6 tips to Really prepare your child for P1

You would have read many articles on how to get your child ready for the big transition from K2 to P1, about things like teaching them to take care of their belongings and buying food at the canteen. Besides those basics, let me share with you 6 essential tips to ensure mummy (that’s you) doesn’t break a sweat for the next 6 years.

1. Their school bag is their responsibility

When #1 started Primary 1 a decade ago, I bought her a school bag, handed her the whole stack of books and told her that she was in charge of it. I laid out all my expectations. She was to pack her own bag, finish her homework and listen attentively to her teachers. From the get-go, she had no problems handling all of it, and neither did her 3 younger sisters. I never had to nag them to do their homework nor help them to pack their bags. Don’t worry that they are too young to start managing on their own. When they are in P1, the teachers are more forgiving and it is the best time for them to make mistakes and learn the skills of being independent. #1 had a classmate who was so used to her mum packing her bag that when she went to Secondary 1, she exclaimed that she didn’t know how to pack her bag!

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work for #5. I gave him the same instructions but his homework never gets completed and bag never properly packed. I have to double check every night to make sure his things are in order. The first time I peered into his bag, I almost fainted. I expected a neat, organised school bag with books properly placed according to height (that’s how all my girls’ bags looked), but his bag was in a complete mess! Worksheets were stuffed into the crevices (some even balled up), books were folded in half top down (don’t ask me how that happened), and there were bits and pieces of erasers, paper, and other rubbish in his bag. No wonder my friends with boys keep complaining and can’t understand how I can stay relaxed with so many kids. Anyhow, it is still important to expect the same for boys, but be prepared to step in to provide more guidance. A LOT more, if your son is anything like mine.

#4’s P4 unseen dictation

2. Learning their spelling is also their responsibility

In this climate of very involved parents, I constantly hear friends saying they have to hurry home to test their kids spelling. With 6 kids, my chance of having a life would be zilch if I did this. They know my expectations and will learn their spelling themselves and test themselves. I don’t like to molly-coddle my kids but try to encourage them to find their inner tenacity.

During the exam period, #4 asked if I could sit with her to supervise her revision like all her friends’ mummies did. Before I could open my mouth, #3 told her: “Don’t you know what mummy is trying to teach us? To be independent and self-motivated so that even when she is not with us, we will know what to do. If you need to rely on mummy being next to you, then next time how?” Ah, proud mummy moment.

However, this didn’t work for #5, especially for his chinese spelling. Why am I even surprised. I have resorted to bribing him with 30 minutes of iPad time if he gets it all correct. Works beautifully.

3. Allowance

Initially with #1, I gave her a daily allowance for recess and encouraged her to save the rest. I realised that after a few months, she worked out her own brilliant plan by ‘saving’ on food and using the leftover money to shop at the bookshop. I thought about this whole allowance business very seriously and decided to separate the school recess money (which is for them to eat a proper meal) with allowance for toys and their other wants and came up with a simple but detailed system to teach them how to use their money wisely.

Instead of giving them a fixed amount for the 6 years, I checked out the prices at their canteen and found out that $1 can buy them a plate of chicken rice or a bowl of noodles. Since they bring their own water bottle to school, $1 is enough for them as they are not big eaters. My kids think I’m Mr Scrooge as most of their friends get around $2 per day. I asked them if they are going to eat $2 worth of food, and if not, then they don’t need $2. What I did instead was to give them an incremental allowance based on their age. They get $1 per day for P1 and P2, $1.50 for P3 and P4 and $2 for P5 and P6. It gives them something to look forward to!

4. No TV / electronic devices rule

I used to allow them 1 hour of TV but found that they protested more when it was time to turn it off than when I set a blanket ban on TV during school days. Now, it’s not just the TV, but their iPads, laptops, computers and iPhones which robs them of time. They end up not having enough time for their homework and also resulted in them sleeping later. Besides, it’s hard to monitor their gadget use if I’m not at home, so it’s easier just to take them all away during the school week. Every Sunday night, they have to turn in their gadgets and they get them back on the weekends. Yup, I have to run my household almost like a military operation. If you need more tips on how to control their gadget usage, read my 10 house rules for digital use.

