this form of education when I started. All I knew back then, was that it involved some sort of memory training. Curious on how it worked, I read books on right brain education, asked the teachers, and trawled the internet for more information. Here is a little of what I’ve learnt over the past 5 years:

Right vs Left brain

mirrorleftright

Based on what is known today, the left brain is the logical brain responsible for words, logic, numbers, analysis, lists, linearity and sequence. The right brain is the creative brain and is responsible for rhythm, spatial awareness, colour, imagination, daydreaming, holistic awareness and dimension. The left brain processes information in a sequential and logical manner, requiring comprehension and memorization to input data. The right brain, on the other hand, is able to process massive amounts of information without requiring logical comprehension. In young children up to age 3, the right brain dominates. The dominance starts shifting to the left brain when the child turns 3, until age 6 when the left brain dominates.

So what is right brain training?

In right brain training, the objective is to utilize¬†the right brain so that we are able to maintain the use of both¬†hemispheres even as the child grows older.¬†It has been likened to building muscle –¬†the more the brain is used,¬†the stronger the ability. If we don’t use it, we lose it.¬†By using the abilities of the right brain to complement those of the left brain, we are able to tap the full potential of the human mind.

Although photographic memory training is also part of right brain education, it is not the only aspect. Other aspects of right brain education include senses training (ESP), observation skills, moral education, creativity,  and intuitive maths calculations.

Isn’t she/he too young to be attending classes? He’s just turned one!

As mentioned earlier, the right brain is dominant when the child is younger, so it is definitely more beneficial to start as young as possible. Have you been amazed at the amount of details that your young child is able to remember? With training, the child is able to retain such abilities even as they grow older.

Contrary to what the word “training” conjures up, the classes are actually conducted in a non-stressful environment. The instructor continually reminds the parents that this is not a competition, to encourage the child even when they don’t get it correct. The child may not be able to “output” his knowledge at age one, but the results show themselves when they grow older.

What do you do during right brain classes?

Examples of some flashcards

Examples of some flashcards

As I’ve described in some of the earlier posts on Heguru classes, the classes typically involve high speed input of information to “activate” the right brain (because the left brain is not able to cope with such massive amounts of data in such a short time!).¬†At such a pace, more than 60 activities can be done within a short 50-minute class.

One of the activities that I particularly enjoy is the story-telling, which encourages G to imagine himself doing certain activities. Note that this is different from pretend play – there are no props, everything depends on the imagination. He is encouraged to imagine the story using his five senses. How many classes do that?

Do you do home practice? What do you do?

Yes, I try to do it daily with G but activities vary. For some suggestions on home practice,¬†you can refer to¬†this earlier post. Recently G is very active,¬†so I don’t do as¬†many¬†flashcards. Sometimes, when I’m really running short of time, I play ESP games (Which lift do you think is coming up first? Will you see a man or a woman?¬†Will it rain tomorrow?).

Does right brain training work?

From my experience, yes it does. When C was younger, she did not show real output till she was about 3years old. She surprised us with knowledge that she learnt from flashcards¬†and she has good visual memory. Academically, she puts these skills to good use, and teachers have commented that she is a fast learner. I believe that this is the result of her earlier right brain training. We will wait and see if G shows similar results (so far he has surprised us with pretty accurate weather forecasts!) After attending the classes, my memory has definitely improved too, with all the practice ūüėČ

Please do¬†share your experiences with right brain training ūüôā¬†¬†

Peg Memory – What’s that?

peg memoryHaving posted quite a few sets of material on peg memory, some of you might still be wondering: “What’s peg memory? How do I use it in actual situations? Is it even useful?”

Well, as I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I’m currently attending a course on effective communication, and guess what? We were taught to use peg memory to remember some of the important concepts!

So how do we apply peg memory?

Revising peg words/pictures
First, let’s start with our¬†peg words 1-9:
1-first
2-tooth
3-tree
4-fork
5-fire
6-seeds
7-heaven
8-plate
9-night

** It is important to memorise the peg numbers and corresponding peg words before you can use them effectively! It is not necessary to use the above peg words, but once you form a set, they should be used all the time.

Then,¬†let’s take a look at the important concepts that we want to remember (from Dale Carnegie’s rules for success):

1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
5. Smile.
6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most
important sound in any language.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
9. Make the other person feel important ‚Äď and do it sincerely.

Using peg memory to recall concepts
There are a total of nine points that we want to recall. In order to do so, we make use of the peg numbers and peg words, with the corresponding peg images. To reinforce the recall, actions are also associated with each set. In the examples given below, the peg words and concepts are in bold.

 

Sample story:
1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Imagine that you are running a race, and come in first (peg word), you are holding up a trophy (action – you have to pretend to hold the trophy), and that trophy looks different – it is in the shape of 3 C’s.

2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
You have a pain in your tooth (peg word), and you pull it out. To your surprise, it turns into a rose (appreciation), which you throw to your friend (action).

