Thursday 21 November 2013

Homeschooling can be fun

The creative part of my mind is always challenged when it comes to Jare and learning. It's extremely tough to get his attention on academics. I have to constantly excite him, with an attempt to make learning an ultimate pleasure for him. My best thought was to get his cars and planes involved. His all time favourite. 
Placing the cars and planes upon my number call
Jare can count almost perfect to 20, but when it comes to recognising the numbers, he's probably not quite there yet. And when I'm in the right mood to sit him down for learning, he seemed to prefer setting his eyes on some other distraction. A total different personality from Jazz, who always seemed hungry for new knowledge. 

I used his cars and planes to help identify the numbers. Asked him to put 'Dusty' on 1, and 'Woody' on 5, and on and on, he could score perfect. I affirmed that homeschooling him requires a variety of fun. How intensive is that for his mama?!! I hope I've exemplified the meaning of learning through play.

Then we moved on to numbers tracing. I got him to move a car along the writing direction of the number, he could do it well, as if the car was on an imaginary race track. After which, he did pencil tracing and counting. He usually misses a count or two during counts, especially when distracted. When it comes to counting his cars, it was easy peasy. What an astonishing chemistry, boys and cars! 
Diligently tracing 6

Going through 7 and counting cars
And, I started him on paper cutting! Taught him some scissors skills, position those fingers and ready... open and close, open and close. He did a great maneuver with his first successful piece of work. It was with minimal assistance. Under close supervision, no harm was done to any of his fingers. Proud of this little boy.
Excellent attempt
Like most mums, I get my dose of frustration when it comes to teaching Js. I breathe in and out countless times, to keep anger away. My homeschooling tips are all about:
  1. Patience, loads of it!
  2. Enjoy the process.
  3. Perfect time, when both are into the flow.
  4. Drink lots of water! It boosts concentration.
  5. Think of creative ways to capture attention and interest.
  6. Don't get too perfect on them. That crooked A or B is perfectly imperfect.
  7. Encouragements. Healthy self esteem. They do better when they feel better.
  8. Set a routine. It can be abrupt to stop play or an act to get into the serious stuff. 
  9. Praises and rewards. I'll paste a sticker or stamp on each completed work. Js love it!
  10. Know when to stop. Signs of fatigue or listlessness indicates it's high time to stop and relax. There's no hurry, to each at their own pace. We know every child is uniquely different.
Homeschooling can be challenging, but we have choices to make teaching and learning interestingly fun.

Monday 18 November 2013

Family game nights

Games stimulate little minds and build family bonds. I love it that we do family game nights, be it board games or self invented games, I love every part of our play. More importantly, I like the values and skills set that can be taught in different games. 

We learn to play games by rules, create rules and sometimes with compassion, play out of the rules. The kids pick up game ethics, they learn to wait, take turns, cheer on each other and experience the emotions of victory or lost. Jazz grew from a bad sport to a good sport after umpteen times of games playing. She couldn't face defeat, but now, she knows its not about the end result, but the journey.

We house many board games, some of which were inherited from my kind neighbour who shifted out. Other than age appropriate board games, here are some easy, out of the board, games we play with our time together. 

1. Hot or Cold
Js love it when I hide a treat or an object that requires effort to search. I'll define a specific area for them to comb. When they get near, I'll hint 'Hot, which means they're near the target. 'Cold' and it means far away. They'll form their task force, discuss their strategy and begin search. And of course, to not ruffle much with tidiness, make object an easy search. Then, we take turns to hide.
Objectives: Reward comes with effort. Patient and teamwork.

2. Memory
Gather a few small items and hide it under a blanket. Open up and give them about 10 seconds to remember the items, then cover up again. Test their memory with what they saw. They always outshine me in this. As their memory gets better, mine deteriorates.
Objectives: Memory builder and concentration
Working their little brain

3. Guess me
Our favourite road trip game. I would have a thing in mind, and do up a riddle for it. For example, I've chair on mind, I'll go,"People sit on me, I'm always found with the table and I've 4 legs." Be surprise with their replies. They are sure excited to get it right. For Jare, I'll go for a really simple one. I love playing this game not only because it works our thinking cells, it also helps build their knowledge, vocabulary and sentence structure when they hear the riddle. And when they build their own riddle, I'll either be impressed or depressed with their knowledge and structure. A mother, a teacher.
Objectives: Creativity,  Academics - Language, general knowledge

4. Scissors, Paper, Stone
Place a target or treat at the end of a flight of steps. Start from the top or bottom. Play the traditional scissors, paper, stone. Winner takes a step down or up towards the target. Whoever reaches the target wins or keeps the yummy treat. I usually play few rounds, till both child gets their fair treat. This is when you know compassion rules the game.
Objectives: Reward comes with effort, patient

