Highlight of February

February has come to an end and we are marching on to March! How has your second month been?

My days have been long and filled with joy though there are still many times when frustration sets in. I have finally come to a state in which I could safely say I have settled, in being a SAHM. Yes, after four long years! All along, I have been questioning God why He has to call me out of my work to be a SAHM.

I wanted to teach! I love teaching and I thought this is what You have called me to do in the first place. Then why call me out?

I realised I do enjoy teaching both kids. Those days, when I was a teacher, my mind was filled with ideas to engage my students. Now, it’s happening too and my kids are my students now.

I got the boy to work with his fine motor skills a lot and to learn to concentrate when he’s on a task.

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I also attended a workshop conducted by an ex-colleague who is passionate about Math. The workshop on Early Childhood Numeracy has been helpful in getting me to start working with Faith on her number sense and to go deep into the concept. I hope to do up a blog post on that workshop soon!

After that workshop, I started to get her to work on her number sense more intentionally. You see, Faith got to do a lot of activities pertaining to language, geography and art which are my strength. I have not really touched on Math and Science though we include them in our daily lives. I guess from now on, I have to get her to work on them more intentionally.

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BSF commenced three weeks ago and both kids are in class as well. Dan adapted well. Praise God for that! Faith? She has been looking forward to BSF since last December so she’s happy to be back!

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Glad to be back on the machine after missing in action for a few months, all thanks to the busy school holidays. The hubs join me during the weekends (we try to make it into a routine) and I try to squeeze in a workout on one of the weekdays. The above is a rare occasion when I could meet up with a fellow mommy to work out together! Oh yes, and how could I forget to mention the Safari Zoo Run that the family participated? We had great fun!

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Family time is still very important and we try to create (hopefully fond) memories together. We have started to play more board games recently and thankfully, the girl likes it lots. Bible and prayer time is a routine now and when we skip bible reading, the girl will question so we’d better not forget!

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Recently, Faith started to pick up books and browse the pages. She has started to read simple readers on her own now and you can imagine my joy! Effort paid off! When she realised that she could read on her own, she wanted to continue to learn and read. Yay!

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This little man? He has evolved from a fussy eater to Mr Tamchiak and even refused to let me feed him. Okay, you go ahead and feed yourself. But oh, the mess! Thankfully, we have this EZPZ Happy mat. A post and giveaway is coming up soon!

So, that pretty much sums up our February. Hope yours is good!

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Dan @ 15 months old

Dear Dan

You turned 15 months old today and in this past month, we saw you really walking independently. You gained confidence daily as you practised your walking and now you don’t need us to hold your hand that often.

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For a while, I was wondering what took you so long to begin walking and now…

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It gets easier to feed you now because you are more open to eating other types of food, and that include ours! You heavily relied on pureed food for the past few months and now you are eating porridge and even rice. You still don’t like meat but I guess I would have to slowly introduce them to you. You love bread and could have them for your three meals but of course, that won’t do! Now, it seems you want to self-feed and mama has to close both eyes for you to do that. Just imagine the mess! But it’s all part of learning, isn’t it?

We stay home most of the time and that are so many things to do such as painting, doodling, scooping of pom pom balls and threading. You love to explore every nook and corner of the house and then you will pull out the drawers and take out whatever containers you can find in there. Basically, messing up the place is your past time. Arghh…

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You love to explore, just like your sister and you are not afraid to try new things! May you continue to possess such a spirit!

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Bubbles! Who doesn’t love them? Mama loves to see you enjoy yourself and you don’t seem to be afraid of strangers, especially when your sister is around.

You love the playground a lot and enjoy these rides! When we are at your sister’s school, you will find your way to these rides, sometimes wandering off without me!

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You share your sister’s love for Sandra Boynton’s book – Moo, Baa, La La La – and got equally amused, like your sister. We could enjoy many of her books because a fellow mommy so generously loaned them to us. Thank God for her.

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You love to play with water. Maybe we should get you to go to the pool more regularly eh?

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I wish you could nap and sleep more. It’s really difficult to get you to rest and I’m not sure why. Aren’t you tired? I have to say that we are all tired out by you. Could you please cooperate a wee bit?

Having said that, we still thank God for you, a precious gift from God.

Daniel at 11 months old

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Dan turned 11 months old today. One more month to go! Woot!

I thought I should pen down some of his developments after reading his sister’s post a few days back.

:: Diet

Since weaning him off BM, his appetite increased by leaps and bounds. He consumes his puree stuff really quickly and needs to top up with FM. I am less adventurous with him and only supplied him with vegetables and fruits thus far. He eats carrots, green peas, beetroot, pumpkin, butternut squash, spinach, corn, potato and sweet potato. He loves fruits and has tasted honeydew, apple, pears, grapes, peach and bananas. Biscuits? Yes, of course.

His daily meal schedule @ 11MO

6.30am – Breakfast (Milk, Bread or cereal with milk)

8am – Cereal with milk, biscuits or banana

8.30 to 10/10.30am – Nap

11am – Lunch (puree with brown rice/cereal)

1.30pm – Milk

2pm to 4pm – Nap

4pm – Snack (fruits)

5.30pm – Dinner (Puree with brown rice/ cereal)

7.30pm – Milk

8pm – Zzzzzz

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Because he eats a lot, he poos daily. It’s a good thing. ;p

:: Physical development

I hate to compare but sub-consciously, I find myself comparing him to Faith. Dan is extremely active but doesn’t like to learn to stand on his own. He will cruise though and crawl all over the place. I think it will take a while for him to walk independently. It’s okay. Meanwhile, crawl more!

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He has 8 teeth as of now and I think more are coming out, judging by how much he drools.

:: Social

Dan is a happy boy and doesn’t make much noise when he is out with us. He seems to be comfortable with strangers AS LONG AS we are around. He flashes his sweetest smiles at the ladies he meets and this makes them happy.

Hmmm, he can be rather cheeky and will purposely do things that Mama says ‘cannot’! When he knows he has done something wrong, he will look up and flash his smile again. Grrr..

:: Relationship with sibling

It’s a love-love relationship as of now. Pls stay that way!

:: Others

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Loves to explore his surrounding…

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His favourite corner…loves nuts and bolts.

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Loves all things round

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Likes to mess up the books in the library. Tsk tsk.

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His mother wishes he would love to read more than he messes the bookshelves.

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Observes more than he screams when he is in the car seat these days. He waves his hands to bid folks farewell, claps his hands when we ask him to, raises his hand when we sing a familiar tune that he has heard in Sparkanauts, sign to show that he wants to eat and likes to use his fingers to poke.

Speech-wise, I think he is a man of few words. ;(

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Future F1 driver

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Dislikes being in the water.Sigh!

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So, here he is at 11 months old. Stay happy!

Threenager no longer…soon

Faith is turning 4 years old in less than two months’ time and would no longer be a threenager. I realised I have neglected to record her development on this space. Sigh! I find myself loving this age and if I have all the patience to answer her many ‘whys’, it would have been perfect. This is an age in which the child listens to you and yet takes opportunity to challenge you. She is curious about all things and continues to try to make sense of the world she is living in.

She is still the Miss Tamchiak in the family and is getting all the more adventurous in tasting new food as she grows older. I allowed her to consume {good quality} ice-cream after she was about 3 1/2 YO (yes, I’m one of those moms) and she was thrilled. We have often taught her to be thankful for food and that she MUST finish all that she is given especially when we are being invited for a meal. She manages to achieve that, 98% of the time. The order of preference for each meal? Carbo –> protein –> greens but she loves fruits and baked goods.

She could scoot and manages the balance bike well. We should be getting her to use the pedals on the bike soon since she has gotten the hang of balancing it. Faith has been enjoying her swim class all these while and we are thankful for that.

I do think she enjoys art and a part of me wanted to get her to go for art classes. Yet at the same time, I do not want to crowd her life with too many enrichment classes. It’s so hard to balance! She could really concentrate when she works on her art pieces and the longest record was one and a half hours.

In terms of language, she is stronger in her Chinese and could recognise many characters. Thus she is able to read.

I wish I could say the same for English but sadly, her progress for English is not as fast as Chinese. Perhaps, I am not consistent in coaching her in English but we do read more English books than Chinese. That being said, she could spell words using phonics but in terms of word recognition, there is much to work on.

