[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.

Busy tables, busy cards

[Review + Giveaway]

Busy tables. Any idea what they are about?

When I first got an email to preview Busy Cards at Busy Tables, I was curious and wondered what this was about. I have apparently not heard of Busy Tables and my first impression was some kind of cafes that could cater to kids and provide them with a set of tasks while dining in.

I was wrong. Just a little.

Busy Tables is located at Rochester Mall and is an indoor educational playground suitable for children under 6 years of age. Educational ? Yes. You will find that the setup is different as compared to the indoor playgrounds that we commonly go to. Here, you will find educational toys and resources that encourage children to use their senses to explore.

As we entered, I was asked to have Faith explore the various spaces and toys at Busy Tables. The girl got busy instantly. There were toys which she had played with before and there were also those that she was really interested in like car tracks and rainbow nesting wooden block stacker.

There was minimal guidance from me but she was totally engrossed in those that she was interested in; she was trying to make sense of the toys.

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Then there was this dark room that really attracted her attention and she stayed in there for the bulk of our time at Busy Tables. I’m quite certain that was the first time that she has ever seen a light box and with so many toys to play with, who would want to come out?

We must have sat there for quite a while until one of the staff at Busy Tables came over and tell me more about this indoor educational playground and Busy Cards. Essentially, they hope that parents could learn and bond with their children through working with the resources. They believe that children learn best from their parents and thus create such an environment for them to learn and have fun together.

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I was then introduced to Busy Cards which is an assortment of curated cards which give children ‘missions’ to complete. As can be seen from the picture, there is a variety of activities that involves literacy, numeracy, fine-motor and problem solving skills. The cards and missions are divided into various stages and tiers to pose as incremental challenges to them. It is hoped that children could acquire the discipline to concentrate on a task as they work together with their parents and to learn to keep and return each set of resources back to their original postion. Good habits, I say! These cards also assist parents to explore the many resources available at BusyTables. 😉

If you find the activities on the card given to your child to be on the easier or more difficult side, you can definitely ask for one that suits your child more.

The girl was very motivated to want to complete six activities because upon completion of those tasks, she could get a coin token to play on the slot machine (she loves it!). And, it’s no surprise that she chose to work on the activities that were found in the dark room.

If you look through the resources at Busy Tables and scan the Busy Cards, you would find that you might have some of them at home. For us, we have some of the puzzles and toys that are found there. Obviously, we do not have all and I definitely won’t be able to recreate the dark room in my home ( I don’t want to do it). I would think that this is a good place to hang out if you want to spend some quality time with your child and to have him/her do some “brain work”.

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We saw a group of mothers and children having a playdate while we were there and I thought that is a brilliant idea. I mean, all the resources are there and you don’t have to spend time making resources.

According to the staff of Busy Tables, the peak hours are in the morning, early afternoon and evening. There are fewer people between 1 to 4pm and you guess it right! It’s nap time! So if your kids don’t need to nap, that period is the best time to go! If you are curious about the pricing, you can refer to this on their website.

[Giveaway] Busy Tables has kindly agreed to give FIVE passes to readers of Raising Faith (residents of Singapore only)! Hooray!  All you need to do is to comment on this post or on Raising Faith Facebook Page who you would like to bring to Busy Tables and do leave your email address for us to contact you! 😉

You can find out more about Busy Tables via their website or facebook page. The giveaway will end on 16 December 2016 and I would announce the winners on my Facebook Page and IG account.

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All the best!

[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.

 

Keppel Centre for Art Education

How do you spend your March holidays?

For us, there would be no overseas travel or staycation. Instead, we would just be tourists in our country and try to explore as many places as we could. These days, we opt for places that the kids could enjoy and our first stop is the Keppel Centre for Art Education at the National Gallery Singapore.

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Since we are citizens, we do not have to pay for the admission fees. Hooray! #FunforFreeSG

We went straight to the Keppel Centre but before we went in, we got to explore some of the art pieces by our local students.

Maybe our little one will be inspired after admiring these artwork? I can always hope.

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We proceeded to the Art Playscape which houses the magical forest and it provides great fun for the kids. Faith took some time to warm up to the environment and after 5 minutes or so, she could be seen running up and down the stairs and exploring the space. Oh, fellow parents, you do have to be with the kids lest they got too excited and hurt themselves in the process. This forest somewhat resembles the Trick Eye Museum and personally I had fun taking pictures.

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There is great avenue for pretend play here. Let’s imagine us crossing the river. Oh, look, there’s Mr Crocodile! Be careful!

Our next stop is the Project Gallery where we explore future homes and cities. Here, children think about how different our homes and the way we live will be and they translate their thinking into drawing and writing .

Spend $4 and you could work on this artwork with your child.

