Monday 29 February 2016

The teens and the tens

It is time!
It is time to take out my Montessori sets before it turn into dust and before Doll has no use for it! :D
I decided to teach Doll all about teens and the tens.
Actually I sort of already taught her before but this is just to reinforce her learning.
Note, I may not necessarily follow the authentic Montessori way in presenting but it works anyway.
First, we take out our tens beads. Doll determines that there are ten yellow beads strung together in a set.
Then we lay out the ten beads beside our teen board accordingly.
Next, we determine the number of beads in each colour set. For instance, the red set has just one bead, the green set, 2 beads, the pink, 3 beads and so on.
With our attention back to our teen board, we slide the '1' on the '10'. Here's where I tell Doll that 10 and 1 makes 11. I show her the 'magic' as I place the '1' on top of the '10'.
I also place a red bead, representing one, below the ten yellow beads. I counted them and determined that there 11 beads altogether. And again I told her that 10 (point to the yellow beads) and 1 (point to the red bead) makes 11. I do the same for 12 and the rest of the teens.
And we continue with the rest (here I only show up to 15).
At the end of the session, I randomly queried her how many does 10 and 3 makes or 10 and 5 makes etc, just to check if she understood what was presented. Sometimes, during our day to day I will also throw these questions at her just to reinforce what she learnt.
Also, I taught her what it means by counting by tens. I used my trustee ten boards. I showed that one ten makes ten, two ten makes twenty (and I counted each bead to show her that) and so on.
As with the teens lesson, I would ask her how many does 5 tens make or 7 tens make etc.
Next, as with the teen boards, I showed her that 40 and 3 makes 43. First we lay out 4 tens yellow beads and a 3 beads set.
I slide the 3 over the 40 and showed her that 40 and 3 makes 43. We counted the beads and determine that indeed 4 tens and 3 bead makes 43 and so on.
These activities are great for the child to learn place value. With these visual aids, it would be easier for the child to understand the place values later on.
And here's how I taught my pre-schooler all about the tens and the teens. :)
If you would like to know more here's a link on the know-hows and even how to DIY.

Monday 22 February 2016

Are we raising one-track minded children?

Sonshine recently brought home a math worksheet. One of the question was an algebra type of a problem sum. 

The student is required to solve the question by drawing out models. In this particular question, two blank equations were printed on the given space and Sonshine had to fill in the blanks with the correct workings. In order words, it has been depicted for him that he has to use a specific method to solve the question. 

Sonshine solved it. BUT...

He couldn't cough out that two equations that was demanded upon him. He used another method to crack the problem which explains why he couldn't produce that particular two equations required. 

In the end, I had to teach him the method that the educators WANT him to use to solve this question. And so he did. He produced the exact workings in perfect order that the markers wanted to see. 

This got me asking why is our education system so fixated on using ONE set method to solve a problem. Here is a child who is able use his own creative thinking skills to solve the problem. And on the other side, we have educators who insist on the students using their one and only method to solve the questions. 

I'm quite certain that if he had handed in the answer without the workings, he would have been penalised- never mind that he got the right answer. Because it was clearly stated that the student has to use that particular way (aka two step equation) to solve the question. 

We should be applauding him for demonstrating creative thinking skills. But instead, we penalize him for not using THE specific method that WE want. 

Why does it bother me? Because I fear over time he learns that it's not acceptable to think out of the box; that over time his thinking process gets boxed in and he may lose that ability to think beyond the textbooks. 

Recently, an article tracked down the adults who were child prodigies. It wanted to see how these kids were faring as adults. Sad to say, only one percent were making breakthroughs in their line of work while the rest fell short of what they were capable to do. 

