[Friday Flips] Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age

[Review + Giveaway]

I’ve been reading this book for over a month now and have been reflecting as much. It got me thinking about my own parenting style and how my views on education have changed since becoming a parent.

Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age reads like a research paper that is backed by the author’s own experience as a teacher in the US and Singapore, her own Asian heritage which shapes her parenting beliefs, interviews with Asian parents and educational research.

This is such a good read and one that causes parents to reflect on their parenting, education and family beliefs.

The author accurately described the mentality of the Asian moms and I couldn’t help but agree with what she wrote. Being an Asian mom myself, I find myself feeling anxious about getting my children to start reading at an early age and therefore find ways to create a math-rich home so that they could understand concepts early and find math in their daily lives. She also provided an honest glimpse into the lives of students in Singapore, those whose schedules are filled with tuition and enrichment classes. Is tuition necessary? The author managed to give a balanced view on that and causes readers to reflect on its purpose and if there is a need for their own children to go through that kind of ‘lifestyle’.

As a person who has grown up and taught in the US, the author was able to provide readers with the western perspective to parenting and education and marrying both eastern and western beliefs, she could give a balance view on them. My reflection as a mom is to question what is good for my children and how to parent them in this global age based on what she has shared in her book.

Questions which I find myself asking:
:: Is early math important and what can I do to build a math-rich home?
:: How to create a reading culture in my home such that my children would love reading
:: Phonics vs whole language – there could be a balance
:: There is value in individualised instruction, especially for those who need coaching at a pace that’s best for them but would I be found sending my kids for tuition just so that they would not lose out to their peers?
:: Our generation of children is brought up in a digital age. How can we benefit from the use of technology without getting addicted to it?

Of particular help are the tips that she gave at the end of each chapter, on how we we could build a math-rich, language-rich home, how to help our children memorise information and encourage critical thinking skills, how to supplement our children’s education, among others.

It’s truly a book to grab and read and then be thrust into a state of reflection.

About the author

PrintA global citizen, Maya Thiagarajan has lived and worked in India, Singapore, and the US. She earned a BA in English from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University.

Maya began her teaching career with Teach For America, where she taught at a public school in Baltimore City for two years. She went on to teach high school English at some of America’s most prestigious independent schools. After a decade of teaching in the US, Maya moved to Singapore and began teaching at The United World College of South East Asia (UWC).

Struck by the different approaches to education and parenting that she encountered in Singapore, Maya began to interview Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore. Using her own experiences as well as the stories of parents whom she interviewed, Maya wrote a book titled Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age. [Source]

[GIVEAWAY]

Book Publicity Services has kindly agreed to gift one reader with Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age. What you need to do:

  1. Like the facebook post
  2. Comment on why you would like a copy of the book

Simple? This giveaway is for local residents (Singapore) only and will end on 6 January 2017. A random participant will be picked and we will then be sending him/her a copy of the book. All the best and have a great year ahead!

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book and I chose to give a review of it because it really is a good read and I hope many could benefit from it. All opinions are mine unless otherwise stated.

What’s your ideal preschool?

When I was still training as a teacher, there was this module called Educational Philosophy and the lecturer gave us our first piece of assignment entitled ‘My Ideal School’. Sounds easy to write? Perhaps on first thought. On further reflection, you will realise that it is not because you need to consider the principles behind those ideals and how those could work out in our society.

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Now, as a mom to a toddler, I ask myself the same question but obviously I’m thinking more in terms of a preschool for the time being.

This video on how a 4YO boy spent his morning in a Montessori classroom excites me. Somehow, it reminded me of Totto-chan who received a delightful education in a railroad car and where her individuality and creativity was nourished. I wish the same for Faith but I’m not sure how many preschools out there stress on this. In any case, I have not done any research and judging by how things progress in our household, it is quite likely that Faith would not be enrolled in a preschool any time soon. Hmmm…

If I am to teach Faith myself, then I had better design a curriculum for her and to find a community in which she can grow and learn with. This can be both daunting and exciting at the same time. And as each day passes, I am acutely aware that she is growing up really fast and there is no time to lose. So much stuff to teach her!

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This week, I will be reflecting on this issue and if you are into montessori education and want to try some of the ideas at home, you can look for them at #montessoriathome on IG.

Here’s another video for your viewing pleasure.

I want to state that I’m not advocating that Montessori education is the way to go and that I would enrol Faith in such a preschool in days to come. In any case, I’m not even sure if those in our neighbourhood carry out lessons in the true Montessori spirit. However, there are areas with which I’m obviously impressed and would love to employ those methods to teach Faith.