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Numbers. I don’t even want to comment on that. I hardly teach and she’s the weakest in that. But we talk about numbers, time, measurement, etc with her through daily activities. Is that not sufficient?

This girl loves her little brother and cares for him like every good sister does. Many times, she got scolded because I was frustrated with the brother but she bears no grudges towards him. Each morning, when she wakes up, she would walk to his room and look for him. The little brother is truly pampered.

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We started learning about the different countries (Geography) a few months ago and she is absorbing all the information really well. I waste no time, of course, in getting her to learn about the continents and some of the famous landmarks of each country.

Loves to help out, as usual. Once, we were out and I was carrying a lot of stuff. She saw that I had a lot to handle and said,”Mom, you have many things to carry right? I help you carry the owl bag.” She was tired then after a day of activities but she offered her assistance. Please stay this way!

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Loves taking pictures.

Generally, she is a happy girl.
May you grow up to be a graceful and joyful lady, bringing joy and blessing to those you meet.

I love you, Faith.

[Review & Giveaway] Baby Cadet class @Sparkanauts

Daniel completed his four sessions at the Baby Cadet class at Sparkanauts and it’s a joy to know that he has been responding well to the class. Read about his first session here.

Since the second lesson, he didn’t need time to warm up to the teachers and could confidently played with them before the actual lesson began. Perhaps it’s due to the presence of his sister (who was allowed to be in the class as well) but it is heart-warming to know that he’s so comfortable with the teachers.

Over these few sessions, I have observed that Dan really paid attention when words were flashed at him. He could concentrate for that short amount of time and it’s certainly a good start to learning words. At home, I used the parent-child bonding package (which they send via email after each lesson) to further reinforce what he had learnt in class. I may not be seeing instant results now but I know he is constantly learning and I need to keep up! So I’m thankful to be provided with the resources to teach him.

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Besides intellectual stimulation, there is this portion of the body strengthening segment which I like. Daniel could always stay on the trapeze for the required amount of time but when it comes to his stamina, he would have to work at it.

This boy couldn’t crawl long and would often give up halfway through although with each lesson, he crawled a longer distance. He had not gotten the hang of getting up and down the steps and slopes so by observing him in class, it serves as a form of feedback to me. I could then help him in his weak areas. Here, you can see the sister encouraging him to continue crawling.

Besides working on their gross motor skills, the kiddos also got to practise their fine motor skills! In this instance, Dan got to feel the texture of the materials for his Singapore flag.

There is also the music appreciation component in the class! Okay, so I absolutely ‘cannot-make-it’ in terms of music so I’m glad that I could learn together with him! 😉

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We have been missing the class for two weeks now but each time when I sing the welcome song (sung at the beginning of the lesson) to him, he would look at me, flash me a smile and automatically raise his hand, a practice that the babies do in class. I know he has benefited from the lessons and I can safely say that for myself too. From the class, I learnt about some of the exercises and tips that I could do with him to help in his overall development. Consistency is key, of course, and I can’t wait for him to continue with the class. It is truly holistic in nature which I like!

This is random but this is Faith with her teacher when she was attending the class as a 1YO. Now they meet again!

[Giveaway] If you are thinking about trying out Sparkanauts classes, here is a wonderful opportunity to do so. Sparkanauts is giving away a trial class pass for THREE readers. You can then go through the lesson for yourself (together with your child, of course) and decide if you want to continue with them. Sounds good?

What you need to do is to share with me the age of the child whom you want to win the trial class for via the comment’s section in this blog post. Remember to leave your email address!

– 3 winners will be chosen at random
– Giveaway is only open to Singapore residents.
– Ends on 3 September 2016
– The winners will be announced on this blog post and on Raising Faith’s facebook page the following day and will be contacted by Sparkanauts directly.

Sparkanauts

www.sparkanauts.com | FB https://www.facebook.com/Sparkanauts
293 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, SAFRA Toa Payoh, #02-01, Singapore 319387
T: (65) 6259 0307
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm

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Disclosure: Daniel is given a four sessions package by Sparkanauts for review purposes. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

 

That magical night

Daniel turned 10 months old last week but I was too tired to record anything concerning him then.

For 10 months, I was sleep deprived. As a newborn, he woke up every 3 hours and we thought his sleep pattern would change for the better as he grew older. But we were kidding ourselves. We didn’t sleep train him since we didn’t want the sister to be interrupted in her sleep. Every night, da man would do night duty but I also gave him the comfort suck that he wanted, thereby creating this habit of having me to soothe himself back to sleep. This persisted for months and the past couple of months had been terrible with him waking up every 2 hours, then 1 hour and towards the end of September, every half an hour. Both da man and I were near fatigue and in the end, we decided to do something about it because if nothing was done to improve the situation, our health, both physical and mental,  will deteriorate.

We kept the cot and lay the mattresses on the floor. Co-sleeping? Yes. As suggested by the man in the family, I was to bring Faith to my mom’s and stay overnight. He would be with Daniel to let him learn to soothe himself to sleep.

That was last Saturday. I lay on the bed at my mom’s, wondering how Dan was doing. Would he be hungry? Would he need me? Would da man be too frustrated with him? There was no return message from him that night and I was worried. Faith was fast asleep, thank God for this ability to sleep anywhere.

The next morning, we returned and da man, upon seeing us enter the house, exclaimed,”Yay, we are alive!”

Jokes aside, all was well indeed. Dan just needed to pat himself back to sleep and the next few nights, it was really blissful. Da man turned in with him at night and I could use whatever time that was left to do some reading or work with Faith.

Huh? Just like that? So easy? I should have done so earlier! But I tend to think this is timely because he has had experienced enough discomfort during these few months of teething to overcome any similar-type of pain. He has eight teeth now for the record.

His appetite returned and increased in leaps and bounds. From mere breastmilk, now he needs more solids to fill his stomach. He’s no longer a picky eater and all these changed in just this week!

Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I would adopt what Maria Montessori advocated. Please do read up for yourself if you are interested. I would still be using the Montessori method in bringing Dan and Faith up. I’m not a purist though.


Now that I could sleep 5 hours in one shot which is truly a luxury, I could appreciate what this wonderful Makura Health and Neck Support pillow does to me. I woke up refreshed and ready to meet the demands of the day.

Because both he and I have enough rest for the night, we could do more things in the morning when the sister is in school.

On Wednesday, I was in the mood to hang out with him and after dropping Faith in school, packed the hauck Viper and zipped to Gardens by the Bay for a slow morning run.

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For once, life as a SAHM is so attractive. While others are working, I could have the luxury to enjoy these beautiful sights and the lovely orchids in the Flower Dome.

It was also quite coincidental that my friend had taken leave from work that day and could meet me for good old local-styled breakfast at the gardens.

Ok, I need to mention that this is really rare and that’s why I am recording it. But after 10 months, I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel! So much joy! I’m waiting for the boy to turn 1YO because that’s when things get better (hopefully). It happened to me when Faith turned 1YO so I hope this time round, things would not be drastically different.

After the visit to the Gardens, I could still pop by Pip’s PLAYbox at the Esplanade for Dan to have some stimulation. What a wonderful morning eh? Taking care of young ones can be fun if they cooperate!

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Would you stay this way please?

Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers over Daniel. We truly appreciate it and it’s exciting to see the Lord at work in our lives.

Dan’s first lesson at Sparkanauts

A few weeks ago, Dan started attending the Baby Cadet classes at Sparkanauts and of course, I was thrilled about it. A couple of reasons really. Faith attended the then Gymnademics when she was slightly more than a year old and I know she had benefited from it. So I have had good impression of the classes. Also, I was less adventurous with Dan and we are mostly at home. Granted that we can definitely learn at home but with more household chores to do and a preschooler to teach as well, I do think I have neglected Dan a wee bit. It’s just more difficult to balance now.

So when Dan was invited to attend a few classes at Sparkanuts, I was more than happy. At last, he could learn more stuff! If you have not already known, Sparkanauts is a centre of excellence built on the belief that learning should start early for each child to achieve their full potential and their lessons reflect that belief. Their curriculum combines play and exploration with learning resulting in holistic brain development that is made fun and engaging.

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For the first lesson, we were told to be present at least 15 minutes before the commencement so that he could play and get used to the environment. I was thankful for this arrangement as I know he could take a while to warm up to strangers. The instructors were really patient and gentle with him and it didn’t take him long to trust them.

