Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This week we....

We work on Montessori Stamp game.
Here, we learn how to add by carrying over. Sonshine can add mentally but when it comes to carrying over addition, he gets a little stuck or he would take a longer time calculating in his head. I deliberately  start with just tens and ones, taking it slow and easy. Honestly, i am not sure if he gets it. I am concern he may get even more confused. But we'll see.

Sonshine is into measuring these days. It started with our height chart which got him really curious. My husband explained to him what it was for and the boy learnt how tall he measures. With that he went around asking how tall daddy, mommy, babydoll is etc. He is also into weighing and finding out how much each of us weigh.

So, to make it alittle more fun. I am aiming to offer him measuring activity. Like this one in the above photo. I prepared 2 cups (one cup not captured in the photo) of water and have N pour into the measuring cup to see which cup held more water. We also discovered that 1/2 cup is the same as 100ml and 1 cup makes 200 ml.  

From the books, he also learnt that 2 pints make 1 quart, 4 quarts make 1 gallon etc. He can tell me that 4 pints make 2 quart, 8 quarts make 2 gallon etc. He also discovered that quart is more than a pint, and a gallon is more than a quart. Unfortunately, these measurement units are not applicable in this part of the world. Those books are written by American hence. Oh well, no knowledge is ever wasted. I hope. I think?

We've also been reading up on measurements in length & weight. Through the books, he has learnt that 100 cm makes 1 m. I used the IKEA measuring tape (only measuring tape i've at home!) and we randomly measured his height and width (with arms stretched out).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh no, another rambling....

I think I've got too high an expectation on sonshine boy. No, I'm not talking about academic expectations. In fact, I ( or least I'd like to think) have very little expectations on the boy when it comes to academic, believe it or not.

It may seem otherwise, but I never set out for the boy to achieve a certain academic standard by 4 years old or at a certain age. I know for a 4 year old toddler, he's learning/learnt alot- and sometimes seemingly too advanced subjects. But honestly, I've never planned it to be this way. In fact, alot of things, I had thought he would learn it much later. For instance, I had in my mind that the appropriate age to teach him addition/subtraction was only at 5 years old. It never occurred to me that he would learnt it (and multiplication/division) by 4 years old. So how and why did we come so far? Well, I started home activities with sonshine to kill our idle time. We enjoyed it so we continued and kept learning & learning & learning and still learning! As for maths, he was very interested in it and learnt fast. I felt it was unfair to him if i made him learn numbers from 1-20 when he could learn up to 100. Or insist he keeps counting when he's ready for addition etc. Hence I kept moving forward as long as he was willing to stomach it. I don't teach him so that he'll be the smartest kid or to be ahead of everyone else. If this was the case, he'd probably be attending enrichment classes one after another but we've yet to send him for any- not even for music or sports (laziness is the word!). I teach because he wants & enjoys to learn. In fact, I dare not expect him to be the top in the class. But I do expect him to do his best and well especially in topics he knows so well. If he's capable of getting 80 points, I would not accept if he gives me 50. But neither will I demand 100 points if he's best is 80. Its not about how well he does compared to his peers, it's about comparing himself against himself- improving himself, that's important to me.

But I digress.

I was referring to my expectations on his behavior, his conduct.  Nothing wrong with that of course but I feel that sometimes I forget that he's just a 4 year old. Certain behavior is normal (I didn't say acceptable) but I tend to get down hard on him especially with my words, i tend to expect him to be at his best 100% of the time. I'm not saying I should accept his wrong actions but I shouldn't be too quick to throw my fury at him without stopping to think the reason for his behavior. Many a times, after a calm reflection, i realised his wrong doing was done because he didn't know better & he wasn't trying to cause hurt or intentionally trying to disobey us. Sometimes its due to us not correcting him at home (because some things appear too small to correct) and he thinks its ok to do it elsewhere.

