Time Life – Learning Maths with Albert

Time Life – Learning Maths with Albert was a series of mathematics books I had bought on impulse 9 years ago when my genzkid was 5 years old.

I was approached by a sales representative at the road show who started telling me how good this series was.

As a first time mom then, I just wanted to get the best for my then 5 years old genzkid and persuaded by her on the great advantages my genzkid would gain (e.g. how he would grasp maths skills at a young age after using the series, how mother would always want the best for their kids and how my genzkid would thank me for doing what’s the best for him when he grew up) if I had this series of mathematics books complete with accessories, and not forgetting that she promised that she will make a trip to my house to teach my genzkid how to use the books and the accessories, I ended up paying near $1k for
Time Life – Learning Maths with Albert.

I waited for days and the sales rep never called for arrangement to my house which she promised she would. I called the company and request for a demo, I was told no such service was provided. I tried to use the set with my genzkid then but he was not keen so I gave up. “Never mind, I can keep this for my 2nd child.” I tried to comfort myself. And yes, I had my 2nd genzkid and today she is 7 years old and sadly, my Time Life – Learning Maths with Albert series are still as good as new save for the accessories which my 2nd genzkid played with.

You may ask, it was so many years ago and you remembered the incident so clearly? Yes I did because I totally regretted my action – acting on impulse and buy something which if I had thought twice, I would not have buy.

Today, do I still buy things on impulse? Unfortunately I still do occasionally especially if the stuff are for my kids but I think I have improved. At least I am deferring my desire to purchase the Osim massage chair and an chinese educational device which sales rep claimed my 2nd genzkid would pass her chinese with flying colors …..

Haze rings the registers for some business

The recent haze started our shopping spree… First the surgical masks, then the N95, next the air purifier.

This shopping spree is no fun (trust me). Everything that used to be readily available seems to be running out of stock soon. Much tries, we managed to get the masks… but the real challenge was finding an air purifier.

Air purifier seems to be an essential item in any household. Freaky out, I tried to shop for one last weekend but I left the malls empty handed….. “Due to overwhelming response, all air purifiers are temporary out of stock.”

So yes, we do not have an air purifier at home … Not yet. Just today, my friend showed me a pic of the dirty filter of her air purifier … For only 2 weeks, the filter was filled with dirt !!!! My god, I was shocked !!!! She told me, “see, I told you right… You need an air purifier especially if you have kids at home.”

This weekend, I will be out hunting for a purifier again… Some told me Honeywell is the best, some said Novita while others said Sharp. So what’s your recommendation ???

DSA Admission Exercise 2012

This June school holiday is no fun because my 12 years old genz kid will be sitting for his  PSLE  end September this year.  He is very busy …. busier than me with days packed with school supplementary lessons, revisions, homeworks, etc.

After his SA1 results was out in mid May, the school had a Meet the Parent Session (“MTP”).   His form class teacher feedbacked during that session that  my genzkid has commented he wanted to go to a good secondary school.  When asked what  is his definition of a “good secondary school”, he couldn’t answer that question. So my first mission after the MTP was to sit down with him and set out his goal; define his definition of “good secondary school”.

The outcome –  he was aiming to get into Dunman High School or Victoria School – both IP schools in Singapore.   Coincidentally these two schools were having open house to attract students for their DSA admission exercise that weekend; hence we decided to visit the two schools to find out more about what they are offering.

That Saturday, our first stop was Victoria School; followed with Dunman High School.   Victoria School is a “all boys” school.   Both schools look impressive and students are well mannered (IP schools – what do you expect rite !)

At Dunman High School, we managed to catch the principal speech and to our surprise, my genz kid was actually qualified for the DSA Admission Exercise via the academic results route. According to the principal, the school was offering 410 seats for 2013 intake and half of the seats will go to DSA Admission Exercise.   Ratio was 1 out of 5 applicants will get a seat via this exercise.   My genz kids’ jaw immediately dropped as that would mean there will only be 205 seats available based on PSLE results. Sensing his uneasiness, I told him to just try his best for PSLE and works towards getting the results that would get him into the school (i.e. a minimum aggregate score of 260 – easier said than done rite !).