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Within ten minutes, Dan had warmed up and was happily interacting with the instructor. How nice!

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The class started with a welcome song and introduction of words based on a theme. Besides these, music, mobility and mathematics are also part of the curriculum as they stimulate the baby’s mind, thus creating the learning foundation for their developmental journey.

First time on the trapeze bar (which helps strengthens the fine muscle tones like hands and fingers) and stayed on it for the required period of time. I was so proud of him!

At the end of the session, the main instructor briefed the parents on what we could look out for to help our kids in terms of their physical mobility so that we could continue to work on it at home. We also received the Child Bonding Package which includes materials that we could go through with Dan for the week to reinforce his learning.

So the first lesson went well!

Stay tuned for the round up of the four sessions next week and I will also be conducting a giveaway for a complimentary trial lesson for 3 readers. Next week, next week!

Sparkanauts @ SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh
#02-01
Singapore 319387
T: (65) 62590307
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm
Website: www.sparkanauts.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Sparkanauts/

 

Dan @ 9 months old


Dan turns 9 months old today.

:: Can crawl on all fours

:: Is starting to cruise and loves to pull out stuff from the shelves

:: Has five teeth. Loves to nibble on apples and rock melon. Prefers carrots and peas to meat. Still can’t chew and needs puréed food. Can drink from a straw cup.

:: Loves to come into the kitchen when Mama is cooking

:: Will always disturb the sister when Mama is teaching her. Likes playing with her flash cards.

:: Calls ‘mama’ when he is hungry

:: Can’t sleep through the night and will wake up 2 to 3 times for feed. Requires 2 naps per day, one at around 9am, another around 2pm.

 

Dan is 7 months old 

Dan turns 7 months old!


Dear Dan

How you have grown! You are 7 months old today! It’s been a joy seeing you develop over the months and I’m sure you enjoyed the culinary adventure over this past month.


You like sweet potato, pear, peas, carrot and parsnip but you frown at apple (so weird) and banana. I would have thought you love them! In any case, I’ll try again.

You are very much attached to me and since you can recognise faces now, it’s all the more difficult for me to get your Ah Gong or any other persons to look after you, even for a short while. You will cry non-stop till I come back and seeing your tears makes me guilty. You must understand that I need time off and I cannot always stick with you. I do need a break, my dear boy. Very soon, you will realise that your doting grandfather is fun to be with!

Your two lower teeth have finally appeared and that also means that we could have easier nights as compared to the weeks that you were teething. I know it really hurt you but that is part of growing up!

I thought I heard you cry out “Mama, Mama” for me to come to you, especially in the morning. I wasn’t hearing things, was I?

You adore your sister and was so tickled by her silly jokes each time we went to fetch her from school. I hope you will continue to look up to her because she is really an awesome sister. She holds no ill feelings towards you even though she gets ticked off because of you. See, she has a magnanimous heart. Learn from her!

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These pictures were taken shortly after the March school holidays and your rash/eczema got so bad that we had to sent you to the dermatologist who prescribed a mild steroid and antibiotic cream for you. It wasn’t the best solution but since natural remedies didn’t help and your condition worsened each day, I felt like I was at wit’s end and decided to resort this form of medication. Thankfully, it really healed and till today, your condition is under control. We are praying that it won’t flare up again!

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Mama and Papa love you and your sister a lot. Continue to grow well!

The Trehaus Kids Atelier

Once upon a time, when I was still carrying Faith in the womb, I thought it would be wonderful if I could work and be present for Faith at the same time. I mean, it’s fine if I have to be away from her for a few hours each day but if it’s 8 to 10 hours daily, then it can get unbearable. I’m quite certain that this is the constant struggle for working parents so when I read about Trehaus, I couldn’t help but beam with delight. Now, parents with flexible working arrangements can  bring their children along and while they work, they could have the assurance that their kids are well taken care of and be engaged with play at The Kids Atelier. All these, under one roof.

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I had the opportunity to visit Trehaus during the March holiday. After a brief tour of the work spaces, we spent the next two hours at the Kids Atelier. There was an instant sense of calm and tranquility as we stepped in.

The space is divided into different zones where kids are encouraged to explore the materials on their own and with others. These materials are selected for their aesthetic, sensorial and functional qualities and are safe and truly attractive to both the parents (like me) and the children.

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The children present were first gathered (despite the different age groups) for Circle Time. It was Faith’s first time at the Kids Atelier and it was obvious that she felt a little out of place. The teachers caught that and made her feel welcomed and she quickly felt at ease with the rest of the group. Thumbs up for experienced and caring teachers.

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While the older kids were engaged, I continued the tour of the place. There was a quiet and cosy corner where kids could take a rest and nap.

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And our little friend decided to try out this bean bag. So comfy!

This is a private space for breastfeeding moms – the nursing room. It certainly feels like home – so cosy and and with such tasteful decor!

Faith was thoroughly engaged with the materials in each zone and there was little facilitation from the teachers themselves, as far as I observed. The children moved from zones to zones on their own accord and worked with the materials provided. It was indeed a pleasant sight for me, as an onlooker. They were involved in open-ended play and it seemed like they were satisfying their curiosity as they played!

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This little man here was not neglected as his older sister had her mind stimulated. He was working on his muscles too and enjoying every minute of it.

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I left Trehaus feeling hopeful. It is Singapore’s first co-working space equipped with child-minding facilities and I certainly hope this will pave the way for more companies to consider and adopt such a concept. Many women decided to leave the workforce upon having kids because they wanted to spend the early formation years with them and didn’t want to be apart from them for long period of time daily if they work, amongst other reasons. To many, it is a struggle to have to leave their career in order to look after the children. It is about priorities, for sure, but if there are options such as this and other flexible working arrangements, perhaps we could retain more women in the workforce?

If you are curious about Trehaus, you could book a 30-minute tour with them and find out more about their vision and membership plans. They organise events (such as this upcoming Baby Playgroup) every now and then so do keep yourselves updated via their facebook page.

Drop off is available at the Trehaus Kids Atelier too!

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Trehaus Cowork
Claymore Connect
442 Orchard Road, #03-01
Singapore 238879
Tel: 9843 8077
Email: enquiries@trehauscowork.com
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 9a.m. – 6p.m.

Disclaimer: We were invited to Trehaus and all opinions are mine.

A look at February

I’ve been meaning to blog but fatigue found me. There are meals to prepare, dishes to wash, floor to clean, clothes to wash, bedsheets to change every other day (Dan poos A LOT), homelearning resources to make, lessons to teach Faith, classes to send her to, BSF and parenting workshop’s homework to complete…and the list goes on. Life as a SAHM can be so mundane, so uninteresting and so tiring. The fact that Dan needs to be carried in the day time adds to my exhaustion and I find myself on my two feet the whole day. That terrible teething period is too painful for him, I guess.

So much has happened in February and I really ought to record them.

::::The Lunar New Year::::

I don’t have a love for the Chinese New Year (CNY). It was fun when I was a child. I remember accompanying my parents to the market to make some final purchases on the eve of CNY and everywhere would be crowded with people. My mom would buy a new set of clothes for us and we helped to do spring cleaning and decorate our home.  I love having steamboat for reunion dinner and till this day, it remains the ONE thing that I look forward to. I suspect my parents had intentionally done all these to help us create memories and to know the Chinese traditions. Sadly, we do not have such practices anymore apart from the steamboat and to a certain extent, CNY has lost its meaning. Now, as a parent, I wonder how I should help the children preserve this part of their heritage and I find myself doing some of the things that my parents did when I was a kid.

Reunion dinner at the in-laws and it was Faith’s maiden lohei, with Dan looking on with interest. Bakwan Kepiting, a dish my Peranakan aunt-in-law would make each reunion dinner, is one that I look forward to; it makes me drool.

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Home visiting. I dread it especially when you have young kids. Surprisingly, it was pleasant and somewhat enjoyable this year. Faith was enjoying the company she had and Dan was sleeping his time away. Bliss.

For the first time, I hosted my family. I totally don’t know why I haven’t done so previously. When I asked them why they didn’t want to visit my place during CNY, they replied, “Because you didn’t invite!”

Goodness! I didn’t know that we have to stand on ceremony, even with our own family.

