#montessoriathome

There hasn’t been much update on this space because life is really busy and fun with two kids. I have not baked in ages even though I’ve been itching to make some baked goods. Fact is, whatever time I have with the kids is spent teaching and learning together with them. When they are asleep or napping, that’s the time for me to cook or create learning resources for them. Moreover, I am now going through an online Montessori course which makes life even busier for this mom.

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I’m not sure why I didn’t take up this course earlier. I had known about its existence two years ago from a friend who had graduated from it and she found it useful and so recommended me. Alas, procrastination took over and it was only until I found difficulty in teaching the girl the blue and green series in the language component that I decided to register for the one-year course. Moreover, I’m toying with NOT sending Dan to school next year.

I love the Montessori preschool that Faith is in now. But the timing for Dan’s and Faith’s level differs and that would mean I have to be on the road a lot if I was to send both to the same school. Time that could otherwise be spent teaching at home would reduce and perhaps frustration would set in?

With these thoughts, I decided to take the plunge and took up the course in late January. I might as well test out how ‘homeschooling’ Dan would be like and spend the morning effectively with both of them.

Before I took up the course, ideas for teaching Dan were gathered from Pinterest. They are good, no doubt, but since taking up the course, lessons have been more focussed and less sporadic.

There is so much to share with the two children that I feel time is running out. So, whatever time I have is dedicated to teaching them. It’s really fun!

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Dan is very into animals now, especially since we came back from the WA trip in which we visited a farm.

LivingMontessoriNow.com is now hosting an awesome giveaway of the KHT 12- month Montessori Online Certificate Course. I am currently going through this course and find it really useful for my personal homelearning use. If you are interested, why don’t you give it a try?

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: 20 to 21 MO

The little one will turn 2 years old in a few months’ time and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

She is growing up too fast! There are so many things that I want to teach her and I feel there isn’t enough time. She is learning rather quickly in recent times and I need to seize that opportunity! I’m also enjoying being with her now (of course, there is ALWAYS the occasional tantrums) and I’m really not sure how I would take it as she enters the terrible 2’s phase.

I thought I should record what I do with her at home for future reference and for you, readers, if you are interested.

I’ve always wanted Faith to hone her motor skills and impart our family values to her. So, I do spend a lot of time doing stuff that helps her in those areas. So, if you ask me if I flash cards at her. Nope. Not until I went for the recent Glenn Doman’s seminar did I realise that there is some worth in getting Faith to recognise words via this method.

Reading is an activity that we will always do and getting her in the outdoors is a must-do too.

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Here are some activities that she engaged in at home during her 20th month:

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Faith loves jigsaw puzzles. A month ago, she got frustrated because she couldn’t piece those puzzles together but now she enjoys it so much that it’s almost a routine that she would pull out that box of puzzles to play with them.

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This is another set of 2-piece puzzles but with more complexity. You can teach rhymes with them and it trains the little girl to look for the related pieces. Of course, once she has finished, she MUST pack those puzzles back into the packet or box that holds them. I’l sing, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share!”

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Another set.

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Snake buttons, She still loves to play with it. I like this because I can soon get her to button her own jacket; she’s quite good at it now. Can teach colours and shapes too with the snake button.

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Scoop and pour.

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Sorting. It didn’t take me long to explain before she got the idea. I think somehow in her own playtime, she knows there’s certain order in place and thus it’s not a big problem for her wrt this activity.

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Pretend play. She pulled out containers from the drawers and played with her ‘friends’. I just watched…

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Pretend play again and this time round, I got her to identify the various farm animals.

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After farm animals are the usual animals we see in the zoo. A trip there is well worth it because the little one came back, excited to see these miniature ones. And for the first time, I decided to link them with words. Let’s see how well this will go.

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Life is not all about playing. Faith is very much involved in helping out at home. I didn’t force her ah…she wanted to help out so might as well! A trip to the wet market or supermarket is the norm every week. I want her to interact with people (stallholders, strangers, cashiers, whoever she meets on the street) and to greet them. Basic courtesy, no? In the market, it’s a good opportunity to teach her the names of the various goods.