5. Stationery

It amazes me how much correction tape kids go through. Or how many pencils and pens go missing in school. At one time, Popular bookstore became our regular shopping destination. One fine day, I had enough, and made a new rule. We would go stationery shopping for school supplies once in December and once during the June holidays. They were to purchase the necessary items to last them through 5 months of school. Anything extra they needed would be out of their own pockets. (Unless of course they require ad hoc purchases for projects). Overnight, their stationery requisition reduced dramatically. Not only that, it taught them to plan, budget, and stick to their allocation. When they know their correction tape refill is running low they will be more careful and stop using it with abandon.

6. Early Bedtime

I can’t fathom how kids can thrive with insufficient sleep. Many of their classmates sleep at 10pm and wake up at 6am. For us, their bedtime is at 7.30pm, and it moves incrementally to 8.30pm at P6. When they are well rested, it is much easier to wake them in the morning, not to mention they will be more attentive in class. Our helper just has to call their name once and they are out of bed. She prepares their breakfast and they are on auto-pilot and out the house at 6am. And me? Still in la la land…

Hope these tips will ease the transition into formal schooling for your child and keep you sane!

PSLE results: Good or bad, what do you say?
6 tips to choose a secondary school that is right for your child
My teen in a neighbourhood school
PSC Scholarship? Wow
What the PSLE is really about

Who is behind MOE

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

ECHA – The mother of all awards

School Stories:

#1 – When your son gets into fights in school
#2 – My son the loan shark
#3 – So kids can’t play once they start school?

#11 – How #2 topped her level in English
#12 – DSA. Yet another initiative parents have warped
#13 – Tuition – First line of attack?
#14 – Why do exams have to be so stressful?
#15 – First day mix up!
#16 – The day I forgot to pick my son from school
#17 – No more T-score. Now what?
#18 – Tackling the new school year
#19 – She did it, without tuition.
#20 – So who’s smarter?
#21 – Why I do not coach my kids anymore.

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

Stickerkid: Cute name labels

Kate is starting school in January and we were delighted to receive the perfect early Christmas present from the good people at stickerkid. A whole bunch of name labels for her belongings. There were so many adorable icons to choose from, and different permutations of colours that it was pretty hard to decide.

What struck me immediately was the quality of the labels, which was no surprise, as they are Swiss made. Much better than the cheap ones we used to buy. I love that they stuck on really firmly, even on her bags and the straps.

Large stickers

The small labels are perfect for labelling their school books. I really liked that they were able to be removed cleanly, which is great as we pass down the books from one sibling to the next. I chose black as it goes with most colours.

Small stickers
The shoe stickers are very useful especially when they enter primary school as the kids have to remove their shoes during music and computer lessons, and it is hard to find your shoes in a whole pile of similar looking designs!
Shoe stickers

They have 2 different versions of iron-on labels for clothes. The bigger ones are permanent, and you can add an icon. I found these to be highly useful as some of my kids go to the same school and their uniforms are 1 size apart, and our poor helper has a hard time differentiating them. The smaller labels don’t come with icons, but these can be removed by applying heat with an iron.

Iron-on labels for clothes
I got carried away labelling Kate’s little snack boxes and I wanted to label everthing in sight. Now she’s all ready for school. Not sure who’s more excited!
Heart stickers $13.50

Sane tip: Name labels are a kid’s (or rather, a mum’s) best friend once they start school.

Save tip: Here’s a discount code to take 10% off all your stickerkid purchases from now till 14 December 2014. Discount applies to the value packs as well.