:::: Faith @ 39 months old | HFMD ::::

The Friday when Faith’s school was celebrating CNY celebration, the principal called me in the afternoon to inform me that she had direct contact with a pupil who had contracted HFMD. My heart sank as I heard that because I have a baby at home and i wasn’t prepared to deal with a sick baby (I honestly wouldn’t know how). They had to be separated as much as possible and by that, I mean the baby would have to stay in his room the whole time while the older one roamed about in the house. Both K and I were worried because we didn’t want the disease to spread to the other kids should Faith really contracted It. We had to inform our relatives and try to distance the girl from the others. All the while, she was really active and didn’t complain of fever or ulcers until…she had two big red spots…on her nose! IS THIS A SIGN OF HFMD???

She did have mild HFMD according to the doctor. There wasn’t any fever, just one ulcer each at the back of the throat and on the mouth, in addition to a few small red spots on her foot. She’s as active as before and I’m thankful to have the in-laws to come to our place to accompany her while I took care of the baby and the household chores. Loss of appetite? Nope. In fact, it was better than before!

At 39 months old, Faith suddenly took a great interest in writing. I would print copies of worksheets on letters and the Chinese characters and leave it on the table and she would wake up or return from school and occupy herself with the ‘task’. It was a time-saver for me.

She’s getting more independent as she grows older and look for things to occupy herself when I was busy with cooking or the baby. Oh, how I love this age!

Resources for worksheets:
www.worksheetfun.com
www.fastseoguru.com

Note: It is better to continue to work on children’s fine motor skills before getting them to work on writing. Read more here.

During the last two months, I realised that Faith could memorise the Chinese characters at a faster pace and she could read a few simple readers by looking at the characters (not memorising anymore). This gives me great joy! Many times, I feel that I am fighting a losing battle (I still feel this way) because English has become her dominant language even though she started off with Mandarin. We have made little progress and I have to remind myself to continue to speak to her in Mandarin (which is more difficult for me).

The girl has been showing much love to her baby brother and I’m really thankful for that. She enjoys her music class, loves the outdoors but I’m not so sure if she appreciate artwork. We’ll see.

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And yes, I managed to bake a cake for an adorable 1YO girl! So many things have happened and it’s quite a chore to pen them down. I’m glad I could go this far, heh! February looked quite fine to me and I hope it’s been good for you!

Marching on to March now!

Dan is 5 months old! 


The boy turned 5 months old yesterday. How time flies!

5MO Dan is a cheerful boy and loves to flip when he’s placed on the mat or gym. He flashes his most charming smile whenever people chat him up. He’s relatively easy to take care of except…. that he wants to be carried when he naps in the daytime. Thankfully, I have my trustworthy Boba carrier.

One more month and we are off to a culinary adventure. First, let me read up!!

SEA Games 2015 and thoughts on sports

Our nation hosted the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this year and we came in second, bagging a total of 84 goals, a record for the country! What a joy! And obviously, we took the opportunity to participate as spectators and attended the carnival held at the Sports hub.

20150604_101120 I’m pretty sure that many families have brought their children to the carnival. There were stations for the kids to try out the various sports and activities. I was hoping Faith would enjoy the carnival but the fact is she didn’t. 20150604_103130 It was terribly hot that day we went down and she wasn’t in the mood to try out anything which was a real pity. The other kids who were with us enjoyed sweating it out and I could only envy them. 20150604_110345 In the end, she was contented with just the colouring activity. How interesting. I have always thought that she is an active child who loves running around and trying out new stuff. I would very much prefer that she likes the outdoors because her mom is one who adores being in the open. I am hoping that she would eventually develop a love for triathlon or marathon because these are sports which I was crazy about at one point in my life (now still am but I have to reserve them for later years). 20150604_125640

Just look how ‘stoned’ she was while trying out hockey. *Faint*

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I’m still trying to figure out what she is good at at this point in time. At the very least, I would try to expose her to all kinds of things, whether it be an indoor or outdoor activity. And definitely, I would allow her to follow her passion once she finds it.

Growing up, I did not have the opportunity to develop myself in other areas except in the academic domain. The only sports that my mother got me to learn is swimming because she believes that everyone must learn how to swim since we are surrounded by water. I soon got quite good at it and my coach even assured my mom that I would be able to achieve much if I continue to train. As a 7YO child, that was the highest compliment one could give me. Sadly, my mom decided that studies were more important than passion and stopped me from pursuing it. Isn’t it sad?

I hope I would not follow my mom’s footsteps. I don’t deny that academic education is important but if a child shows talents in other forms, we should allow him to shine in those areas too, no?

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That’s us supporting the waterskiiing and wakeboarding events.

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 I guess it is still too early to tell if she is a sporty kind of girl or one who loves to be indoors or both. We just need to give her the opportunity to be exposed to all sorts of activities and see if she is keen in any area.

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More importantly, it is our desire that she would pursue God first above all others. 😉

First MTP session (May 2015)

Last Friday, i met up with Faith’s teachers to discuss her progress in N1.

So it seems that she has adjusted well to school and is well-liked by all. She could share and take turns and has an eye for details. Ms V cited the example of the colour sorting task that requires the pupils to concentrate in matching the related colours. It is a rather advanced work for pupils her age but she could manage it well.

imagesFaith is also independent and prefers to do things herself rather than relying on her teachers. When she’s in doubt, she will ask the teachers. For language, it seems she knows her sounds and I’m advised to continue to revise the letter sounds during the school holiday. Maths’ wise, I need to continue to get her to understand that the symbols 1 -10 have meaning and to continue to practise working on that at home.

In terms of Chinese, Faith has to catch up (as compared to English). According to teacher L, she doesn’t want to speak the language during the lesson although when she was encouraged by the teacher to do so, she would. Teacher L told me that the little girl was actually listening in class but was afraid to speak up. She could name the items in Mandarin when she was assessed and that’s good. Well, I guess I would need to continue to speak with her in Mandarin. Our environment is really not conducive for learning Chinese!

IPuIVses4oOgCdYnqYySWe received her portfolio and progress report. All artwork are now displayed in her room which she is proud of. And, just look at how detailed the progress report is. Every area is noted by the teachers and as parents, we would be able to know how to help our children at home. Hats off for preschool teachers!

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So my current major concern for her is the Chinese language and I wasted no time. We happened to pass by a book fair organised by the Asian Festival of Children’s Content during the weekends and when I saw the Chinese books on display, I couldn’t resist! In the end, I bought a few sets of readers for the little girl because I would need to read to her more and to get her to recognise the Chinese words (though the latter is not so urgent).

20150603_203916I know I will be really busy during this school holiday. ;p

CO-OP ’15 #1

Our weekly playdate resumed in 2015 with the first session just over. I promised to dutifully record every session so that I could track the children’s progress.

For the first few sessions, the moms have agreed to go with the Chinese New Year theme since the festival is just round the corner. It would be fun having them learn the words of the greetings and related items together as a group.

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Mummy Ade led us to sing a new ‘Welcome’ song and started introducing the CNY items such as couplets, red packets, dragon and lanterns. She even prepared a worksheet for the little ones to match the pictures to the words. Hah, she’s very much a teacher at heart!

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The beauty of our sessions is that the children are accompanied by their mums and the latter could guide the young ones into working on the tasks and at the same time, reinforce some of the learning.

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Following that, I read the book ‘Lanterns and Firecracks – A Chinese New Year Story’. It’s really a treat to see the children automatically sat before me as I started to read the book aloud. The kids knew what to expect!

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After the story, Mommy E got us to work on making a craft. Obviously, the children won’t be able to work on it themselves but I must say they did a good job in pasting the straws on.

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Proud of their work!

imageThis time round, we managed to take a decent photo off the kids. Say cheese!

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Next up, Mommy Tri gave the kids Chinese lessons by sharing with them the names of the items commonly associated with CNY. The children were all ears. Awesome job! We should have more Chinese lessons!

imageThe children learnt to ask for red packets respectfully. But I think Faith only knows how to utter ‘Gong Xi! Gong Xi!’ properly.

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Practical life segment includes matching of cards, picking up of pom pom balls with tongs, working with shapes, rolling balls with playdoh and cutting.

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We also celebrated our first birthday for the year. Belle turned 2YO! Yay!

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A simple totoro-themed cupcakes for the children but I have them packed into boxes because it’s too near to dinner time and I didn’t want to spoil the appetite of the kids! So, this is our first session. The kids definitely needed time to warm up since they have not met up for a month. That’s a long time for young people! Hopefully they would enjoy themselves more with subsequent co-ops.

