Thursday, October 28, 2010

Speech progress

Today, N's speech is a far cry from 9 months ago.

If you recall, i was very worried about how slow his speech development was.

Although, today he isn't talking as much and well as any other 3 year olds, but he has progress and that's enough for me. At least, i know now he just needs more time than others.

It seems there has been what they call speech explosion these 2 months (the first i ever experience in N's 3 years). To my delight, he has been expressing his needs more clearly and accurately. He has been communicating with us more with words, or rather sentences than just baby talk.

Recently, my husband reported to me that N told him 'God is good! God made the world!'. We were both happily stunned. Also, the church nursery is doing an awesome job! For the first time, he has come home singing songs that he learnt outside other than from me. He now can sing, although tuneless, 'Jesus loves me' and 'God is so good'. Praise Jesus!

I am just happy and thankful that my worries were unfounded! All glory to God!

100 and beyond

Recently N is into counting aloud. He would count from 1 all the way to 100- without skipping a number.

He went on with this counting spree for days but would stop at 100 (because he didn't know that there were numbers beyond). That's when i decided he was ready to learn numbers after 100. During his next counting spree,  when he reached 100, i continued on by chanting 101, 102, 103 etc. As i had expected, he was hooked and continued chanting all the way to 199 and stopped again. That's when i introduced the number 200. There were some mornings where he'd wake up and count from 1 all the way to 200 over continously (while my hub and i were still struggling to get out from bed. And if you didn't know better, you'd think he was counting how long it would take us to wake up and get on with our mornings. Hee hee).

And that was also when i decided to teach him to count by hundreds. So we counted aloud, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800,  900 to 1000. (And as i am typing this, he is getting the visuals on these numbers, reading them aloud as they appear on screen. You see, i have no energy to give him proper lessons, so im just going to take any chance i have!). Just to make sure, he understood that there were numbers between these numbers, i would ask him what number is after 303 or 452 etc, he could give me the correct answers. And that's how I taught him higher numbers verbally without using any visual aids.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teaching Subtraction

I never intended to teach N subtraction this early, not until he somewhat masters the additions. But i accidentally found out that he was actually learning it from our daily ongoings.

It happened one day, in my desperate attempt to make N eat faster, i promised to 'free' him from the table after he finish 10 more spoonful of his food. As i fed him the 10th spoon, i heard him asking me '9 more?', and on the 9th spoon, he asked '8 more?' and so on until the last spoonful, he would declare 'no more!'. This went on for many weeks until it struck me that there in my face was the perfect opportunity to introduce to him subtraction!

And so, i began to teach him subtraction...during our next meal. Yes, i decided to go without any visual aids and go verbal and be informal. So as he ate his 10th spoon, i would simply ask him 'how many more?' and he would reply '9 more'. And i would say so '10 minus 1 equals 9!' and so on. It didn't take long after he got the hang of Subtraction. Subsequently, i wrote the equations on the some cards so he can have a visual on what subtraction equations look like.

Since then, he is able to do any subtraction equation (i.e. X minus 1) even for higher numbers like '100 minus 1' or '300 minus 1'. I think what made it easy to teach was that he could count backwards prior to this and he understood that minus 1 means going down a number by one.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sorting World flags

N always held interest in world flags and continent maps, they never fail to get his attention. 

Now that he can identify a number of world flags and continents, i took a step further by creating this activity. 

I cut out a couple of world flags stickers (unfortunately it is limited to countries in South America & Asia only) and took out the continent map. 

We talked about which countries belong to which continent. From playing this activity, N can now sort these few flags accordingly. 

All about Collective Nouns

One Sheep, Two Sheep

We've been reading a couple of books on collective nouns here and there. Through these books such as the one above, N learnt that words like 'sheep', 'fish' have no plural erm, words? He also learnt that the plural for words like 'mouse' is 'mice', 'child' is 'children'. 

As a follow up to what we have read, i prepared some word cards, one set on collective nouns and another set on animals. I place one set on one side and the second set randomly on the other side.

N matches them accordingly.

Learning about reptiles

My good old sister handed me a set of Glenn Doman's encyclopedia knowledge cards, so i decided to might as well make full use of them. I pulled out the cards on 'Reptiles' for N.

N has learnt to identify reptiles that i never knew existed (nor much care actually). They are Saltwater crocodile, Jackson's chameleon, Marine Iguana, Red-eared turtle...etc. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not a fan

FInally, an article that echoes my thoughts on phonics!

I always have my doubts about using phonics to teach kids to read but could never quite point out exactly why (yes i can be confusing this way). Recently, i read an article that downplayed the use of phonics while every other enrichment centers (& kiasu parents) are all hyped up about it. Regrettably, I can't remember which magazine it was though!

Anyway, i have to be clear and say that i do know my phonics. In fact, i usually use  phonics to break down a new word. However, many a times i find myself misprouncing a word. I realised that one cannot always use phonics to read the word. Here's why. Some English words are birth from greek, italian (for instance) words. You cannot use your phonics to break down these words. English phonics just don't apply to say, Greek phonics (if there's such a thing!).