10% DISCOUNT CODE: Wee1324

Not only that, I also have an exclusive {GIVEAWAY}

ONE set of 14 Round Stickers for you to try their stickers for yourself. These are the right size and hold the right amount of information!
{GIVEAWAY} Round stickers

All you have to do is:

  •  Like Mummy Wee’s Facebook page
  • Like this post on Facebook
  •  Leave a comment on Mummy Wee’s Facebook post stating your email address

  • 1 winner will be chosen at random
  • Open to Singapore residents only
  • Ends 9 December 2014
  • Winners will be announced on Mummy Wee’s Facebook page on 11 December 2014
  • Winners will be contacted by Stickerkid

Disclaimer: We have been sponsored the labels by stickerkid. All opinions are my own.

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

My Gym – Kate loves the different activities!

We have come to the end of our term at My Gym which our sponsors have so kindly extended to Kate. She really enjoyed the classes and keeps asking to go back to ‘gym school’. What I really liked about their sessions is the wide variety of physical activities Kate was exposed to which I couldn’t possibly carry out myself. They change their activities weekly which was perfect for her, as she figures things out much quicker than before and gets bored with the same activities. My post at the beginning of our term showcased the different segments of the 1 hour session, so here I shall give you a glimpse of the different physical activites she enjoyed over the 10 weeks.

Stilt walking

She must be thinking, “What’s this strange contraption? Feels like a swing, but it isn’t.”

Swinging Disc
The teachers said Kate had strong arms and is able to pull herself up. Very soon she can join her older siblings at rock climbing!

Baby mountain climbing

They have cool stuff which the older siblings were envious of, like swinging on the trapeze.

Trapeze artiste in the making?

Even though she’s usually the youngest in the class, she is quicker than the others, thanks to her daily training at the playground by her gor gor. She didn’t even need her teacher to hold on to her. Real monkey.

2 little monkeys climbing up the wall

This ‘hanging hoops’ activity looks deceptively easy, but it takes a lot of coordination to hold onto one of the coils without letting go, while grabbing the other swinging coil. Concentrating so hard…

Nearer, nearer…

The older kids love doing this ‘flying fox’ thing which they sometimes find at big park playgrounds. Kate finally has a chance to try it out for herself.

Space Flight

Kate thought it was easy peasy walking up this little slope, but then it started to tip.

Lots of leg work and body awareness involved to steady herself. After gaining her balance, she managed to walk down slowly unassisted.

Sometimes they have a game at the end of the session instead of the toy box. When the teacher announced that they were going to play “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?”, I was thinking to myself, “They’re only 2, no one’s going to follow your instructions.” I was really surprised they could get the hang of the game (although many were happy to run towards the wolf to get caught). Kate had watched her siblings play it before, so she was wary of the wolf.

Who’s for dinner?

There is also ample opportunity to socialise with the other children.

Playing peek a boo

Someone’s cheating

It is without a doubt that Kate thoroughly enjoyed her time at My Gym. The teachers are very encouraging, and they are patient even with those kids who keep crying and are reluctant to try the new activities.

Her first certificate!

She especially liked teacher Javier, who made it so much fun for her! 

Some of my friends think that they should only send their child for gym classes if they are clumsy. Personally, I feel that physical activity is so important to kids from a young age, irregardless if the child is ‘active’ or ‘clumsy’. If you can afford it, it is good to send your child for such lessons. For kids who are very active, it is a great way to let off the excess energy in a safe environment. For those who seem to have ‘two left feet’, they can work on their physical abilities and learn some exercises which you can follow through at home. And for kids who are already quite physically competent, this would stretch them further.

MY GYM is a U.S. program with 30 years of experience in children’s fitness. Their classes are suitable for children from 4 months to 10 years. Classes are 1 hour long and fees are $468+GST for a 10-week term + $60 one time registration fee. If you are thinking of what to do for your child’s birthday, why not give them a call and find out more. Their Birthday Bash looks really exciting, and are specially catered to kids all the way from 1 month to 10 years old.

Disclaimer: My Gym sponsored Kate a term of lessons. All opinions are my own.

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

MY GYM @ Westgate

Kate has been bugging me for weeks to send her to school. Every morning, she gets into the car with #3 and #5 and nods her head enthusiastically saying, “Kate school?”. And after the other 2 are dropped off and we arrive back home, she will start crying and repeating forlornly, “Kate schoooool… Kate schoooool…” So when I told her she could finally go to ‘school’ at MY GYM, she was extremely excited. She wore her shoes, strapped on her bag and stood at the door waiting for me.