For instance, the other day, we were at a mall. They had free legos for the kids to play. A kid built a really tall tower, taller than sonshine. He actually went over and pushed it down to see it crash. I was furious and punished him. He was so upset that he cried the entire mall down- this has never happen before in his 4 years. But, i soon realised it was because that's how we played with him at home. We would build blocks high up and push it down. Also, it could be due to his obsession with the Angry Bird game , he probably was trying to reenact the scene (roll eyes). He wasn't trying to destroy the tower to spite the other kids. But, yes. It was partly our fault.

I guess what i'm saying is, i need to be gracious in my parenting. I need to discipline with grace, i need to discipline with less emotions, i need to stop & think why he's behaving in a certain manner. I need to do better. I need more grace. I need Jesus.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pre Handwriting skills activities

This school holiday, i would like to work on Sonshine's fine motor skills. His pencil grip is still not strong but improving. To help him brush it up, these are some activities we will be doing this week:

Learning to sharpen a pencil. This intrigues him for some reason.

Using a scissors- cutting straight line. This he can't do very well. I am not sure if the problem lies with the scissors 'cause it isn't very sharp- even i have trouble cutting with it!

Using a scissors- cutting zig zag line. Obviously, this was challenging for him too.

Tracing with a stencil. He had to learn to press & hold the stencil firmly on the paper such that it won't move as he traced.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Home school plan for 2012

Well, i won't really call it Curriculum since technically i am not homeshooling N because i am sending him to school. But here's my work plan for next year. 

I plan to do less of activity work and get into more serious stuff. Not that i haven't been serious, just that i think it's time for Sonshine boy to work more on workbooks at the same time helping him to get used to sitting down for a period of time & just do worksheets. Yep, i am going against the Montessori work flow next year. :I

So what will be our books?

I'll be using assessment books mostly as my guide. I want our work at home to be as close as that of our local school's curriculum so to ease him into school without a hitch. That explains why i've largely avoided buying curriculum written overseas. Also, as the name suggest, it would help me assess where he needs to work on.

In fact, we've already started and i've discovered some new areas he needs to brush up on.

Our books include:

 Math (Primary 1 level),
English (grammar, comprehension & composition or rather close passage-Kindergarten level) and
Mandarin (we'll also work on reciting rhymes to up his word recognition-Kindergarten level)

The other subject we will be working on is bible knowledge. At this age, i just want to expose him to bible stories. In fact, we've been reading every night and finished the Old testament. We are now reading the New testament and finishing it soon. At the same time, the boy has been listening and learning to Bible Songs as well as playing some simple games.

For science, we'll continue to read books. I realised we've read alot of books this year and it was mostly science related!
Lastly, for Geography, we'll be working on recognising the maps of different countries using materials i've prepared.

So, there- i've briefly summed up our curriculum for 2012. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Self Feeding- Milestone reached!

Whoo hoo! The boy has been feeding himself for his meals! Now, now, i can imagine what some of you might say, 'WHAT! 4 years old and still hasn't fed himself?' or 'No big deal, mine could self feed at 2!'. Well, before you pass such judgmental comments, do read on.

It's not like before this he CAN'T self feed. It's also not like he WON'T. He would happily feed himself if given a choice and this is how he'd do it; each scoop would contain ONE GRAIN of rice (you read correctly), after 2-3 scoops, he's done! Even if he was willing to eat more, how long would it take for him to finish his food at this rate?

You see, my son is a picky eater. No wait, that word doesn't even begin to describe him. It's not like he picks on his food, it's more like he doesn't want to eat at all. You cannot imagine the trauma we went through just to get him to eat. During his first year, he had NOTHING but breast milk. I would feed him for hours but he just wouldn't eat; he would stuff the food in his mouth for as long he could hold them and eventually spat them all out. It would be norm for both (yes, both) of us to end up in tears. I remember vividly how i would leave the wailing boy in the living room while i locked myself in my room, squat at a corner and sobbed. Whenever we had to eat out, both my husband and i would be so stressed out because we just don't know if the boy would eat. Countless times, he would reject his food causing my husband to be really upset, making me extremely angry and our trip out would be ruined. This went on for a good one year.