So, these are some activities that she engaged in during her 20th month.

Do you have any to share?

😉

Playdate @10 July

Our group playdate resumes! I don’t know if I’m using the right term. Playgroup? Co-op? Playdate? Oh, whatever. Until I find a proper term for such a day as this, it will be called playdate for now. 😉

Today, we had one more boy joining us and that makes four kids! Yahoo!

Our schedule goes like this:
-Welcome & circle time
– Big muscle movement
– Story time and craftwork
– Tea break
– Quiet time
– Sensory bin
– Action songs
– Practical life
– Closing time and goodbye song

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This is rather different from the previous sessions that we had and to be honest, it felt like we were rushing through. But fear not, the mummies came together and discussed what needs to be improved. I like it that I’m learning from the other ladies in the group. Lifelong learning, eh?

What I have learnt:
– The children can’t sit through the entire story-telling time. They were restless towards the end. Perhaps find one with a short story?IMG-20140710-WA0012
– Faith needs more exposure to craftwork. More art sessions!
– Faith doesn’t like to get her hands dirty (except when it comes to food). She doesn’t like the idea of touching the playdough during the ‘sensory bin’ section. Need to work on that.
– Faith seems to like threading and the blocks that C used for this station (2) is of the right size and material for her!

 

Practical LIfe materials

Practical LIfe materials

I didn’t have enough time to bake something for the kids and just cut mickey mouse shapes from slices of chocolate bread using a cutter. They have fruits, bananas and the colourful goldfish crackers for teatime. We had wanted to teach the kids to peel the bananas but the mummies got distracted by their own tea break and went off to rest. All except for Jenna. Hah!

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I baked a Yuzu sponge cake and carrot cake for the ladies. We had proper tea break today but oops, we lost track of time as a result. Hah! Teaching kids is a lot of hard work, I assure you, especially young kids. A salute to all preschool teachers!

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 The day was long and it was a tad more tiring than before. I’m sure the kids were too. But I’m just glad that we have this regular playdate/co-op going on.

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J getting encouragement from his mummy at the Big Muscle Movement segment.

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Faith and her new-found friend, J. They hit it off the moment that met. I’m so surprised! They even didn’t mind holding hands together! Whoah! But I have to say that J is really a very pleasant and happy boy. Faith has much to learn from this gor gor!

What will happen next week?
I got excited just by thinking of it! Lots to learn!

Bringing up Faith: The 2nd year

Raising children in a society like ours can be really stressful. I remember when Faith was in the womb, I was advised to register her in schools so that she could be on the waiting list. It’s the year of the dragon, mind you! Lots of babies! I soon forgot about this issue and did … nothing of that sort.

Now that she is at an age when she can be admitted into playgroups, the stress-level is on high again for me. Mothers whom I know, both acquaintances and friends, were placing their kids in schools and my FB page was filled with how happy or tearful the first day of school was. I look at Faith, “No playgroup for you okay?”

I’m penning my thoughts on this page because I need to remind myself of why we (both the hubs’ and I) decided against school for Faith at this current point in time. She’s still young. She’s supposed to play, to be curious about things around her and be given the time and opportunity to explore. And because I am a SAHM, I can do more with her both at home and in the outdoors.

At the Fisher-price workshops that I had attended, I was reminded of my own parenting goals (for these early years) – that Faith will grow up to be an independent child, know God and respect others. These are important to me. I’m not very concerned that she has to know her numerals or alphabets now. For goodness’ sake, she is barely two years old! These will come later, for sure, and I’m not really interested in flashing cards at her. I want her to be out in the open, to appreciate nature, to have a sense of wonder of the environment she is placed in and eventually know Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. I don’t like the idea of her being in school so soon, to be honest. Abhor the idea that she has to learn within the four walls. She has many years of that in time to come. For now, she is good learning at her own pace with me at home or during our regular playdates. More importantly, I want her to learn the values that our family believes in because once she is grounded in them, she can make sound decisions (hopefully) while she is growing up.