“Peace, mum”

She joined the Gymster class which is for kids 19 months to 3 years old. The class commences with about 5 minutes of free play for them to warm up and get settled in. Then everyone sits around the red circle for circle time. Teacher Liyana prepped me beforehand that on the first session, it is normal to expect any of these 3 reactions from the kids.

  • Crying
  • Clinging on to parent
  • Exploring the gym
I was quite certain Kate wouldn’t do the first 2, but was expecting her to wander around for most of the first lesson. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she wandered around only a little bit and participated fully the rest of the time. 5 minutes of free play wasn’t enough for her to finish exploring, so when Circle time started, she promptly ran off to have her own fun at the slide. Teacher Javier went over to her and gently guided her back.
Circle time
Next up was Practice skills, where we are shown skills to practice at home. Today teacher Liyana demonstrated how to facilitate their headstand. Kate was in the midst of walking towards the action and she stepped right up to the blue mat and became the model for today’s headstand.
Demonstrating a headstand
The following segment was Explore and Adventure. The tots walked on an intersection plank to work on their balance and to learn to wait and take turns.
The next station was the trampoline, which helps to work on their agility. And of course, it is always heaps of fun for kids to bounce around.
We jump, jump, jump and we stop!
Next, they rigged up this really cool ‘flying carpet’ and the kids were assisted in walking across it.

The magic flying carpet
They also took out these portable swings which Kate absolutely loved. This is to get the kids used to the swinging motion and so that they won’t have a fear of heights. She kept asking to go “higher, higher” and squealed when I pushed her really high. Finally when it was time to say “bye bye” to the swings, she was upset and kept standing at the door to the storeroom and asking me to get it back out. I explained to her that she has to wait for next week, and teacher Javier distracted her by carrying her over to the ‘flying carpet’.

We were almost at the end of the session and it was time for ‘Separation’. Parents were instructed to stay as far away as possible or even hide from the kids to gradually get them to reduce their separation anxiety. The kids sat on the blue mat and played with toys and sang songs.

“The babies on the bus go Waahh, Waahh, Waahh”

This boy is so adorable. He was really into it. For a moment I thought he was really crying. Then he suddenly burst into a giggle.

It was time for Manipulatives. Today’s object was the playground ball and they had to clench the ball between their thighs. Their imagination was stimulated by asking them questions, for example, “Is this a hat?” And Kate nodded! Haha.

The hour passed so quickly and soon it was time to sing the ‘bye bye song’. There was no doubt about it. Kate absolutely loves her school and can’t wait for next week!

MY GYM is a U.S. program with 30 years of experience in children’s fitness. Their classes are suitable for children from 4 months to 10 years. Classes are 1 hour long and fees are $468+GST for a 10-week term + $60 one time registration fee. If you are thinking of what to do for your child’s birthday, why not give them a call and find out more. Their Birthday Bash looks really exciting, and are specially catered to kids all the way from 1 month to 10 years old.

Sane tip: As I am home with Kate, I don’t want to enrol her in a full school program, but she needs some stimulation. So this is perfect for her. After her 1 hour class, she is all tired and goes home and has a nice long nap! Time for mummy’s siesta too 😉

Save tip: All gym programs come with 1 Free Open Gym per week during their term of enrolment. They are quite flexible with their make-up policy and up to 2 make-up lessons are allowed per term.

To see how Kate has progressed, here’s my review at the end of the 10 lessons.
Outlets islandwide:

Jurong East (Westgate)
Tel: 64659205

Tel: 67897061

Marine Parade
Tel: 64409916

Tel: 66849220

River Valley
Tel: 67335168

Ang Mo Kio
Tel: 65562145

Disclaimer: Kate was sponsored one term at MY GYM. All opinions are my own.