Finally, we found THE magic tool- the iphone. We realised if he was distracted with it, he'd eat for as long as he played! We'd feed him and he would finger away! It worked so well that for 2 years we just didn't have the courage to get him to self feed. We knew if we took away the phone and get him to self feed, that was the end of it. We would return back to square one.

For that 2 entire years, we would get disapproving looks from other parents and comments about how we shouldn't spoil our kid. I used to get really peeved at such judgmental comments and ashamed at the same time. But these people just didn't understand how traumatic it had been for us just to get him to eat. Let him starve, you say? Well, let me tell you we tried, but it didn't work. Once he managed to skip his lunch at school and you'd thought he would be starving by 3pm but no, he wasn't. Oh, did i mention how skinny the boy is? His  6 month old baby sister is already HALF his weight now. Still can't imagine? My 4 year old boy is still wearing his 12-18 month old pants! If he was a chunky monkey, i wouldn't have fret so much. Or if he was eating normally but still skinny- then i can say its his genes. But that's not the case, he is skinny BECAUSE he doesn't eat well.

So, i get really irritated when other parents give us looks or pass judgement on our parenting without knowing our background. Still, i decided, just as my homeschooling philosophy, to just chill & wait for the little guy to be ready. I really dislike making  meal time so stressful for all of us- we've been there and it was really hell. And today, i can happily announce that the wait has paid off! Most of the credit goes to his school! Because he has been self feeding (& finishing his food) in school, getting him to self feed at home has been a breeze. PHEW!

So, what has it got to do with my blog? Well, this episode has proven my philosophy right once again- wait for your child to be ready. Once he is ready, everything will fall into place. Give your kid the respect he deserves and trust him to lead you. Just because we're the adults, does not make us all knowing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Year End Report

It's that time of the year again, it's the parent-teacher meet time! Time to find out what our kids are up to in school! Well, generally i received positive feedback (but don't they all tell us nice things at this age?). In a nutshell, N improved in those areas he was lacking when he first joined.


Well, i won't dwell too much into his work. The school's curriculum is really laid back, it's too easy for most 4 year olds. But i'll share about the other aspects.

-Improvement in handwriting. Now he can write more confidently and independently. His strokes are clearer. But we still need to work on that.

- He is taking pride in his work and makes an effort to do well. For instance, he makes a conscious effort to color nicely before handing up his work. We all know he hates coloring hence we were quite pleased that he's making an effort to try.

- The teachers say he has the ability to apply & retain what he has been taught in class . The mandarin teacher notice he only needed to be taught one or twice and he would be able to remember. His form teacher has (finally!) noticed that his literacy and numeracy skills are advanced.

Social and Self Help skills
- Socially he still tends to keep things to himself, rarely approaching his friends or join in their conversations. However, he has proven that he can play alongside his classmates. Once he and 2 other boys built a carpark together. It was nice to hear that he can actually participate in team work knowing how a loner N can be.

- He has learnt to be independent, putting on his socks, carrying his bag, self feeding AND finishing his food (whoo hoo this is a HUGE milestone for us!) etc

One of the things that i was also concern about was he's refusal (or what i thought was inability) to imitate song actions. Since his Montessori school days, he just won't sing nor act out the actions. He'd just sit there and watch others do. In this school, he took more than 2 terms to warm up and one day decided to sing along during the school assembly and do the school's song actions! He was also apprehensive and hesistant during the school concert, refusing to even walk up to the stage during rehearsals. But we were all really, very, extremely, proud of him when he performed all the items on the concert day! He enjoyed himself so much that he cannot stop watching his school concert video and even learnt a few dances (from the other classes)! The school has certainly helped him break out of his own little shell!

Although he still hiding in his little shell, i am still proud and happy that he's allowed the school to crack it alittle, letting some light in.Mummy's so proud of you sonshine boy!! :))

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baby Doll has started!

