Friday 23 December 2016

The story of the Candy Cane

Christmas is here, almost! Above and beyond the expressions of love and blessing this season, we always talk about the reason for the season within the family, that is the birth of Christ Jesus on Christmas day.

On our recent trip to the library, I discovered a book about the candy cane and fell so in love with the inspirational story behind it. I've to be so honest that I had never really wondered so much about candy canes and Christmas. It has such a wonderful story that I thought it has to be shared!

Candy Cane

Looking at the candy, what letter does it look like? J. Yes, Jesus! The reason for the season. And when you turn 'J' over, it reminds us of a shepherd's staff. The shepherds in the field were the first to find out about Jesus' birth.

Shepherd's stuff

And what about the stripes? "By His stripes we are healed." Before Jesus died on the cross, he was whipped and bled terribly. The red reminds us of His suffering and blood.

The candy being white makes us white and pure as snow. When we give our lives to Jesus, his blood washes away our sins. 

Legend of the Candy Cane

This, is the story of the candy cane! Candy cane never looked the same anymore. Of the many variations candy canes come in today, the red and white is probably the most meaningful of all, as well as the best tasting.

Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas, everyone!

Book Title: The Legend of the Candy Cane
Author: Lori Walburg
Call Number: English WAL

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Our first wakeboarding experience!

There's always a first try to everything. We had our first cable skiing experience at the Singapore Wake Park. It's very much similar to wakeboarding. So how exactly is wakeboarding different from cable skiing? The stark difference between riding on a cable and behind a boat is the use of motorized towers and system versus a motorboat.

We are no enthusiasts in any water sports, and I was really doubtful about trying something that doesn't define me. A big part of me was really about the opportunity the kids could get on to try a new sport. We decided to go ahead with a decision to get into the water with the kids, rather than just chilling by the cafe. The man didn't escape.

We made arrangements for Juboy, just so we could all play together.

It must be age. Trying something new sends me much into the state of being apprehensive. I had no idea what I would be in for, especially coming from zero background on wakeboarding. It was most natural that we all started off with the easiest board, which is kneeboard. Really easy, no skill required, except to sit and relax.

Knee boarding

The only trait you need is being confident in water. A life float was attached to us and the only swimming, or if not, leg paddling we had need to do was to swim towards our board after each ride. Hang onto it and swim towards the walkway. 

Never too young or old, as long as you think you can do it. A recommended age for kids would be 6 year old and above. Jare is 5 and he wooshed it off well.

Easy up board for me

After trying the kneeboard, it was the next challenge to move onto wakeboarding. This, I've to say requires a couple of tries to discover the right balance between our body and the board. It wasn't too difficult and I'm pleased that I got it on the third attempt. Having no flare in sports, if I can do it, anyone can.

Be assured that the friendly instructors on site will guide and help you along. For the little kids, a crew will await for them at the end point if they are too little to handle.

Js had a tougher time staying balanced on the wakeboard. It may not be easy, but it isn't difficult either. Kids' sized wakeboards are available. Jare clocked the most number of attempts among us and I admired his 'Never give up' attitude and his desire to 'Keep trying.' He really loved it and wanted to get it all up and balanced! Good training on that perseverance.


All these being only possible with the Park's beginner-friendly systems called the System 2.0. This cable system is great for anyone, adult or child learning to kneeboard or stand on the wakeboard.
The speed of this cable is adjustable, which makes learning how to stand on a wakeboard easier.

After which if the adult is confident enough to go steadily fast, he may graduate to ski on the full size cable, where there's greater tension and smoother ride. We conservatively stayed on system 2.0, with the kids.

Apart from the sporty experience, I had really love these cute little life float on the kids! Friendly walking sharks they are.
Beware of sharks!

So yeap! It was great fun for everyone of us, and there was much contentment and happiness with the experience and bond we had in venturing this new sport as a family. You do need to give it a try with the kids! Whether or not we mastered the skill, it was a nice day out for us. Or if you prefer to stay away from the shine, you may opt for night water ski! So cool.

Full shower facilities available. Lockers are also available, except that you need to bring a lock along, if not, you may purchase one from their store. After all the exhausted energy, it was most comforting to fill our tummies by their cafe and bar, Coastal Rhythm.

Clock in your visit soon. Friendly warning: It can be extremely addictive!

Singapore Wake Park
Opening hours
Mondays to Fridays: 10am to 10pm;
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays: 9am to 10pm.

1206A East Coast Parkway,
Singapore 449891

Located between:
East Coast Park Lagoon
Food Village and
East Coast Seafood Centre.
Carpark E1

Disclaimer: Sponsored wakeboarding experience. All opinions and photos are solely ours. 

Monday 12 December 2016

Lessons with The Little Executive

Executive function skills consists of working memory, impulse and emotional control, flexibility, planning and prioritizing, self-monitoring, and task initiation. These skills are necessary to ensure tasks are followed through from the beginning to the final stages, enable us to make decisions, see the big picture as well as details. 

If our child is equipped with the essence of these skills, I will say learning in and out of school will be a breeze. Jazz had embarked and now, completed an 11 weeks journey with The Little Executive (TLE). TLE, aims to develop essential brain-based skills and cognitive processes that children need in order to succeed both in and out of the classroom, all the way to the boardroom!

Building on the 3 pillars, Essential skills, Learning habits and Growth mindset, TLE aims to help each child discover his innate ability to be independent and self- aware, equipped with tools to assess and change his performance, growing into an astute, whole, and happy person.

I've to attest that these skills can be lifelong if we choose to intervene and bring in the right learning habits from young. Activities and curriculum developed by TLE are catered to the different age groups from preschoolers to primary school kids.