That afternoon, we met a relative whose genz kid will also be taking PSLE this year and applying for 3 schools via DSA Admission Exercise – CCA.   She encouraged my genz kid to do the same since he is qualified and the belief is it would be easier to get into your dream school via DSA Admission Exercise than relying on PSLE results.    That evening, my genz kid told me that he would like to give it a try – i.e DSA for DunmanHigh School.   I explained to him the whole exercise could possibly take months and he would need to sit for test, go for interview on top of  preparing for his prelims and PSLE.  This could lead to lots of stress. We discussed and after due deliberation, we decided to give this a miss and just concentrate in preparation for the exams.

Aftermath thoughts – Kids go to school today to enjoy learning or compete with each other to get into niche schools. Seriously, I don’t recall myself studying that hard for PSLE when I was just 12….    Educators always advocate that we should study for knowledge not results!  However, in this society, can we really study for knowledge and not results?

DSA Admission Info: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/dsa-sec/

List of IP Schools in Singapore: http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/programmes/gifted-education-programme/integrated-programmes/


A Parent’s Guide to Defusing Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry is natural and this healthy competition among siblings is unavoidable. However, the fighting and tension can wreak havoc on family time and bonding if allowed to escalate beyond the occasional boundary dispute.

Brothers and sisters have a precious opportunity to bond even if they get into competitions and fights. Consider these steps to increase the bonding and reduce the fighting.

Preventing Conflicts

1. Give each child special attention. Sibling rivalry is often just a struggle to get noticed. Spend separate time with each of your children regularly and share their favorite activities. Show equal enthusiasm for piano recitals and soccer matches.

2. Recognize your children as individuals. Avoid comparing one sibling to another. Treat them as individuals and acknowledge their personal abilities and strengths.

3. Teach conflict resolution skills. Having a brother or sister is a valuable training ground for learning many life skills. Teach kids to compromise, treat each other with respect, and take turns.

4. Discourage tattling. Let kids know that telling on each other is against the ground rules. The only exception is when someone’s safety or well-being is in jeopardy.

5. Be sensitive to potential triggers. Milestones like bringing home a new baby or starting school can escalate tensions. Even every-day factors like getting too hungry or tired can make it more difficult for kids to stay on their best behavior.

6. Encourage positive interactions. Give your kids opportunities to talk about what they like about each other. Discuss the positive aspects of having brothers and sisters. Creating lots of cherished memories and shared experiences will help them to support each other during rough times.

7. Hold regular family meetings. Family meetings make it easier for everyone to work together as a team. When kids get a chance to provide input, they feel validated and more invested in family activities and routines.

8. Be a good role model. Give your kids a peaceful environment. If you’re calm and free of anger, your kids are more likely to feel the same way. Engage the whole family in activities to lower stress, like taking a long walk or listening to music.

.. reading the full personal development article

Home Tutor

I have met quite a number of home tutors but have only come across few whom i would consider as “qualified”. In my dictionary, a “qualified” tutor is not only one who just have paper qualification but one who is passionate and teach with the child’s interest in mind.

Of course, I am not saying that you teach free of charge .. You need to make a living too right? However it should not be a “how much you pay me = how much effort I will put in”. I have seem tutors who just teach top “clock the required hours” and when times up, he will vanish like superman.

I am really keen to start a database of those good “qualified” tutors. If you think you are one of those “qualified” tutors and really like to help the kids to excel, please drop me a note.

Wondering if you are really qualified? Ask yourself this question – if your student is performing badly in school not because he is lazy but because he is a slow learner, what would you do to help him. Touch your heart when you answer this question, and if your answer touches your soul, you may be one of those tutors we are looking for.

