A new era in Education

Ever since starting my enrichment centre 3 months ago, the focus of my days have taken on a new dimension. Besides seeing to the needs of my kids, I’m immersing myself in rich research and surrounding myself with other people’s children. Life couldn’t be more enriching!

During our September holiday Astronaut camp, I was hanging around making sure everything ran smoothly. Even though I wasn’t teaching them, the kids came up to me with comments and questions.

I was drawn in and became more and more involved, as it was impossible to resist these innocent faces and incessant questions, and found myself thoroughly enjoying being with them.

As an incidental discovery, I’ve found the answer to a contradiction which had baffled me for years. At every PTM, my daughters’ teachers would tell me how well-behaved they are, what a delight it was to teach them, and all of them won model student awards.

Yet at home, they came nowhere close to this brilliant picture painted and the hubs and I concluded that they had the Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde syndrome.

Now that I’m on the other end, I tell parents what a pleasure it was to have their child with us, how well-behaved and well-mannered they were, and the parents are surprised and divulge that such is not the case at home.

Ah! I’m concluding that children know how to be on their best behaviour in front of teachers they like. I had some of the P1 and P2 girls coming in half an hour before camp started because they wanted to see if there was anything we needed help with. Such sweet darlings. It is such a joy to teach other people’s children! I’m one of those mums who find it impossible to teach my own kids. Tempers will flare and the relationship risks being ruined, so I don’t even try anymore.

What’s that machine?

When you have a bunch of riveted, absorbent minds watching you (notice how Kate is the only one not bothered with me) knowing that what you say and what you do will have a great impact on them, that knowledge and responsibility is at once astounding yet humbling.

Of all the sayings I’ve come across about teaching, this one struck me greatly.

“To teach is to stand on hallowed ground.”

How sacred. We have the potential to mold hearts and minds.

Memory work
Children at every age present so much for us to marvel at. The pure emotions of the little ones, the wide eyes and the quick smiles. The inquisitive minds of the older kids and their desire to do their best. Facilitating them, encouraging them to work together, to go beyond their comfort zone, seeing them grow in a short span of a few days, there was a tangible reluctance all around when it was time to part.

Besides the holiday camp, Kate has been following me down to my centre and she enjoys the weekly classes. Although I wish our team could churn out curriculum fast enough to include #4 and #5, I’m glad that at least 1 of them gets to benefit from this whole new approach towards learning.

After 10 years of disappointment at our education system for being mostly concerned with teaching to the test (although now I understand the constrains), and believing that there must be more that can be done to impart real education to our children alongside content delivery, I am finally heartened to discover that there is a way, and we can bring that to a new generation of children.

In the process, I have been learning a lot (embracing life-long learning!), reading voraciously, and picking the brilliant minds around me. My dear partner, Michelle, never fails to inspire me with her passion and dedication towards the development of children, and her generosity of mind to share with us her special gift of deciphering every child’s learning needs and identifying how gaps can be closed and potentials stretched, so that as a team, everyone grows along and becomes strengthened as educators.
Patterning activity

Our activities may look random, but each activity is backed by scientific research and careful thought has been put into designing it for the best learning outcomes, while disguising it as play as that is the form kids learn best.

Take for example this activity at last week’s session, where Kate was developing her sequencing skills. It might look simple, but patterning and sequencing is such a critical skill. By encouraging kids to spot patterns, they can create and use patterns to make sense of the world where there is none; by providing order in chaos.

All about patterns. Patterns are one of the first ways we see predictability, hence allowing us to make educated guesses. In school, patterns are essential for Math (basic patterns), Science (life cycles), English (reading) and social relationships (cause and effect), to highlight simple examples.

Do you know that out of all mental skills, pattern recognition is said to have the highest correlation with general intelligence? Imagine that.

Ever wondered why IQ tests and the GEP tests are full of patterning questions?

Although patterning is taught in school, here it is taught as a skill, instead of being part of a subject.

Therein lies the difference. As such, our children understand that patterns exist in an infinite number of situations, vis a vis being exclusive to a particular subject. They also come to the realization that their actions can affect and impact patterns, and create or break them. Powerful realizations.

