Watching her learn

When I had my first child, the educational mentality I had was pretty much wanting her to know as much as she can. I tried the “Teach your baby to read” thing but it didn’t quite work out, mainly because I wasn’t disciplined in following the instructions! I had those Chinese flash cards which were used more like loose parts play than actual flashing of the cards. It was, and I think, still is common for parents send their baby and toddler to right-brain training classes. It wasn’t in any of my consideration because it was just too expensive!

Fast forward 7 years later. My view of teaching children and how children learn has drastically changed. I can’t quite put into words how it has changed but now I strongly believe in the value of play, especially for younger children. I also believe that we are created to be creative beings and are innately driven by the desire to learn. I have seen it in my two girls in a variety of ways.

Emily has the advantage of being the younger one who sees and picks up what her older sister does. Naturally she picked up language and other forms of play earlier than I had expected. I have not deliberately formed a curriculum or lesson plan for her till recently. Even so it has been really bursts of craft and little activities here and there! Catching up with my older child’s curriculum planning, cooking, managing the house has taken up much of my time that my younger one seemed quite neglected. It feels as if I haven’t been teaching her.

BUT I have been amazed at her desire and ability to learn from the things all around us.

– when we returned to Singapore and had to take buses or find block numbers of our friends’ houses, numbers was the favourite thing for Emily. So yes, she pretty much asked, verbalised, wrote her way through the numbers. We still have the occasional reading of numbers backwards or writing numbers laterally inverted but the awareness for numbers is there. 100 was one of her favourite number because she always spots it on advertisements and packaging. For a few nights she would want to count 1 to 100, not once but twice! I have the ‘oh noooo’ going in my head but would still let her count, even though I may be part of her ‘101 steps to go to sleep’ strategy.

– she learnt the ABCs mainly from singing the song. Then she started taking interest in her name and wanted me to write it out for her. She read it out over and over again to herself. Later, she traced my words and attempted to write it without any guide. Occasionally she would want me to dot her name to trace it out but after a few months, she was writing it easily on her own. We do some activity trays while I school with Eliza but that’s pretty much.

– we learnt colours mainly from books with a focus on colours woven into the story and just in our daily life. Now she is finding some interest in learning colours in Chinese. It’s still a bit hazy for her but with practice and enough opportunities, I know she will get it.

Do you see the power of a child’s ability to learn? Environment plays a big part of what and how she learns but a lot of initiative comes from her. We read a lot and when she listens to my read alouds with Eliza, she is exposed to more of the English language even though she may not understand the meanings.

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Emily left this on the table after playing with it. Oh the silly English language…or more like the silly ABC song, and they think there are 27 alphabets.

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Eliza was teaching Emily to write those words…she’s so eager to learn it it’s so cute! And I love that Eliza is so eager to teach Emily too. 

The things they write....heeeheee (yellow post-its are the girls ones)

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Emily has been doing a lot of counting then. I wasn’t so keen on counting to 100 though. 

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Week 13/52 – baby sleeps and outings

I am pretty sure I won’t write all 52 weeks! But I will when I can.

This week was starting to look better as Evelyn started to sleep longer for her naps! Not ALL 30min catnaps. There were some catnaps but we were seeing 1 hour and even a rare 2 hour nap. On. Her. Cot. The crying before sleep has reduced significantly, especially the first nap of the day.

I am trying to keep my expectations real for myself. I believed that she could settle herself to sleep without me carrying her. (She was wailing whether I carried her or put her down anyway). At the same time, I am aware that as she grows, she will regress with her sleep because of new skills and changes. But I will enjoy it while I can! And I will also stay consistent!

Naptime routine goes like this: our own sleep song I made up for my girls last time, a good wrap of the swaddle, hugs, put her in her cot and a kiss on her forehead. I so enjoy cuddling her! Babies are so snuggly!

I am still trying not to figure out how to get to the sleep-eat-play routine because ours is more like a sleep-play-eat routine. :/

The free time allowed me to spend more time reading to Emily, doing less hurried one-on-one work with Eliza and time to cook! I am planning baking soon. I miss eating muffins and quick breads.