Tips for Teaching Your Kids About Feelings

As children mature, they’ll experience all kinds of emotions. Like all humans, they’ll also have reactions to those feelings. Because of their natural responses, they’ll find it helpful to learn to manage their emotions as early in life as possible. You can do a lot to help them with this!

These tips can help you teach your kids about their emotions:

1. Be open and honest about your feelings in your kids’ presence. It’s important for your children to see you as a healthy, active adult who appropriately expresses their feelings.

* How you manage your own feelings provides your young child’s first lesson in how to express his feelings.

* Modeling is one of the most powerful forms of teaching behaviors to children.

2. Show respect. Verbally express your feelings in ways that are helpful and that show respect for others. When you and your spouse appropriately talk about your emotions and share them with each other, kids learn how to do it just by observing.

* Use “I” statements followed by “feeling” words when you share your emotions in front of your children.

* For example, “I feel really annoyed when you play with your friends on the way home from school and get here 30 minutes late.”

3. Be mindful of your tone of voice. If you use appropriate tones of voice when expressing feelings, your kids will learn to use them as well. For example, instead of raising your voice when you’re upset, make an effort to keep your voice calm.

4. Identify your young children’s emotions with them. For very young children, two or three years old, it’s beneficial to label and clarify the children’s feelings in their presence. Especially at six years and under, children usually have little understanding of how their emotions function.

* For example, if a three-year-old gets angry and stamps his feet because he wants candy, get down to his eye level and say something like, “You’re angry at mommy right now because you can’t have candy.”

* Use names of feelings, like angry, mad, sad, happy, pleased, frustrated, and others. You convey a great deal of emotional learning when you teach a child about feelings by using the names of emotions.

* Sometimes, you may find it helpful to tell a youngster, “It’s okay if you’re mad.” Giving the child permission to feel and express his feelings can be very validating for them, even if they don’t respond that way at the time.

* On the other hand, if a young child gets frustrated or angry and throws a toy that could hurt someone, it’s advisable to state, “No, don’t throw your toys. It’s not okay to throw your toys.” Separate the actions from their emotions and from them as people.

* Remember, it’s futile for adults to get frustrated or angry with young children who have a lot to learn about their emotions. Your patience will show them, by modeling, how to keep their cool, even in a frustrating situation.

5. Reward them. When your child manages their feelings appropriately, providing immediate positive reinforcement makes a big difference in how a child learns to express emotions. Emotional management will often manifest in appropriate behavior.

* Smile and say something like, “Billy, I like the way you sat so still in the grocery cart. You did a great job!”

* When offering positive comments, state your child’s name and obtain eye contact with him. This will help reinforce the positive behavior.

As a parent, one of the most important lessons you’ll ever teach your children is how to identify and appropriately express their feelings. Apply the tips above to help ensure that your children grow into mature, healthy adults.

Summertime Fun for You and Your Kids

Keeping your kids entertained during the summer can be a challenge. Why not strengthen your family bond with activities that will satisfy your whole family at once? That way, you can enjoy quality family time and create a memorable summer together before it’s back to work and school.

These fun summer activities are sure to be a hit for both you and your kids:

1. Enjoy a family beach day. There’s really no better way to cool down on a hot summer day than with a trip to the beach. Instead of just “going to the beach,” why not make it an event? Make it memorable by attaching meaning to the fact that your whole family is there!

* Build a huge sandcastle together and take photos around it.

* Play games like volleyball, soccer, and catch together instead of just sitting around soaking up the sun.

* Take your family pet along and create a memorable first-time event that all of you can reminisce on years down the road.

2. Pack a picnic in the park. A quiet, relaxing picnic day at the park is the perfect way to spend quality time with your kids and absorb the beauty of nature at the same time. A few hours away from television and technology is just what you need for some summertime fun with the kids!

* Play Frisbee with your kids instead of watching them throw it to each other.

