Thursday, March 29, 2012

Think about it

My mum-in-law and I had an interesting conversation a few days back about homeschooling and being unsocialised.

That is the most common concern that I hear from other parents. Homeschooling = unsocialised.

While I understand the concern about the lack of “interaction”, let me debunk a few myths. While I homeschool Dumpling on the homefront for all other disciplines, she attends Chinese classes daily. So, I am not entirely fully homeschooling in this sense. But I liken myself to other homeschooolers who hire tutors for "help". :)

There is a world of difference between “unsociable” and “unsocialized”. Think about it.

Whether a child is “friendly” is dependent on a lot of factors including the child’s personality, the environment, etc. Being unsocialised assumes that the child is not exposed to "people" and the "world". But for me, I believe homeschooled children have tons more “free” exposure. I know many homeschoolers incorporate life skills in "educating" their children. This includes bringing the child(ren) to run daily errands such as grocery shopping, post office (for those who run a webstore), take the public transport, etc.

In these instances, the child gets to interact with the “real” world – interacting with the stall holders on vegetables and meat selection, handling “change” and money from the purchase, understanding units of measurement from mailing out parcels at the post office, occupation from public transport, etc.

Now, tell me, how many “socialised” school children get such “real life” exposure on a weekly, let alone daily basis. Add that to the fairs, sports meet and weekly gatherings these homeschoolers organise with many involving their children in the planning of such. (I use “them” here because I am a FTWM and hence, I have not participated in any of these events.)

So, think about it. What are the children who are attending a formal public / private school “exposed” to then?

I was at the playground with Dumpling over weekend and 3 young boys later joined in. These boys do not look to be older than 10 years old. Dumpling was blocked by one of these boys at one stage and she said “excuse me” very politely. The boy turned around and saw that it was “just us” – a mum and a young child and out came this string of Hokkien vulgarity asking about my “mum”.

Thank goodness Dumpling does not understand Hokkien and I herded her away though I had this strong urge to dump a bottle of Dettol down his throat (not very kind, I know). This prompted me to think, what would one be exposing his/her child to in a school environment?

I know many would jump in at this point in time to say “Well, that is the real world. So how long do you intend to “cushion” your child from such things?”

My answer to that is, before my child is even exposed to such things, what are the core values I am exposing to my child as a parent to equip her to deal with such incidents?

That essentially is a big part for many homeschooling parents – academic is secondary to faith and values. For me, I personally feel that if Dumpling and I were to focus on the last 2, I would think, my role as a parent is done. Think about it.

If we as parents guide them along properly and instill quality values, even when faced with such incidents, I believe our children will not be provoked or led onto a wrong path. I also pray that she will have kindness and gentleness in her thoughts, action and words.

That part, for Dumpling and I, will form an important part of our homeschooling foundation. For the rest, I can only let go, pray and trust.

Think about it.

Think about it
 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Mad Mum Moments - No use crying over forgotten milk!

I had a crappy morning earlier this week as I had another mad mum moment. Mornings are always a mad rush for me as I will need to do chauffeur duties. So that particular morning, after dropping Dumpling, I rushed off to the office and just as I was reversing into a lot, LO AND BEHOLD. GUESS WHAT I SAW?

Well, not exactly this clipart but a half finished bottle of milk! Which means that Dumpling did not have her usual amount (more so at around 100 ml only!). She usually finishes the milk at home but we left home earlier that morning and when that happens, she would usually finish it when she reaches school.

However, in my haste, I totally forgotten to take it along with us to her class and left it in the car instead! So I had to do some damage control to call the school to let her snack earlier (we packed a small sandwich for her mid morning snack time) and told my helper to feed her lunch earlier. 

You have no idea how guilty I felt the whole day not having looked after her well enough to fulfil her basic needs - food! I guess I need to remind myself S-L-O-W down and not zip around like a tornado so I do not rush over things. Sigh...

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Playschool's Chinese Homelearning Workshop!

Chinese has never been a strong language of mine when I was in school. I am not sure if this has to do with the fact that the Chinese teachers during my days were all in the "drilling" mode or the fact that none of the Chinese teachers I had were remotely close to "cute". I was bored and hated the rote method. There was no love or even any remote bit of appreciation for the language, let alone the culture. It's a miracle that I survived O levels and even scored a decent grade. But I decided to bypass attending a JC because I simply could not stomach another two more years of Chinese. That, in a nutshell, is how much I loathed the language.

Now, a few years into motherhood and with Dumpling being a preschooler, the enormity of the importance of a second language and in this case, Chinese, has finally hit me. I regretted not putting in more effort for the language.