Faith @ 25th month

Faith’s 25th month has been one of great adventure and fun. New school, new friends, new activities…just to name a few and I really ought to record these! Since Faith started school, I have been working on some activities for her to learn at home because teaching shouldn’t be the responsibility of the teachers only. In fact, I believe parents should play a bigger role, no? Anyway…

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In late December, our friends came back for a visit and we met up to visit the SEA aquarium. It was a wonderful outing and Faith made a new friend – YY – who is a few month younger than her.

imageThe two girls were mesmerized by the different types of fish and I thought I should reinforce the learning at home and worked on the topic on sea creatures.

imageReading is always included in the ‘curriculum’ and these days, Faith would grab a book and read by herself. She loves books with flaps and each morning, she would reach for this particular one and admire the wonderful pictures.

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Bought these sea creatures from the supermarket one day and created a sensory bin for her.

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Subsequently, I got her to identify the sea creatures after sharing their names with her. She could identify most of them now (from the ones I have taught her). Getting her to identify numbers is still a pain because she doesn’t like to learn the conventional way. I must think of more interesting way to teach her!

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Love this bilingual book that is loaned to me by a mummy friend. Faith continues to learn about fish when she goes to her grandpa’s place where there is a small aquarium of fish. My dad will get her to feed them.

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Recently, I also introduced a more intentional way of reading Bible stories to her by having materials for her to work on while going through the story with her. She could be peeling stickers and pasting them or coloring the pictures. All these are good because she can continue to work on her fine motor skills. The above is the story on Jonah.

Apart from teaching her about sea creatures, colors and numbers for the time being, I scheduled a lot of play time for her. I’m still trying to fit in swimming, playground time, water play, skate-scooting and more recently, cycling into each week. I still find that consistency works if you want anyone to develop a skill. Say, for example, after a break from swimming during November and December, Faith found it difficult to stay underwater, even for a split second. Before that, I could lead her to ‘swim’ in the water for a short distance. Now, she’s merely drinking in the water and getting choked in the process. How frustrating!

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Getting Faith to spend time in the outdoors is important to me. I know she can be bored at home with the usual activities and getting out to breathe in fresh air is crucial.

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She loves to spend time with her cousins and they can be good influence in terms of getting her to skate-scoot. Recently, she inherited a tricycle from her cousin and she’s loving it! Skate-scooting wise, I think she has finally gotten the hang of using her foot to move as compared to just being pushed along by us!

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At this point in time, I’m more concerned about building her character than academics and outdoor activities help a lot in developing grit and patience. She needs to learn that the world does not revolve around her and that she cannot get her way instantly. She has to learn to wait, take turns and share her stuff.

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Since the new year, social life has taken a step back. Last year, we went out often to have play dates and this year, due to school, there is little opportunity to meet her with her playmates. I have to be intentional about meeting up with friends so that she could still connect with her friends and meet new ones!

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Faith is getting more mischievous by the day, not the naughty but the playful kind. However, since attending school, she has become more clingy to me which is a big ‘sigh’ for me. She picked up phrases like ‘oh my god!’ from school and apologized more to me when she thought that she has made me angry. We definitely don’t like the OMG phrase and we had to correct her. There is much teaching to be done at home such as getting her to know the right from wrong and to continue to share her things with others (not really an issue).

Appetite-wise, it has improved since going to school! Yay! She spits out food less often and eats meat now! I’m a happy Mama!

So the 25th month is really one that is filled with much adventure and fun. May this continue into the months ahead.

:: Faith could wear her own shoes once she started school. Peer influence helps!

:: She asks to use pencils and colour pencils more often now.

:: She loves playing with playdoh!

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Faith graduated!

On the third week of December, the mummies of our regular playdates came together and threw a Christmas cum graduation party for the little ones. Oh my, I still remember the first lesson that we had, with only three children. By the end of the year, the group has enlarged to 6 (full strength). When Faith first started the coop/playgroup, she was only 16 months and now she is already 2 years old!

I regret not being diligent in recording EVERY single coop because they really are sweet memories. I MUST blog about this Christmas party!

IMG-1628-1We were a tad early for the celebration and did the usual – photo taking! Mummy Ez had kindly bought the Christmas decors from Daiso as she wanted the function room to be more festive-looking.

IMG-1639-1Children love balloons and what’s a party without balloons? The kids were thrilled, of course, while the mummies laboured.

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Faith loves balloons and has recently discovered that they can burst if she continues to use her fingers or fingernails to scratch on the surface. Such a terror!

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We had snacks and I baked the group a Hello Kitty strawberry-flavoured cake. F, as usual, was my fan, but the cake was well-received! I baked this cake for one of the mummies who is crazy over Hello Kitty. It’s always a pleasure baking cakes for friends!

IMG-1726After everyone had arrived, I started reading the Nativity story, complete with some cardboard figurines. It’s difficult to find a big book on Nativity and one that is easy for the toddlers to comprehend. So I hope the extra materials would help!

IMG-1732Cute eh?

IMG-1741Mummy Ade went on with craftwork and the children were supposed to make angels!

IMG-1753Mandatory photo – the kids with their completed work.

10881477_10152666605599234_5186933916461912703_nWe had a game of musical chairs (replaced by coloured papers). Our dear girl couldn’t catch the concept and was the first to be eliminated. Sigh! Her mum was queen of musical chairs when she was a kid but she clearly didn’t take after her. ;p

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Balloons again!

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We had Christmas gift exchange and Noah gifted Faith with a toy she likes!

IMG_20141218_125958Faith received her graduation certificate (done by mummy C) that day and she was immensely proud of that certificate. In fact, she was beaming with joy when she saw her photo on the sheet of paper. We had only missed one session thus far and it’s just so heartwarming to see how she had developed over the months. A special friendship was formed too among the mummies and I really appreciate every one of them.

10270556_10152666605889234_1015337259505170176_nUs, together with the Tuesdays’ pair of mummies.
😉

Orientating Faith to her nursery school

The other day, F and I went down to her nursery school for orientation which basically means information dissemination for the parents. She was happy to see the playground but since it was raining, she couldn’t spend time there.

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I wish the space was bigger but since their enrolment is small, I guess it’s ok? The little one was fascinated by the kids’ sinks and toilets and wanted to wash her hands by herself.

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The briefing took about an hour an the little one was bored. Thankfully, I had quite a fair bit of rubbish in my bag and got her to tear the carpark coupons and to share her stickers with her future classmates. The other children, obviously restless, came swarming to her for stickers which she willingly shared -strategy for making friends. Hah!

20141118_104507I guess the little one felt comfortable in her new environment because she went off by herself to mingle with the other kids while I busied myself with settling the administrative stuff. Perhaps I was around and thus she was at ease. In any case, I’m glad that she’s no longer sticking to me for her dear life and only looking out for me occasionally.

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I hope she’s ready for school. For a while, I’ve been resisting the thought of having her in school since she is still young. But I guess the scouting of schools and subsequently admitting her into one was timely as the hubs has a change in his job scope and would most probably return home later than usual. And that would mean I would be looking after her for a longer period of time! I guess the few hours in school would help me keep sane?

Time to get her to be more ready for school and I thought the following books are good to prepare her for her upcoming adventure!

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Memories of our playdate (today)

I’m writing this post with quite a heavy heart. You see, over the course of this year, I have grown attached to this group of mothers who come together to plan lessons for our children’s weekly playdate. I love the dynamics of this group and appreciate their care and concern for the children. We pool our resources and chip in whenever one couldn’t make it or have difficulty with any segment of the playdate. And I also love it that our children have forged friendship with one another.

But it would be a different story come next year.

All but one of the children will be going to school the following year. And yes, that includes Faith (that is another story in itself).

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I’ll miss the ‘Good Morning’ song that we know so well by now.

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And Circle Time in which the mummies will think of creative ways to introduce the farm animals (our theme for this term). There is always something new to learn each session.

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Love Mummy Ade, the lobang queen and one avid blogger. We love her outgoing spirit and she is always willing to take on new segments even if it is out of her comfort zone. Part of the objective of having the mummies to lead the various segments is for our own development too. We grow in love and knowledge together!

