Thursday 29 January 2015

Birds and the bees

So, it has happened. Sonshine asked me how to make babies. He chose the perfect time to drop the bomb on me- while I was driving. 

I thought all I had to do was to make it simple, easy peasy! Here was how our conversation went (heads up! Lots of obscene but accurate words ahead).

Me: Well, every man has this 'thing' called the sperm in them. The man has to transfer the sperm to the woman. The sperm will grow in the woman and viola a baby is born!

Him: OH. How to put the sperm in the woman?

Me: Erm (thinking to myself, since we are on this topic, let's be specific) The man has to put his penis into the woman. 

Him: Oh. How to put the penis in the woman? 

Me: (what have I got myself into) There's a 'hole' in the woman's vagina and the man has to put his penis in the hole.

Him: oh. (In deep thoughts) Then can men put their penis in other men's hole (he was referring to the rear hole, ahem).

Me: WHAT! WHAT?!? Where did you get the idea from??!! 

Him: (calmly) You. 

Me: me? 

Him: you said the man can put in a woman's HOLE. 

Me: erm well, er... (Should I brush this off... Should I be honest)

Me: Yeeeeeees, some men do that. BUT! God doesn't approve of that and it's not normal. And don't you go round putting your penis in ANY woman. Only the woman you marry. OKAY??!

Him: okay

Him: How does the sperm come out? Can we see it?

Me: (without thinking) it's like when you pass urine. You can't see it. 

Him: oh okay. 


On another day, I wanted to know how much he understood me. So I asked

Me: So, how do you make babies? 

(I was expecting him to first say a man has to put penis in the woman)

Him: FIRST, I must get married!

Me: (Wow he GOT THAT right!)

Him: Then put the penis into her and pass urine. 


Thursday 15 January 2015

Assesment books

Like many Singaporean parents, I buy assessment books and assigned them to Sonshine to work on. In fact, I consider myself an assessment books warrior! My weekly pilgrimage is to walk into Popular book store and leave with an assessment book. Needless to say, I buy so many that there is no way he can finish them all by year end.
Over time, I wonder how effective assessment books are. The questions in the assessment books won't even appear in the school exams, so even if the child aces the assessment books, does it mean he will do well in school exams? I really doubt so.
Yet, most of us are still obsessed with assessment books. I have seen mothers like me scouring through the shelves for assessment books at Popular book store. I suppose, assessment books give that extra revision and practise that our child needs. That makes sense, 'practise makes perfect' doesn't it?
But I think most of us, me included, have lost focus on the role of the assessment books. We think number is the the key, the more they do the better. Really? I have heard of kids who do truck loads of assessment books but still get average results or still 'lose' out to others who did no or little extra work outside of school. Of course, there are also students who benefit from, and even enjoy, doing them. So are assessment books the magical formula to good grades?
I look at Sonshine and myself. I suspect with or without assessment books, he will do just the same. His standard would probably remain status quo even if I don't assign him extra work. Yet I do see that it helps him a little at times. For instance, when working on English assessment books, he sometimes come across new words that he is unaware of. I learn to see that as an opportunity for him to boost his vocabulary. Still, sometimes, it comes out to nothing. He would learn the new word there and then but completely forgets about it the next round. Days like these, I wonder 'what's the use?'. In general it doesn't seem to make him 'smarter', even so, it would be just a wee wee bit, negligible really.

Then it dawned on me it is not the assessment books that will help Sonshine. For him particularly, it is the quality of the teaching that helps him the most. Sonshine is attentive and absorbs well during lessons. When the teacher is very clear, concise and precise in her lessons, Sonshine will retain and know how to apply accurately in his work. For example, maths, I observed that all I have to do is to explain very clearly to him all the basic concepts of the topic. After which, he can fly solo and tackle the tedious & complicated questions on his own based on his understanding of the basics. But, first the teaching must be very clear and detailed. So ultimately, for Sonshine, it all boils down to the teacher, absolutely nothing to do with the number of assessment books he does.

So now, I've to change my mindset. That's not to say I have stop buying assessment books. I still do. But I try not to equate his grades with doing assessment books. My strategy now is to teach and then use the assessment books as a revision or practise. In the past, I would simply throw the assessment books to him and expect the books to teach him or that he would magically learn on his own by doing them. So now i choose assessment books that comes with some guidelines. It is more for me to use them as a 'textbook' to teach Sonshine especially for english where there is no school textbook for us to follow unlike mandarin.

Having said that, with the wide selection of assessment books here, it is very hard to ward off the temptation to buy. I hope to constantly remind myself that it is not about the amount of assessment books Sonshine does but it is how well he can understand from what he is taught. Hopefully that will help me stay on track!

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Tray activities for Doll

Yesterday I prepared some tray activities for Doll. When she came home and saw the trays, she immediately wanted to work on them. That's the beauty of Montessori, it's invites the child to play and learn. No need for strict routines, it's a natural process. 

The activities I prepared weren't anything academic, it was more to remind her the beauty of 'work'.

Looping the rubber bands around the bottle to work on that fine motor skills. 

Using ice cream sticks to form shapes. Its a good way for them to learn the differences in each shape ie triangle has  sides while a square has four. 

Using an aided chopstick to transfer poms poms into ice cube tray. 