Here's a peek into Jazz's first lesson with her teacher, Ms M. In 1.5 hour, the following 6 tests were covered.


Here are some understanding I have gained as a sit in parent.

Bobo's room
Bobo is a bear. A room was made for him, both in 3D and 2D. The mapping of 3D to 2D and vice versa is a key mental manipulation. It allows the seeing of things on paper in a 3D form, and is a critical skill needed in primary school.

Visualising in 3D definitely helps with solving the problem. It is a crucial skill in seeing how reality and text are a representations of each other.

Stroop Exercise
I thought this was really interesting and challenging as it goes along.

Refer to the chart of pictures below, the kids were tasked to call out the names or colours of the animals on the chart to the metronome beat. They go from rows then to columns. On the first row, it goes bear, pig, cat, monkey, bird and so on. Followed by colours, blue, red, yellow, green, red and so on. The challenge increases as the speed gets faster with the metronome beat.

This is an important skill to develop selective attention and block out distractions. It means they will have to put away the identity of the animals and concentrate on its colours, and then vice versa.

This is one good way to manage multiple instructions, build on concentration and train our brain to persist and stay on task. When one of the picture is for example, replaced by a name, say 'tree', it allows the mind to think flexibly, adjust to the unexpected and accept new information over the old.

It builds on that growth mindset when kids are asked to up their challenges. 

Handwriting exercise
This is Jazz's favourite segment. It allows her great fun with shaving cream!

Using an ice cream stick, the kids draw the horizontal figure '8' repeatedly for about 1 to 2 minutes. The crossing of the mid-line enhances the left and right brain connections.

This fun activity develops concentration span by having to focus on the task of drawing '8' for a long period of time. While drawing, they do need to display active listening skills on when to 'freeze', 'change direction' or 'continue.'

Wrap Up!
The lessons are often summed up with setting goal for the week. Which Ms M will discuss the steps needed to achieve these goals and check back the following week. It makes them think really hard and want to achieve more when we bring goals and thinking out of the usual home settings.

Above are some of the many tests done to measure specific skills. I do not think problems with any of these tests will predict how bad or good a child will do in real life, it simply prompts parents to intervene early and help the child outgrow. Executive functioning skills can be trained and strengthened.

I love the rationale and benefits curated behind these activities, and most importantly, a team of educators who knows how to deliver these activities effectively. It really isn't about saying "good job" or "well done" all the time. I noticed the constant praising of an effort over achievement. This cultivates a growth mindset that prompts a child to go for greater heights!

Instead of a downright reply of "right" and "wrong", the teachers throw the kids thinking questions like, "Is yours like mine?" Which sends them into the state of checking, re-checking and thinking. It trains them to eventually start looking and listening. That's what will help our kids excel better in and out of classrooms, as well as future workplaces.

At the end of the term, a progress report is given to help parents understand the significant progress and areas of improvement. Jazz is dominantly shy in class and resists from speaking up when asked to. I do hope she gets better and is more comfortable about sharing in class.

The most significant progress I saw, was her interpretation of 3D to 2D images. While most of us would commonly term drawing as front view and back view, we were impressed that she was taught front profile, side profile and back profile!

It teaches more than just mapping of the dimensions, but also learning to look at things and matters from a different perspective. It's so often that we jump into various conclusions without even analysing the different aspects.
Just how essential these skills are!

These are some skills, parents could have potentially missed out. Academic isn't all that encompasses a child's growth. There are the learning habits and growth mindset to tackle.

Aside from TLE's regular curriculum, they conduct holiday camps too. Jazz enjoyed her weekly lesson, which we called it the Bobo bear class. It wasn't a single bit dull or boring, so be assured that your kids will enjoy and see it as purely, learning through play.

Check them out soon! 

The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229844
Contact: 6908 1889

Disclaimer: Jazz was sponsored a term of class with TLE. All opinions and photos are solely ours.

Monday 5 December 2016

Resisting peer pressure

Some days ago, I questioned Jare on a missing toy. It was usually among his collection of favourite toys till I noticed it's disappearance. I asked where it was and he honestly told me he gave it to his friend. Oh wow! I thought. A treasured friend it must be. I pried further and asked why he gave it to that friend. With a little of regret, he replied, "Because he said, if I don't give it to him... he won't be my friend."

Sounds familiar eh? Kids play, kids stunt and kids language. I understand it's a fair behaviour of how kids play at this age. I know, but but... I have a concern! It is not quite okay, especially as he ages along. It's now that we talk about it or too late when he gets all defensive about his circle of friends.
So let's talk about friends, son.

I know we all have that basic need of social belonging. An identity among friends. For that sense of acceptance, we often succumb to acts we are compelled to. Very often, the meek and shy are victims of this. We should however, not wobble to threats and discourage behaviours of such. 

It's commendable that the kids can mediate and sort out disagreements among themselves. So yes, negotiate, trade or strike a deal on what to do with that toy, but not with threats.

And so I told Jare, good friends are not like that. They do not make you do the wrong things or use threats on you. They empathize, encourage and care for you positively. They make you feel sure about yourself. If you don't feel secured or certain in any situation, it's perfectly fine to walk away. Cast our nets wider, we have better friends.

The next time someone comes along with that statement again, we discussed that he can be firm on keeping his toy and tell the person, "I will not give it away" or "That's not a cool friend" or if not, walk away. 

What will you ask your child to say or do?

It's a toy for now. I am sure there will be more complex issues as he grows. Good that we start discussing about peer pressure now. I hope he will remember this teachable moment we had, and along the way finds good friends, hangs out with the right company and stand up at the right moment.

Freedom, just this much we can do.