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

Ed-Quest – Mandarin Enrichment Centre

Typical of many families these days, my kids are hardly exposed to Mandarin outside of their school classrooms. It is no surprise that they end up failing their Chinese year after year. I asked around and was recommended some of the big name enrichment chains. I signed the 3 older ones up for a year but found no improvement in their grades. Now my strategy is to give them one-on-one tuition during their P6 year and so far, the 2 older ones managed to get an ‘A’ with 1 year of chinese tuition.

When we were extended an invitation by Ed-Quest for #5 to attend a Mandarin Enrichment holiday program for a week, I was apprehensive to send him as he already dreads Mandarin lessons in school and I wanted him to have a good break and enjoy the June holidays. I glanced at the program and was surprised that it looked interesting and very hands-on. I finally decided to let him join as #3 and #4 were also going to be tied up with school for that week. In the end, I’m glad he went, as it was a fun way to expose him to the language and he found out that Mandarin doesn’t have to be dry and boring.

Having fun making lanterns
In his 1 week holiday program, they did lots of interesting activities like wrapping rice dumplings, cooking jiaozi, folding dragon boats, just to name a few. I like that they adopt the approach that Mandarin is not merely an academic subject but a language that is rich in history and cultural roots. As this week’s theme was on food, they explored the food items with their five senses, then created and tasted what they cooked. As their interest was piqued, they were more interested to learn the related descriptive words. The holiday program is catered to children between the ages of 5 and 8 years old. The older kids were exposed to more phrases and idioms, and they also wrote poems and short essays about their experiences thereafter.

Tea appreciation
#5 got his good buddy to join him for the holiday program, and when I picked them up, I asked Wu laoshi for feedback and if they behaved well. She said they enjoyed themselves and mentioned that #5 is a visual learner. I quipped, “He hardly understands Mandarin, so he watches to know what to do!” I probed on about his behaviour as his school teacher keeps telling me what a naughty boy he is in school. Wu laoshi mentioned that he is rather mischievous and always tries to push the boundaries. He would also make jokes constantly and tries to do things his own way. Spot on. She deciphered him in 1 lesson. I asked her if she was able to handle him and what methods she used because his school teacher was at her wit’s end.

She shared with me that she did not scold him but was very firm with him and patiently explained why his actions are wrong. Perhaps he can tell from her tone that she is not merely nagging him, but was genuinely concerned about him. She also explained to me that I have to break this behaviour if not he thinks that it is acceptable to play up in every class. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed with Wu laoshi. I relayed my feedback to the management and they told me that they believe in hiring very experienced and competent teachers.

Making jiaozi

I was surprised that #5 actually looked forward to going for the classes and Wu laoshi told me that he started behaving really well and even helped the younger boys. One of the days, they were taught how to make jiaozi (meat dumpling) and she noticed that #5 was fumbling and was probably on the verge of rebelling or giving up. She explained to him why the edges should be tucked and sealed and he went on to improvise and made a whole dozen! I’m glad laoshi didn’t insist on him making it that one and only way and she allowed him leeway for his creativity.

His UFO-looking jiaozi

Ed-Quest has been around for more than a decade, and with Mrs Patricia Koh (founder of the first Pat’s Schoolhouse) as Education Director, they firmly believe in bringing the language alive and making it relevant to the children. My sentiments exactly. If only our schools can adopt this approach, along with having smaller classes, many of our kids won’t be struggling with the language.

The fees for their holiday program are at $250 for 1 week, 9am – 12noon. It runs through to July to cater to the international students as well. Do contact them at 6356 8186 for more details. In addition, they have regular classes for both children and adults.

Sane tip: I’m glad #5 had a very positive first Mandarin enrichment exposure. I’m now all for exposing them to Mandarin in fun and interesting ways. If they can slowly build up their vocabulary and listen to the language spoken more, it wouldn’t be so tough on them during the PSLE year. Ok, here’s my new strategy: Let them join fun Mandarin lessons during the school holidays (I get to have a break too!), listen to some Mandarin CDs, and give them private tuition during P6.