* Carry your camera and take family photos.

* Take along food that you can prepare together, like tacos or PB&J sandwiches.

* Play Pictionary and watch your kids really express themselves.

3. Take a camping trip. You’ll get to enjoy the company of your children in an unfamiliar environment and will even learn a few things about them and their abilities in the process! Camping also provides the opportunity for you and your kids to enjoy many out-of-the-ordinary activities together, like:

* Putting up the tent.

* Gathering wood and building a fire.

* Roasting marshmallows.

* Telling stories while sitting around the campfire.

4. Grow a garden. Completing a gardening project with your kids will definitely feel rewarding, especially if you can see the fruit of your labor for a long time to come. You and your kids can spend a few summer days planting flowers, fruits and vegetables that you’ll all remember and be proud of in the months and years to come!

* Go shopping for personalized gardening accessories like colored gloves, inscribed straw hats and patterned mud boots. If your children are small, you can even find kid-size garden tools like shovels and rakes to make it that much more fun.

* After you’ve planted a garden with your kids, place an inscribed stepping-stone or other garden ornament in the garden to commemorate the occasion.

Summertime is the perfect time to really get to know your kids and create memories that will last a lifetime! Start today to make the memories of this summer ones that all of you will go back to time and time again.

Graceful Society – Teach by Examples

You were about to get into the lift, the door closed and the people inside just stared at you. It was like they were telling you, “too bad, you are too slow.”. Okay, you waited for the next lift and the lobby was soon crowded with people. The lift finally reached the ground level, zoom… people started rushing in.  The door was about to close before you managed to squeeze in. Phew … You looked around and realized that people were giving you dirty stare. “Why?” You wondered innocently.

The lift reached 4th level and those behind tried to squeeze through you. You gracefully moved aside and looked at the little boy standing in front of you – he didn’t press the “DO” button.  “Maybe he forgot” you thought.  “Would you mind holding on to the “DO” button?” you asked. Blank stare from the little boy, filthy stare from his mother standing next to him.  Most unwilling, the mother stretched out her hand and pressed the button. What’s wrong with my request?

Finally, the lift became less crowded.  The mother held her son’s hand and asked him to move to the back of the lift.  She whispered, “move back, if not the auntie will asked you to be the “door holder man” again”.  Was she referring to me ???

The lift reached the top level.  I being the nearest to the button pressed the “DO” button and suddenly I felt a gush of winds passing by. Oops … was everyone late for his appointment? The mother and son suddenly had supernaturally power – they whom were right at the back became 3rd to exit the lift.  Within seconds, my duty was done and I stepped out of the lift feeling relief.

Parents thinking of teaching your kids to be graceful with their acts? Errr.. think again … I seriously suggest we teach by examples.

Improving Your Child’s Grades

Parents all around the world can attest to the difficulty of raising children – especially the challenges of unsatisfactory grades on a child’s report card. Do you find yourself wishing there was a way to help your child get better grades? Are you concerned that your child isn’t performing to the best of his or her ability?

You can’t spend every day at school analyzing what is preventing them from doing better on tests and exams. However, you can make some adjustments at home to better prepare them to succeed in school.

These suggestions may be exactly what your child needs to ensure he or she has better grades on the next report card:

1. Cut down, rather than eliminate, playtime. Poor grades on your child’s report card could be an indication that not enough time is put into studies or that too much time is spent recreationally. However, the answer isn’t to eliminate playtime altogether. It’s important that there is balance in your child’s life.

• Increase the time spent on studies and homework if your child tends to neglect them. However, more effective use of the time spent may be the better technique if your child is spending time on his studies. Reduce distractions and help explain important concepts.

• Allow more recreation on the weekend so your child can take a real break from the books.

2. Encourage reading. Reading is one of the core subjects that aids in a child’s development and progress. However, not all kids like to read the books required by their school because they may not be interesting to them. Try to find more interesting reading formats that will likely catch the attention of your young one:

• Get books that use more illustration than normal; pictures help break the monotony of reading that usually turns kids off.