The problem in schools is that we teach too specifically, hence students are not able to apply theories across subjects and their knowledge does not expand past the classroom walls.

Mastering pattern recognition requires persistence and practice, and the younger the child starts, the better. Experts go so far as to predict that the younger the child is able to observe patterns in his environment, the stronger their future thinking skills will be. (I’m going to expect great things from Kate!)

Besides that, with each activity, not only are we developing the essential skills, we incorporate positive learning habits and encourage a growth mindset; core tenets of our approach. Kate’s teacher noticed that whenever she is presented with a task which she found challenging, she would use avoidance tactics and ask to go to the toilet or ask for permission to look for me (what a convenient excuse).

Her teacher makes a conscientious effort to guide Kate to adopt a different approach to facing challenges, and by gradually building up her confidence and sense of achievement by small successes while praising her efforts, Kate will be on the path to a more positive learning attitude.

Analogies worksheet

When Kate moves on to K1 next year, she will work on analogies, which is more than just an advanced form of patterning.

What is analogical reasoning? Analogical reasoning is one of the quickest way we learn new concepts and make sense of things by comparing them to what we already know. It is a core cognitive skill that contributes to general fluid intelligence, creativity and adaptive learning capacities.

In fact, studies have proven that analogical reasoning is a significant predictor of mathematical reasoning. Thus we can think of these as the building blocks for a strong foundation in academic studies. More compellingly, analogical reasoning may help students become more innovative, adaptive and intelligent; qualities our children require to forge ahead in future.

I don’t know if this fascinates you, but the fact that there are activities which can be done and approaches which can be applied to shape our children’s brains and learning in such a powerful way, simply blows me away.

It is as though I have uncovered some hidden treasures that I have almost lost hope searching for. The more I am discovering, the more I want to delve deeper, and the journey is doubly exciting with a team of like-minded educators as we deconstruct findings and reflect on the processes.

Looking back on how my life has unfolded, there were times when I was in two minds about whether to go back to work as an occupational therapist or become a stay-at-home-mum and relatives talked about how my overseas education was ‘wasted’ as I stayed home to care for my 6 kids. Fortunately, my parents were 100% behind me and never once complained.

On hindsight, education is never ‘wasted’ and coupled with the experience and wisdom gained through my parenting journey, I am where I am today, and although never planned, it feels so right doing what I do, and everyday I am energised and ready to go! Life has turned out marvellously.

I have also had the opportunity to meet some of my readers and work with their children, and that has been wonderful as well.

More: Reviews of our holiday camp.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s 1st Show & Tell

Last week, Kate’s Chinese teacher was briefing them about their Show & Tell and asked who was ready to present on Friday.

A few of the older kids raised their hands and the teacher noted down their names and instructed them to go home and practice their lines.

Kate also raised her hand to indicate her interest although I am quite certain she did not fully understand the requirements of presenting a Show & Tell.

In fact, she might have raised her hand just because the other kids were doing so, not knowing what was going on.

As she is new to the class, her lao shi told her that she will have her turn the following week to allow for ample time to prepare.

Kate nodded her head even though she probably only understood half of what her lao shi was saying.

Friday came, and the kids who were allocated to do their Show & Tell deposited their items in the basket at the front of the class.

Kate followed suit.

As the kids were called one by one to go up, Kate kept bobbing up to look at her lao shi and at the basket.

After all the kids on the list were done, there was still 1 item sitting in the basket.

As the lao shi turned to scan the students, Kate looked straight at her and raised her hand.

She asked Kate if the toy was hers and Kate said yes and went up to the front.

Of course she had no idea what to say as her command of Mandarin is limited to songs and simple words, but she gamely stood there holding her toy.

I am glad her lao shi did not turn her down because of a lack of time but allowed her to have a go.

She asked Kate to repeat after her in Mandarin, “My name is Kate. Today I have brought a toy, etc etc.”

Kate repeated sentence after sentence loudly and confidently.

I could still see the lao shi’s amusement while recounting the story.

She said Kate has courage and a willingness to learn which should be encouraged.

For some children, the greatest hurdle is to get them to stand in front of the class while for others, it is to speak up audibly so that everyone can hear.

Kate doesn’t seem to have any problem with both!

At home, I told the older kids what had happened and we were all tickled by the story.