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A random child’s thoughts

After about 20 minutes in the Project Gallery, we proceeded to the Children’s Museum Workshop where the kids could write a postcard to the artist. Obviously, the girl couldn’t write it but she did doddle something on it before posting it.

So we spent slightly more than an hour in the three art spaces and when we popped by the Children’s Museum where kids could create some craftwork, the girl was visibly tired and asked to skip this.

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Children’s Museum

We didn’t stay long at the National Gallery. I would love to but the kids were exhausted and da man had to carry the older one around. We did enjoy the architecture of the supreme court though.

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Perhaps, next time?

To avoid the crowd during the school holidays, consider going there early?
😉

15 Stations at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

I’ve only taken train rides from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station twice and both times, it’s a deliberate choice over the other modes of transport because I wanted to experience how it was like to take the KTM trains into Malaysia.

I recalled that the railway station wasn’t as crowded or vibrant as the other stations that I have been to in other countries. There weren’t many locals and most of them were made up of Malaysian passengers. There weren’t many train services available and thus it was a hassle-free experience travelling up north.

Railway station_malvina tanPhoto courtesy of Malvina Tan

Unfortunately, railway operations at the station ceased from 1 July 2011 and the station became a national monument of Singapore and is only open to the public on public holidays in the hope that more people will use the opportunity to visit the historical monument for strolls, take photos or to partake in its history.

Now, for a limited period (17 June through 4 July 2015), the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is open to the public as one of the O.P.E.N.‘s Augmented Reality Memory Tour Project which provides visitors the opportunity to experience a unique and interactive memory tour of the station.

15 Stations, as it is called, allows visitors to meet the people – from the past and the future – whose lives were connected by the railway line through a downloadable application on their smartphones. There are three curated routes – Reflect, Connect and Imagine –  and they draw on archival materials and animation to weave their own stories about the relationship between the station and those who have passed and will pass through its doors.

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Our family turned up at 7pm and we started off at Route #1 with the PROLOGUE, along with 5 other stations.

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Some of the videos at the stations come with audio so visitors are advised to bring along their earphones. Take your time to slowly wander, view the videos, reflect upon what was shared and connect with the people and stories in the videos. On top of that, enjoy the architecture of the building which is in a richly ornamented Art Deco style. The exterior of the building, for infomation’s sake, are four marble statues, allegories of Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport.

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You might think these visitors were all taking pictures of the ticket counters but nope, they were actually viewing and listening to the videos. At this point, my girl was getting restless and started to tour the main hall. How I wish she was older so that we could learn and share historical facts together.

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So, she might not be able to fully appreciate the exhibition but we sure could create some wonderful memories of the place as a family!

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We proceeded to Route #2 (my favourite) where five stories would emerge from scanning the different QR codes displayed on the stands. At this point, the little girl got a tad interested in the stories and listened to them intently.

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But her attention span was just too short and minutes later, she went to disturb her Papa and they went onto the tracks for some fun while I stayed on at the departure platform to complete the stories.

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F was excited to be walking on the tracks but she saw no trains!

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Route #3 consists of three stations which envision a future created by NTU students who never had the chance to set foot in the station during its heyday.

Each memory route is in English and takes about 30 minutes and in all, one would spend about 90 minutes at the railway station. The O.P.E.N. will provide 30 sets of Samsung Note 4 and 20 sets of Samsung Tab S, with earphones, on site. Alternatively, you may want to download the 15 Stations app (downloadable for free from 16 June to 4 July 2015) on your smartphones and enjoy the audio commentary with your personal earphones.

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I must say it’s quite a unique experience learning more about The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station through this augmented reality memory tour. I only wish that we had visited it in the day time so that we could have more beautiful pictures! Oh well…

15 Stations (The O.P.E.N.’s Augmented Reality Memory Tour Project)
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Opens 18 June through 4 July 2015
Tue-Sat: 12 noon – 10pm
Sun: 12 noon – 6pm
Mon: Closed

FREE ADMISSION with O.P.E.N. Pass
Limited single entry tickets ($11 each) are available at the door

Disclaimer: Our family was invited to tour 15 Stations. No monetary compensation was given. 

[Review & Giveaway] JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets

When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading comics because the content is light and the graphics entertaining. I still do, as a matter of fact, and am happy to help review a comic book – JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets – that is educational in nature.

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JJ’s Science Adventure is a series of educational comic books designed to help readers master key learning objectives stated in the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Primary School Science syllabus. The author, Aurelia, an educator herself, has observed that students were often reluctant to read their science textbook but would ask their parents to buy storybooks for them to read. She concluded that children’s motivation to learn is directly linked to their interest and observed that an interest shared by most of them is reading comic books. This led her to commit two years of her life developing this first book on Magnets.