Save tip: I believe in giving my kids quality extra academic classes. No point wasting the child’s time and my time sending them and put them in any enrichment classes from P1 just to make myself feel secured that I’m doing something extra. I always follow up on their progress and ascertain if there is any improvement in grades. If there isn’t, I will stop after 3-4 months because I believe that if the child finds the right fit of the teacher and the method, we will definitely see an improvement in their grades or at least in their interest in learning that subject.


177A Thomson Road
Goldhill Shopping Centre
Singapore 307625

Tel: 63568186

Disclaimer: We were sponsored this holiday program. All opinions are my own.

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

Tips for reading with your child

In my previous post, I discussed Why we need to read to our children. Here, I will give some pointers on how to go about it. First, you need to find an appropriate book, both in terms of reading level and emotional readiness. Then you talk to them about the story so that they can find meaning and pleasure in their reading. This will go a long way in enabling them to be lifelong lovers of reading.

By encouraging your child to talk about the story, she will learn to think about what is being read, to process it, and to come to her own conclusions. For my first 4 kids, I didn’t know just how important it was to read to them and it was one of those things I would do when I ‘find the time’ (which as you know, never happens). When #5 was about 3, things were less chaotic and I had time to read to him every morning while the others were at school. I didn’t know there was an art to reading so I just picked up a book and read it straight through. Subsequently, when I learnt about conversational reading, I tried to draw him into a discussion. However, because he was not used to that way of reading, he kept asking me to stop talking and carry on reading. Occasionally I would try it again, but to no avail. I have decided that with Kate, I will start this once she is able to have a conversation with me, which should be about the age of 2 (but in an age-appropriate way, keeping it short and simple).

How to go about it?

  • Ask specific questions: Why did the boy look for the toy?
  • Ask general questions, to encourage your child to think: What do you think? What do you notice? 
  • Help your child see beyond the plot, that the story is not just about school, but that it is about friendship, loyalty and kindness.
  • Try to connect the story to something personal: Has it ever happened to you? What would you do in this situation? This can help the child to learn and to think through issues in a safe environment. You can also weave in some values, in a very subtle way.
  • Rephrase questions if the child does not respond, to make it easier for the child to understand.
  • Don’t over-do it. Don’t take the opportunity to launch into morales and turn it into a monologue.
Before you even open the book, talk about the cover, and predict what the story is about.
    Some good questions to ask:
    • What do you think this story is about just by looking at the cover?
    • Which character do you like/dislike?
    • Who is the most important character in the story?
    • Which character would you want to be your friend?
    • How do the characters change from the beginning of the story to the end?
    • Tell me the story in your own words.
    • How would the story be different if… ?
    • What would you do in this situation?
    • Do you like the ending of the story? If not, how would you end the story?
    As an added benefit, by guiding your child to read in this way, she will find it much easier for some components in English next time. In some schools, from the P1 level, their oral includes talking about the cover of a book. Your child would have had lots of practice in this area. 

    Besides reading together, continue to let your child read on her own as well. Make books accessible in your house. Don’t have them displayed high up on a shelf where it can’t be easily reached. Encourage your child to read a book more than once. The first time the book is read, the child is just grasping the plot. A subsequent reading will offer the opportunity for the child to pick up the subtleties of the story that may be missed on the first reading.

    How to choose an appropriate book for the child to read alone?

    Use the 5 finger rule. Get the child to read a page of the book. Every time she comes across an unfamiliar word, raise up 1 finger. If she raises more than 5 fingers in a page, that book is too difficult for her. Some of you may ask, what is wrong in letting her read difficult books? Wouldn’t it help her to improve faster? Yes, but when they are working too hard on the mechanics of reading, it becomes difficult for them to enjoy the story. You can read that aloud to her but get her an easier book for her own reading.
    Not all books are good books. Do be wary of language and content.