These are some of the features that I love about Montessori education:

  • The children work individually most of the time, coming together when they wish to, at different periods during the day. These periods are not set, but arise out of the needs of the children on a daily basis.
  • Children are vertically grouped (mixed ages).
  • Written observations of children are made regularly.
  • Children have continual and free access to a full range of the Montessori materials appropriate for their age.
  • Classes are run in such a way that they promote the children’s freedom to make spontaneous choices; to be independent; to complete cycles of work; to develop a sense of responsibility within the group; to use the materials properly.
  • Children actively engage with materials that are designed from a developmental point of view and which lead them to successive levels of discovery about their world.
  • Materials are displayed in an orderly way, well maintained and complete.
  • The environment is prepared to be simple and beautiful, and is continuously maintained to a high standard.
  • At any time in the classroom a ratio of no greater than 1 adult to 8 children engages in classroom activity.

Just some notes to remind myself in terms of choosing a preschool when the time comes. These ‘tips’ came from an ex-preschool teacher.

– Do you feel comfortable communicating with the principal and the teachers?
– Ask about the teacher-child ratio and the turn- over rate and qualifications of the staff in the centre as this will affect the quality of care that they can give to your child.
– The environment plays a part. If the centre is air-conditioned, children will fall sick often and virus such as HFMD and chicken pox will spread more easily.
– Curriculum wise, you could ask yourself if you are more concerned about your child’s academic learning or character/social development. Find a centre that supports your belief in how children should learn (e.g through hands on projects/activities or worksheets/drilling ).

Faith at Sunday School today

Faith at Sunday School today

WW | What’s next?

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I spent the morning packing the milk bottles, breast pump and some baby clothes. As I was doing so, two questions came to my mind:

1) Do I want a second child? If so, when should I start planning?

2) Do I place Faith in a preschool or homeschool her? If preschool is the way to go, then which one, knowing full well that there might not be any vacancies left since she is born in the popular year of the dragon (sigh!). If I am to homeschool her, what preparations do I have to make?

For #1, many (relatives) have asked me if I want a second one. I guess it’s about time to think about this since Faith is already more than a year old and we should be planning for it if we do not want the gap to be too big. I’ve asked a few friends who have more than one child and many cited the reason that the second one can be a company to the first. If not, she will be very lonely leh. I guess that’s true but are there any more compelling reasons?

Recently, I met an auntie and she commented that it’s such a waste that I quit my job to look after ONE kid. Go for a second one…it’s about time. Based on her theory, I should maximise my resignation to look after more kids so that it is more worthwhile. That sounds quite right in a way and her statement made me think about our car which we could still possess for another two years. Having a car during pregnancy and when the child is young can be really convenient. Should I maximise the use of it? Heh…

So, I guess it’s time to sit down and discuss with the husband. More importantly, we do need to pray and seek the Lord in this matter.

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What’s your reason for having a second child?

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Being busy

The beginning of January started off rather well with me having some good times with Faith, bringing her to the playground, reservoir and the library. She enjoys being in the outdoors and among strangers. There in the open space, she will explore her environment, make calculated steps in climbing up and down of stairs and touch stuff that are new to her. However, I got busier from the second week onwards with cake orders coming in and fulfillment of teaching assignments. So, Faith was placed with both grandpas on various days and I missed out on spending quality time with her.

Things are slowing down a wee bit as we approach Chinese New Year but Faith has fallen ill. She’s not too sick but not well enough to enjoy the outdoors since it can get really windy these days.

And today, I think I should just do some prioritizing because by doing that, I could maintain sanity. Gone were the days when busyness kept me going strong and happy. These days, slowing down helps me savor precious moments with my loved ones. Perhaps, I’m getting old.

I’m happy that friends ask me to bake for them. I consider it a privilege to be able to do so and it gives me the opportunity to hone my skills. But I guess I cannot handle more orders now and by that I mean more than one per week. I would rather concentrate on my teaching assignments because I like the idea of empowering people, that they don’t find baking a daunting task anymore.

So, I have to learn to say NO which can be difficult for a person who often says YES to others. And well, I have to cut down on blogging, I guess.

I would prefer to spend more time with Faith, like having snacks with her in the kitchen and reading to her. Simple stuff like these make me happy.

