August 31, 2008

Playgroup

Been hunting around for a play group for Kyle to attend when he turns 18 months. I think that he will need to socialise with other kids his age, and not have to be stuck with only Mommy playing with him most of the time in the mornings.

Checked out a few schools and there are only some that have a parent-accompanied programme, but classes are only held on Saturdays. Which is out of the question after the 'Gymboree experience'. The little boy started to show zero interest in the activities, right after I spent almost $400 signing up for a new term of classes. Anyhow, these classes do not do anything much besides helping him build his motor skills and allow him to socialise with the other kids. I suppose that's how it is with structured activities. Worse is when I have a spirited kid who does not relate well to the activities and hates to be cooped up in an air-conditioned room for 45 minutes.

Some of the classes I have checked out have pretty good programmes, but the location and the timing is just not convenient.
1. Wee care - a multi-sensory, learning through play programme, with classes only on Saturday mornings.
2. Busy buddies - a learning through play toddler programme for 18 - 30 months in Great World City. Not too keen on the environment, since kids stay in a room for 90 mins, I will probably end up with a very angry toddler.
3. Julia Gabriel - alot of socialisation, creative activities but I don't want to travel long distances. Don't have much of a choice when the kid hate long car rides.

(Note to self : the great preschool hunt has to start in a month's time and it has to be within 5 km from home.)

I want to be able to get together with other SAHM with their kids around Kyle's age. So I will attempt to look for interested members for a Playgroup for Jan - June 07 toddlers, SAHM moms in my area (not sure if there are any out there).

Afterall, what is the early childhood education knowledge for if I cannot help my own kid and some moms. Mothers are the best teachers for their child, and it does not take very much for a mom to be equipped with the right knowledge, skills and resources. Especially if you are a very hands-on mother.

The last quarter of this year will be really busy; I am starting my Jump into Music and Literacy programme at Edelweiss Kindy, on top of my research projects and attending classes on the weekday evenings, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

August 30, 2008

Kyle's Home School

Recently L mentioned that she has ran out of activities for her 21 month little girl. She has tried painting, dough, crayons, bought her new pretend play toys (which I believe have kept her busy for a while).

Most moms I know of are giving their little ones lots of art and craft activities. I think it is fantastic that they are leading the pathway for creative development for their child. However, I will use a methodological approach to focus on the growth of the whole child. This approach will be suited for toddlers below 3 years and can include developmental norms in the areas of physical, language and communication, cognitive, social and emotional growth.



Before I plan for new activities for Kyle, I completed 5 separate observation assessments of Kyle in different settings; meal time, solitary play, parallel play, outdoor play and dough play. From there compare the assessment with development norms of a 17 month old child and then evaluate it to determine his needs, interests and abilities. From there, I will plan for a balance of experiences to support, enhance and foster the developmental areas. Movement needs to be a fundamental area for this programme, it is probably one of the best ways to keep his 'octopus' hands and legs occupied. As for the music bit, he has to be content with my not so great voice without music accompaniment, while I wait for P85 to arrive in Oct (I am dying of anticipation).

After this, I will embark on a multi-sensory approach for his alphabet experience. However, I am not certain that he is developmentally ready for this, will try out the letter 'S' first and its related activities to see if there is any potential interest. Most likely have to be prepared to arm myself for more activities, in case of any sign of a lack of interest. Regardless, there will be no flash cards for him, at his age, there is no way flash cards are going to work for an active, super-inquisitive toddler.

This is the start of Kyle's home school, it's time to start on my own kid and not be too occupied by other people's kids. Looks like I am going to be even busier now vs those few months back when I was a FTWM.

August 26, 2008

What Mr.17 months old is up to lately...

It's nice to get additional help at home


His repertoire of facial expressions - this is angry face


This is in response to "How you smile?"

This is his shocked face, it comes complete with a gasp



He has learn to blow bubbles by himself...

Pouting his lips in preparation to blow the bubble pipe



Blowing bubbles while standing up


More bubbles while seated



Some more bubbles while squatting. It amazes me how he is able to squat for relatively long periods.