Jazz leading the game

5. Hide and seek
This is old school, but we know its fun! Play too often, and you'll run out of places to hide. So play this once in a long long while. Kids love repetition anyway. Js loves this game and they can be really good hiders at times.
Objectives: Hide in teams for team work, learn to stay quiet and count while waiting

Remove skills and values out of the objectives, playing games as a family not only makes everyone happy, it also creates meaningful lasting memories. Have you some nights set aside for games too? All you need is a little fraction of some daily time. We know they won't want to play with us forever.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Thank You postcards

How often do we slow down and meditate upon thankfulness... When my mind's out of track, its probably high time to refill thoughts with gratefulness, instead of getting all cooped up in negatives. Yes, I'm meditating on Thankfulness. My lovely two. 

In my realistic parenting realm, I must admit there are extreme struggling moments when I felt like Js should be reverted into the womb. Or, "Did I actually birth you?!!" I have such days with my ever challenging kids. 

One day, with much thankfulness within, I decided to start writing them postcards through the mail. I wrote and confessed the good deeds and character in them, hopefully upon reading, it will put some beaming smiles on their faces. Every young and old appreciates encouragement. While trying to pen my appreciation, I was appalled at my lost of words. I ran through my mind again and again, I must have been always obsessed with the bads over goods. What an unappreciative parent I've been! I'm learning. 
We cheated. Omitted stamps and had them directed to the mailbox by hand
The kids were surprised to receive their postcards. It probably boost them up a little when I read through the appreciations. 

I'm thankful to them for being always so forgiving. I have my bad days, frustrated instances and impatient moments. I yelled, I smacked, I threw tantrums the grown up way, yet, all in all, they held no grudges, they forgive and forget. Whenever I'm drowned in my sea of guilt, they could still hug and kiss me like nothing happened. I sigh in dismay when I see part of me, mimicked in their wrongdoings. I should often be blamed, rather than taking authority advantage over them. It's a horrible feel to apologize for my wrongs. Parenting pride, I guess.

And yes, it's obvious that my no yelling/anger project failed 2 big times. I'm not confident to even start on it again.

We know the same parenting style might not work through their growing years. As innocent and dependent they are now, they can be truly forgiving. In their future years, a wrong parental decision or move could turn their faces away from mine. It's not totally true that parenting gets easy. I shall not worry about the unforeseen though. 

Meanwhile, as long as it lasts, thank you Js for being so bearable with me. Have you some thankfulness to write or say to your little ones too?

Saturday 2 November 2013

Halloween celebration (II)

Big kids and little kids had a wonderful Halloween time around our neighbourhood. It was exciting that our SG community gathered and trooped off for trick or treats. You have no idea how adorable the little ones were, when donned in their costumes! Jare was his Sulley, and Jazz successfully convinced us to buy a new set of costume, she was Jessie from Toy Story. I decided not to spare myself by doing up as a nerd. I love nerds, intelligent and simple minded is my definition. And my man is quite like this. Haha.

We are the Nerd couple!

While we're out, we left a box of treats out of home. Little kids can come by for their treats, without walking off disappointed. I wised up this Halloween, bought no candies. Instead, 'recycled' the candies Js collected from the earlier events. And some of which, ET flown over from SG. Oops! But, that's because they're just too much for us.

Our self made treat box

We went trick or treating from door to door. If I were a child, I would just be as excited. Imagine countless of candies being dropped into the buckets, unconditionally! And heard some kids went:

"Trick or Treat,
Smell my Feet,
Give me something good to eat."

The little ones were totally adorable! It was definitely an exciting and interesting evening. Costumes of all kinds, the horrifying, the friendly and the out of the world! Houses were adorned impressively and some, horrifically! 
The views I took while on a morning jog

Blending myself for Trick or treat!
With Mr Frakenstein

"Our Mummy's a nerd!"
After collecting treats, we had a mini Halloween dinner with JO and his mum. It was a pumpkin night. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin bread and pumpkin bread pudding! Sounds like the only time of the year when we'll use pumpkins excessively in the menu. We had a great time feasting! With some candies too. 
Halloween in the west is definitely an occasion we'll truly miss. In time to come, do we have to farewell such fun?!! For now, we are just so trouble about the excessive sugar collected.
Just too much!
And for fun, I pranked the kids on the, "I ate your candies test". I had such a great time laughing at Jazz's reactions. Jare on the other hand was nonchalant about his candies. This certainly is another memorable Halloween experience. Happy Halloween everyone!