So mummy here had to buck up. I started reading chinese books (after a really looooong hiatus) with Dumpling about a month before she attended Chinese classes at her existing school. Horror of horrors, during the first month when she was there, I suddenly realised that I was unable to string a coherent sentence and communicate with her teachers who are from China. My tenses were wrong, my pronounciation was off and my vocabulary went out the window too. The red alert "BOY, IS MUM HERE IN TROUBLE" must have flashed across my forehead.

I needed to work on it and work hard. FAST. I started reading more chinese books and more often with Dumpling. With words that I get stuck at, I'd ask her teachers. Despite my broken Mandarin, bit by bit, I pushed on and I also attempted to homelearn Chinese with Dumpling too, though not daily. Hence I signed up for My Playschool's first ever Chinese homelearning workshop.

The presenter was Katherine, an ex Primary school Chinese teacher and the owner of Happy Cottage, an online webstore.  

The session was about 2.5 hours long. Katherine went through the various ways to teach Chinese and shared examples at each step. For myself, because of the fact the Dumpling is in a Chinese preschool and with our homelearning efforts, I was already using some of the methods mentioned in the workshop. For some of the other mummies who are just starting in this journey, I can see them enthusiastically jotting down the notes. :)

What was interesting for me was some sharing of the Primary 1 syllabus (which I have no clue about since I am a first time mum) and what preschoolers should be taught at each stage. It is actually quite daunting for me to know that Chinese spelling are being taught and tested in K2 as a "prep" to Primary 1. (Cold beads of sweat were gathering on my forehead by then) I also found out that children at that level were expected to write a short and simple passage as a prelude to "composition". So, to score well, a parent needed to work on guiding the child to craft descriptive sentences about the surroundings, feelings etc. (yes, even at P1).

Though I basically left the teaching of HYPY to Dumpling's school, from an "information storage" perspective, it was good to learn how and what to teach for HYPY (teach the base / root word first and when we add on, we always teach the ones with the same "tone" as the base word) which forms Term 1 (and in some schools, Term 2 too) of the Primary school syllabus.

From a word recognition perspective, Katherine also shared various resources and methods she has used with her children, one of which, the pictogram approach. While this is not something new to me, I know it resonated well with some of the attendees. Katherine also encouraged participation from the attendees and this was evident in some of the activities she had us to do.

Amongst other useful sharing was what to look out for in story books to enhance the child's learning experience and improve his/her chinese.

As Dumpling is able to read simple Chinese sentences now, I appreciated the sharing on the basic formation of a sentence and how to work with your child the sentence structure. This will be an area which I will definitely be working with her on in the near future.

Towards the end of the session, Pauline of My Playschool came up and shared very briefly on her approach to teaching chinese - the thematic way. (Katherine uses the word recognition way).

Personally, I use a mixture of both methods with Dumpling. So, for me, I wish that Pauline could have presented longer and shared more examples into guiding the attendees how to extend to the various disciplines using the mindmap below which she shared at the session.

I particularly liked how she created a Chinese lapbook from a chinese title: 火车要开了

The lapbook elements look interesting and the activities also extended beyond the book. When I bought this title, it came in a set of 15 titles with the relevant DVDs. Dumpling loved it. So, when we were invited to try our hand at the end of the session to create a lesson plan based on what we learnt earlier, I thought that it was a great approach. But unfortunately by then, it was close to 1230 and a lot of the attendees (myself included!) were distracted by the book display instead.

Moving on, I hope that the lesson plan part could be done in the middle of the session and that there is more interaction and involvement from the participants. It would be way cool and useful if we are able to work as a group to come up with suggestions and ideas for building up a Chinese lapbook pack. :)

At the section where I was seated, we were mainly attempting on our own; some form of moderation would have been great in encouraging this to be a group session as I find that I often learn most in group sharing with other mummies.  

All the attendants also received a pack of Chinese printables and I am looking forward to using it! I am certainly inspired to do a Chinese pack for another book in the 影响孩子一生的情商故事 series in the near future. :) Do you have any special request on which titles? Leave me a comment!

* All photos (except the last) are courtesy of My Playschool

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Friday Mad Mum Moments

Mad mum moments are what I call my post epidural moments.

I used to have a really great memory before childbirth and so I am definitely putting the blame on epidural for this one. Being a FTWM (full time working mum), this is my schedule: rushing for client meetings and meeting deadlines, check through and replying to emails during dinner time, homeschool my child after that AND THEN read up / research on more homeschooling ideas / resources after my child goes to bed. That's the kind of mad moments I have.

Some of my friends ask me how do I juggle, well, I don't. The rhythm goes out of sync once in a while. This is the proof: I dug my bag for my laptop and this is what I found. Ha ha ha

Legos anyone?

So, I am not going to tell you some BS that "yes, you can handle it all and it all comes naturally." I do mess up once in a while and I do have my MMMs. I am not a superwoman and I am not perfect.

