Wednesday 11 February 2015

Enjoy reading

I watched the movements of his eyeballs as he read a chapter book. I hounded him with queries like 'Are you reading? Word for word?'. I wanted him to read every word printed on the book and not skip or just browse through the pictures on the book. 

I came to this point because I realised every other book I gave him to read, he would complete it in a very short time. Once he finished reading a relatively thick book in 45 minutes. Although there were comic strips peppered across the book but there were also wordy chapters in that book. Still, to finish reading that book in 45 minutes to me, it's way too fast.

I get very suspicious whenever he tells me he has finished any book in such a short time. First thing that comes to my mind is that he didn't read but skip read or just browse through the limited animations. That's why I always question him, hound him like a criminal just to make sure he Really read the book. All of the time, he could very well summarize the book and tell me the ending. 

The next best thing I could do, I thought, was to watch his eyeballs as he read. If the eyeballs shift from side to side that means he is really reading. And at the same time, reminding him to read 'word for word!'. I think, but I can't quite confirm, he could be speed reading. 

But one day,  as I was about to hound  him again about reading word for word, I suddenly stopped myself. Something told me that the very essence of reading is to enjoy the book whether or not he skims through it or speed reads. What I was doing with the hounding and the eye hawking, I was in danger of killing his joy for reading. I told myself, so what if he speed reads? The boy is enjoying the book! Look at how he eagerly turns each page, the joyful expression on his face, chuckling to himself... he's clearly having loads of fun with the book! And I realised that's all that matters. Reading is all about enjoying the book. 

I think we have been told too many times by too many people about how we must make our children read to improve their English. We inadvertently become obsessed in forcing our kids to read and read and read all but for one purpose- to improve their vocabulary, grammar, comprehension and what nots which eventually improve their PSLE scores, we hope.  We have forgotten that reading is pleasurable, it's for leisure- anything more is added bonus. How short sighted we have become. 

Right now, I shall appreciate that Sonshine is enjoying reading. I LOVE to hear him chuckle and tickled to the bones when he reads a funny book. I LOVE how he shuts himself out from the outside world and dive deep into a book. I love to read purely for the enjoyment of it. I read not because I want to improve my English. Actually, I don't think reading help much in improving my English. I read but I don't concentrate much on the technicality of the language like grammar or vocabulary. I read to enjoy the plot. And I should let Sonshine do the same. Just read for leisure and pleasure.

I realise this should be the way for academic learning as well. The learning journey itself is actually very fun & interesting. But we become obsessed with the kids learning to get top PSLE scores that we rob them the joy of learning. Our ultimate goal shouldn't even be a degree certificate, it should be picking up skills & knowledge and enjoy doing what we do. We have limited life on this earth, why should we meaninglessly strive for paper and live miserably instead of living for enjoyment? 

Monday 9 February 2015

Catching Mr 'Z'

Recently, this article has caused a little buzz amongst us parents of Primary school going kids.  It talks about how the majority of our Primary school kids are not clocking enough hours of bedtime a day. What was more surprising to me was the activities the kids are allowed to do just before their bedtime; watching television was listed as the top activity.
I am not here to judge. Everyone has their way of doing things. For us, having enough sleep is of utmost importance. Ever since I became a mother, my schedule and routine revolves around the kids' nap. When Sonshine was a toddler, I used to rush home for his naps or declined any meet ups with friends whenever it clashes with his nap time. Even up till today, I go straight home (unless he has other classes) after picking him up from school so that he can have his noon naps. Sometimes his classmates would hang out for lunch after school, but I usually turn down because of, well yes, nap.
Before the article was published, I wondered if all this was worth the hassle. I looked at the other families' routine and they seem to be more flexible and carefree. Whereas, here I am running a military schedule all because I want to adhere to their nap time. In order for them to nap, I give up time for other things like playdates, unscheduled outings and even outdoor time. It also can be very tiring, rushing about & making sure everyone is keeping to the clock. Friends also seem to frown upon me when they see me rushing home for their naps.  Of course, I am not so rigid and sometimes would make exceptions but only on special occasions. But in general, I do my best to ensure that they don't skip naps and they take naps at home, not outside. I do this by making sure we follow the same old routine day in day out.
I did think to put the kids earlier to bed so that they can clock their 'zzz's. But that means they either won't get to see their father or have to compete with each other for his attention within that short 30 minutes or less. I thought that would be too stressful and frustrating for everyone. Also, I do think it is better to give their bodies and minds a break in mid day then to stretch them till bedtime.
I am also very strict about the activities they do before bedtime. Electronic devices prior to that is a big big no no for me. I know it messes up our minds and disturbs our sleep if we allow screen time before we sleep. I am a living example. I used to watch movies just before my bedtime and I usually end up with intense dreams on those very nights. Needless to say, it robbed me of a good sleep and I even ended up clenching my teeth in my sleep. I am an adult, so what more the kids? I don't even allow the television to be switched even though is on sports channel or what nots. It is a strict no no. Don't even talk about ipads which is not allowed on weekdays.
Therefore, this article came just about the right time. It assures me that my daily military routine is quite necessary and that I am doing the right thing. I also realised that the children don't always appear to be sleepy even though they really are very tired. Doll for instance, can still be upbeat and fresh looking despite being extremely tired. How do i know? Because the next moment when I put her to bed, she's straight off to La La Land. Same goes for Sonshine. Sometimes, we need to swoop in and take control rather than wait for signs to show.