This book has won the Readers’ Favourite Illustration Award which recognises books with quality illustrations. The learning objectives are brilliantly introduced in the storyline and it is an absolute delight to read it.

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What I appreciate about this book:

:: The story has a science fiction fantasy setting which has a tendency to capture the attention of readers. I read it in one sitting and I can be one easily distracted mom if you know me. This book gets me reading till the end.

:: The key teaching points are printed in colour which help readers identify them easily.

:: Besides the key teaching points, there is additional interesting information that is relevant to the topic, thus catering to the needs of different students. I find myself understanding more about MRI and MagLev after the read. Feels good gaining knowledge! 😉

:: The language used is wholesome.

:: The graphics are colourful and attractive and will certainly be appreciated by visual learners.

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This is one book that should be found in the class library where students can have easy access to it! It certainly is a great complement to the textbook and one which helps to reinforce the students’ understanding of the topic. I’m actually looking forward to the next book on Heat and Light which can be pre-ordered here.

JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets is retailing at S$18.90 and is available at these stores or online. They are wonderful gifts for Christmas! 😉

GIVEAWAY!

The good folks at Harvest Edutainment are giving away 2 copies of JJ’s Science Adventure – Magnets to 2 lucky readers who are residing in Singapore (1 copy per winner). Please state your email address as winners will be notified via email.

Giveaway will end on 13 November 2014.

Enter the giveaway here!

Winners will be announced on this blog post and my facebook page.

All the best!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are mine.

Update: Thank you for all your participation in the giveaway! The winners are Jolin Poon and Yu Meiyi. You will be contacted shortly via email. Enjoy the comic book! 😉

Food education the Japanese way

I’m no nutritionist but I do know a little about food education, a result of growing up with a mother who cooks meals 95% of the time. It helps greatly that she dragged us along to the wet market and taught us how to spot the freshest meat and vegetables. amongst other things (like haggling with the stallholders, for example). Obviously, we were also involved in the cooking and baking process since young.  But I must qualify that we weren’t very enthusiastic then (even dreaded it) but whatever we were taught stays with us. Incredible!

So, it’s no surprise that I would start Faith early on eating well and recognising the various foods in their original state. I’m not a fan of store-bought food because they do contain preservatives and therefore not good for the little one. However, for convenience’s sake, they can be a good substitute.

I continue to be intrigued by how the Japanese and the French cultivate good eating habits in their children since young. In my humble opinion, teaching good eating habits is as tough as inculcating values in a being and it has to start from young for once he/she has a good foundation, the person will grow up distinguishing right from wrong and will (hopefully) make wise decisions along the way.

Some points on the Japanese way of eating (for own knowledge and reference):
Source: Parenting without borders

– What a baby eats is important but the attitude toward feeding a child is equally important. Eating in Japan is a communal matter and babies should NEVER eat alone. Even when the baby is too young to eat solids, he is always kept with the parents at mealtimes so that when he gets older, he eats together with them. This is a cardinal rule. To make babies feel even more like a part of the family, parents give them the same foods as everyone else. So, one can hardly see children’s menu in Japanese restaurants. From the time babies start eating, they’re eating the same things as adults, just more lightly seasoned or modified for the baby’s age.

– Presentation is important because when food is appealingly prepared and laid out, with an ideal mix of colours and textures, the baby will be more likely to eat it. I’m not sure about you but when I see those beautiful Bento boxes such as the following, I couldn’t help but be attracted to them and eat the contents.

{Source}

– In Japan, the thinking is to introduce young kids to a wide variety of tastes and textures, teach them to appreciate food, teach them never to waste and get them used to structured mealtimes and mealtime behaviour. The Japanese ate three proper meals each day and though overall portions were small, each meal was balanced and filling.

[Source]

– Snacks are not liberally given so kids do look forward to treats because they were rare and presented as a special privilege.

– It is considered a moral good to teach kids to eat properly and it is also an adult’s job to teach children the concept of gratitude for every bit of food on their plates. All children are taught to think of the animal who provided the meat, the farmer who grew the produce, the person who make and serve the food. Children are encouraged to eat everything they are served, to try everything they are given.

– A good parent helps her children to learn to eat anything, and she believes they can and will become good eaters, through high expectations, patience, beautifully crafted meals and lots of exposure to new foods.

– What make Japanese raise healthy eaters is the consistent support they get from others. Food education is woven throughout school life and kids grow their own tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in first grade (they have a standardised national curriculum so most kids experience the same kind of food education. By fiftth and sixth grade, children are learning cooking basics at school and lunch is an actual class in the curriculum. I like that! It’s a class to teach children where food comes from, how to enjoy a meal and how to serve others.


Pictures above are from an account of an elementary school principal who visited a Japanese school.