BUT I do my best. And if my best is gonna end up with a packet of legos in my bag once in a while (or my Urban Decay Naked Palette in my Dumpling's bag), it is fine. I am a FTWM and I try to manage and managing does not mean I have to be perfect.

Anyone wanna have a laugh together at the end of a work week? What are your Friday MMMs? Do share! I would like to explore doing a linky party too - TGFMMM so let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good? Oh no, don't call her good!

I will be the first to confess that it happened to me too. I did it. Eons ago. When I went to a stage performance with a couple of mummy friends and as I was about to head for the car, my friend said "bye bye pretty girl!"

My reply "ai yoh, she's naughty." The moment it popped out of my mouth, I gave myself a mental slap (which must be a pretty hard one since I am quite sure I have never repeated the same thing) and I remember thinking "what on earth was that and where did it come from?"

It is very much an Asian thing. Parents who are "humble" in brushing off any positive comments about their kids and are almost embarassed to receive any praises.

This was evident when I was in the lift on a Sunday evening with my neighbour (a K2 girl) whose grandma was sending her home. The grandma saw Dumpling and went "oh such a pretty girl and speaks well too". Dumpling looked up and replied with a "Thank you" and it was then that I saw the a yearning expression on her grand daughter. I told the grandma "J is doing very well too! She has grown up so much and is such a confident child."

The young child's chest puffed up with pride only to be deflated in the next second when the grandma said "no lah, J is very naughty, very stubborn too".

Truly, this is an Asian thing. It is almost as if we feel that if a child has been praised too much, they might explode and then we end up downplaying the praises by saying something which is not intended to be malicious of course, but hurtful nonetheless to the child. 

So the next time, when someone comes along and praise your child, accept it with grace. Better yet, teach your child to accept it graciously and help her build up positive self esteem. 

(saw this picture from this blogsite)

Here's an exerpt from postive For the full article (all 7 tips) click here.

1. Be positive – Your general outlook on life affects your child a lot more than you think. This means that your positive outlook will rub off on your child and will help him to develop a positive attitude.

2. Praise Your Child’s Efforts – Children crave praise from their role models. When your child has made an effort at something, praise him honestly, even if the effort was unsuccessful. You will not only teach them the value of an honest effort but will also build his self-esteem. Make sure you are not fake though. Praise him for the right things and tell him that there is always a next time.

3. Ignore The Negative Aspects – No child is perfect. For that matter, you are not perfect yourself. So, why do you focus on the negative aspects of your child? Instead, focus on your child’s positive qualities.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

FREE Printable - A smurfy good time!

"La la la la la la, sing a happy song, la la la la la la, smurf the whole day long," Dumpling has been singing this song every now and then. To encourage her interest further in the Chinese language, I even bought a set of smurfs books in Chinese.

So, on a quiet afternoon when I was on leave and everyone was sleeping and inspired by other homeschooling blogger mums such as homeschool creations, I started creating a Preschool pack from scratch just for the fun of it. 'Cos I know that Dumpling will certainly love it. I am creating a Chinese version but that will have to wait till later as my schedule is a bit packed with planning of some new ideas and initiatives.

The images used in the packs are from Free Smurfs Clip-art Pictures and Images and Smurf Pictures Smurfette Pictures Papa Smurf Images. Please note that this clip is for personal use and not for selling or to be used in any profit purpose. Please do NOT host the file anywhere else but link them to this page for the download (do not link to the download directly as I may end up shifting the files to other sites and the earlier link you have will not be applicable).

Thank you and enjoy!

For easy convenience, I have decided to upload the printable here. The pack consists of:
- Pre-writing exercises
- Mazes
- Literacy exercises - starting consonant sounds, rhyming words, antonyms, etc.
- Math - one-to-one counting, patterning, etc
- Logic activities
and finishes off with a creative thinking page

Here's some pictures to share:

We have a DVD on one of the series and I also extended the rhyming exercise with a Learner Rod readers set which complements one of the rhyming exercises

For exercises such as these below, I leave her these days to attempt on her own while seated next to her

A "trick" question in one of the activities on "Prepositions" :)

For the pack activities, this was about how much we attempted this morning before heading off to church. So, this pack should last through  1 - 2 more days. :)

And inspiration struck! I extended to to the below

Dumpling loves to draw maze lately and I personally think it is a great exercise to develop critical thinking skills. So with a Geo board, off we explored. We did this together and I gave her a smurf figurine to "walk through".

Here, she made small amendments to the walls as she continues to develop her maze 

And tada! Finally, the maze is completed with the walls and the routes she wanted.

Finishing off with "villians" for more thrills!

You can view some smurf clips on YouTube and here's one:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our 7pm Dr. Seuss Date Week - Green Eggs and Ham

Our second Dr. Seuss book resulted in some sore toes (mine), loads of green playdoh bits on fingers and clothes (hers) and green bean soup in tummies (including the dogs).