20140605_150001But I’m not always this resolute. During the June holidays, I signed up for a week of language enrichment for Faith. The one week of lessons centred around Dr Seuss’ stories and each lesson comprises storytelling, art and craft and singing. I had to attend each 2-hour lesson with Faith and I am thankful for that because I realised how Faith is not ready for such a structured lesson.

She listened to the stories all right but many times, she wanted to explore the new classroom she was in, to interact with her new friends. She got restless easily too but thankfully, the teacher understood that young kids have very short attention span and introduced many short physical activities in-between.

At the end of each lesson, I was tired. Tired from having to get her to sit down to listen and to perform the tasks that she was asked to. My throat ran dry from words of encouragement to her. In the end, I decided that such a class may not be suitable for her, for now.

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I have to be fair. She did enjoy her time playing with bubbles and surprised us with the word one fine day (we don’t use the word at all). Perhaps I have high expectations for the school and perhaps, this school does not have the right kind of curriculum for her. It’s after all, a one-size-fits-all programme for children ages 18 to 36 months. What do I expect?

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I have to remind myself to chill, that sometimes not doing much for her can be good. By that, I mean not crowding her daily life with activities. Boredom can be good for her because creativity can bloom in such situations. I also need to remind myself that it is not ‘how much more earlier’ that is the solution but it is ‘how different earlier’ that is the answer.

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I like what I’m doing with her now. We had moments when we learn at home but many times, we go out and have fun.We have our regular playdates and I remember vividly the enthusiasm that she displayed when we went on a excursion to the National Museum with her playmates, the sparkle in her eyes when she was playing with water at Jacob Ballas, the concentration she had when she was observing people in the park and the emotions she shared when she saw a crying child, just to name a few examples. Through all these, I got to understand Faith more and hopefully will realise what her talents are and help her thrive in them.

There are many moms who are homeschooling their kids and I particularly love those who advocate play as learning opportunities for young children. And the more I read about early childhood, the more excited I become.

These are three Internet resources that I like: 

1. http://lessonslearntjournal.com/

2. http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/

3. http://playfullearning.net/

And I love this excellent yet simple read about the Waldorf approach to early childhood education.

Here is an example of a day in the Waldorf kindergarten. For my  own reference in planning my own homeschooling activities for Faith.

The following are some notes that I have taken from the recent PlayIQ workshop organised by FisherPrice.
Some food-for-thought for me:

– “Play is not trivial. When children play, they’re doing important work.” ~ Fred Rogers

– “Children learn best when they have opportunities to have hands on experiences” ~Dr Jerlan Daniel

– Between the ages of 0 to 4, unstructured play is better than adult-led structured play. During the process, they would need to learn about boundaries and rules would need to be in place.

How toddlers play:

– Natural born explorers –> driven by intense curiosity
– Need safe, toddler proof environment
– Free time to investigate and experiment with toys and play items
– Get down on the floor!
– With others, solitary to parallel play
– Be enthusiastic and positive about your toddler’s curiosity and accomplishments (and minimise defeats)
– Play alongside you as you do chores –> provide life-like items for play
– Have conversations and encourage communication
– Learning through repetition (e.g. same story read over and over!)
– Read daily!

A visit to Blue House

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Yesterday, I attended a sharing on Positive Parenting for the Under 3s by Ms Shona Sanosi, the co-founder of Blue House International School. My main aim, however, was to have a look at the school environment. Nope, I would not enrol Faith in this school as the fees are exorbitant but I’m more interested in their Reggio Emilia approach to teaching.

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The school is located near Turf city and I thought I could pop by Pasarbella for a bite after that. After parking, I was greeted by this signboard which set me thinking, “Hmm…seems like a nice school!” I don’t think I have seen such a signboard in local preschools. Perhaps I’m just ignorant.

As I walked towards the building and entered it, I had a peek into their classrooms which are shielded by glass windows. They are much like the classrooms in the private school which I had interned in Boston. The rooms were neat and inviting and I couldn’t help stopping by each room to have a hard look at it. *Cosy feel*

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Leaving the premise, I posed myself these questions, “What kind of preschool would I enrol Faith in?”, “What are the important criterion that I’m looking for?”, “Would I want to homeschool Faith if I have the capacity to do so?”

*Need to reflect.