In Loving Memory


Shawn (Kyliemara Sun Prince)
1994 - 2008
Deeply missed by all
I believe I will see you again someday.

August 22, 2008

Neat Kid

Somehow I have a fastidious kid. He exclaims loudly when he sees dirt on the ground and doesn't like to get his hands dirty, even during art-time. He stares at his hands every once in a while and if he notices some paint on his hands, he will try to rub the paint off with his other palm. If he can't remove the paint from his fingers, he will wave his hands towards me and say, 'Arrr', to request for my help to clean it off. I actually have problems getting him to do finger painting and I can never convince him to put on the art smock.

I can't quite fathom how he learn that, as he is always given the liberty to be messy during meal times or art-time. Well, I just might have a 'neat freak' in the making. This neat trait certainly does not come from his dad's side.

I am beginning to hear more words from him, some words barely discernable. Mostly one syllabus words, which is already an improvement from his familiar grunts. Whenever he tries to grunt to ask for something, I always respond with, 'Say that in words,' and he will attempt to say the word of the item. Even if the word sounded wrong, there will be no discouragement through any form of direct correction of the word, instead, I will reply with, 'Ok, here is the cup with the juice.'

I have also started to give him more choices, from selecting the dvd that he can watch during lunch time, to the snack he can have during tea time. Also I make a point to respect his need for independence. It is heartening to see him happy and well-adjusted, as I hardly see any characteristics of the temper-throwing
'terrible twos'. Being at home and spending time with him really does make that difference.

August 17, 2008

My October Symphony

I have recently convinced hubby to get me a piano. Not that Keith will stinge on getting things for his wife as he is extremely generous when it comes to buying stuff for family. But I must say that he is lucky that his wife is not one that friviolously spends on unnecessary items. In fact I was the voice of 'reason' when he initially wanted to get another set that cost twice as much.

Ok, enough of singing my own praises...

I am anticipating the arrival of P85 - a digital piano, which will be arriving in mid October. It probably does not feel as authentic like a traditional piano, or look as elegant as one. It does attempts to feel like one, as it comes all 88 keys, with a weighted keyboard and a digital metronome built-in. I can even record my own music and plug in my headphones if I want to play the piano in 'stealth' mode, ah...the wonders of technology, all in a neat little package that cost less than SGD 1k.




I haven't been playing the piano for almost 8 years, hopefully some things are still stored in my long term memory. Maybe I will be able to inspire Kyle to learn music, once I can get myself up to speed with some classical and contemporary tunes. Afterall, research have indicated that learning music can enhance linguistic and spatial abilities in children.

Soon I can have 'playing the piano' listed as another hobby of mine. Mozart, Beethoven and Jim Brickman, here I await patiently till then...

"There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

August 16, 2008

The Out-of-Bed look


Father & Son


Keith has been rather busy for the last couple of weeks and hasn't been spending much time with the little boy. Kyle had no qualms to tell his dad how much he missed him, from the moment Keith carried him from the car to the entrance of the park, he held on tightly to dad.


It's endearing to see how our little boy is so openly affectionate with dad, as some kids will grow out from being so generous with their hugs and affections after a while. I am still hoping that Kyle will never run of his little bear hugs.




Another father and son bonding moment - taking a respite from the heat.

August 13, 2008

PILES development in my child

PILES...no, I am not referring to the haemorrhoids-like swells that may appear in that area where the sun don't shines. This acronymn is used in certain preschools for the physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social development of the child.

Many Singaporean parents put their efforts behind the 2 areas of of focus; intellectual and language development. After all, living in a system of meritocracy, an education, degree or certification is the social currency needed to survive in Singapore.

I remember hearing things like that from my grandparents and parents, "You better stop being so lazy or you end up as a road sweeper / toilet cleaner." Most parents have good intentions for their child's future and will want their child to have a good headstart in life. It will be truly heartening for them if their child is well ahead of their peers in our language and cognitive abilities, before they enter formal schooling.

The two other areas of physical and emotional/social development of the child and physical development are often neglected in a child's development. Possibily with the emergence of sports stars like Tiger Woods, some parents have started to change their mindset in the area of physical development. It is afterall great to be able nurture a child's potential in the area of an active/spatial intelligence.