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Of course, I wouldn’t want to miss these stunts of hers…

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… since she is really getting active! And above all, I wouldn’t want to miss out on discipline because she has shown signs of mischief and disobedience. It’s good to start early, on shepherding her heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Motherhood Thoughts on a random Friday

A few things I’ve learnt after becoming a mother. In random order:

1. Gym membership is a waste of money. 

Ever thought of wanting to go back to the pre-pregnancy weight and thought you might need external help… like a gym membership? The idea is good but I soon realised that I don’t have the time to do so. It’s tough too having to think about childcare for the little one. By the time you send the kiddo to someone else’s place and then head straight to the gym, you are half-dead. How in the world would you have the energy to work out?

I have signed up for a half-year membership and I have only gone to say, maximum, 15 times. Man! Each visit costs so much in this sense. What a waste of my money.

And I reach my pre-pregnancy weight through doing household chores and running after Faith. Free of charge.

2. Massage/Spa package is totally worth it.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the above. Do you have a tired body? I have, constantly. Aching one? Yes, all the time. And I find rest in the hands of my masseuse. Period.

3. SAHM does not have a lot of time to go out with friends.

This could just be my own experience and I’m not speaking on behalf of any other SAHM. Each day of my life is packed, like looking after Faith (that is a 24/7 business), cooking for the family, cleaning the house and staying sane by baking. I do treasure my moments with da man as we find that we hardly spend quality time with each other. So, I’ve learnt to understand my mommy friends more and know that it can be difficult to ask them out. Actually, this does not just apply to SAHM. It applies to moms/parents in general. Somehow, I feel, it can be worse for FTWM. Just guessing…

4. The toys I bought for the kiddo may just be what I like and not what she prefers. 

You know what? Faith doesn’t really like the toys I bought for her. Like the cute pinkish bunny which I find so adorable? She doesn’t even like to hold for more than 1 minute, let alone cuddle. I keep trying to get her to be interested but she threw it aside when I handled the bunny to her. Poor bunny. My dear Faith prefers to play with the real stuff in the house, like laundry basket, my room slippers, cables, keys…

I think I just don’t know how to choose the appropriate toys for her. FAIL.

5. Put on makeup when you go out OR Take care of your skin before it’s too late. 

I don’t really like to put on makeup because I dislike the feeling of something on my skin. Our humid weather further discourages me from doing that. *Think perspiration and melting makeup*. However, I soon realise that with a lack of beauty sleep and hydration and sometimes poor nutrition, I can look terrible. The skin becomes dull, the dark eye rings and eye bags get worse and your lines (wrinkles) deepen. So, it’s the makeup to the rescue. Either that or it’s time to take special care of your skin. Ignore what the hubby says about ‘I still love you anyway’ because seriously, can you even accept this type of aging? It’s certainly not graceful!

IMG_7747Ok, gtg. Faith is fussing.

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Strawberry Shortcakes

The temperature rose to 18C (crazy weather) and it’s a wonderful day to run. Not sure why but I kept visiting the toilet. It’s about 1.5 more weeks to the marathon and I’m scared. Tried to run long distance again but the legs were tired already. It’s not been smooth training for this marathon but I’ve resolved to leave it to the Almighty and enjoy the run and the sightseeing through the 6 boroughs. People on the other side of the world or many countries are living in fear each day… from civil strife, corruption, tsunami, volcanic eruption, etc and here I am worrying about a marathon? There is certainly more to life than worrying!

Having said that, let’s say a prayer for those in Indonesia. I hope my sis and family will continue to be safe too.

Trivial stuff. It’s my first time having bubble tea in US! A reward for running to the supermarket!

And strawberry shortcakes for dinner and this marked the end of lessons on quickbread. On to cakes for the next topic! Just a summary. Quick breads refer to most types of loaf and pan breads, muffins, biscuits, scones or baked oven “pancakes” that are not yeasted. While yeast breads get their lift from yeast, quick breads rely on baking powder and/or baking soda for leavening. Many quick breads, in fact, are more like cake than they are like bread.

My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colours, He works so steadily.
Oft’times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weavers skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the patterm He has planned.

~ Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place)

Need. Inspiration.

Today was a beautiful day again. Thank God. And a terrific day to run. Thought I could do at last a 10-km run but could not because I met with abdominal cramps again into the 2nd kilometre.

I should be at my peak performance now if I had followed closely to the training schedule. I am worried of course but decided that this is such a small thing in life and probably not worth my losing sleep over it.

