Monday, August 29, 2016

Parenting with Love: A weary soul dealing with tests and more tests

Like many parents, when the kiddo first entered Primary school, I was under the impression that life is pretty much holistic and there are hardly any tests. But I soon realized that those tests are a rose by any other name.

In the past, children in P1 will be taking CAs and SAs where the papers will be cleared over that said date. With the current system, tests are now “bite-size” and are basically named as “holistic assessments”. So this means that most of the time for Dumpling, her tests start from Week 4/5 and it is almost the full range of what one would expect in an SA.

So for each term, her scope will include:
  • Oracy elements (Show and Tell / Stimulus based conversation + Read aloud + Picture Conversation*)
  • Listening Comprehension / Sound Discrimination (for both languages)
  • Written Papers for all subjects (In fact, for the kiddo, she has to usually take 2 Math review papers and 2 performance assessments with the latter not graded)
  • Composition (for English) was introduced in T3 in P1 where it was also tested and graded. For P2 this year, compo is graded for T3 and T4. For Chinese, they have been doing 看图写话 exercises since T2 but we have yet to hear formally from her school if this element will be included in her SA.
* For Chinese

So, splitting that over 4 – 5 weeks and the weeks are packed with 2 assessments weekly where there’s also spelling for both languages.

So how are we doing? We are “managing”. From a parental standpoint, all of us want our children to do well but the reality is, to stretch these over 4 – 5 weeks every term, it basically also means consistent revision over the same stretch of period. It then becomes a very fine balance of ensuring the kid has done the due diligence of revision and peppering in good breaks and activities as we are also often bored with all the revisions.  

And before I forget, I have to add that for her school, their results will be used for class banding where they will then move on to a new “class” for Primary 3 (she has been in the same class for the past 2 years). So yes, it feels like “streaming” has arrived early. 

With all these whirlwind of tests and more tests, truthfully they are weighing me down a bit. Added to the mix is this crazy intense competition within the class where there's also class politics (between the girls and amongst the mums!) I often find myself tense and worried. When she makes careless mistakes (arrrhhggg!) which are hefty mistakes (especially in this P1 and P2 period where half a mark makes loads of difference), I’d find myself grumpy and I sometimes come down quite hard on Dumpling. Added to the mix where I am a Type A, you can only imagine the mood in the house during the test period. Reflecting on the grumpy moments over the weekend, I ended up wondering how life would be when it is SA2 end of the year and (gasp!) during her PSLE in 4 years!

Dumpling, on the other hand, was a total trooper where there weren’t many complaints from her. Instead, she started showing interest in WWI and we ended up reading up and learning more about this modern war. We enjoyed ourselves and had a great time discussing the weapons used, the alliances formed and the Battle of the Somme. There were many lively chats and sharing over this topic during meal times and during car rides. AND IT HIT ME. It is all about perspective. Being caught up in this rat race, I have lost sight of what matters.

Education should not be just a testing of “textbook knowledge”. While children acquire knowledge, it is what and how they make sense of it that is important – interpretation, analysis, application and reflection. In Einstein’s words, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”

While it is inevitable that the kid will have to take tests after tests in school, it is what we make of it that matters. Yes, unfortunately, the system in SG is where it is meritocratic and everything is based on those numbers on those score sheets. But I am quite adamant that I will learn to look past it, that she is learning loads more about the world than just building on textbook knowledge. And as a parent, I am merely the shepherd, to guide and support her along and more importantly, to maintain that joy of learning and continue to fuel that curious mind of hers. 

With the September holidays around the corner, we are taking the chance to wind down and enjoy the things we like: movies, workshops, play dates, etc. before we take on the last term for this year. Here are some books / areas that she has shown an interest in which we will be finishing up during this period: 

On Bones: 

This series of titles is quite interesting and engaging. It provides bite-size information on quite a technical subject. Each title also provides a pair of 3D glasses which gives the reader an "X-ray" vision where he/she can see the bones in some of the images. 

On WW1 
(part of the 7 titles which we are reading ~ I will share more in an upcoming post)

In just 2 years time, the kiddo will turn from a single to a double digit age. Time slips by us so quickly and I do not want to have any regrets. Hence, I do not want to lose sight of what truly matters to me and I hope that you too, will not lose sight of yours. 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts (both on the kiddo and my furkid), food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), outdoor fun, useful reviews, early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Primary School Journey: Ergonomics Workstation for Better Spinal Care!

I have scoliosis, diagnosed when I was in Primary School. Similar to the image above, my curvature is an "S curve". Being someone with Scoliosis with an S curve, I am quite mindful of spinal care. In fact, when Dumpling was younger, I have brought her to my chiropractor before for a spinal check. The spine is basically linked to the nervous system and when it is not properly aligned, there could be tension or back aches, etc. For myself, I suffer from some really bad headaches, neck and back aches.