So what about emotional and social development? There may be many parents, including myself (prior to my early childhood education), who do not know how to go about managing this part of our child's development. In fact, many have totally ignored that aspect and assume that the child will be able to grow out of certain traits naturally. If you believe in the nature and nurture argument, nurture's role in a child's emotional development is very crucial.

I hope that there are not many parents left who still think that a child should be seen and NOT heard. It may be still rather prevalent in a society like Singapore, where there can be a tendency to put down our children's esteem. When they misbehave, these words are often spoken in frustration, 'You always give me trouble, you are such a troublemaker / rascal.' When they get overly enthusiastic, 'You are so irritating, why can't you just sit down and listen.' and the classic, 'See XX son, so hardworking and smart, why can't you do better in your studies,' etc.

It is human nature to state things as you see it, and be envious of the ones that are better of. However, we do need need to sit back and listen to how we react to our kids behaviour and the things that we say to them. This is especially paramount during the preschool years, where an emergence of self esteem starts to form in the child. Greater are the words we use, because these words will speak volumes to them. As parents, we are our child's memory maker and we should speak positive thing into their lives.

I have to watch what I say to Kyle, especially during those times when he gets hyper or overly enthusiastic and when I am not being my patient self . Words like 'irritating' need to be replaced by 'full of energy or zest', 'stubborn' with 'assertive' or 'persistant, 'nosy' with 'curious' and 'distractible' with 'perceptive'.



Read more about how you can positively nurture your child's emotional and social development in my post here http://parachutetime.blogspot.com/2008/08/you-can-help-your-childs-emotional-and.html

A paradigm shift in mindset may be needed to embrace these concepts. I was surprise at how much impact that can have on my child, especially in those little things that we often overlook.

August 11, 2008

I am the catalyst to unleash my child's potential

Attachment is a funny thing. I am amazed how much can change over a short span of time and how a 16 month year old toddler can be so perceptive towards this.

All it takes is the quality and quantity of time spent with Kyle. I have heard many mothers telling me (esp working mothers) that the quality of time spent is important to build a bond with your child. But the not so pleasant truth, according to child attachment studies is that quantity of time is equally important as well.

Fundamentally, attachment is the affectionate tie that the child will have for the special people in their lives. This is built through being responsive to the child's needs, especially when the mother's or caregiver's physical presence for the child is needed. Or whenever the child experiences times of stress, even the nearness of the mother is enough to comfort him. So just think about number of hours that you are physically present for your child, especially during those times when he needs you.

So what influences attachment security? A consistent caregiver, prompt, responsive and appropriate caregiving and even family circumstances. There are ways to measure attachment, just compare the behaviour patterns that your child will display after you leave and then return. Read more about it in my post here http://parachutetime.blogspot.com/2008/08/how-secure-is-your-childs-attachment-to.html

When I think back about Kyle's attachment to me when I went back to work after maternity leave, it was quite clear that he was exhibiting traits of avoidant attachment. He often ignored me when I came back from work and that was rather heartbreaking for me.

Thank God that things have changed so much since then. I am blessed to be able to spend more time with him and be physically there for Kyle during times of need. Most importantly, be there when he needs someone to play and laugh with. I will never want to be the object of this question, 'Where were you when I wanted to share my joy or during those times when I needed you?'

I will surely want to be the parent that promotes these aspects of positive development in my child; confident and self assured, advanced emotional understanding, effective social skills, stronger sense of moral responsibility and higher motivation to achieve in school.


August 7, 2008

Yiyi's Birthday

One of Kyle's favorite people, Yiyi, celebrated her

forever 21st birthday on 2nd August.




Kyle's favorite part of the (any) birthday celebration was to

help the birthday girl blow out the candles.




The little cherubic eating machine surprised me with

his voracious appetite and was independently feeding himself.


According to Kyle, the highlight of having a family celebration

at a seafood restaurant,


is getting out of his chair at least 4x that evening,


waving to the rest at the table each time,


before setting out for his next excursion to view the live seafood.