In the next few weeks, I should be running in my race-day kit and I hope I would be able to attempt my last half-marathon before the actual day. It’s in these moments that I thought about my training buddies back in STB, the three of us training under the hot sun at Evans Road’s running track. Though I do not have the complete group – the trio- I do have one of them with me.

I do need inspiration. And thankfully, I could find it online. For those training for the Singapore marathon in Dec, you might want to view them or read the stories. And for those running for leisure, may you find motivation through them too.

 

OK. I need to be having lunch now; the hubs just came back with FOOD! And I need to look into my diet for the marathon. Carbs!

MS Kitchen Design Ideas

Oh! I love the segment on Kitchen featured on Martha Stewart’s website. If you were to ask me which part of the house I love to be in most, it would undoubtedly be the kitchen!

Alas, I do not have a place to call my own YET. Ken and I decided against buying an apartment since we were going to move to Boston for a while. Purchasing an apartment and having it while we were away would just add more problems to us and worries too. So, we decided to wait.

But I’m telling you, I can’t wait to get my new apartment. I told the man that he could decide on anything but the most important criteria that he should look into is the size of the kitchen. I want a relatively big kitchen so that I could work in it. The one that I have been staying in is good, slightly more than double the size of the kitchen that I’m having now in Boston. However, I’m also acutely aware that the kitchens in new flats are small. And surprisingly, I’m comfortable with the small kitchen I’m in now! =)

So, I’m browsing with great delight the kitchens featured on the website and they gave me ideas of what I want in my own kitchen! Coincidentally, we received the IKEA catalogue today and it’s always a joy to have it on hand!

 

I like these two, simple and uncluttered (both pics are taken from MS website). Go and take a look at more designs and learn some tips too!


 Green beans mixed with ground meat (Ingenno Hikiniku Itame) & fried chicken wing

Thoughts from a wonton wrapper

It’s just a random thought: Why do modern women think that cooking is such a hassle or a near-impossible task for some?

This question came to my mind when I was resting from my work (doing some studies) and needed a eye-break. So I went over to the fridge, took out the minced meat and shrimp, started to devein them and marinate the mixture. It took a mere 10 minutes and I was back to the screen after that.

Perhaps, a lot of us, working women, did not have the opportunity to try our hands on cooking. The images that were conjured were those of a whole array of ingredients which were difficult to get or understand and meticulous steps in which the cook has to follow. For that same reason, I deterred from cooking and solely baked when I was working back home. Baking was easier, I felt. With the same set of ingredients and steps, you could create cookies and cakes that brighten up people’s lives. Of course, I was baking some simple pastries which didn’t require more than the usual ingredients but then again, it’s relatively easier.

The view has changed since coming to Boston. The high cost of eating out means that I have to cook. And I did so. Till now, I am still poring over cookbooks for ideas and looking for relationships for the different dishes and to analyse how I could maximise the use of certain ingredients, just because I’m cooking for 2 people. As I familiarised myself with a specific cuisine (always start with what you have grown up with), I began to understand how certain ingredients work and the various sauces and condiments that go with them to make different dishes. You find yourself no longer following recipes for the amount of ingredients to be used and use your tastebuds instead of those measuring spoons.

So, I was thinking, if I had only put down my fears and resolved to cook when I was working then, Ken and I would not have to eat out most of the time. Cooking takes up time when we are not familiar with it (I’m not referring to instant noodles or using anything instant). But once you get acquainted with it, it could be completed fast and in some cases, serves as a form of therapy from the stress of work. It also helps stimulate your mind when you are thinking about creating new dishes and personally, I think this is better than sudoku =p.

Of course, I could say these because I am currently not working and have time to read and think about food. But it IS important to think about food, especially what you put into your body so that it could function well. I am currently reading French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano and totally enjoying her words of wisdom. Indeed, we need to slow down and think more about how to take care of ourselves.

Oh, while these are my current thoughts as a person who is not working, I am working darn hard in the kitchen. But honestly, I would like to continue to bear the same thoughts when I’m back to work. Check on me again in 2012.

By the way, I have not attempted Italian at all. If you looked through the dishes I have made thus far, none was Italian. Reason? I don’t know anything about cheese, except for cheddar, parmesan, mascarpone and cream cheese. Besides that, I also have no clues to the different herbs used. I could well purchase bottles of sauces from the supermarket and mix with the spaghetti but that really kills the joy of cooking. In any case, I am not in favour with the extra salt in the contents so it’s back to basics for me. I will, ONE DAY, attempt Italian. I’m not lying. I have already a Giada’s cookbook on my shelf. ONE DAY.