Obviously, i can't quite teach Babydoll anything, she's still an infant. But we've made a simple step.

I've been doing Glenn Doman flashcards. At this point, it's not about teaching her how to read. I just want her to be familiar with the flashcard routine and also to learn how to focus on the cards.

And we read of course! I only started now because i was waiting for her to be interested and i was procrastinating actually. Some time back, my mother read to a her book and i knew she was ready from the way she was looking at it. That's why our library bag is way heavier than ever before!


You know that you've successfully homeschool your kid when he ask to do assessment books. :I

This was a book i bought earlier and we've completed it this week! WHOO-HOO! When i first purchsed it, i was apprehensive that we'll ever finish it, but we did! :))

I with-held the book for some time because of his weak pencil grip and some of the chapters we've yet to dabble. But few days ago, i realised he should be able to do it and hence i asked him to do a few pages just for fun. I told him we'll do just a few pages but he kept asking to do more till we finished the book!

The last few pages were about time. He had to write the time and draw the clock-hands. I was pleasantly surprised that he was confidently writing his answers unlike the previous time where he hesitated alot just to write one number.

Some pages were on simple fractions.

Lastly, he worked on counting money. I took the chance to teach him that 100 cents make up $1, 200 cents make up $2 and on.

Snakes & Ladders + ice cream sticks =?

A family fun time cum maths game!

The boy and his papa have been playing this game every night, or shall i say competing. To spice things up, they would play with 2 dice instead of 1. The purpose is to let N practise his addition-without him knowing of course! :P He didn't complain instead, he was hook and never wanted to play with 1 dice again! Now, they will play with 3 dice!

Last night, i wrote division by 8 equations on ice cream sticks and used them to play Snakes & ladders.

Each of us would take turn to draw a stick and the number of moves we make, depends on the answer. I made it even more challenging by having us draw 2 sticks at one go. We have to add the answers to find the number of moves we can make. So, the boy had to crack 2 division equations and add them- all mentally! :) I've to say he did so pretty well & quick too!

Credit to The Activity Mom (i tweeked it) for the idea!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am a rebel!

I was reading a post from this blog titled Sleep Freedom: Letting Kids Find Their Own Sleep Pattern and i must say, i cannot agree more. The blogger writes that we should allow our children find their own rhythm rather than forcing them to conform to the clock or be subjected to our convenience. I feel this hold true not only for sleep but also other areas like academic learning and other milestone achievements.

If you've been reading my blog, you know that i am a big advocate of letting the child lead you in what he wants to learn i.e. letting the kid find his rhythm in learning. But you may not know that this applies to my parenting style in general.

I never believe in forcing the child to change his pattern just for us adults. Hence, i shun away from parenting methods like letting the baby cry to sleep or insist that the kid sleeps by 7 or 8 every night, Gina Ford books etc. I always let N lead me. As long as he isn't ready to do something or achieve a certain milestone, i wouldn't force him. I wait for him to be ready. I do that because 1) i believe if he is not ready, no amount of forcing will make him ready. 2) By forcing or so call 'training' him against his will or ability, it will only impose stress on him AND us, parents. I want him to achieve a milestone happy and stress free. 3) It would be alot easier to train him when he is ready. For instance, i waited for N to be ready to be potty trained. He was SO ready that he had minimal 'accidents' (like 3?) till today And there was no stress, no crying. I think alot of times, parents are very eager for their kids to hit a certain milestone early i.e sleep through the night, because they want convenience in their lives. I am different. I would rather change MY lifestyle to suit the child, rather than the child change to suit ME- which i think is alot harder.

So you can imagine i get criticised ALOT. For instance, people are always dumbfounded when i tell them N was nursed to sleep till he was 2.5 years old.  Or perhaps unlike most 4 year old, mine still needs help with dressing up. Am i proud that he is hitting his milestones late? Not really.

But i just don't believe in forcing a child do something when he's not ready.There is a difference however, in NOT WANTING to learn and NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY READY to learn. I wouldn't tolerate the former but i'd loosen my reins if its the latter.