I simply had to find out what was going on in her mind.

Me: Did you do Show & Tell today?

Kate: Yes!

Me: How do you do it?

Kate: You raise your hand to tell lao shi, bring your toy, put it in the basket and wait for your turn.

Me: That’s it?

Kate: Uh-huh. Very easy.

We all burst out laughing.

Kate’s idea of Show & Tell is “Bring your toy to show your friends” and lao shi will do the rest.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s morning routine

One of the most important traits I had to instil in my kids to save my own sanity was to make them independent.

As I do not have octopus arms, I needed to figure out a way to stop the constant cries of “Mameeeee!” coming from all corners of the house.

With Kate, I was surprised that she is even more independent than the older kids.

One day, it dawned on me that she had been doing the same thing morning after morning while I was still lazing in bed and had formed her own routine before she was even 3!

She wakes up by herself at 7am, give or take 10 minutes.

She comes over and gives me a peck on the cheek.

That’s my cue to wake up and make her milk.

I promptly return to bed for more shut eye while she gets herself ready for school.

She goes into the bathroom, takes off her pyjamas and diaper and has a quick shower.

She is able to reach for the towel which is hung on a low hook.

She does a pretty decent job of drying herself and hangs the towel back.

She goes over to the sink, fills up her cup, rinses her toothbrush, squeezes some toothpaste on and brushes her teeth.

I know at this age, we should still be supervising her brushing, but I only do that with her at night! She just visited the dentist and her teeth are looking good.

Kate’s closet drawer

Ever since I noticed her picking her own clothes at about 2 years of age I have moved her clothes to the lower drawer to facilitate her independence and free myself of 1 more task. 

She chooses her outfit for school and even matches them in her own style, so much so that #3 asked me, “Who has been dressing Kate?”

After she’s done, she will close the door softly and make her way downstairs and look for our helper.

She has a light bite of breakfast and plays with the puppy for a few minutes before putting on her socks and shoes and heading to the door to wait for her ride to school.
The effort I have invested in constantly talking through the steps when she was 1 and 2 years old have paid off and she’s by far the easiest to manage.

No need for nagging, scolding, reward stars. Nothing! Just plain and simple routine.

I wish I had known then what I know now and the daily grind of getting the 5 of them to school would have been way easier!

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

How Kate gave up her pacifier

Like many new parents, we tried not to give #1 and #2 the pacifier. However, they ended up sucking their fingers. That was much worse as they had access to it anytime of the day, and would pop it in their mouths whenever they felt sleepy. Yikes, the germs! It was also very tough to get them to stop sucking their thumbs.

We made sure the rest of the kids did not suck their thumbs, and had to resort to using the pacifier. I know there are many mums who manage without the pacifier or allowing them to suck their thumbs, and I don’t know how you do it!

For us, it was hard enough to manage so many kids, and I used the pacifier to help them fall asleep by themselves.

Her last photo with a pacifier!

When #3 was around 2 years old, we told her it was time to get rid of her pacifier, and threw all of them away. She cried for a few nights, and seemed fine after that.

However, little did we know that it bothered her so much. When she was about 6 and had her own pocket money, she bought herself a pacifier! I guess we should not have done it in such a harsh and abrupt manner as she must have been rather attached to it.

With Kate, we gave her a pacifier but ensured she only used it at bedtime and nap time. She had two to rotate, and when one had a tear in it, I did not replace it and made it known to her that she was down to the last one.

A few months before her third birthday, we felt it was time she gave it up. We explained to her that pacifiers were for babies to help them to sleep and she doesn’t need one now as she is no longer a baby.

She fluctuated between being ready to give it up and being adamant that she needed it. When she saw her baby cousin, she would fetch her pacifier and offer it to the baby. She even whispered to the baby that she is now a big girl and doesn’t need it anymore (so adorable hearing her try to convince herself). However at bedtime, she would change her mind.

We prepped her for many weeks, and told her that we would throw it away on her 3rd birthday. We talked about the lovely party that she was so looking forwards to, and the presents she would receive.

I intended to keep aside a couple of the presents unopened, and when she whined for her pacifier, I would whip out one present per night to wean her off it smoothly.