Hence it has been on my mind for some time to look into an ergo table for the kiddo. When Dumpling was younger, she used a small pink desk from IKEA which was alright as the table and chair height were suitable for her size then. However, as she grew over the past years, she would spend longer hours at the table (since there’s more homework) I have noticed that she had to bend over to read or to write.

:: The shop
So over the weekend, the family visited ERGOWORKS at Causeway Point to check out the ERGOSTARS workstation. The mall seems to be a popular choice for families with young children. Ergoworks is located on Level 3 along the near other children friendly shops such as Kiddy Palace, Popular bookstore, etc.

:: The product range

The shop is a cozy unit but there is no lack of ergonomics products on display:

From IMPACT ergonomic bags

To DUOREST ergonomic chairs
(and ohhhhhhhh… I must say that I tried the below range and my back was in utter bliss the whole time I was seated on it. The support and the angle were perfect for my very sore back ~ I just had a deep tissue massage the day before!)

And to this portable Backjoy support which you can add on to your existing chair. And did you see what I saw???? They even have one in Hello Kitty ™ design!!!!

:: The experience
We met up with the shop Consultant – Jacky who is strong in his product knowledge and explained the functionalities of the ERGOSTARS workstation which we are keen on. Based on my observations from the other customers as well as Dumpling's experience, Jacky was very “hands-on” and took the time to explain the various models and choices available. He also got the kiddo to sit down and tried out the various workstations as well as the chairs.

Consultative Advice
One of my friends have shared with me that ergonomics workstations are also available from various online shops. But personally, after having visited the store and learning more from Jacky, I found that the consultative advice shared to be really important for such products, something which we will not have access to, online. 

To elaborate, with an ergonomics work station, this is the neutral posture all of us should have: 

Hence, the in-store experience is necessary ~ to have a chance to sit down on the chair, adjust the angle of her back rest, and the angle and height of the table, etc. and try it for comfort. 

The "trial"
The ERGOSTARS workstation comes with DUOREST ergonomic Junior chair which is made from original German dual backrests design and technology invented since 1988. Jacky was very patient and took his time to advise us on the steps to adjust the chair for good spinal support ~ to sit close to the the back of the chair and that the legs should be at 90 degrees, touching the floor (or a foot rest ~ see last photo below).

During the trial, he was also very mindful that Dumpling is the user and often stopped to check with her on the comfort level and well as showed all of us what the right angle should be. 

Dumpling’s choice of table allows her to adjust the tilt angle where 25 degrees is optimal for reading (Note: see how she is not hunched over in the right pic?)

With a simple press of the lever (tucked neatly on the side of the table), the table top is then placed flat again for writing. 

Other features of Ergostars model include:
  • Effortless height adjustment system
  • Desk height adjustment (58cm to 80cm) to grow with your child
  • Detachable lever handle
  • Child safe design with rounded edge bumper ~ great for younger children
  • Non-reflection desk surface ~ better for eyes
  • Desk feet leveler ~ in case of un-even floor surface
  • Bag hanger
  • Wrist support pad that holds book and laptop
  • Less than 1 meter in width - fit in to most small space! 
  • Environmental friendly
  • Safe to use
  • E1 European Safety Standard
I also appreciate that the desk comes with front caster wheels for easy mobility, which is great for sliding the workstation out for easy cleaning.

The chair also comes with a rest to cater for smaller children whose feet may not be able to touch the floor.

The ERGOSTARS bundle Usual Price is $1998/set ($1299: desk + $699: chair). 

I am pleased to share that the set is NOW at $699/set with options to purchase a drawer and desktop riser at 50% discount. This bundle set comes in 3 different colors: pink, blue and grey. 

:: The delivery arrangement
Once the choice was made, it was a very simple process of writing down our details for Jacky who checked against the computer system and arranged for the delivery. 

I was told that most deliveries will be between 5 to 7 working days and they will call us prior to arrange. I will update you again in my next post on our delivery and user experience.  


Causeway Point

1 Woodlands Square #03-26 Causeway Point
(level 3 next to Kiddy Palace )
Opens Daily: 11:30am - 9.00 pm
Telephone: 6893 8488

Marina Square

6 Raffles Boulevard #03-337/338 Marina Square
(level 3 Art of living furniture zone)
Opens Daily: 11:30am - 9.00 pm
Telephone: 6837 3370


176 Orchard Road #03-36 Centrepoint
(level 3 next to LALU boutique)
Opens Daily: 11:30am - 9.00 pm
Telephone: 6836 8488

Connect with Ergoworks on their Facebook page! 

:: About Ergonomics
Ergoworks is the ONLY ergonomic brand endorsed & certified by both Singapore Physiotherapy Association & The Chiropractic Association Singapore, this endorsement assure customers are buying genuine ergonomic products. 
If you have found this post useful, you may enjoy more posts on Dumpling's Primary school journey.   
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. We were invited to review the ergonomics workstations (ergostars) so that we can give our opinions about it. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions are entirely ours. 
If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts (both to the kiddo and my furkid), food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 
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