It is really heartening to note that the children could sit down and enjoy the storytelling session. When we first started during the earlier part of the year, our children couldn’t sit still and were distracted by things around them. But now, they can and even respond to the story! Yahoo!

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Mummy C and I have been friends for almost two decades and since the days of our youth, we have known her to be one ‘crafty’ lady. She would send homemade encouragement cards to us and they were always so pretty. So, it is no surprise that the children learn some useful art and craft skills from her. Mummy C has a lot of creative juice in her and it is a pity that she doesn’t have the time to blog about them. ;( Thankfully, she shares her ideas and knowledge to fellow mummies and those who come into contact with her. A very wonderful and patient mother.

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We had full attendance today!

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Mummy Jenna, the best Chinese storyteller in my humble opinion! She is so animated and speaks with clear, crisp Mandarin. As you can see from the picture, everyone was all ears!

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Our little girl led her peers in giving thanks for the food.

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Since today we had our lesson in the outdoor, we decided to get the kids to play with the balloons and balls. They had great fun despite the heat and we ended off with the feeding of the fish at the nearby pond, thanks to Mummy Jenna.

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We had such great times together and I believe we have provided our kids with a fun and safe environment to learn. Faith would come back and hum the songs she has learnt during the playdates and would often utter the names of her playmates. I’m thankful that the mummies help to correct the behaviour of the kids if anyone misbehaves and would not be stingy with encouragement for the kids and fellow mummies alike.

It is entirely possible to plan regular playdates such as ours. All you need are like-minded mummies who are willing to do a little bit of homework in planning for the lessons. Mummy Ade had written a very useful post on organising playdates. Do check it out!

Curriculum planning??

We are almost coming to the end of the year and for the following year, our playgroup would shrink in terms of the number of children. A majority of them would be entering preschool and it’s back to Mummy C and I in the end. Both of us are not that keen in sending the little ones to school…yet. We intend to homeschool for at least a year more and I guess it’s time to do some planning for the following year and by that I mean the ‘curriculum’ for Faith.

20141002_101059-MIXI’m not trained in early childhood education and to do curriculum planning for Faith can be daunting but that’s no harm trying eh? Thankfully, a friend who is a preschool teacher had shared a little with me with regard to that and I guess I would be doing a lot more reading and planning for these remaining few months.

The above is an activity in which Faith (and I) made a sheep for craftwork during her last playgroup. You can read about it from Mommy J’s perspective and that of Mommy Ade’s.

Certainly hope to come up with some concrete plans by December!

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We are into our second lesson on the ‘Farm Animals’ theme and this is the programme for that day.

Free play with farm animals
Welcome song, introduction of one or two animals
Story time
Craft – making shakers
Snack time
Chinese
Practical life
Big muscles activity / playground time
Action songs and Goodbye song

The host, Ade, set up stations for the kids to busy themselves with before the lesson starts. There are sensory bin of toy animals, puzzles and books.

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We had our welcome song and I introduced four farm animals to the little ones. Most of them could recognise the animals and name them. Hmmm, I think we should move on to something more difficult! Nah…

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After this, Ade read the story ‘The Cow that Laid an Egg’ which was rather entertaining but we weren’t quite sure if the kids understood the humour in the story. At the end of it, we reflected and thought we should not confuse the kids with such a storyline until they are older. Reminder: Choice of appropriate books at this age is important!

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Craft time and we made shakers from toilet rolls, balloons and masking tapes! The kids were more involved this time round and I dare say that they did more work than the previous times. 😉

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 Mommy E shared the Chinese story this time round and as usual, the kids were all ears.

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Practical life session saw the kids working on snake button, puzzles, sorting of lego bricks and scooping of pom pom balls. It’s a good reminder to all of us that we should encourage and not get frustrated when the child cannot achieve or complete a task. There is a very high chance that the child is simply not ready.

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For big muscle activity, we decided to use bean bags and get the kids to balance each one on their head. Not an easy task for them!

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We ended the session with some action songs and used the shakers that the kids had made earlier to complement the singing. We had fun!

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Just the four of them for this week.

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Science lesson on terrapin

😉

[Reflections] The joy of teaching your baby, Part II

This is my reflections on part II of the seminar on Discovering the joy of teaching your baby. It is easier to stomach than Part I, I assure you, and much of what the speaker, Janet Doman, shared was rather logical and practical. She didn’t promote the institute’s programmes but brought the focus on the parents and what we can do to enhance the learning of our child(ren).

1. It’s all about joyousness

This is the underlying philosophy of all their programmes. They believe that all babies can learn anything and everything and we need to do so with joyousness, to have a good time with the babies and experience something great with them. Babies can sense if we enjoy being with them or if we are really present when we are with them.

Oh, this is something that I’m so guilty of not doing. There are so many instances that the little one wants my attention and desires that I play with her but I’m just caught up with other things to do. At times, even when I’m with her, I’m actually not. I definitely need to slow down and prioritize! I need to be present and have a good time with her!

2. Less is more

We are bombarded by many programmes out there which seem attractive and beneficial to the child’s learning but Janet’s advice is that we choose one programme that is irresistible to us, focus on doing it well and reap the rewards. Once we have done well with a particular programme, then can we try a new thing and start doing it modestly and build on it.

I admit I’m a bit stressed up as to what I should teach Faith because there are so many things that I want her to learn and she is at a stage when she is receiving and learning so fast. I recognise that I shouldn’t ‘touch-and-go’ but go deep into an area that we want her to learn and she is interested in. I need to take time off to reflect again. This will warrant another post.

3. Go faster

Kids like things that are fast and zippy and we adults do things that are generally too slow for them. I’m not sure if you have encountered this: When we are reading a story to Faith, many times she will flip the pages before we could finish reading that page. WE ARE TOO SLOW FOR HER. This is also what have been shared to us when we attended Pamela Lim‘s seminar on Reading. A child’s mind works incredibly fast during the first years and we are just too slow for them. Arghh! Btw, her seminar provides some interesting insights on a child’s beginning years and how reading is important. I certainly hope I have the time to pen down some thoughts.

A point to note is that we are often too slow to add new materials as children always want something new to learn (once they have a grasp of certain concept?). Don’t show the same thing over and over again to the child. This is DEADLY, so said Janet. Arghh! Mothers out there, let’s share resources! ;p

4. Be more sophisticated

With regard to books, we shouldn’t stay with simple books/words all the time. Children can progress to more sophisticated ones (words). Oh yes, I believe!

5. Find out what your child likes

This is rather commonsense but how often do we really take time to observe and find out about their interests. What’s worse is that we want them to learn something that we have planned for them but they are not interested in. What do you think will happen? Frustration! Oh, I have often encountered this when I try to get Faith to learn, say, colours. She is particularly slow and looks uninterested and often turns away when I teach her. This is her way of telling me that she doesn’t like it. As much as I want her to know the various colours, I know I can’t force her. It’s off to other things and when she is interested, she learns it really fast and that really amazes me.

So, I’ve learn to observe, observe, observe and cater to what she is interested in BUT at the same time, not giving up what I want her to learn (weave it into the things that she likes to learn). Heh. Alternatively, we can also ask our children what they want to learn/do and even at a young age, they will be able to tell/show you. We need to learn to communicate with these young ones because when they feel we understand them, their affinity for us will multiply and we will also encounter less tantrums! I find it so true!

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:: Some other points that I want to be reminded of:

– Kids want respect from us. They know they are loved (because we say that all the time) but they want respect from us too. They tell us that they want respect by showing us that they can do certain tasks. Again, look for signals from them. E.g. Young kids want to feed themselves but often we take over because of the mess they can create. We are undermining and not respecting them as a result.

– Kids need structure and they need a predictable life. They need to know what to do next. They learn rapidly when things are in consistency or when our words are consistent. Failing to do so and we will have them test boundaries.

Great things happen when you put kids with their parents.

Disclaimer: The hubs and I were invited to attend the recent Discovering the joy of teaching your baby seminar by Glenn Doman in Singapore. No compensation was received and opinions are mine.  

Foodie Friday: Chocolate Cookies

Got an idea to get Faith to be more involved in the kitchen by getting her to do some real work instead of rummaging through the drawers.

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Faith loves biscuits and she can just have them for her meals. Of course, the mother says NO to that idea but she can always have some as treats. I always have sheets of rolled sugar cookies in the freezer because you never know when you have guests or when your stomach calls for them! Besides, these sugar cookies can keep long in the freezer and yet can be ready to be munched in a short time.

