Thursday, September 29, 2011

The sucess story of a Stay home mama

I've a few friends who quit their SAHM stint within months. Some ended feeling like a failure, some had developed deep dislike for the job and even call it a 'lonely and long suffering' journey. Most felt like they have no life staying home and pitied themselves.

Strangely, I feel quite the opposite. Ive never been happier & fulfilled. I think this is the best decision I've made in my life. On the contrary, I will feel like I've no life if I've to work and take care of kids. Nothing is more depressing than to spend the bulk of my time with people I don't care and the least amount of time with the people I love most. I literally feel like the richest woman in the world just by staying home with my kids.

I get asked alot- how do i do it? I seriously can't point a finger to it. But I guess to be a successful SAHM, you need a number of favorable factors. Here's what I think helped my journey to be easy.

1) Personality- if you're the sort who needs to go out there and party, live the high life then this SAHM business is not for you. If you need daily excitement and thrill, this life ain't for you either. SAHM life is the very opposite. Life is predictable, mundane and yes, can get alittle repetitive.

However, instead of feeling bored and pathetic, i actually thrive in such lifestyles. I tend to feel in control this way. I know what is coming up and I know exactly what I'm gonna to do about it. Because everyday is predictable, I know when I get my me time, I know when I should start preparing the meals, I know if I've the time for meet up with friends. I know my kids temper well enough to anticipate when they will get upset so I know exactly how to react. I am in control.

2) Your kids personality. I got to admit. Ive got easy kids. Well, one at least. I don't know about the girl yet, but she's pretty alright for now. N is constantly happy, easy going and flexible which makes him really easy to manage. And yes, he is not one that will throw a tantrum, no not even once a month. I guess, the primary reason why i enjoy SAHM life is because of his happy-go-lucky nature. As for the girl, she's such a sweetheart. Like her brother, she is generous with her smiles. She's generally a happy girl but it may be too early to tell. But whatever it is, right now, i don't feel like i've a chaotic household, i don't feel like i am running up and down, back & forth like a mad woman. It's actually quite peaceful at home. Either that or i am living in another world.

3) Routine. In my house, we have a set routine. Each morning, when N wakes up, he knows what he should do all the way till the end of the day etc. He knows exactly what he's suppose to do for each day. I suppose that is why i don't encounter much power struggles at home. That said, my days aren't that boring as it sounds.We do, do things differently just to spice things up like a visit to library, shopping malls, parks etc. And if i decide to do something differently for a day, the boy wouldn't get upset either.

4) Marry the right man. I am proud to say, i married the right dude. My man is a hands on father and husband. Actually, he's more hands on than me & does the housework way more thorough & cleaner than me. He helps out with the housework and kids. Since N was an infant, it is he who has been bathing the kid till even today. In the day, I'd fill the sink with a pile of dirty dishes and he'd come home & faithfully empty the sink without a groan. He wouldn't negotiate if i ask him to hang up the laundry. I am also thankful that he has not set high demands on his housewife. He doesn't come home and complain about the mess or dirt. Neither does he come home and whine  about his day at work. He always return home with a wide grin on his face, just happy to reunite with his family. It also helps that he's always calm and is able to keep his emotions in tact (unlike me) so i only have to deal with cranky kids in any given day. But i can't say the same for him! :P  Did i marry the perfect man? You betcha! :)

So my fellow SAHM friends, what are the factors that help YOU succeed?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ipad app review: The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

The going to bed book [Book] 
I adore Sandra Boynton books, she is probably my favourite children's author! I give a big F for her books- Funny and Fun to read. My favourite book of hers got to be 'The Going to Bed Book'. It's so cute! Her illustrations are appealing to both young and old.

Sandra Boynton fans will be thrilled to know that some of her books are available on the appstore. I downloaded this book and it didn't disappoint.

The book as an app, has the exact same content and illustrations as the physical one. What i adore about this app is that it's interactive. Readers get to ransack the characters' drawers, swipe the characters and watch them brush their teeth and, here's my favourite, switch on the hot water tap till your entire screen gets 'misty' with 'water droplets'. N loves to use his fingers and 'wipe' away the condensation. AWESOME! So real!

It is highly recommended to ALL of you out there, young & old. It doesn't matter if you love to read or not, a fan or no fan, this book is simply adorable! The book comes alive with the interactive animation and will surely capture hearts! Its a must to download for me!

Language II

This week, i am also teaching N how to when to use 'He', 'She' & 'They'.

I made a simple booklet.

I used these to illustrate to him on the usage of the words.