This is Dumpling and my favourite title so far. I love the easy rhythm to the story with the rhyming words while Dumpling loves Sam's funny antics Sam. Its such a simple story but from a literature-based home learning front, there's so much to discuss:

1) Being adventurous / less picky on food
2) Being polite
3) Patience
4) Perserverance

I found a great guide here which is a sample lesson from a scholastic book. It was a great resource for us as we discussed about eggs and the storyline. For those of you who are adventurous with food, here's a link to some recipes. :)

Addiitionally, The Pizza Hut BOOK It! Program in America also featured this book with loads and loads of free printables. The Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza. BOOK IT! is simple for the teacher to use, flexible because goals match reading ability, and fun because achieving a goal is a great reason to celebrate. BOOK IT! was created in 1985 and currently reaches over 10 million students annually in America.

BOOK IT! runs every school year from October through March. The teacher sets a reading goal for each child in the class. A tracking chart and reproducibles are included to make it that much easier. As soon as a child meets the monthly reading goal, the teacher gives him or her a Reading Award Certificate.
For Feb/March, Pizza Hut had Tim Tebow a famous quarterback, who suffered from dyslexia, read his favourite title - Green Eggs and Ham. To thank Tim Tebow for his participation, Pizza Hut also made a donation to the Tim Tebow foundation.

Most of the printables here were from BOOK It!

Edit: Here's another link where to quite a few of Green Eggs and Ham resources.

This is the main page on Apples4teacher on other Dr. Seuss resources. Homeschool share also has Printables on various titles from Dr. Seuss and you can view them here.


Dumpling working on and "checking" on her maze

Story sequencing from the Pizza Hut Book It! Program

This was one title where we did more discussion and played with loads of playdoh

Tada! Her version of Green Eggs and Ham with a bit of help from mum :)

I suffered from sore toes after playing this game with Dumpling as she was very competitive and kept bumping into me. This rule of this game is the players are waiters and someone would read out the customer's orders (yellow goat ordered a blue banana) and we would have to search for the items and then place the right order on their plate. The faster player gets a coin. So you can imagine how rowdy this game got after a while. I do not have any photos of us playing since I was one of the players. Ha!

We finished off this 2-day session with the cartoon. I bought this compilation of cartoons from Amazon which has 4 titles: The Cat in the Hat (which my next post will be on), The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham & The Grinch grinches Cat in the Hat.

You can also watch the clip here:

I personally thought that this literacy program by Pizza Hut is a wonderful wonderful idea and I wish that the Pizza Hut here could do something like this too. Being a family diner, not only is this great publicity for Pizza Hut to encourage family activity but this also encourages early literacy through school and also family bonding from reading together. I am definitely contacting Pizza Hut here on this. Watch this space! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Our 7pm Dr. Seuss Date Week - The Lorax!

The very first book that I read with Dumpling which we both really liked was Hand hand fingers thumb. The rhyme was so catchy and the story, fun. (Hah!)

Dr. Seuss' stories are quite whimsical and in my opinion, not everyone's cup of tea. Dumpling and I like some of his titles though not all too. Lorax is one of those that has a storyline and the rhyme in it is great fun. With that, I decided to plunge head start into my Dr. Seuss week using this theme.

To save time, I downloaded a ready pack from 2 teaching mommies, I also created a mini extension pack for Dumpling to do since I intended to spread this over two days.

All ready!

The below is one of the activities from 2 Teaching Mommies and when Dumpling reached the last second row, she had a giggle fit. Lorax had a blue mustache. :)

In addition to the printables, I took the chance to discuss a bit of science - recyle, reuse and replanting. We also planted some vegetables in a ready packed kit given to Dumpling by her school last year and will be working with Dumpling on tracking the growth in a journal

The below is part of the extension mini pack I did for some rhyming and some literacy exercises

Day 2

Decided on more Math (and food) fun. The forest ground was a slice of banana chiffon cake and the mini marshmallows were the truffula tree tufts. Ha ha ha

Great for motor skill as she picked them / poked them with toothpicks

Math patterning which she was absolutely delighted with. Look how pretty the colours are :) Just like the story

I extended this at the very last minute this evening for more creative fun. The idea was to have Dumpling doodle and invent something she thinks can help Lorax to protect the trees. So she made this machine which in her words "have spikes all around to protect the Truffula trees from the enemies". :)

Edit: Here's a full Lorax eBook to share:

Lorax video to share:

Lorax will be hitting our big screen too! Here's a trailer!

Can you guess which title we will be working on next?

Theodor Seuss Geisel ( /ˈɡaɪzəl/; March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for his children's books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and, in one case, Rosetta Stone. (
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Be warned: All content in this blog is copyright protected. Registered & Protected