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All you need are sheets of rolled sugar cookies dough, 2 round cutters of different sizes, a sheet pan and parchment paper/ silpat. After cutting the dough into circles, make a round mark using the smaller cutter.

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And then show the little one how to make holes using a sugarart tool. I thought this tool is just the right size for her. Note her concentration level and joy! Of course, you wont get nice buttons but it doesn’t matter!

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You can use toothpick too but it’s a tad too thin for Faith to use. Besides, you can’t make big holes with that.

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Faith gets to eat ONE cookie for her hard work!

There are so many recipes for sugar cookies on the Internet but this is the one I use.

230g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
50g dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
336g all-purpose flour
35g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter and sugars together for 2 minutes. Stop, scrape and cream for another ½ – 1 minute.
4. Beat in the egg until well combined.
5. Add the sifted flour mixture to the creamed mixture 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition.
6. When the last cup of flour is added, mix by hand. The dough will be stiff by now.
7. Divide dough in 2 balls and wrap in cling film until ready to use. (This dough will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer)
8. Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 10 – 12 minutes (depending on thickness of dough) or until the edge starts to turn brown.

#holidayfun – Indoor playgrounds & some lessons learnt

These days, it has been raining and we decided on indoor playgrounds for our playdate. We went to the Fidgets World @ The Grandstand on Wednesday. I’ve heard good review from C who has been there a few times and I hope Faith would love it though I very much prefer the kids to be out in the open. Oh well, what can we do since it’s raining?

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I appreciate that it has a big space and therefore the playground has quite a lot of equipment that could entertain a kid for long. They have a small art studio for those who have creative minds and a baking area too!

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Art and craft studio

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Baking studio

We thought that the crowd would not be large but it so happened that the preschools in the vicinity are going there as part of their holiday programme. Arghh… so we had peace until about 30 minutes later and that’s when things got interesting. The playground sprang to life with happy voices of children and the stamping of feet. The toddler area was much quieter as compared to the other areas but the former was soon filled with young children who came with their parents (few) and domestic helpers (a lot).

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So, our little girl was just playing by herself, picking up the balls and putting them back into the proper place (Goodness! I must teach her how to PLAY!). She was contented just doing that when a boy about the age of 2 years old came and went charging at her, pushing her to the ground. I was like, “WHAT on earth is he doing?” Faith was more shocked than physically hurt and started crying. The domestic helper quickly asked the boy to apologise in which he did and went off to play. I thought this was an once-off incident and since this does happen in a playground, I told Faith to be ready to receive such actions from the children since it’s all part of playing. But honestly, I was a little taken aback. Does the boy have to do that? There is so much space but he just came charging at her and shoving her to the ground.

And then, the same boy had to do the same thing to her again and again. I was peeved! Each time he did that, the helper got him to apologise but in the end, the educator in me couldn’t take it anymore and I asked the boy in the face to apologise to Faith, and not the toys!

The cousin came and explained to me that he had already apologised but I told him that the little boy didn’t know what he was sorry for and he remained quiet. My senses came back and then I realised that he’s a boy with a lot of energy in him. He probably didn’t know that what he did was wrong. He did express his apologies but does he really mean it? It’s so flippant!

You may think I’m over-reacting since the boy is still so young. But I believe kids as young as him or even Faith can understand if you take time to explain. They are really smarter than we think they are. Of course, it also depends on the personality of that child but letting certain behaviour go ‘just like that’ is a no-no to my parenting or teaching philosophy/beliefs. More often than not, kids can understand and if we teach and model the right behaviour, they will get the idea. That’s what I have derived from a decade of working with children. No need scientific research to prove that.

This is actually a teachable moment and I seized it to explain to Faith that such behaviour will exist in a play environment and what we can do is to avoid the boy and play somewhere else. She did so which I’m glad. Anyway, I don’t think she’s that fond of the indoor playground; she prefers the outdoors.

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Lunch was at the site itself and they serve decent food. C brought her boys homecooked healthy food! Well done! Faith ate the blueberry muffins baked by her auntie and she finished them all, leaving only a small bite for me.

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Fidgets
200 Turf Club Road
#03-10 The Grandstand
Singapore 287994

The next day, Faith and her cousins went to the airport for an outing. We had wanted to go to the beach but the weather wasn’t kind to us, AGAIN! Thankfully, the airport has indoor playgrounds and it’s no surprise at all, that they are crowded with kids from the preschools. Sigh!

The small playground at T3

The small playground at T3

The bigger and more attractive playground at T1

The bigger and more attractive playground at T1

Despite being crowded, I’m thankful that the children were more polite and would give way to others even though they were all very engaged in the play. Very rough! And I’m also a proud auntie because my older nephew was looking out for Faith in the playground. 😉

Before the crowd came

Before the crowd came

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We ended with a mini picnic just outside the playground. Simply joy!

Where shall we be exploring next?

😉

Home-made toy of the moment

As you dine out, don’t you wish that your toddler kids could sit in their chairs without making too much fuss? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that we expect them to behave like adults who could occupy themselves with food and conversations. I know kids being kids, they would need to move (and fidget a lot they do!) since their attention span is only that long. So what do you do to occupy them?

I always bring along a small bag of goodies with me when I go out with Faith. When she gets bored, that’s when I dish out that bag, otherwise known as busy bag.

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If you can recall a previous post on toddler busy bag exchange, I actually went home with fourteen sets of homemade toys after that meetup. I must say that some toys are not that attractive to Faith while others captivated her more. I guess it all boils down to age-appropriateness.

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Of the 14 home-made toys, two stood out. They are the pom pom stuff in it and pipe cleaner. Faith takes a special interest in them and could spend at least half an hour on them. How awesome is that?

I don’t know what is the fascination about them. It could be the colours. It could be the excitement she gets when she can stuff the pom pom in. The pipe cleaner is a tad difficult for her. Instead of stuffing each wire into the small holes on the cap of the bottle, she just stuff all of them in without the cover. Easy and rather boring eh? But she likes doing it over and over and over again.

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Faith has been playing with these for a few weeks now and she hasn’t gotten bored of them. Just yesterday, I dished out these toys during Sunday service and she was playing with them quietly on her own until another younger girl joined in. Today, during an outing with her playmates, I took these out again while waiting for our lunch to be served and the older kids were enticed by these simple toys. Of course, they devised their own game using the same materials but hey, these home-made toys can be so versatile!

There are still others for Faith to explore and I’m taking my own sweet time to introduce them to her.

Try these toys on your child and see what happens!

Thankful Tuesday | Faith’s 18 months old!

Today, we celebrate. Faith’s 18 months old and it’s quite a milestone for all of us, the little one and the parents alike!

It has been mostly joy spending time with her now. Ask me during my first year of parenting and you will get a pessimistic response. Now, she could do so many things with me. I don’t have to prepare any special diet for her when we go out because she is okay with the food served at the market, cafes or restaurant. This is a hassle that is off-loaded from me. Phew! The only thing that still bugs me is how messy she can get when she wants to feed herself. ;p

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I had the privilege to host a few SAHMs for our monthly meetup and this time round, Faith is the oldest of the kids. I should definitely do more of these meetups so that she could get to socialise with other kids!

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And the kids were fascinated with the baby boy or was it the rocker? We couldn’t tell. 😉

But oh, what a wonderful Tuesday!

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Linking up with

Fisher-Price® Play IQ Workshop

Carrie Lupoli is back! Yay!

If you don’t have a clue of who I’m referring to, she’s one of the more engaging presenters I’ve come across in the many workshops and conferences that I’ve attended. Last year, I had the privilege of attending the Joy of Learning workshop by her and this year she is touching on the topic on PLAY and how it is important in developing healthy brain. It’s definitely a topic that I’m interested in because I believe in the power of play and am looking forward to what she will be sharing.

Four areas of content will be covered at this Fisher-Price® Play IQ Workshop:

1. Introduction and Goal of Parenting
2. Play IQ – The Theory
3. Play IQ – The Benefits and the Basics
4. Play IQ Learning Tournament

The workshop is open to parents with children up to 5 years old and expectant mothers only. It will be held on  31st May 2014, Saturday, from 9.00am to 2.00pm. Registration starts at 8.45am.