A few days before her 3rd birthday, her pacifier had a slight tear in it, and she didn’t want to suck it. She asked for a new one, but I told her no. She thought about it, then walked to the dustbin and threw it in herself.

That was it! No fuss, no crying. I was quite surprised, really. No need for my sneaky plan.

It took her about 30 minutes longer to fall asleep, and when she woke up in the middle of the night, she lay in bed for a long time before falling asleep.

The next day, she asked for it at nap time and at bed time, but did not make a fuss when I reminded her that she had thrown it away.

After that, she had no problems falling asleep without it.

The end 🙂

Do share with us if you had managed to wean your child off at a younger age, and what method you used as many new parents are keen to find out.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s bedtime routine… or mine?

One of my hot buttons is that the kids go to bed on time.

They know that I get really angry if they sleep late during school nights.

Not enough sleep = poor concentration & immunity lowered = falling sick and spreading germs to the others = overtired & grumpy mummy.

Lately, the bedtime routine of the 2 youngest ones is starting to drive me crazy.

Kate’s babies

Kate & #5 sleep in the same room, and after showering and brushing their teeth, they get in bed by 7.30pm. Nice.

But then the real routine begins.

I read Kate her bedtime stories while #5 reads to himself.

There’s always the “one more, pleaseeee”, while trying to put on her cutest face. We have settled on 5 books, although she is using the 1 to 1 correspondence skill (or lack of) to try and wriggle a few more books into the 5.

Then it’s lights out.

I am constantly surprised how kids can think of so many things to do in semi-darkness.

“I want to sleep here, next to mummy.” Shuffle, shuffle. Silence for 3 seconds.

“I don’t want to sleep at the bad guy side.” (the side closest to the wall) More shuffling.

“I have no space!” Nudging, pushing, shoving.

Stop moving both of you, and go to sleep!

Silence for 10 seconds.

“I have a mosquito bite on my arm. I need to put oil.” No. Sleep.

“I need. I need!” Ok quickly put oil and lie down.

#5 will take the opportunity to start telling some jokes.

Enough, both of you! Keep quiet!

#5: “I need to use the toilet.” You just went!

“I need!” Ok. GO!

And this can go on until 8.30.

Some days, I get so worked up I start yelling at them.


Then I lose it and start ranting.

“Why must you two keep on messing around until I get angry, yell at you before you sleep? WHY??” Can’t you yada yada yada…

Some days, when I’ve had a tough day, I cut myself some slack and just GIVE UP.

I lie down, close my eyes, and let all their talking and quibbling wash over me, and tell myself that they will fall asleep.

When it felt like they will go on forever, I open my eyes, ready to hiss some orders.

But then, I see them doing the simplest, sweetest things. Being siblings.

Sibling love

And I let it slide.

Ah well, sometimes, these precious moments are worth the delayed bedtime.

#5 will eventually be knocked out as he wakes up at 5.30am to catch the school bus.

But Kate? She will be busy arranging and re-arranging her soft toys, softly singing lullabies to them, and patting them to sleep.

At this juncture, if the hubs walks into the room, in my drowsy state, I can hear him say, “She put you to sleep again?”

~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s antics: Unbridled enthusiasm

I haven’t been posting Kate’s antics for quite awhile because now that she’s past two and a half, her cute behaviours have diminished drastically, and been replaced by funny things she says which crack us up.

Her character is also starting to show and she is still a bundle of joy to have around the house (so far!)

My masterpieces!

This morning, she found 2 little buttons and laboriously stuck them onto a piece of paper (took many tries with the glue stick before they attached properly).

She scribbled something on it and presented it to me with such aplomb.

Look MUM!

I have a PRESENT for YOU!

And I drew your NAME!

WOWWWW… isn’t it nice, mum?

Well, the gift was nothing to rave about, but it sure lifted my spirits and put a big smile on my face.

Now I absolutely understand the meaning of ‘the gift of a smile’.

Anything we do for another with utmost sincerity in an attempt to make them happy is nothing short of a wonderful gift.

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you are enjoying you long weekend with your primary school kids!

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Simple fine motor activity for 2-year olds

I love finding things around the house to use as ‘toys’ for Kate to play by herself. I got an old jewellery case from one of the older girls and gathered loose buttons from the sewing box, and viola! A splendid activity that kept her occupied for half an hour.