August 6, 2008

I know I am a parent when...

(Try not to read any further if you get disgusted just by reading about bowel movements...)

I get obsessed about when my kid will pass motion. It is really common lately to hear me ask my helper, 'Was it only yesterday he p.s.?' 'Did he manage to p.s. in the afternoon (usually asked when I am out for the afternoon). Or more matter of fact kind of way, 'Great, he p.s. today, so can sleep well tonight,' or 'Good to eat this fruit so that he can get more roughage to p.s....' etc. The ultimate when I was at class one evening (it was already 3 days since Kyle p.s.), I received this sms from Keith in the middle of my lesson, 'The shxx has arrived.'

I can't help but being so hung up about Kyle's bowel movement. Since he is so active all the time, he has difficulty concentrating to p.s. Often after two days of no bowel movement, he will wake up with a stomachache and have problems sleeping well that night.

Probably will have to wait for a couple more months before he starts to show signs of readiness to be potty trained. Here's how he is like when he is managing his bowel movement.


No, this is not some photo that I conveniently took of Kyle when he was taking a nap. He does get into some strange positions at times.

Ok...enough of toilet talk.


Kyle visited Botanic Gardens for the first time on Monday morning. Not too proud to say that this is Kyle's first visit to a park of any sort, since I don't quite fancy getting all hot and sweaty.

This little boy seem to love the outdoors, so looks it will be more visits to Botanic Gardens in the very near future then.


This is also the first time that he got up close with turtles in a 'natural' man-made habitat.


Do-Re-Mi, three turtles in a row

August 3, 2008

Blogs; the modern intepretation of voyeurism?

Why do I spend some days browsing through other people's blog to read about what goes on in their lives? I am just one of the many voyeurs (in the non-sexual sense) out there who are interested to watch what goes on in other people's lives through their blogs. Blogs do appeal to the voyeuristic nature of humans to peek into the lives of others; to relish in the drama of life, anticipate the developments and snigger at their misadventures.

For those who might be familiar with S'pore's blogging scene, it may be exciting to watch the spat that goes on between two famous female bloggers, yet at the same time, I am not surprised that many envy the kind of publicity and attention that they get.

As an attempt to understand the around us, here my own psychoanalysis on the world of Singapore's world of blogging :

1. The social commentator : these are the smart and funny ones who comment about what goes on in our society with their tongue in cheek comments. Just want to have a place to voice their opinions, you either love or detest them for their guts.

2. The bomber blogger : this blogger is extremely good in digging out dirt about the popular ones yet do not have the courage to give their identity. Smart move, who wants to be sued by d blogger anyway. But again, I wonder what is the purpose for knocking them off their beautiful pedestals, could they be secretly envious of their traffic?

3. The social circuit blogger : many popular bloggers fall under this category. It is always about what party they have attended, what they have just bought, how exciting are their glamorous young lives. Pretty young girls with enviable lifestyles among the teenagers and young adults, but you really wonder what really go beyond close doors.

Maybe one day when they realise that youth is no more on their side, they might start thinking about the more important things in life. Most never get to reach that stage, "There is always plastic surgery, and whoever told you that I am 35?" Hopefully advertising from their blogs can supplement a long term plastic surgery lifestyle.

4. The hobbyist : Discuss activities that have utmost passion for. They are usually relatively private people who do not wish to share any aspects of the lives besides their interests. Keep the content coming, there are niche audiences that wouldn't mind finding out more what sort of baits they can use for fly fishing.

5. The kiddy journal : Written by parents, usually mothers about the adventures of their child in their child's perspective. Nothing wrong with that, just very committed parents who loves their kids to bits and want their blog to be an online journal and share them with friends. It will help to get more traffic if the kid is cute and the writer is humorous.

6. The reporters and the storyteller : The reporter is similar to the social commentator, who blogs about a latest event and add their own insights and comments in it. The storyteller draws their inspiration from their personal experience and further add content from their own perspective and knowledge, and supplies further credible information on the subject. Fab if you can spin a story and have relatively good sentence structure. Print is passe, this is akin to having your own column on cyberspace.