Moreover, English is complicated and inconsistent. A rule may apply for this word, this scenario but not for another & there is no logical explaination for it. I give you an example. We learnt that we use the word 'is' after a singular word like 'She is, he is' and 'are' for plural like 'we are, they are'. But this rule don't apply to the word 'you' although it is referring to one person too. Instead, it should be 'you are'. Why? Nobody knows. I find phonics is as inconsistent as this. Sometimes it is 'AH' or 'Eh' or just 'Er' for the letter 'A' for example. So if we teach our child to use phonics to read, how on earth are we going to explain to them why some words are exceptional, and when they are exceptional? You have to have a doctorate in the English language to explain this one. As you can see, it can be extremely confusing for the child.

I also find phonics very disruptive to reading. You want the child to enjoy and understand what he is reading instead of focusing on breaking down words. It just takes away the joy of reading. And if they are too caught up in breaking down each word, they may miss out on what they are reading.

Well these are just my thoughts. Alot of us never learnt phonics proper but still are excellent readers. I still think that the key for raising a reader is to do read and read and read- the tradditional way. As for me and my family, we are not going to join in the rat race in this area.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Additions and numbers!

After doing this activity, N can now do simple additions mentally. I have to stop here and say, Montessori methods of teaching Maths is awesome! So clear to understand!

Anyway, i digress. I continue with more additions with N. I prepared some addition cards. This time i taught him that 10 plus 10 equals 20, 20 plus 10 equals 30 etc.

Prerequisite: Child must know how to count in tens.

I wrote the sums on blue cards. Somehow N got ahead of me, took the cards out and tried working on them (without the visual aids). He first took out the '10 +10' card, and read aloud the sum. But looked at me for answer, to which i reluctantly replied '20'. He continued on with the '20 + 10' card and to my surprised, he declared '30 as the answer! I watched on as he continued with '30 +10', '40+10', etc and gave all the correct answers effortlessly. There goes my lesson plan.

Still, i got him to work on the cards again with the ten beads this time. I wanted to make sure he understood the concept and wasn't merely memorizing the answers.

Next i worked on his number recognition in Mandarin. I wrote numbers from 10 to 90 on yellow cards, and the same numbers but in mandarin in pink cards.

N had to match the two cards.

To fill up the void...

 As you can tell, i am slowing down with my blog entries. There has been a major 're-opt' in my family and we are all taking time to adjust. I wasn't able to plan much for N during the past month but fortunately, things are picking up- i hope.

When i found myself unable to do activities with N, i bought this Mathematics workbook for him to entertain him. He loves doing worksheets for some odd reason.

I am proud to say that N could read the instructions on his own, mostly understood what was required of him and provided the correct answers.

Except for the first time, i have never prompted him to work on this book. Instead, it is N who always ask to do the activities.
 We've pretty much completed the entire book!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Montessori no good?

I need to rant. Please let me.

My in laws are here for a visit and boy its been sweet bitter. But this is not about the sweet part of course.

My MIL has big issue about me sending N to Montessori school. She went to visit him once and quickly made the assumption that he is 'miserable'. Which is rather puzzling because, he has NEVER cried when we bring him to school, he has never displayed any anxiety. If anything, he always looks forward to school, smiling at his teachers and staff there. Anyway, she assumed that ALL because there are only 2 students in the class. Her theory of a 'happy' school is where the class is full of kids. She also puts down Montessori because she does not believe in one on one attention. She prefers the old tradditional way of a class setting (she was a teacher, you see).

And here is a shocker, she has issues that N is 'too smart'. While other grandparents would be so proud of this, she finds it a problem. She INSIST that smart children are troublemakers. She wants me to slow N down. She was NEVER impressed when N learnt to read, count and now add & subtract. Instead, she sees them all as PROBLEMS.

Because of her, i asked N if he prefers school or church. He chose school over church even though the latter has more playmates. I can understand why. N has such a quiet personality and its easy to pass him by in a sea of children. In school, he gets his teachers full attention & because of that they have learnt to understand him (his speech is 60% unclear) which build up his confidence. Today, the teachers say he is talking to them more than before. But his church teacher could not comment much about him because...just because he didn't stand out. So no brainer why he prefers school!

Anyway, i am frustrated that she complains over and over about my choice for N, claiming she knows better because of years of being a teacher. Hey, she has retired for over 20 years now and she knows nuts about Singapore education system (she's lives in Malaysia). The hardest thing is to convince her about why my choice is the best for N. She of course, has her old thinking buried deep in her head and she just cannot accept new ways. I hope she understands that i am his mother and i, of all people, should know what is best for N, when he is miserable, when he is happy. I am very clear, the teachers too, that N is happy in school.

It's going to be another 2 more weeks of this. Wish me luck.
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