And here's the quote from the article "What holds them back is that they don't learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn't make new.
The gifted learn to play magnificent Mozart melodies, but rarely compose original scores. They focus their energy on consuming existing scientific knowledge, not producing new insights. They conform to codified rules, rather than inventing their own. Research suggests the most creative children are the least likely to become the teacher's pet, and in response, many learn to keep their original ideas to themselves. In the language of the critic William Deresiewicz, they become the excellent sheep."
Over time, these children learn to conform their thinking process according to what the society expects them to be. They lose their own creativity and originality. And so sadly, they rarely become the best they can be.
I think our education system is heading in this direction for all our children, prodigies or not. We train the children to think in a certain manner for over ten years of their lives. We condition them to solve a problem in a specific way. We don't applaud children who are able to think differently. Instead, we reward those who can conform into the mould. We are literally raising one track minded children.
Yes I agree that sometimes guidelines are useful in helping the children think. But they are what they are- GUIDELINES. We have been too obsessed with sticking to the guidelines that we forget that there are other ideas that are equally effective or better yet, more ground breaking.
So far, I've  been pointing fingers at our education system. But us parents can also stifle our children's nature by setting too many boundaries to what they can do or cannot. Sometimes we push our children to change so that they can be more accepted socially. We tell them they have to be more vocal, to more participative because being introverts are mostly deemed as being 'weird', boys must be sporty else they are labelled as weak etc. We are essentially telling them to lose themselves and be that person the society wants them to be.  I am totally guilty of that. 
I have written in to his teacher and unfortunately, Sonshine was being criticised for lacking in  mathematical skills for not being able to show the workings. Well, that says a lot doesn't it?

Sunday 21 February 2016

My favorite book store

Books- I have a great love for buying stacks after stacks of books for my kids. I love the smell of the new books, I love seeing my kids dive into another world and enjoying it. 

But over time buying new books can be quite hefty on the wallets. 

As an alternative, I go to the library and borrow them. Since it cost absolutely nothing. But borrowing them would mean we can't read at our leisure and we need to be mindful of the due dates. And sometimes the books are so good that we desire to keep them forever. 

What do I do? I go to my most favorite bookstore in Singapore- Evernew Book store located Bras Basah Complex. It sits at a corner of the complex right next to the National library. You can NOT miss it. It's filled with treasures at low low low low (can I emphasize anymore?) cost. 

Sure, the books aren't exactly in mint condition and it doesn't have the whiff of new prints. But, the books aren't in a shabby condition either. There are no dog ears, tattered/ missing pages or chewed off covers. They are mostly in good condition. 

To me, a true book lover would look beyond the condition of the book and look right into it's contents instead. And that is us. We don't really care if the books are in tip top glossy condition, all we care is what are the books telling us. 

So how low is low? Let's take a look at my recent purchase:

I bought one Peter and Jane series and two Ladybird Read it Yourself books. I got them at $1 each! That's 3 books for $3! I would not have gotten these books for $3 not even one of them! I suppose these books can cost up to $4-$5 EACH!   If I had bought them new, I would spent roughly about $15? I saved $12 by buying second hand! 

It makes perfect sense to buy these books at second hand since my preschooler would outgrow them in time. I mean, we don't expect a primary 3 kid to be still be reading these books right? Once we are done, we can give them away without feeling a pinch in our pockets. 

Primary school parents! You will be happy to know they sell second hand assesment books too! One needn't to worry if there are scribblings or half undone books, it's all clean. Also, they sell second hand textbooks! Sure, there could be some highlights here and there but the store makes sure it is useable and the contents are still visible. I've made a mental note to head down to this shop first before buying any new textbooks. 

Here's another book I bought. This comic series can easily chalk up to $9+ for a new book. I got it at half the price, although, one could get a totally new book at the same price in Malaysia! But alas, we are living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. So second hand books at slashed prices will do. 

One thing though, you may not find books that you want. Their supply of the books are not regulated and it depends very much on what's being brought into the shop.
While the shop tries to organise the books into categories as best as they can, you would need to be prepared to dig through the piles to look for the titles you want. However, I take pleasure in soaking up the books so I don't mind spending a minute more in the store. 

Also, just to add, Bras Complex is haven for book lovers. There are more than one second hand bookshops like Evernew. If you can't find the books you want, simply skip to the next all in the same complex. If all else fails, you can still buy the books new at the Popular store in the same complex. It's a one stop shopping area for book lovers. I also particularly love to drop by Maha Yu Yi bookstore (#03-11). It is a book store selling mandarin books. I love their selection of books for pre-schoolers and older children. The store assistant is super friendly and helpful- and she speaks English too (and all the non-mandarin speaking parents say..'YAY!').
Evernew Book store is located at:
Bras Basah Complex
Bain Street
Blk 231, #01-07
And lastly, before you groaned "oh bother, here's another sponsored blog advertisement!". Well, you can be rest assured that I was not paid in any way to write this post (although if the shop owner feels I deserve free books after reading this post, I wouldn't mind!). This is purely my own sharing. I wrote to share this just because I love this place that much! Spreading the joy!