This week at swim class, Emily finally dared to put her head in the water to blow bubbles! I am so thankful for this swim class we have. Their teacher is funny and firm. The girls get to learn together which means Emily will go for the class and there’s no need to find two different classes. And although there are two special needs kids in the class, all of them play pretty well together. They always get to play at the water play area before and after class. I would tell the girls that it’s swim class the next day and it would always be followed by cheers of happiness.

This week was also the start of our River Safari co-op. I didn’t realize that the membership for the family package was so expensive. :S It will be a good motivation to go to the zoo and River Safari more often!

 

 

Playing with some cuisinare rods. We are using this to work on some multiplication work with Eliza but Emily wants to play as well.

 

Sketching fishes and animals they like at River Safari. It sure helped them remember the names of the fishes!

 

Multiplication by memory work AND using cuisenaire rods to help with understanding

 

Hanging out at the playground with kids around the neighbourhood . Also breaking most conventional rules like going up the slide the wrong way, standing on slides and climbing around the playground structure.

 

I amazed how their teacher manages this group of 7 kids from 4 to 11 years of age.

 

A new season

In this season I have an 8 year old, coming to 5 year old and a 3 month old. 

I am feeling the “neglect” I am giving to my girls. Maybe I am exaggerating. But it is a subtle thing. I feel it. That I can no longer give that undivided time to both of them for now. It is short and frequently interrupted.

Emily has been coming up to the room as I try to get Evelyn to nap. I know she wants my attention, some snuggle and chat time. She reminds me of Eliza when Emily was only a wee little baby. Ah…I remember that season. Just that now I have that guilt of not doing the various activities I did with Eliza at that age of 5. 

We can’t seem to run away from the need to want to do more or the sense of guilt of not doing enough, isn’t it? 

It is my reminder to find that balance. Adjusting here a little bit, tweaking there a little bit. Meanwhile, I have to recognize that I can only do the bare minimum until Evelyn’s schedule is more predictable and that I also want to respect Evelyn’s need for sleep. 

I’m thankful Eliza is going for the airshow this Sunday with Ww and I get to spend some special time with Emily.   

Playground play in the late morning

  

i love the way Emily arranges her multi-seesaw for the Shopkins

  

My little bub snug in the sling when I am out an about

  

A science activity to learn about whats in an animal and plant cell

  

I was tired from a sleepless night and grouchy in the morning. So a walk to the nearby eco-pond helps us get out for some nature and fresh air.

 

Sometimes and interesting bird gets spotted!

  

Week 8/52

Chinese New Year
This week was about preparing for Chinese New Year. It’s always a big affair here in Singapore. After being away for 3 years, I have come to better appreciate the fanfare that comes with all the New Year festivities.

So this week, we took a short bus trip to a nursery nearby our place, in hope of buying a bunch of pussy willow and a pot of flowers to adorn our doorway. We were quite overwhelmed!

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Among small mandarin trees grown for Chinese New Year signifying good luck.

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Preparing the stalks of pussy willow and curly bamboo for the girls to arrange and decorate with red ribbons and ornaments.

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Drawing and making fish or decorations for the arrangement

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Forming a word 羊 with red packets

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Decorating with angbao fish

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Daily watering of the pot of flowers we choose. Alas, it is not doing well at this point of time despite all the watering and sun.

 

Outdoors
This week we also tried going to the playground in the morning instead of our usual afternoon outdoor time. This is the big playground as we call it. Other playgrounds around our areas are called the “downstairs playground” and the “child care playground”. No prizes for guessing where they are in relation to where we stay.

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This climbing rope gets crossed countless times!

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Finding their shady spot to chat and sketch

We stopped for morning tea and a chapter of read-aloud from the Burgess Bird Book. The birds are not those we see in Singapore but it is a lovely book to learn about how and where birds make their nests, their typical calls and their colours that identify them. We still love it for learning about birds and listening to their calls. The girls get quite good at imitating the bird calls…like the really loud cockatoos last time and recently we identified the call of the the Black-Banded Oriole.

After that it was time to make our way back and a quick 15 minute search for pretty leaves and flowers for our nature collage.

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Looking for something to pick up in our nature stash

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The common and beautiful hibiscus.