I also made simple close passage activity for him to practise.

Also, along with my language theme, i took out this mini Mandarin math booklet. I read the problem sums in Mandarin. It's my way to help him understand mandarin, what better way to solve maths in mandarin? He was able to understand simple ones but we came across some new words so he wasn't able to solve some on his own.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Language/Handwriting week

I have been quite haphazard in my home activities so much so that it is beginning to annoy me. Hence, i decided to follow a theme each week. This allows me to be systematic and unsystematic at the same time! The themes will be like so, Language/Handwriting, Math, Cultural (Geography etc) and Bible stories. I have allowed myself to be haphazard under each theme. Heh.

This week is Language/Handwriting week and here is our first activity! I am sort of following the Montessori method to teach N handwriting. I kind of tweak it for my convenience.

Following our read on Plants & Flowers, we began to practise writing the letters that spell 'Flower'. The school has been doing a decent job in teaching N how to write. He can write more confidently & clearly. But i still want him to practise more at home.

First, N used his fingers to trace the alphabets, both capital and small letters.

Next, he traced the letters on the doodle board app on my ipad. This is akin to Montessori Sand tracing activity. I can't find enough sand, moreover, its too messy- hence.

Then he wrote the alphabets on our doodle board- the physical one that is.

He does this for both capital and small letters.

Lastly, we practise writing the whole word. I do this so that he can learn how to spell at the same time. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

ipad app review: Teach me First grade

My husband and i resisted purchasing the ipad for a year because we know very well what would happen if we had one in our house. Also, we didn't see the need to have one.

However, after i gave birth, i realised i really have no time to teach the boy. At the back of my mind, i wished i had an ipad so that i can download some educational app for him to practise play. At the same time, the hub made a causal comment that we'd soon need  a second laptop since the boy is quickly becoming a user as well. That's when we decided it was time to succumb to the evilness of all technology. Well, no regrets really.

One of the first app i downloaded was Teach me first grade. It's an educational app that teaches or rather test the kids on a sight words, maths and spelling. The child is given a set of questions on the above topics and each time he solves a set of questions, he gets a coin. With the accumulated coins, he can go 'shopping' and purchase an array of things like fish, fish food, stickers etc.


What i like about this app is that the child is given a chance to 'write' his own answers. If he doesn't know how he can choose to trace the answers. For me, it's killing 2 birds with 1 stone. He can practise his maths AND handwriting (numbers AND letters). Besides, he can also learn how to spell (simple words). I like that it has a number of levels such that it automatically moves up to the next level as the child progresses.

The app isn't very good at detecting the words 'written' by N. Many a times, it could not read what he has written. I mean, he's a kid, how perfect do you expect him to write his ABCs and 123s? The odd thing is, it immediately recognises the handwriting (however imperfect) if he traces the answers.

I would  recommend it to kids who are just starting to learn how to add and subtract. The good thing is it provides visual aids to help the child get the answer. So your kid doesn't need to know how to add mentally. It is also good for kids who are learning to write and spell words. There's also a lower grade app, Teach me Kindergarten which is exactly the same but the questions are simpler.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Playing division

In the previous post, you saw how i used these materials to play multiplication game. Now, we use it to play division instead.

 Here, i laid out 3 leaves and 9 ladybugs. I asked N how many bugs should we put on each leaf such that each leaf will have equal number of bugs? We first determined if it was a multiplication or division question then we set on the equation i.e. 9 ladybugs divide by 3.

I don't expect sonshine boy to know how to divide mentally, that's why i gave him the Montessori division board to get the answer. When he found out the answer was 3, i had him sort the ladybugs in threes on each leaf. I pointed to each leaf and asked him if there were EQUAL number of bugs on every leaf.

Separately, i laid out the bugs unequally on each leaf. I asked N if the bugs were EQUALLY divided and vice versa. I wanted him to understand that it meant by equally divided and what is not. So far so good!

I created this game because i realised he does not know how to differentiate between a division and a multiplication question. I hope by doing this activity, it'd give him a visual on what division is although he got it confused with multiplication initially.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Montessori vs mass teaching

I've sent the boy to a Montessori school and now a typical school where teaching it's done in a mass. Which one do I think is better? I say the former.

Montessori teaching is very individualized, the kids learn at their own pace and have one on one coaching from the teacher. Actually there's no lessons, they typically work on materials. By observing them, the teachers are able to asses each child's learning level.

In a typical classroom setting, the teacher conducts a lesson using one method for all. There's little one on one coaching, and every child do the same work at the same pace.