Venue: Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. 38 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329563

Cost: $50 per person (inclusive of light refreshments). Each participant will receive a goody bag worth more than $100 and a chance to win Lucky Draw prizes.

To register or if you need more information, you can email tofisherprice@asiaprwerkz.com

I’ll be attending and hope to meet some of you there!

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Playdate and a banana muffin recipe

We just completed our second (homeschooling) session! Oh what fun! The three mothers were tasked to conduct the various segments and I must say I learnt quite a fair bit from my fellow mummies!

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We learnt about the colour blue the previous session and this time round, it was red. After the welcome song, C got the kids to learn about RED by showing them items with that colour. It was a quick segment since we realised that our young kids get bored and couldn’t sit still for long.

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Next, Sab read a story entitled ‘Are you my Mummy’ and got the children’s attention. The illustration was colourful and the kids got to feel the furry material too. I guess our kids have been educated on animals and the older ones could call out the names of some animals. Faith? She was just distracted by the many toys in the house.

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We did some craftwork as a follow up to the reading. Using toilet paper roll and some scraps of paper, we made a duck! I thought it is quite a good idea since we could teach the kiddos the different parts of the body as we pieced them together.

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Right after that, the kids played with homemade dough as free play. This was the first time that Faith interacted with dough and she didn’t dare to touch it, let alone do some cut outs with it. I think I have to expose her to more materials from now on! *think sensory play*

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 I am in charge of refreshment this week and I made a bento (kind of) with cranberry buns, banana muffins and fruits. I seriously love how the Japanese present their food and want to do the same. So, you can expect more bentos from me too!

I like this session a lot because it is also a time for the mummies to rest and catch up with one another. As expected, the boy could finish whatever was presented to him while the girls had some slight problem. But no worries!

I love the idea of placing the food items on the tray because this teaches the kids personal space. This time round, Faith couldn’t finish her food. How rare!

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After the makan session, it’s Quiet Time. We wanted to instill this in the kids so that they will know how to be quiet before the Lord as they grow up. For now, it’s really just for them to get down and rest while we pray for them. You may think it is easy but the kids were trying to get up every now and then! 5 minutes….just for 5 minutes!

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The last session is on Practical Life which was somewhat the same as the previous session. The kids got to scoop cotton balls from one container to the other, match caps with the respective bottles and to match shapes using theMelissa N Doug puzzles. With a goodbye song, the children bade farewell to one another and so our 2-hour session ended! So fast!

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Banana Muffin Recipe
(Makes about 10 – 12 medium size muffins)

Ingredients:

4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
250 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
80 g caster sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
60 g milk
60 g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1 or 2 banana, sliced into 1/2cm chunks

1. Sieve flour, baking powder and cinnamon ground together. Set aside.

2. In a big bowl. Stir and mix butter, milk, eggs and vanilla together. Add in sugar and salt. Mix till well combined and add in the mashed bananas. Mix well.

3. Fold in the sieve flour at one time and mix slowly till well combined. Remember not to over stir the batter.

4. Scoop the batter into the paper cup, add the sliced banana chunks and cover it with some batter. Fill about 8/10 of the batter, leave some space for the muffin to raise when we bake them. I have some caramel and walnuts left from previous bakes and added the caramel in between the batter and sprinkle some chopped toasted walnuts on top.

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5. Bake at preheated oven at 175c for 20mins or till it’s cooked, when the toothpick inserted at the center of the cakes came out clean. Every oven is different so you have to trial and test!

* Note to self: The next time I bake these, I will try brown sugar and see the difference it makes.

 

First attempt to homeschool Faith

Recently, I posted some pictures about planning activities to homeschool Faith and received requests from mommies who asked if their kids could join. Fact is, my friends and I were just starting out and we want to see if the kids benefit from the session. We are not preschool educators, just your regular mothers. One had worked in a childcare centre before while the other had gone through some online Montessori courses. Me? I was just an elementary school teacher. Nevertheless, we just came together, pooled our resources and experience and started a session for the kiddos.

We started off with Circle Time with C going through BLUE items since the theme is on the colour. Each child took turns to touch the item as C explained them to the kids. But I must say, the kids could not really sit still except for F.C.! Well done, little girl.

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The next time when the little ones could talk, I would use the Circle Time to talk about the day, weather and probably ask them to share about stuff related to a theme. I learnt this while I was doing my work attachment at Park Street School a few years back.

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After the Circle Time, I read a book on Shapes to them with a follow-up activity of getting themto recognise the shapes of items that I had prepared for them and then pasting them onto the paper (with shapes drawn). The peeling of the double-sided tape requires them to use their fine motor skills. Faith, being the youngest of them all, could not really manage this task well but got all excited when she saw the biscuit in its rectangular packaging. SIGH!

So, we changed the plan since we realised that the kids needed time out and decided it’s time for refreshment! Sab prepared fruits and we got them to sit down and feed themselves. What an adorable sight!

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We had physical activity next. Kids at this age really need to move. Okay, I know it was right after a snack but our activity wasn’t really vigorous. It’s just playing with balloons and fruits & balls relay (getting them to pass some balls and toy fruits from one container to another), an idea I got from Gymnademics. I must say the kids love to move, move and move!

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Counting the number of balls they could transfer. Faith, having had practice at Gymnademics scored in this segment.

The last part of this ‘programme’ is some stations on practical life which C learnt from her online course. Kids should learn simple real life tasks even from a young age. So we had scooping of woollen balls from one container to another, choosing and closing of container using the right caps and stacking of cups.

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In 2 hours’ time, the kids, as well as the mothers, were famished and it’s meal time again. We served bread for them and they gobbled them up.

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My dear girl didn’t have enough and ‘stole’ from her friend. SIGH!

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So, there you go. Our first attempt in getting them to learn as a small group. I’m sure there are many experienced parents who are also homeschooling their kids. Do share your ideas!

Gymnademics at the ARC

For a while now, I have thought of enrolling Faith in some gym/ enrichment classes. You see, being a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM), I have the privilege of interacting with Faith all most of the time. I read, play, do grocery shopping and take a walk with her, amongst the many other activities that we engage in. HOWEVER, there are times, oh, many times that I do not know what to do with her. Basically, I have run out of ideas! Fellow SAHMs, do you face the same issue?

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After browsing parenting blogs like those of Candice and  Adeline who share their experiences on Gymnademics, I emailed them about their trial class since I wanted to check out the environment for myself and see how Faith reacts to the class. But the sleep-deprived mom soon forgot about it until I received an email from the centre, inviting me to visit the outlet at Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC). It’s a timely reminder, so I thought, and made an appointment to go down.

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We were warmly greeted by the staff and Joseph, the GM, walked through the programme with the hubs and me. The studios were visually colourful and child-friendly. Faith warmed up to Joseph minutes into the sharing and then busied herself with the musical instruments. She was really engaged with them as the hubs guided her to explore the instruments. No need Mama already!

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After the brief introduction of the gym and what they do, I was all ready to enrol Faith in the class when I was asked if I would be interested to be their ambassador for a term. Why, yes, of course! This will be an awesome opportunity to learn more about Gymnademics, her vision and beliefs.

I am all eager for Faith to start and am thankful that the centre allows BOTH parents to be with the child during each lesson. So, that means all of us can learn together. I am also informed that the parents would be given some materials after each session so that they can reinforce what was learnt during the lesson at home. Let’s just see if this is true. 😉

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Faith is going to start the lesson in about two weeks’ time and she will be attending the lesson at the ARC’s outlet. Apart from the fact that it is quite a distance from our home, I guess the other factors are still good and enticing enough for us to attend the class there. They include:

1) It is within a sheltered walking distance from Labrador Park MRT (circle line)IMG_2824
2) There are many F&B outlets at ARC (so we will also be exploring the makan places here!)
3) NTUC (can do grocery shopping!)
4) Parking is free on weekends (yay for those who drive!)
5) We can explore the area like the Hort Park, Henderson Waves, Labrador Park, etc after the session ( means family outing!)

I will be sharing Faith’s progress at Gymnademics for sure. Do stay tune as there will be some give-aways in future posts.

To celebrate the new outlet at ARC, Gymnademics is offering some opening specials when you sign up for a class package by 30 Nov 13:

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Gymnademics @ ARC
460 Alexandra Road
Singapore 119963
Tel: +65 62717569
Email: info@gymnademics.com
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