Nature Study
I have been pushing for her to sketch like we used to when we came back but it didn’t quite work out and she didn’t have much interest. So I didn’t quite know what to do for our outdoor time. I didn’t particularly like the tropical natural environment as much and the girls has an aversion to ants, millipedes and any crawling insect. We pretty much went out to the playgrounds and pointed out anything interesting, if there is any.
I didn’t have much expectations for this activity as we have done similar ones last time. The agenda was just to paste them on the contact paper and we will hang it up. That’s it. The girls thoroughly enjoyed putting together the collage. We got to talk about the names of the plants. Later on, we got to read up on creepers and climbers, as well as how their tendrils help them climb from the DK Eyewitness Plant book. Finally that book is becoming useful. It was beginning to feel a little like an encyclopaedia and quite a dry read….not till something related like this came along.

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They had their bag of nature poured on trays, ready to be arranged on the contact paper.

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Pressing delicate petals on the contact paper.

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Elizas nature collage

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Trying to use the shape hole punchers on the leaves

Learning
I am still not consistent with planning things for Emily, and it is mostly what I get inspired with. This week I did some planning from Hubbard’s Cupboard for 3 year olds. We did some craft activities, learnt new songs, sang bible memory verse songs and did the days of creation.

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Finding and identifying letters in meaningful words

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Day 3 God created the land and plants

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Day 4 : God created the sun, moon and stars

Valentine’s Day
It was the Valentine’s Day weekend and it was lovely to be showered with sweet gifts. 🙂

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Gifts from my love

 

And we wrapped up our week with time spent with family as we anticipated Chinese New Year.

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Saga tree seeds that we used to pick up as kids to fill up glass jars.



Week of 7/52

This week I planned and read the guide for Emily’s ‘school’. Most of the time I see it as a guide for something fun for her to do (other than wait for Eliza to be done with her bookwork). I have a very eager student who loves the one-to-one attention when we read or do activities together. Well..I also leave her to her own devices and do not always remember to explain what to do when I leave her with a worksheet.

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Honestly how would she have known that the last box was to write numbers in? 😛 She only added numbers later when we told her about it.

Emily has been showing lots of interest in learning Chinese words and we have slowly worked through 15 new words since the beginning of the year.

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Our word door.

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Having an older sibling sets the bar higher because she wants to do what Eliza is doing: writing Chinese words.

 

On weeks when I plan things, I leave things out as an invitation to play. This is great because the girls are always the awake half hour before I crawl out of bed do. Not that they don’t find things to do but it can be a war zone of toys by the time I get up. I was hoping to contain potential mess.

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One of their invitation to draw. It was left there for 2 days before Emily embarked on drawing something. Love!

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Another invitation to play with a geoboard.

 

We were also busy with some baking. We mixed batter for a double batch of chocolate zucchini muffins. It was a rather healthy recipe that uses coconut oil and honey, and not to mention the zucchini that they don’t taste. Eliza got to help me read out the recipe and tell me the double of the quantity written. So we started the understanding and small discussion of multiplication. Totally unplanned! We also learnt about reading fractions and mummy’s own unreadable-to-a-kid handwriting in my recipe notebook.

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Baking with them is a lesson in taking turns. “I mix this and then we swap!”

 

We stopped history reading for a while to delve into timelines that makes more meaning to her, hopefully when we draw out a real history timeline, it will make a bit more sense. Ahh…sometimes the activities we do don’t seem like ‘lessons’ when it’s pasting photos of your birthdays on a timeline. 4 year old Emily remarked, “Why does jiejie have more than me?!”

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This is part of our history ‘lesson’ to help her understand timelines.

 

Play. Dancing. Building.
We were listening to Vivaldi’s Winter this week and found a video by The Piano Guys mixing that piece with the “Let it Go” song. Obviously, they were elated.

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Dancing to Vivaldi’s Winter & Let It Go by the Piano Guys

This Magformers toy that we got for Eliza’s birthday has been played almost E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y! It’s has 62 pieces and sometimes I feel that it would be great to have more but they have been building amazing structures despite me feeling it’s not enough. 😛 So far there has been hair clips, trains with many carriages, odd form houses, pavilions, walls….

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Version 1x of the basketball hoop

 

We have also been enjoying a lap book time with my lovely mummy friend. While our 3 year olds read, learn, cut and paste, our older ones have been happily playing. Emily loves the songs and would go on singing it at random places and times in the week.

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Building a collage of things you can find in the kitchen

 

And we ended the week with some Valentine’s day crafting.

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Making hearts with cardboard, yarn and beads.

Happy week ahead!