As i've constantly observe in my homeschooling journey with SonShine boy, everything will fall neatly into place the minute he is ready & interested to learn, or pick up a skill. Am i worried that he hits his milestones late? Not at all, i believe eventually he'd acquire the skills. I mean come on, have you seen a 35 year old man still needs his mother to nurse him to sleep? Or 28 Year old man bring his mother to his business luncheons because he needs to be fed? Or a grown up man with normal motor skills still needs help to put on his clothes? Enough said.

Lastly, i hold the same thoughts as the blogger when it comes to my kid's sleep. I know the 'RIGHT' way is to put the kids to sleep early and not let the kid take a long noon nap (least their bedtime gets pushed back). But again, I'm unconventional. I follow N's sleep pattern rather than doing it what the books say is the 'RIGHT' way. I never disrupt his naps, i always let him sleep as much as his body needs. This often means that his naps can run till 7-ish which means he sleeps late at night. But to me, as long as he clocks the total number of hours his body needs to rest, it doesn't matter if he sleeps late. Again, i think alot of parents want their kids to sleep early because of their own convenience- they want some night time to themselves. My husband and i think differently. We prefer the kids have some play time with daddy when he returns from home rather than for him to rush home only to put the kids to sleep.

So, can you tell? I'm breaking all the parenting rules!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Solar System

Now that my husband tags along to our library trips, we have a bigger problem! We've got 3 people (Him, sonshine and myself) trying to stuff books (for the boy) into our library bag- competition is stiff, library cards are limited!

Anyway, one of the books my husband picked out was on the Solar System. Although i've taught N before, it doesn't hurt to refresh his memory and learn more about it. And since he's older, he probably understands it better than when he was 2.

We read two books (forgot to take picture), one of which was Dr Seuss's 'There's No Place like Space'.

The books helped N to learn and recall the sequence of the planets & that there are 8 planets in all. I dug out this material i made for him 2 years ago and have him match the labels to the planets.

The books taught us some facts and so to sum up what we read, i made these cards.

Sonshine had to match these descriptive cards to the correct planet cards.

I was over the moon (HA!) when i found out that i had Earth and moon related National Geographic books- how appropriate! We've been reading just to complete our read on Solar system.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Questions & Answers

Someone sent me an email asking me some questions about how I started homeschooling N etc, I decided to reply her by posting my answers here (sorry it took me so long to do this!).

1) How & when did I start homeschooling N?

It all started when I made a personal quest to teach N how to read & to develop the love for reading. I did so by using Glenn Doman flashcards and I read tons of books to him when he was 5 months onwards. Subsequently both objectives were met and we were both bored. Hence, I went on a search for ideas on home activities I can do with my then 1 year old. That's when I stumbled onto a book on Montessori.

2) Why Montessori?

I find her methods very well thought and appropriate for a young toddler. I love that the child is not learning in a rigid classroom setting but gets to choose what he wants to PLAY. I say play because her activities are really like toys and just as appealing. Unknown to them, as they play, they are actually learning. I also love that it allows the child to learn at his own pace and not follow a strict schedule or time table.

3) How do I find the time to DIY my learning materials?

I mentioned earlier that in my house we run on a mundane routine. Because of that, I know exactly when my pockets of free time are. I'd make the materials when the kids are asleep or in school. Otherwise, I wait for my husband to be home. Of course, I can't finish the project in one shot, it may take some days to finish it. I also try to find the shortest, least hassle way to make the materials. Most of the time, it's just copy, cut, paste on a PC software, print, laminate & cut. The key is to plan exactly what you want to do and HOW you're going to do it before starting the project.

4) Have I started with baby doll?

At this age, I've already started with N but I'm just too tired and lackadaisical now to start with babydoll. But I've got an idea how I'm going to start, that will happen when I get my butt moving! I'll be sharing some of the stuff I'll do with her here so keep a lookout!
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