As usual I simple couldn't forgo counting activities. Since Doll has learn to count to 30, I wanted her to practise.  So I prepared her only two boxes (didn't want to overwhelm her) of buttons. She had to count each boxes.  One she had to count up to 26 and another 30. 

I love that she enjoyed herself and didn't see these as 'work'. I hope I can keep this up. These days taking care of two school going kids keeps my schedule very tight and exhausting. 

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Write away!

This year doll is attending formal preschool. Which means, I'll have less time at home learning with her. Looking at the school's curriculum and hearing from other experienced parents, she's in good hands. Still, I try to teach her at home albeit that it would much lesser & more concise.

I try as much as I can but I'm also lowering my expectations. This year, I want her to learn to read, write and dabble a little on simple maths. 

For a while now, I've been letting her to trace alphabets on the iPad. Yesterday I let her to the dot a dot on the letter 'A'. I numbered each dot so that the order is the is in the proper way of writing 'A'. 

Coincidentally, her school is also teaching her to write the same letter. Out of curiosity, I asked her to write it out on her own. 

Yay! So delighted that she can write 'A' on her own. At least the practises she got on the iPad paid off. 

I have also allowed her to use the scissors. I printed the above from Confessions of a homeschooling mom. Doll is so into cutting that she's asking for the scissors everyday. 

*apologies for the horrorid alignment. Typed this on my iPhone app which gives me no room to tidy up this post 😑

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Chat group for parents; curse or blessing?

So I joined a group chat that was specifically created for Sonshine's and his classmates parents. Like most, the purpose is so that we can quickly disseminate and share information to each other. I even went further & network with the other moms, building friendships with them. But after a year, I decided to exit the group chat and have less interaction with the other parents. 

I realised the group chat isn't helping me much. The questions and information exchanged aren't very useful, if anything, it made me very confused. Simple things like should the kids wear uniform or PE attire is made complicated. Most of the questions raised can be quite absurd and irrelevant. It annoys me much. This also became a source of gossip for my inner group of moms. Unhealthy!

The other reason is, this year I want to keep it simple and have all information about school to come from Sonshine and him alone. Last year, I had a lot of sources who would feed me with daily updates about his school day. Some of the kids reporting to their parents were so detailed to the point where I literally felt like I had sat in the classroom myself. Like most parents, I thought this was a fantastic thing. I get to know exactly what is going on in the class. However by end of the year, I felt that I was overloaded with TOO much information. 

I realized i started to use all that information to compare other kids with Sonshine. And when he seemingly fell short, I would scold him & demanded him to measure up. Or I would wonder why Sonshine didn't tell me the things other kids told their parents. That of course made me very annoyed. With all the additional information, my decisions about his school is marred. The whole process became very unnatural. 

This year, I want to keep things simple and pure. I want to hear about school from Sonshine and not from others. If he doesn't tell me stuff that others tell their parents then I should trust that he deems those information unimportant. He has shown me that he is able to tell me about the necessary stuff like school work very well. He updates me about his school work to the T but leaves out all the other frivolous stuff like who brought what bag or who did and say what in class. 

In addition, I'm also going for less play dates with the other parents. For one, I want to know less! Such play dates meant even more gossip and information being rendered to me. It always leaves me feeling depressed or wondering if something is wrong with my kid. 

More so, I realised there's no fit between this group of classmates and Sonshine. I'll be first to admit, Sonshine doesn't have those attractive personalities and can come across as annoying. It's just how he is. He's the sort who loved slapstick comedy. Not everyone finds it funny and some may get really annoyed (like yours truly). All the more, he needs friends who is tolerant and can accept his nonsense. His friends in this group are rather high strung and can get angry or easily irritated over small things that Sonshine does. So many times during play dates, I often hear these kids yelling at Sonshine over some small things or see them go to their moms to whine. I get very stress each time and would take it out on Sonshine. Sonshine on the other hand, has a super easy going character. Even if his classmates shoved him, grabbed his toys, say mean things to him, he lets it slide all the time. Rarely or never would we hear him yell at his friends to stop annoying him nor would he ever come to me and complained about being mistreated. He would just deal with it by himself. I reckon that because he's like that, he expects others to be as easy going as him. 

I did think that perhaps it's Sonshine who's plain annoying making his friends irritated. But I've seen him interact and play with other friends. These friends are more tolerant and accepting. When Sonshine annoys them, they either ignore or tolerate. They wouldn't whine or complain. But most of the time, they find him funny & they play well together. There are times when Sonshine annoys them but they get over it in a second.

That made me realised that there's a misfit between this group of classmates and Sonshine. It's not that the fault of anyone, more like all of them have faults that cause them to be incompatible. And that's really ok. We just have to seek elsewhere. 

Some may say I'm intervening too much. But I think I was emotionally drained from all this (although Sonshine is totally unaffected, I should really learn from him) and I need time to recover. So for now, I'll just detox for awhile, rest and recover! 
My aim this year is to keep things simple! 

Sometimes being exposed with too much knowledge is not a good thing. For someone like me who puts her emotions in everything she sees and hears, it can be quite unhealthy. I can't take things factually, I will let those things affect me emotionally. So for my sake and Sonshine, I'm so staying away from social networking for a while!