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
In front of you is a giant Christmas tree. It is the largest tree that you’ve ever seen!¬† It starts swaying in the wind. On¬†the very top,¬†instead of a star,¬†you see a¬†wanted poster, with your name on it.

4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
You are having your meal, and you use your fork to pick up a piece of meat. When you put that piece of meat in your mouth and start chewing, you are surprised to find a piece of paper inside. It says “100% interest

5. Smile.
It is a cold winter’s night, and you are sitting in front of a fire, warming your hands. All of a sudden, a giant polar bear appears, and gives you a mega-watt smile.

6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
You are strolling in the garden. All of a sudden, you see Jack, who hands you some magic seeds. You plant and water them, and soon they start to grow. To your surprise, they start to form your name.

7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
You are climbing the stairs to heaven. Angels are singing, everything is shiny and white. All of a sudden, you feel something being thrown to you. You look up, and see headphones coming in your direction, and you duck to avoid being hit.

8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
You are in your house, washing plates. The sink is blocked, water starts overflowing. You reach down into the drain to find out what is stuck, and you withdraw your hand to find a microphone.

9. Make the other person feel important ‚Äď and do it sincerely.
It is a beautiful night, and you are¬†in a party dancing with¬†the man/woman of your dreams. The crowds part, and in comes a waiter carrying a barrel of wine. On the barrel, the¬†label says, “important“.

The stranger the story, the better the recall
By making the story as lively and detailed as possible, it’s possible to remember the concepts with ease. Everyone’s story may be a little different, but it doesn’t matter. The stranger or more ridiculous the story, the deeper the impression. Everyone in our class managed to remember the nine points without difficulty, using this method!

In Heguru, instead of remembering concepts, we will be using peg pictures to recall large strings of numbers (by converting the numbers into the corresponding peg pictures) – more on that in a later post ūüôā

If your children¬†have difficulty remembering theories or concepts, why don’t you try using this method of recall? Your children will be able to remember interesting stories better than dry facts ūüėČ

What is your opinion on peg memory?

ESP – Fact or Fiction?

ESP

ESP (extrasensory perception)
noun \ňĆńď-ňĆes-ňąpńď\ apparent power to perceive things that are not present to the senses

When we think about ESP, what are the terms that come to mind? Paranormal ability? Science fiction? Mystery? Sixth sense?

ESP, or extrasensory perception,¬†is believed to be one of the right brain’s many abilities, hence ESP exercises are part of right brain training classes at Shichida and Heguru. Frankly speaking, I have always been skeptical of this aspect of right brain training. C’s class back then did not have any ESP exercises, so I had always listened to the testimonials of Shichida mummies with a tinge of disbelief. Photographic memory (another ability of the right brain), I can accept. Sensing colours through touch? Looking through cards? My scientifically-trained mind struggled with such concepts. Not logical, not possible.

Then G started Heguru. And proved me wrong. The rate at which he got the answers correct was too much of a coincidence.

In a bid to understand a little bit more on this “mysterious ability” and its connection to the right brain,¬†I have bought and recently completed reading “Right Brain Education in Infancy” by Dr Makoto Shichida.

About Dr Makoto Shichida
For those who are not familiar with the name, he is the founder of the Shichida Method, one of the most famous and popular schools for right brain education in Japan and worldwide. His research in brain development and education has changed the way we approach learning in young children.

Dr Shichida’s theory
In his book, Dr Shichida explains some of his theories on the faculties of the right brain, which has not been fully understood. This includes the mysterious ability known as ESP.

Dr Shichida theorizes that the five senses¬†of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste are controlled consciously by the left brain, but¬†subconsciously by the right brain. Thus, in fact, the “sixth sense” should not be referred to as ESP, but rather the same five senses governed by the right brain on a different scale. Using the right brain, we are able to “see”, “hear”, “smell”, “feel” or “taste” hidden objects.

In quantum physics, scientists have succeeded in analysing objects at a subatomic level.  In their studies, they have discovered that the most fundamental particles vibrate. In other words, all objects on earth emit energy waves (think x-ray, MRI or CT scans, which make use of this theory to perform medical analysis). To explain the ESP ability in humans, Dr Shichida states that the human cells are in fact receptacles of such resonance, and by tuning our senses to interpret these frequencies, we are able to perceive what was previously unknown.

quantum-image

5 categories of ESP
ESP can be broken down into 5 categories: telepathy, clairvoyance, tactility, precognition and telekinesis.

  • Telepathy is¬†the transmission of information from one person to another without using any of our known sensory channels or physical interaction.
  • Clairvoyance refers to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses.
  • Tactility refers to the ability to guess the¬†letter or symbol on the card by touch.
  • Precognition is also known as the ability to foretell the future.
  • Telekinesis is the ability to cause something physical to happen by willing it.