Regardless of where category you might fall into, remember it is not nice to plagarise, always quote the original source (risking to sound like your lecturer in school). As for criticising another person, it should be kept to the minimum (yes, I will try my best). Blogs may be your private space yet it is open public eyes.

Whatever it is keep those blog entries coming, blogs are probably the next best thing to rival the television. Afterall, the hungry blog voyeurs need to be fed daily.

August 2, 2008

My kid is going to go preschool....in 2010

How many preschools that you know of that have teachers that have a genuine interest to nurture your child's development? Too many, too few...the unfortunate truth is that there are many preschools with few teachers who are genuinely interested in the children.

In Singapore, early childhood education has been a career taken by many, when they are not faced with much options, i.e., just armed with an 'O' level passes and nothing more. Some don't even see the need for further development and are contented with status quo. I think there is a cause for concern when there have been so much research written about the window of learning that can be maximised for the child between 2 to 6 years old.

As for the quality for preschool education in Singapore? There is little focus on learning through play and more focus on rote learning to prepare the child for primary school. It's sad to think that this generation of Singapore children have hardly any childhood to talk about. I have to re-emphasise that children really learn the best through play in early childhood.

I am going to commence my search for that 'perfect' pre-school (which probably does not even exist) for Kyle from the beginning of next year. Yeah...extremely k.s. since he hasn't even reach 17 months. I figured that my search will take some time, since I may have too high expectations and rigorous standards for the pre-school. I probably will drive the principal crazy with my never-ending list of questions, yet will choose not to let her know that I am a fellow childhood educator...

See I already told you, it is not going to be easy to convince my mommy!


Just thought I should also give some mothers out here some help on what's make a good pre-school. since I have recently wrapped up an assignment on quality indicators for pre-schools. Click on this link in other blog to find out more details on the type of questions to ask when you meet the pre-school principal, http://parachutetime.blogspot.com/2008/08/questions-to-ask-when-you-meet-pre.html

August 1, 2008

How intelligent are you?

Or rather, this question should be re-phrased as, what is your type of intelligence? I am citing from the theory of multiple intelligences by Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University (1983). This theory suggest that traditional I.Q testing is too limited and there are eight different intelligences to account for human potential in children and adults.

How well a child learns may be dependent on their in-born intelligence, according to the theory of multiple intelligence. Your child may have a greater potential for learning through a combination of areas;

Linguistic intelligence ("word smart")
Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
Musical intelligence ("music smart")
Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")

Our local school culture focus more on the areas of linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. Thus have neglected children who show gifts in the other intelligences: the potential artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, sports people, therapists, entrepreneurs, etc. So what usually happens to them? They get labelled as; a hyperactive child, not a logical thinker or child with attention deficit syndrome. Some don't ever get a chance to discover their learning styles throughout their lives and end up being buried at the bottom in the heap of worker ants in the society. Just because of the lack of academic inclination and the child is sieved out of the system for being an underachiever or just plain mediocre.

My parents sure did not have an easy time with me at school. I was probably the most challenging child for my teachers in math and chinese class (definitely not number smart). My rebellious nature also played a fairly big part in my behaviour. When I was in primary 5, i refused to study for chinese 'ting xie' or spelling tests just because I felt that it was ridiculous and a waste of my time. As a result, the stubborn mule got punished severly by her parents. Thinking back on my own childhood, I really hope that my son will not be like me, wonder if stubborness run in the genes? Well, temperament is a whole new different subject matter all together...I really should not digress.

So then, how do you determine your toddler or pre-schooler's area of intelligence? Instead of just using flashcards (which seem to be in thing with parents nowadays), consider these other ways to teach your child through this techniques :

- music and movement
- cooperative learning
- art activities
- role play
- multimedia
- sensory experiences
- field trips

Gardner suggests that virtually everyone has the capacity to develop all eight intelligences to a reasonably high level of performance, if given the appropriate encouragement, enrichment, and instruction. So you just might be nurturing a brilliant mind in the making, don't just leave it to the teachers to manage your child's cognitive development.

Kyle sure have no issues using the multimedia approach

** more on Multiple Intelligence, go to http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm