Executive Function skills for PSLE students

We ran a series of Executive Function workshops for Primary 6 students to get them ready for the PSLE and it was clear that this is a missing piece of the puzzle in their exam prep.

The months leading up to the PSLE is crucial, and they need to be able to manage themselves, not get distracted by other things and to focus on their revision. Parents who have gone through this milestone with their older kids realised that it is getting the kids to start on their revision and to stay focused are the hardest part! It is not easy for 12-year olds to get organised, draw up a plan and stick to their revision schedule.

These are all Executive Function skills, and children need to be taught these skills explicitly. Over the years, we have noticed how our own TLE kids who work on these skills weekly are way ahead of their peers when they join us at our P1 Prep camp.

We asked the P6 students how they were feeling about the PSLE and almost all said they were stressed. Either because they felt that the workload was too much and the work itself was too difficult, or that it was hard to focus on revision when they would rather be on social media or play games on their gadgets. Some were stressed because they were afraid that their parents would scold them if they did not do well.

We helped them to gain the awareness that they could be in control of their own thoughts and actions. This was a powerful realisation for them! They realised that while their impulse may be to check their notifications on their phone, they could make a decision if they wanted to give in to their impulses, or use new strategies to stay focused on their work instead of constantly being distracted.

The students were very honest and admitted that they spent long hours playing on their devices especially when their parents were at work. It was heartening that by the end of the workshop, they were motivated to try harder.

We introduced them to an interesting activity using plasticine, and it helped them to think of all the things that they needed to exercise more self-control in.

Parents with P6 kids know that by this age, it is futile to keep nagging and forcing them to do what we want them to. They need to want to achieve it themselves, and that internal drive is what will spur them to push on despite the challenges they will face.

We guided them to see the strengths they had, to encourage them and show them that they can do it! Some of them shared that their parents only nag or scold them, and that there’s no point in studying because even if they improve a little, their parents will still not be satisfied.

Parents need to play a part too! It is a long and demanding year for our P6 kids, try to affirm and celebrate their small wins. If they come home with a 10% increase in their marks, give them a pat on the back and tell them how proud you are for the effort they have put in. The next step will be to aim for another 10% gain for the next test, and the next.

They were given hands-on challenges to develop their Growth Mindset. It was not easy to build the tallest tower and many faced failure when the tower collapsed and they wanted to give up. I heard many versions of “Ms Michelle, it’s too hard. I don’t want to try anymore.”

I kept encouraging them, and asked those who were successful in building it up very high to share their strategies. One boy explained: “You need to start with a strong base, then at the parts when it is weak and starts falling, you reinforce with more plasticine. Settle that part first before moving higher.”

That was such great advice which his classmates could learn from, and it ignited a fresh wave of motivation in the kids who gave up. Sometimes, when the project seems too huge and daunting, we need to break it down into more manageable chunks.

Isn’t that helpful when we are learning something new as well? Get the foundations strong, don’t neglect the weak links, and keep pushing forward. I loved how simply he put it.

They learnt that to tackle the PSLE they need to have that same resilience, to persevere even when the work is hard or when they face all sorts of other challenges. To aim towards daily improvement and keep moving towards their goals.

By the end of the workshops, they felt more encouraged and empowered knowing that they could control their minds and that the outcome is in their hands, and they were excited to put into action all the new strategies they have learnt.

My hope is that one day, Executive Function skills will be a part of every school’s curriculum because not all students are fortunate enough to have parents who can afford to send them for enrichment classes.

Many of my TLE parents who are MOE teachers themselves see the change in their own children and have been trying to raise awareness with their HODs and Principal because they have witnessed that if kids don’t pick up these skills in the primary school years, the gap just keeps getting bigger by the time they reach secondary school.

My amazing Executive Team

While we continue our mission to help as many children as we can to develop this strong foundation, the good news is, if you have a child taking PSLE this year, we have launched this same programme at The Little Executive so that all Primary 6 kids can have access to it.

It runs as a 2 day camp during the June school holidays, 10 & 11 June, 9am-5pm, $620. For my Mummy Wee readers, mention that you got to know about this camp from my blog and you’ll get a 5% discount! Hope to meet some of you soon 🙂 More details and to register: https://www.thelittleexecutive.asia/holiday-camps

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger at Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Apple Watch with FamilyConnect

Kate is in Primary 3 and this year she needs to stay back after school for 2 days, one for CCA and the other for Chinese remedial. Normally, she takes the school bus but we decided not to top up for the after-hours school bus service as we work flexible hours and are able to pick her up ourselves.

What we did not expect was the huge crowd of kids being released at the same time, and it was hard to locate her and we needed a way to communicate with her, especially when it rains.

Apple Watch Series 6

We don’t give our children a mobile phone until they start Secondary 1 so a smart watch is the next best alternative.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect as Starhub has just launched a new FamilyConnect plan at $8 and that solved the problem for us. Kate gets her own number, and there is no contract which means I can terminate it anytime. Do note that it has to tag along an existing Starhub plan, and the amount will be added to your bill. The $8 per month includes 1GB and 50 minutes talk time. That’s more than enough for her, and I find it more convenient than doing the pre-paid top up card.

I took Kate along to Starhub and she was super excited to choose her own number! She couldn’t wait to announce it to the whole family. Being the youngest of 6, she yearns to have the independence and cool stuff that her sisters have, and she can finally be included in our family group chat.

There is no physical SIM card but an e-SIM, and all I had to do was to pair her watch with my iPhone so that I can control the functions on her watch. Go to Settings, Family Sharing, and Invite People into your family.

Next step is to set up the Apple Watch using Family Setup via the Apple Watch App on my iPhone. It takes about an hour for it to sync.

In the meantime, I sat her down to discuss the rules. This is the most important part before handing over the watch to her!

For this year, she is allowed to have the watch only on the 2 days that she has to stay back in school. I explained all the restrictions that will be put in place and how Schooltime works.

She is not allowed to use her watch during school hours and if she unlocks it, I will be notified. I told her that if it happens repeatedly, she is not ready for the watch and I will have to take it away until she feels she is ready to try again.

Schooltime report sent to my phone

Initially I was puzzled why there wasn’t a way to lock the watch completely, which I would have preferred. But it seems Apple is big on respecting the individual (even though they may be our children) and giving them some autonomy. I can see the positive side of this, which is for Kate to learn self-control. She needs to manage her own impulse and not check it during school hours. Hopefully, this will help her to learn the skills to be able to manage her phone responsibly when she gets her own phone in future.

She didn’t quite understand what I meant, and told me that she found a way to hack into the watch during recess! I explained again how Schooltime works, and that I had been notified, and I showed her the report which was sent to my Watch app.

I reiterated that she is to keep her watch in her bag until after her CCA ends at 4pm. Her school has a “No smartwatch” policy, which I’m not opposed to, as kids do have the tendency to constantly check their watch if it’s on their wrist.

She finally understood that being on Schooltime mode meant that the responsibility was now handed over to her, and as digital devices will be a part of her life, she needs to learn to use it responsibly and within limits.

Pink citrus Sport band

Besides being able to call her (and vice versa), the other very useful function is the “Find my” app. This would allow her to walk to find me, in instances where I am picking her up, or where I have left her to run some errands around the mall. To access it, turn on your phone and swipe right. At the search bar on the top, enter “Find my” and the icon will pop up.

We practiced this with her, and I went to a nearby location and clicked on “Share my Location” with her. She set the guidance to “Walk” and it gave her directions to walk to me, e.g. “turn right”.

I’m big on making my kids independent from a young age and she has been going to our neighbourhood provision shop and the playground by herself after informing us. With this GPS tracker, it gives me greater peace of mind and she can call me anytime if needed.

There’s also a function where you can be notified if she leaves a location, for example an enrichment centre or wherever she is supposed to be, as well as being notified when she is adding new contacts on her watch so I know who she is communicating with.

Inverness Green Braided Solo Loop

Kate is still exploring the many other features of her watch like tracking her Move minutes (I might need to check on this during the school holidays when spends too much time on gadgets with her brother) but right now, she is mostly using the message function, navigating with the map and setting alarms to remind her to log on when zoom classes start. If she wants to download any app she needs to get my approval first.

The watch comes with a standard white buckle strap, but we found the Loop straps more suitable for kids. It is easy to don by simply pulling the stretchable band through to your wrist. Kate chose a Size 1 but found it a tad too “claustrophobic for my hand” (yes, she described it so melodramatically) so you might want to buy 1 size bigger. Simply follow the instructions to measure your child’s wrist to determine the best fit. There’s a whole range of gorgeous colours to choose from.

To change the straps, it is as simple as sliding it off and re-attaching another. Kate is really growing to like her watch and one of my older girls has taken over my Apple watch probably with no intention of returning it, while the other 3 are requesting it for their birthday gift!

Kate wearing 40mm case size

My teen has her own iphone and was never keen on the Apple watch, but after borrowing it for a day to try it out, she is now hooked on it! She likes the exercise tracking functions where you can set your own goals and get rewarded with awards. These small little rah-rah badges seem to motivate her to keep on track with her fitness targets. Well, whatever works!

We’ve also discovered an app called LumiHealth where Apple has partnered with Singapore’s Health Promotion Board to encourage a healthier lifestyle and you get to earn rewards of up to $380 cash!

What started out because of practicality and necessity for me to communicate with my 8-year old has become a cool lifestyle gadget for the family! She had fun personalising her watch face with a memoji and even added freckles!

Memoji watch face

Of all the functions the watch offers, Kate loves the Walkie Talkie the most and now she’s on the look out for any Apple watch users amongst her sisters’ friends. With a simple touch, she can speak to them no matter where they are! I didn’t quite understand their excitement because can’t you do the same by dialling someone and waiting for them to answer your call?

“Oh mum, you just don’t understand” came the reply.

Walkie-talkie function

I guess Apple really understands their users, and it is much more than functionality which keeps them loyal.

As I was tucking Kate into bed, she said she wished she could stay up later like the big people downstairs, and could she at least say goodnight to them? She pressed the walkie talkie function and it was really cute to hear the teenagers respond so sweetly to her, and with that, she went to bed happy.

She put her watch away as it went into Downtime mode, which I have set at 7:30pm. I like that the Apple watch is more restrictive than a full fledged phone and everything is controlled via my iphone, and this would be a good transition device for her, sort of like training wheels before she gets her own phone in a few years’ time.

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger of Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Let’s not hide behind the convenient “late bloomer” narrative

My son had his first Edusave Award.

Many would call him a “late bloomer”. However, I feel we should not use the “late bloomer” label loosely, because it blind sides us to the potential we could have provided for him.

Being a “late bloomer” suggests that either a child finally “wakes up” and studies hard in secondary school, polytechnic, or University, or a child’s “intelligence” kicks in at a later age. Both of which are not true in his case.

Let me explain.

My son has a learning profile that does not match our current education system. He was a very active preschooler, outspoken, curious, and the type of child who thinks out of the box and always asks “Why?” and “Why not?”

He does not do that out of defiance, but because that’s how his mind operates. He genuinely wants to know the reason why something is the way it is, or why something can’t be done. Can we find a way to get around it? Has it been proven? Only after he has tried all sorts of ways to get around it without success will he conclude that he hasn’t managed to find a way yet. Many a times, he stumbles upon new discoveries while figuring things out.

However, this does not sit well with formal education as teachers have a syllabus to get on with, and they can’t manage a class of 40 with random kids piping up constantly, even if their questions or observations are legitimate. I understand, because I am an educator myself.

From the time he was young, we could tell that he is a bright child. He had never-ending questions, all logical, but it took a lot of patience to answer them! He easily picked up the rules of games quicker than his older siblings, and was doing advanced puzzles which he found around the house.

At 4, I sent him to Act 3 for a week of speech and drama holiday camp and the teacher said that he could memorize all his lines as well as the lines of every other child in the play in one morning.

When it was time to enrol him in preschool, I was in a dilemma. Having peeked into the kindergarten classrooms of my 4 girls which were of the traditional model, I was certain that my son needed an environment that was more hands-on and developmentally appropriate. Despite the logistics hassle, I decided to put him in a school with an experiential learning philosophy with a lot more outdoor time.

As expected, his preschool teachers commented that he talked a lot, moved non-stop, had lots of big ideas, was a natural leader, was curious how things worked (yes, a nightmare for most teachers) and was very creative. His creations and designs were very complex, always symmetrical, and had detachable parts that could “fly out”. Only when he was creating could he sit for long periods, fully focused, and he had the patience to dig through the entire box to find the pieces that he needed. He could conceptualise things easily in his mind, and could visualise them vividly before they take form.

They understood his learning style, and could accommodate them without compromising the curriculum outcome.

However, once he entered Primary school, all I heard was complaints from his teachers. His education journey went downhill from there. I had a lot of calls and texts from his form teacher.

Feedback from his P1 form teacher:

He talks a lot and asks too many questions when he should just listen to the instructions and obey them. He’s unable to sit still at his desk and pay attention and gets easily distracted and ends up distracting his classmates.

His perspective as a 7-year old:

When I questioned him about his “bad behaviour” that his teacher kept complaining to me about, he was surprised. He said that she kept repeating herself and taught the same concept 3 times so he tuned out and was thinking of his own stuff. The lesson was boring so he chatted with his friend next to him. It was hard for him to stay put on the chair and listen to her talk. He wanted to walk around the classroom and find something interesting to work on.

This kind of “out-of-the-norm” classroom behaviour earned him a reputation of being a “naughty” boy, and it became a self-perpetuating prophecy.

His P6 science teacher even told me at the PTM that he should save all his questions for when he goes to secondary school. Right now, just keep quiet, conform and focus on the PSLE and regurgitate the “key phrases”.

The one and only teacher who told me that he was not a naughty boy like everyone made it out to be was a male teacher. He shared that my son was actually a sweet boy when you spent time to get to know him and to hear him out, and he admitted that an international school would have suited him much better.

With the wisdom of hindsight, of my 6 kids, this child should have been homeschooled so that he could reach his potential and not feel like a misfit.

The turn around finally came when he entered an all-boys school in Secondary One. For the first time, he didn’t feel judged or labelled, and the teachers were more accepting of their different learning styles.

Not surprisingly, his favourite subjects in school is Design & Technology and Art. The other subjects with a content-heavy curriculum are still not ideal for his learning profile, and I’m looking forward to checking out the options in Polytechnic, where it is practical based and industry relevant, which would suit him much better.

There are indeed many more pathways now after the O levels. MOE has done a lot to widen the options at the tertiary level and I love asking my kids’ friends what courses they are in! The most unexpected one I’ve heard so far is a perfumery and cosmetic science course, and other interesting poly courses include game design, sports coaching, vet science, animation and film production. More importantly, the opportunities for our children to enter University via other routes besides the A levels or IB path are also increasing.

All of that is excellent, as we nurture life long learners, but what about the precious first 10 years of their formal education?

If my son’s primary school education was of a different model, one of exploration and experiential hands-on classroom activities, he would certainly not be a “late bloomer”.

It is too late for him to turn back the clock, but not too late for us to look ahead and take this group of children seriously.

These are the mavericks who have the potential to chart new horizons for the future of Singapore in a progressively disrupted world. Let’s not systematically kill the spirit of such kids but let their unconventional genius find root and take shape.

The sad thing is, my son is now very quiet, school is uninspiring and uninteresting, and his only creative outlet is in digital games, where strategy, creativity, and innovation is called for.

I can’t wait for him to finish his secondary education and to move on to something more relevant which sparks his interest, and where he can finally bloom.

Why a co-ed school was wrong for my son, and more school stories.

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger of Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

3 ways I’m committed to grow in 2021

2020 was a tough year indeed. It also brought to the fore 2 areas which calls for a radical change in mindset. Dealing with setbacks, and interpersonal relationships.

These areas of personal growth are not easy because they are counter intuitive, but I will try!

1. Love the Tough stuff

Instead of being afraid of an unending stream of problems, I am going to hold a totally different mindset. One where I won’t be surprised by more challenges and changes this year, and will waste no time in being shaken, but instead shift the focus on finding solutions and being resourceful. I’m going to channel calm and zen this year 🙂

There were also times last year when opportunities came by and I was hesitant to take them up. But time and again, when I went for it, I was ALWAYS the better for it. I will be unfazed by challenges and will embrace all of it!

I will make an effort to step out of my comfort zone, and so long as it aligns with my values, I will make a clean and clear YES. Instead of focusing on all the ways things can’t be done, the focus will be on creating possibilities. Yes to walking the talk of a growth mindset!

2. Accept Blame

Whenever something bad happens, we are quick to blame someone else. This results in friction and soured relationships. It is very hard to be the first to accept blame and to apologize. It just happened to me this morning with my teen! My first reaction was to get angry at her reaction. But after I cooled down, I began to reflect if what I said could have triggered her and she reacted to it. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter who was at fault, and it takes the bigger person to apologize. It really is not easy to handle relationships, especially those you live or interact closely with. It takes a lot to respond by FIRST reflecting if we had a part to play in it, instead of reacting or blaming others.

So tough to do, but I will try.

I also see it time and again at work. Parents come to us and they are at their wits end in knowing how to handle their “naughty” child. More often than not, it stems from a parenting problem, which led their children to behave the way they do.

Even for us. I’m not spared that my kids are already in their teens and early 20s. We had some issues recently with them, and upon reflection, problems surfaced because of the way the hubs and I parented them and we were unaware how we affected them. The beauty is the growth that comes from dealing with it head on instead of sweeping it under the carpet where it will fester and become a bigger problem.

The hardest step is to admit that we are part of the problem and to take responsibility for it. Many a times, it is because of how we ourselves were parented, and it is those brave parents who come to me in my parenting courses and want to break that cycle of constantly shouting and losing our cool with our children. There is no shame in accepting blame and doing something to improve the situation. In fact, it takes a lot of courage and maturity to do so. If we do that, conflicts will be resolved quicker and our homes would be happier places.

3. Open our Hearts

We’ve just stepped out of Christmas, a time of love and friendship. In today’s fast paced and digital world, people are connected yet never truly connected with one another at a deeper level. As a society, we have gotten comfortable accepting surface level connections.

This year, I want to try to be truly present to the people around me and those whom I cross paths with. Be it a child, an elderly relative, a new mum. To really listen to them as a person. Listening attentively and patiently to someone is not easy to do!

Our hearts have grown weary and cold with disappointments, struggles and hurts. All the more, we need to be there for one another, sharing on a meaningful level, providing love and encouragement, and listening intently with all our heart.

It is time to come together for one another.

Here’s to a brighter 2021 for everyone!

What are you committed to in the new year?

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach, helping parents navigate this challenging journey. She has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

PSLE results: A test of the parents, more than the child

We think that tomorrow is a big day for the child, with the release of the PSLE results.

Actually, the role of the child in this whole PSLE business is over.

It ended with the taking of the exam paper.

The real test of the child was if they had managed to persevere despite it being tedious to study for the exams. If they had risen to the challenge, and displayed a positive attitude throughout. If they had shown resilience, and surmounted difficult family circumstances and continued to press on. If they had overcome the curveballs thrown at them over this unpredictable year.

If my child had put in their best effort, I would be happy. Because I see the PSLE for what it is.

Having had 5 kids go through the PSLE, and the oldest two now in University, I am aware that it is only testing a narrow band of a child’s overall abilities.

With a tiny sample size of 6 kids, I have observed that some children have a natural advantage in this particular testing model, while others, a disadvantage through no fault of theirs.

Furthermore, it does not test their creativity, innovation, sporting abilities, artistic talents, entrepreneur spirit, nor skills sets or character traits like adaptability, resilience, teamwork, empathy, integrity, loyalty or kindness, which would paint a more holistic picture of a child’s abilities and aptitude.

The stark truth is, ALL CHILDREN DO NOT START THIS RACE AT THE SAME STARTING POINT. So it should never be seen as a race, competition, or point of comparison. It should be taken as a sorting mechanism, for the good of our children.

Take the pressure off your child. They are only 12!

A child may wonder what is wrong with him if he scored 190 while his cousin scored 260. He may erroneously conclude that he is “stupid” or “inferior”, when his strengths lie beyond the scope of this testing mechanism.

And woe to us as a society if we dim the lights of this wonderful and varied talent pool of our young generation.

Take for example my 6 kids. They are born with different academic abilities.

Let’s use the analogy of cars. One has the speed capabilities of a sports car while another is more like a family MPV. Even if they put in the same amount of effort, the sports car will always go further and faster. But, not to say that the MPV doesn’t have lots of other advantages.

If tomorrow our child comes back with a low score, it takes courage to reflect on why we may be feeling disappointed.

Are we disappointed that we can’t brag to our friends about our child’s achievement?

Are we disappointed that this transaction which we paid for and put in so much effort over the past 6 years in sending them for extra tuition did not yield the returns we thought it would?

Or are we disappointed that our children did not put in their best efforts? If your child was not bothered, had a poor learning attitude and did not study as hard as he should have, it should have been addressed in the run up to the exams. Not now. They are already feeling the sting, and they need your assurance and love.

Even if my child came back with an excellent score, we must also be mindful of what we are praising, especially if there are siblings around. Because there are sports cars who win the race without even trying. And that is not an attitude we want to applaud or encourage.

We need to root our children in the fundamentals of what is important as they step into the future. Strong fundaments of resilience, drive, purpose, hard work, adaptability and discipline.

If we say that we love them unconditionally, our response should be no different if they get 210 or 250, if they had tried their level best.

I will ensure that the child who scored 210 knows that I see her effort, witnessed her resilience, and applaud her for her determination.

I have had 18-year olds ask me, in all seriousness. “Does my mum think I’m a grades machine?” She is only happy when I come home with a good grade.

Tomorrow, the spotlight is on you, parents.

When your child shows you those 3 digits, and they are upset because it is the lowest amongst their circle of friends. Are you able to sincerely support your child? Knowing that he tried his best?

How are you going to frame your child’s results for him? Whether he did “well” or “badly”?

The lesson and the message that a child gets from his parents during moments like this is what shapes his thinking and view of success and achievement.

I remember to this day, that my parents said to me when I went to collect our PSLE results, “What matters is you tried your best, and know that we are behind you always.”

Those words of unconditional love and unwavering support was what kept me strong despite all the daunting challenges I faced in my adult life.

Can your child say with confidence that “My parents love me for who I am.”

If they can, I say, you have passed the test with flying colours. And remember, this is just the beginning. Let their light shine!

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

A tumultuous O level year!

My daughter’s O level exams has just started and it will last through the next 4 weeks. She is a slow and steady learner and drew up a timetable system to work through the chapters one by one for the various subjects.

She decluttered her room and tidied her desk to create a conducive study environment. She was all set to give it her best in this last spurt. Little did she know that her plans were going to be shattered.

An unfortunate situation cropped up, as grandpa had a fall at home. Our repair works had to be brought forward and undertaken immediately as the wooden flooring in his room had rotted and popped up.

We thought that replacing floorboards in 2 rooms wasn’t such major works, and the contractor said it would take A WEEK.

We could deal with that.

Well, it is obvious that we have never done this before – living IN the house while rooms are BEING renovated.

The first two days was deafening! Non-stop drilling and hacking, and the house felt like it was vibrating. In the end, we couldn’t take it anymore and escaped to the nearest eatery to do our work.

The siblings packed their stuff and bunked in with each other, and we reminded them to take EVERYTHING they would need for a week because there was no walking into the room when there was wet cement!

There was a quick shifting of furniture and the one who’s supposed to be revising for her major exams seems to be getting distracted by the others who are on holiday and I hear more chatting than studying.

The first night was like a fun sleepover but soon the contrasting sleeping and living habits started becoming a problem. She had to sleep early for school the next morning, while the others are on holiday. And she got annoyed as the rest are not as tidy as her. Rooming together takes a lot of compromise, understanding and acceptance!

The hubs decided that since the floors and walls have already been taped, it was an opportune time to get in the painters to repaint parts of the house plus do bits of repair works and not have to go through this again. So the living rooms are also out of bounds, and the kids are confined to their rooms because there is so much dust and debris all around as workers are walking in and out hauling cement and planks of wood.

Kate stepped off her school bus and exclaimed, “Why is there a safe entry in MY HOUSE?!”

Morale of the story, DON’T RENOVATE your house while still living in it, especially if you have children. Do it while you are on vacation or let the kids bunk in with their cousins for an extended holiday sleepover! (no one will take our entire troop though haha). We have planned a staycation to celebrate Kate’s birthday and are literally counting down the days till we can escape.

If any of you have done it successfully, please share any tips to survive this! The timeline is never what they promised and it looks like another week or so of chaos.

It is indeed crucial to guide our children to be adaptable and resilient because life is unexpected and things do crop up.

This poor child had a never-ending emotional rollercoaster this year. The sister who roomed with her left for the UK in January, and she cried when she left and it took her awhile to get used to her closest sibling being away (plus the empty room syndrome!) Just when she settled down and rearranged the furniture to suit her own needs, the pandemic hit and her sister was recalled home suddenly!

On top of that, her cohort had to adjust to remote learning in their crucial year, and lost the face-to-face support of their teachers and peers as they moved to a new normal. Then now, this topsy turvy house. What a year it has been.

I can only hope that she continues to hold up, as she tries to find the best way to cope with this year of constant changes!

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She conducts small group parenting courses to help parents navigate this challenging journey, and has been featured on national TV, radio and print media.

FACEWEDGE: Fun, comfortable masks

We’ve tried many different masks, and these are our family’s favourite masks! Here’s why my kids love and support FaceWedge.

FUN DESIGNS

Now that mask wearing is here to stay, it has become a fashion accessory! My teens like to match their masks with their outfits, and have received lots of compliments from their friends. I thought the cute designs would spur Kate to wear her masks happily, but the teens and their friends were even more excited than Kate! Now you know what to buy your nieces for Christmas 🙂

Besides the fancy prints, there is also a range of plain coloured masks for a professional look, and which may suit the dads better.

Jungle Tropical Mask $12.50

3D SHAPE

Some masks cling to your nose and mouth, and the kids find it uncomfortable to wear them for 8 hours at school. This one has a 3D effect which makes it more breathable.

LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMFORTABLE

These cotton masks are so far the thinnest and lightest ones we have tried. Each piece is individually handmade using sustainable fabric that is suitable for our hot weather yet providing adequate protection.

Cool designs

FITS WELL

FaceWedge masks come in 5 sizes (Kid S, M, L / Adult & Adult XL), and the elastic bands are easily adjustable to fit everyone! All you have to do is to pull out the original knot, re-knot it at the right place and tuck the knot back in and it’s hidden! Simple.

REUSABLE

These masks are made from premium material and you can throw it into the washing machine on a gentle cycle, or hand wash if you prefer, and hang to dry.

MUMS & KIDS

Some designs come in both adult and kids sizes and the whole family can walk out looking real snazzy!

I ordered Kid M for Kate as she is 8 years old, and the measurements are 10.5 x 17cm, which should fit kids aged 4-7 years old. However, her face is really tiny, and she wears the same sized mask as her 4-year old cousin!

Twinning with Kate

ECO CONSCIOUS

This was the main reason we supported FaceWedge initially, before trying out their masks. The founders, Tom and Mel, have lived in Singapore for more than 7 years, and as avid divers, they are very passionate about the environment, and in particular, the oceans. They realised that many people were still using disposable surgical masks and thus decided to create a range of masks that were comfortable and pretty so that people would actually want to wear them.

Tom & Mel Reid of FaceWedge

DIRECT IMPACT

They have also partnered with Seven Clean Seas, a Singapore-based team that physically pulls plastic from the waters around Singapore. For every 5 FaceWedge masks that you buy, 1kg of plastic is removed from the ocean. To date, they have pulled out over 1000kg of plastic from the waters surrounding Singapore!

Did you know that there are 150 million metric tonnes of plastic in our oceans today? Their goal is to clean up 5 tonnes of plastic by Christmas. Every mask you buy counts!

Seven Clean Seas Team

FREE SHIPPING

Good news! Key in the code “Choose2ReUse” (not case sensitive) at check out for free shipping in Singapore.

Here’s MORE good news! {GIVEAWAY}

We are delighted to be giving away masks to 2 LUCKY families!

All you have to do is hop over to Mummy Wee IG to participate in the GIVEAWAY! And stand to win masks for your whole family! (immediate family members)

Giveaway ends 5 October 2020.

Check out FaceWedge’s wide range of Adult and Children’s masks, and follow their socials as new designs are added every month!

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She conducts small group parenting courses to help parents navigate this challenging journey, and has been featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

The most Hilarious ‘ting xie’ episode

Keeping up with Chinese has been an uphill battle for Kate. She is doing Higher Mother Tongue and the standard is very high for kids who come from English speaking families.

She has been very diligent since P1, and tries her best to read her textbook, cover the words and test herself. However, her teacher has already hinted that I should either make time to tutor her myself or consider tuition.

I don’t mind getting her a tutor if I find a passionate educator willing to come to my house to teach her in creative ways, by doing craft or even baking, at a reasonable fee. Till then, adding a weekly chore of sending an 8-year old for Chinese tuition just to keep pace with her school work doesn’t make sense to me.

I have long come to terms with this, and know full well that it takes more than one or two periods a day in school to learn a whole new language. I am happy so long as she keeps at it, and gives it her best, and is able to converse with our elderly relatives.

Now, the problem is, week after week, she comes back with more than 20 words wrong for her ting xie, and I can see that she is wondering how she can do better.

I suggested she find one of her sisters as they may have some time to spare now that they are home a bit more.

Armed with her textbook, she eagerly seeked out a sister, and the latter was more than happy to give her a hand.

Kate had jotted down the han yu pin yin for the difficult words, and they went through the chapter together.

After learning all the words, her sister tested her. They did this for 3 consecutive days until she scored 100%!

She was exuberant and looking forward to going to school for ting xie!

After school, her sis checked in with her, and they were both confident that she would get 100% for the first time!

They patiently awaited the day when Kate would get it back.

The next week, Kate alighted from her school bus and looked absolutely dejected.

I asked her what had happened?

She blurted out something about her ting xie, about how she got it all wrong, how the words were wrong to begin with…

I couldn’t quite understand what she was going on about and had to slowly break it down and get the story straight.

As it turned out, she did write everything correctly as her sis had tested her. However, it was all wrong because the words were incorrectly learnt to begin with!

When her Chinese teacher taught them, Kate wrote down the han yu pin yin, but perhaps her teacher was teaching too fast, or she could not catch it properly, and wrote the wrong han yu pin yin!

She had mis-matched the words to the prounuciations!

Kate ended with a plea, “Mummy, can I please have a REAL tutor?”

I had to hold it in and not burst out laughing. Poor kid. I can imagine her great disappointment. In fact, she was much sadder than all those previous weeks when she didn’t put her heart and soul into learning her ting xie.

I told the older girls the story and we had a good laugh. And THAT sister guffawed and said, “I knew it! I had a feeling that something was not quite right. But I was pressed for time that day, and since she had it all written down nicely, I assumed she had copied it from the board. I’ve not had to read Chinese for many years!”

She had a good chat with Kate, and promised her that for the next round, they would double check the words with google translate.

In fact, Kate didn’t want to chance it, and brought up her own dictionary!

Let’s see what happens when she gets her paper back next week! 😉

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She conducts small group parenting courses to help parents navigate this challenging journey, and has been featured on national TV, radio and print media.