Heguru class includes exercises for all of the above except telekinesis. Some examples of activities:

  • Telepathy: The teacher tells the students that she will be sending them an image of a shape. Given a few different cards, the students are supposed to pick the correct one based on the image they receive in their mind.
  • Clairvoyance: A card is placed face-down on the board. By concentrating on the card, the students attempt to “see” through the card.
  • Tactility: The students are given two objects in an opaque¬†bag, e.g. a¬†blue spoon and an orange spoon. They are told that when they touch the blue spoon, they will¬†taste¬†water, and orange will give the taste of orange juice.¬†The students need to guess the correct colour of the object by touch, and “tasting” the object.
  • Precognition: The teacher gives a few cards with different coloured squares. The student is to guess the colour¬†facing up on¬†a cube thrown by the teacher (there are different colours on each side of the cube).

Why ESP?
I had wondered why G had to do ESP exercises РI was not looking to train him to become a mindreader when I sent him for right brain classes. In his book, Dr Shichida explains that children below the age of 3 are naturally predisposed to use their right brain, and ESP exercises also help to train their visualisation ability.

By being able to visualise clearly the images formed in their brain, the children can memorise large amounts of information rapidly (photographic memory) and also form creative images in their minds (when asked to write a story, the children are able to visualise clearly the characters and hence simply need to describe what they “see” in their brain).

Children move from right brain predominance to left brain predominance by age 6, so by training the right brain when young, it helps to maintain this balance of right vs left brain predominance even when they grow older.

My Thoughts
After reading the book, I had a better understanding of Dr Shichida’s theories, and why¬†some of the activities were carried out in class.¬†The parts regarding wave theory actually made some sense to me (it also explains why some people insist that talking to their plants made them grow better – same theory!). Although I may never experience the same¬†ESP¬†as perhaps G is experiencing,¬†I think that this ability¬†might really exist (especially in¬†very young children).

If you are interested in trying some simple ESP exercises with your child, here’s a simple document I’ve prepared that you can try at home ==> ESP exercises

Do you believe in ESP? Have you experienced any ESP-related events?

G at Heguru: March update

G has started his 3rd month at Heguru. He continues to enjoy his classes, and participates actively. He particularly enjoys going up to the board to give his answers. ūüôā

Here are some updates on the class activities:

Math concepts
Nummer Kasten continues to be used in class to introduce the concept of addition/subtraction.
Skip counting has also been introduced in preparation for multiplication- skipping by 2s, 5s,10s.
The multiplication flashcards started by showing the equations with dots. Now it has moved to dots on grids.
3D visualisation – blocks are shown to the children, and they are asked to count the number of blocks. The concept of the hidden block is explained.
Number recognition – the children are asked to fill in the blanks for a sequence of numbers.

Speed reading
We have started listening to stories and songs played back at different speeds (normal speed, 2.5x, 3.5x). According to research, the human is capable of understanding up to 350 words per minute¬†(!!).¬†Thinking about it, it’s true that when we listen¬†to stories at normal speed of 125-150 words per minute, our minds tend to wander, since only a small portion¬†of our brain is¬†needed for comprehension. Listening to¬†recordings at higher speed forces the brain to focus. I’ve¬†noticed that G pays much more attention when the high speed recordings are played.

Life skills/motor skills
Concept of currency – each child is given list of items to “buy”. They are to pick out the items from the box (e.g. 2 black pens and 1 green magnet), then pay with the correct amount.
They have also tried using clothes peg to clip pieces of cloth on a clothesline (useful skill to help mummy later!)

Moral education
Confucian analects (ŤģļŤĮ≠) recordings are¬†played in class. We are also going through šłČŚ≠óÁĽŹ(or the three character classic).

For those who might be interested, here are the Youtube links:
ŤģļŤĮ≠¬†(an English translation is found here)
šłČŚ≠óÁĽŹ¬†(an English translation is found here)

Note: I’ve not learnt the confucian analects as a child. Now that G is going through this in class, I found the english translations particularly useful. ūüėČ

In February, we had a very interesting song on the correct usage of chopsticks! Via the song, the children are taught the correct etiquette for using chopsticks – for example, sticking chopsticks in your rice bowl is like offering it to your ancestors, lol!

Language
Exercises to identify the first letter of the word and filling in the missing letters of simple words have been done. Today we learnt about opposites.
Hiragana (part of the japanese alphabet) and Japanese songs have also been introduced as part of the lessons.

General knowledge
We’ve learnt about plants last month. This month, we’re learning about inventors and the capitals of asian countries.

ESP
ESP skills consist of several components, and we have been working mainly on clairvoyance and telepathy. Today we did¬†an exercise on premonition.¬†G’s success rate is pretty high (he got all the answers correct in the previous classes!) but recently I’ve noticed that¬†his performance in this area drops when he is distracted or tired. I was pretty skeptical about this part of right brain training when I started, but I’m getting more convinced that there really is something to ESP training when I watch G in class. Either that, or he is extremely lucky!

I continue to be amazed at what G can do, and find that there is still so much more to learn (starting with the confucian analects, of course)!

What are your thoughts on right brain training?