Assorted buttons

She carefully filled the container then tried pouring the buttons back into the little box. Most of it fell all over the table and she had a nice time picking them all up. And she did it on repeat mode. Nice.

She was so proud of herself.

“Look, mum!”

After she was bored of the buttons, I brought out a box of mini pegs. If I’m not wrong, I got it from Typo. Great fine motor skills and concentration going on over there.

I was surprised she decided to use her left hand to try it out as well, even without me prompting her.

I also noticed she used both hands to get the peg in a good position, which makes it a great activity for crossing the midline, which encourages communication between the right and left brain.

I was busy doing my own thing and when she called out to me to come see what she had done, I was impressed that she put the materials together!

Sane tip: I prepare it during her nap and take it out when she wakes. I simply rotate the materials every once in a while by walking around the house and picking up suitable items.

Save tip: When I had #1, I made up most of her toys myself. As we started to have more kids, I was too busy to think about toys. I’m finding it fun again to let Kate play with such versatile materials, which is way better than mechanical toys.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Discipline #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?

I was caught off guard when Kate’s teacher informed me that she had told a lie. I have to admit that in my earlier years of parenting, when faced with such an awkward situation, I would have either fumbled for a reply, made some excuses or doubted the teacher. My kid? No way! There must have been some mistake.

Instead, I remained calm and wanted to know the whole story so that I could figure out how to deal with it. This was how it went.


Kate had taken a new activity to play with, and her Chinese teacher asked if she had been taught how to work with it. Kate immediately replied, “Yes.” Her Chinese teacher knew it was not the case and asked who had demonstrated it to her. Kate responded, “Ms Sha”, without batting an eyelid. Ms Sha overheard the conversation and walked over. Kate knew her lie had been exposed and looked down, afraid to look into Ms Sha’s eyes. Her teachers took the opportunity to teach her that lying is wrong.

The thing was, we were shocked that a 2.5 year old knows how to lie so blatantly!

On the way home, I reiterated that it was wrong of her to lie. However, I knew deep down in my heart that the problem lies with us, not her. After all, little kids imitate and absorb what they see and hear.

At dinner, I told the rest of the family what had transpired that day. The kids were old enough to point out that “adults also tell white lies, even you and daddy, so that must have been where she picked it up from”. They recounted many instances where the truth was not spoken.

  • You always say, “Everyone is going”. (to a child, everyone would literally mean every single person. Ok, I’d better wipe that one off my list of constantly used words.)
  • Dad tells whoever we are meeting that “We are almost there” when we had just left the house. I heard Uncle T say that last week too.
  • Aunt J always promise us that she’s coming to visit soon. But she never does.
  • You said you’ll be back in 15 minutes. You lied.
With 5 “witnesses” to our daily behavior, the examples came fast and furious.

I had nothing so say. The kids were right.

The next day, I was on high alert to what I was saying and what others around me were saying to Kate.
  • Kate spotted the Crocs shoes her cousin passed down to her and wanted to wear it. As we were going to the mall (we try not to allow Kate to wear Crocs on escalators), our helper said, “Cannot”. Kate persisted. “I want”. She quickly replied, “Cannot. Got lizard poo poo.” Kate said “Where? Let me see.” (of course, there was none.)
  • The girls were eating sweets and when Kate asked for some, they replied, “No more.”
  • I went home and found #5 quietly giving Kate his snacks (which are too salty for her) and when I boomed, “Why are you giving her the pretzels?”, he said, “Just a few.”. I’m sure she had way more than a few.
  • There were countless instances where words came out of my mouth before I realised they were not the absolute truth.

I noticed a pattern here. We instinctively try to shade the truth to avoid her whining or crying, so that we don’t have to deal with it. Unknowingly, we taught her to lie.

It’s not about her.

It’s about us.

It’s about me.

So. Where do I go from here?

I’ve decided that I’ll start focusing on improving one parenting skill at a time until I conquer it. Then I’ll work on the next one.

Here’s the first:


Anyone joining me?

Here are some good tips on how to help your child deal with lying, over at Life’s Tiny Miracles blog.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~