• Outside of the books that are required for school, choose books with subject matter that will appeal to your child’s interests.

3. Provide games that strengthen their weaknesses. If math and problem solving are weak areas for your child, buy games that require more logic and reasoning than normal.

4. Keep meals consistent. Often, if there’s too much time in between meals, it becomes very easy for the brain to shut down and lose focus. This happens to children as well. You can prevent this scenario by ensuring meal times are consistent so the brain is always adequately fed.

5. Consider a tutor. Some children learn better one-on-one. It’s possible that your child isn’t doing well in class because there’s not enough attention being paid to his or her needs. Extra classes outside of school will give your child the attention needed to truly grasp concepts and understand a subject.

These tips will help you steer your child toward better grades and develop the skills necessary to excel in school. Every child is different, and their needs may change from time to time, so you must remain diligent about finding solutions that work for them. The sooner you’re able to pinpoint their specific weaknesses, the faster you can take steps to correct them.

At the end of the day, the more time spent addressing the educational needs of your child, the greater the likelihood they will do well in school!

Help Your Kids Love Reading

When you help your kids to love reading, you provide a gift that will enrich their personal and professional lives for years to come. Even though teachers play an important role, parents are a child’s first teachers. To nurture the love of books, parents should begin reading to their children as soon as possible.

Consider the following tips to help build literacy skills in your child at every stage of development.

How to Help Younger Children Love Reading

1. Start by reading to your baby. It’s never too soon to get started. Read to your baby for a few minutes at a time until their attention span grows. Point to the pictures. Use rhymes and songs to teach language skills.

2. Continue reading books aloud as your child grows older. Reading to your child is one of the most valuable ways to spend your time together. Make story time a regular routine before bed or anytime that works with your daily schedule.

3. Make reading fun and interactive. Train yourself to read in an animated fashion. Encourage your child to read some passages aloud to you or to their brothers and sisters. Share questions about what you read together or make up your own variations on the story.

4. Enlist your child’s teacher as an ally. Develop regular communications with your child’s teacher. Be open to feedback provided. Teachers may spot any areas of weakness in reading skills that you can work to correct before they become serious issues. They can also help recommend titles that your child might enjoy.

5. Visit your local library and bookstores. Take your child along to the library and to children’s events at local bookstores. Get them a library card of their own as soon as they’re old enough to do so.

6. Encourage your child to write. Giving your child opportunities to write will help reinforce their literacy skills. Leave each other notes on the refrigerator. Write emails and greeting cards together.

How to Help Older Children Love to Read

1. Set an example of reading for pleasure. You may need to set an example in your own home to counteract trends that show a general decline in the reading of books. Let your preteens see you reading. Help them develop their critical thinking skills by discussing books as part of everyday conversations.

2. Help your teen find time to read. The average teen spends a lot of time on social activities and electronic media. You can set reasonable limits, such as a nighttime curfew on using cell phones and watching TV. 

3. Build a home library. Keep reading material available around the house. Create a comfortable and inviting space for family members to read. If you don’t have an extra room, you can still set aside a corner of the living room or den.

4. Look for books that reflect your teen’s interests. Let your teen pick their own books as long as the titles are age appropriate. Stay up to date on zombies, werewolves, and other popular trends.

5. Integrate reading into fun family activities. If your teen is reading Hamlet in their English class, offer to take them to a live performance. If they enjoy a movie based on a Jane Austen novel, buy them the paperback. Take the opportunity to re-read it yourself so you can discuss it.

6. Be realistic. The teen years can be a busy and difficult time. Celebrate any progress you make without exerting so much pressure that your good intentions backfire.

Reading for pleasure broadens the mind and enriches our shared cultural and civic life. You can help your children get off to a good start by learning to love reading. It will help build basic comprehension skills and change their lives for the better.