I find in the latter setting, it's more difficult for the teacher to know exactly where the child's standing is. When n was in Montessori school, the teachers would report to me his exact standing I.e. He knows how to add, read etc. But in this school, there's no such feedback. He's like any other child in the school who's learning his Phonics and counting. I've not received any report from the teacher about his learning stage. She was even surprised when I told her n could read on his own- she claimed he was just memorizing the books they read in school. In other words, she hasn't discovered where N is on his learning ability. I don't blame her, it's the teaching style that they used. Moreover, it doesn't help that the boy keeps things to himself, he doesn't exhibit his knowledge openly. He needs to be pried openly carefully and slowly. Hee.

I kind of miss the Montessori school and I'm worried that this school is limiting his learning. It's dawning on me more each day that I can no longer teach him as liberally as before. That said, n is happier in this school. He enjoys the other non curriculum stuff like the singing during assembly, the gym etc. But.... But....

15 + ? = 17?

2! Came the answer almost immediately.

I meant to teach him how to solve these equations but had no time. I don't know what came over me, but I still went on to ask him such questions! To my surprise, he beat me to it. It seems he didn't need to be taught how. I threw him more similar questions, he solved it quickly without using any fingers. Of course, the questions I gave him were relatively easy. He was also able to solve double digit addition I.e. 9+?=18 or 6+?=12. I have no idea how he calculate it in his head.

But if you're wondering how I'd teach him these type of equations, I would rely on my fingers once again! For the above question, I would show him the fingers as I count from 15 to 17. I.e count 16 (stick out 1 finger), 17 (stick out another finger). Then I'll ask him how many fingers are there. Two fingers- and that's the answer!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mandarin Fun

I have no time to do any home activities, let alone teach mandarin. We've stopped reading our mandarin books because i got lazy, too tired- i needed to cut short our bedtime reading so i could have more sleep.

End of school term, the boy brought back all the materials they read and did. In it, were two chinese books with small flashcards each.

First, i had him read the books to me. He did so brilliantly well- except one book (i think this was due to him missing several lessons this term).

Then, i laid down all the cards randomly on the table. He would take out the cards, as i call out for them.

The boy had no problem forming this sentence for me as i dictated as so. Although he cannot compose sentences in mandarin on his own but i am happy (for now) that he is able to recognise quite a sizable number of mandarin characters- and still remembers them!

Plants & Flowers

We are now reading various books on plants and its life cycles. One of the things we learnt is that leaves come in various shapes. Just for fun, i printed some basic leaf shapes and we studied the terms of each shape.

I printed separately some leaves and sonshine boy had to match. It was abit challenging since the difference can be quite subtle to a toddler.

In line with the theme, i made some leaves and lady bugs. I used these to play multiplication game. First, i put 2 lady bugs in each leaf and i have N to tell me the multiplication equation in order to calculate the total number of bugs.

In another variation of the game, i placed 3 ladybugs on each of the four leaves and two similar equations i.e. 4X3 and 3X4. I asked N  which was the correct equation using this placement.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Every evening, papa & son will play one on one basketball. They've been tracking their scores for every game they play. Papa and son will also have a dual on the iPad, they'll compete with each other on the games and see who scores more.

Recently though, the son has been rather competitive. He seems to understand winning and losing. And of course, he wants to win. He gets really upset if daddy- which is most of the time, is winning. He would ask his big man to 'miss' a goal or two so that he can catch up. If daddy is on a winning streak, he'd start getting frantic and upset BUT still wants to play.

Its really easy to give in because we don't want the boy to get upset. But we decided against it and play fairly. We realized that if we give in to him, he might not accept being a loser later on in his life. We don't want to take the easy way out now but instead take this chance to teach him that its okay to lose a game or two. Although he still gets upset and cry, we consistently tell him that he can always try to win the next time. And when he wins, we rejoice with him and tell him that sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.

I'm not telling my son not to aim low or be satisfied with being the loser. I want him to understand that sometimes in life we won't always win, sometimes we lose but it's okay. It does not mean he will lose forever. He can strive to do better the next time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Teacher's day gift

This was a little something i bought for N's teach. At the same time, i made him practise his handwriting! LOL

Types of Animal

We read on Animal categories, we learnt what Amphibians, reptiles, mammals etc are.  Following which we did this activity. N had to read each description and match the label to the correct card. I didnt read out nor explain each card, i watched quietly as he read and matched. 100% accurate!

Matching the animal to the correct labels.
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