    Also be mindful of content and emotional readiness. I used to give free reign to my girls to choose their own books. After all, reading is good so the more they read the better, right? However, when I flipped through their books, especially the pink and glittery ones that my girls used to love, I realised that sometimes the subject matter is too advanced for them. For example, this girlish looking book might attract a 7 or 8 year old. However just by quickly flipping through the pages, I realised that the language is rather flippant, and it was all about boy-girl-relationships, crushes and flirting. The values raised in some other books for children may also not sit well with your own, such as letting divorce come across as normal or even cool, or that being the most popular girl in school at any expense is the right thing to do. Just when I started to wonder where to find good books, a friend recommended me an online site where a homeschooling mom ran a bookshop with good books. However, she has since shut it down as she had more kids and became too busy (which I can totally understand!).

    This book was written 85 years ago! I love letting my kids read such books.

    Sane tip: You don’t have to do this every single time you read to your child. It is better to leave this for the weekends when you are all more relaxed than to rush through this just for the sake of checking it off mentally in your head.

    Save tip: These techniques will go a long way in helping your child in her PSLE English oral next time, saving you money on tuition! There is also an increasing push towards speaking and communication vis-a-vis the written paper, so it is good to encourage your child to speak up more. It will also help in the comprehension component, whereby questions are asked on ‘Why do you think…?’ as your child is used to thinking about what she is reading.

    Related posts:

    6 tips to Really prepare your child for P1

    6 tips to get the most out of Parent-Teacher-Meetings

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

    Help! My toddler refuses to read

    After my earlier post on why should children read, a friend shared that her 3 year old daughter refuses to sit to be read to. I’m sure some of us face this situation too. If we start reading to our kids from a young age, say below 1, we usually will not have this problem. Here are some ideas that you can try if your child refuses to read.

    1) Go with their interest

    Get books on topics which they are currently interested in. If they are into toy cars, read them books about cars. You can start will books that have lots of pictures of cars to pique their interest. You can slowly progress to books with more words. If they are crazy about Disney princesses or Thomas the train at the moment, get them books about that. Once they get used to reading, gradually introduce other books.

    2) Change the environment

    If you have been trying without success to read to your child at home, why don’t you try a change of environment. Take her to the park bench downstairs or the library. Sometimes all you need is something different to break the negative association.

    Kate loves her books

    3) Hype it up

    Before you sit your child down and open the book, you can start talking about it in a really excited manner. The same way you would probably tell her about going to Disneyland. Say in an excited way, “Wow look what I’ve got from the library! It’s your favourite. You love trains, don’t you. Now, let’s see what sorts of trains we’ve got in here..” Your child will be curious and will pick up on your excitement and she will come over and sit with you to find out what is so fascinating.

    4) Audio

    You can borrow some audio books from the library and play it for your child to listen to, perhaps in the car or as background reading while they play. After getting used to listening to the audio CDs, they may be more willing to hear you read to them.

    5) Adjust your expectations

    We may think that children should sit nicely and quietly and be read to. However, many boys are very active and find it very hard to sit still when they are young. Some girls are like that too. #3 is like that. She has to do some action in order to concentrate better. So even if your child is walking around or fiddling, just continue to read to her. She will be taking it all in even though she may not look like it.

    6) Take it slow

    Don’t expect too much. Perhaps you can start off with 10 minutes. If your child manages to sit and listen for that length of time, give her a big hug and praise her. Gradually increase by 5 minutes.

    Sane tip: Don’t beat yourself up if your child refuses to read. She will pick up on your tension and it will be a losing battle. Just relax. Try the tips I mentioned above and hopefully it will work! Give yourself a pat on the back for every little improvement 🙂

    Save tip: When the children are young I prefer to borrow books from the library. You don’t know what your child likes to read and may end up with a whole load of books which she refuses to read. I only start to buy them books when they are in Primary school and they know their preferences.

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

    Why should they read?

    We all know that we should be reading to our babies from as young as possible. We discuss which is better: zoo phonics, jolly phonics or letterland phonics. We ask perspective kindergartens at what age will my child be able to read. But have we thought about why we want our kids to read?

    Is it to enter Primary 1 well-equipped to handle the worksheets? Is it the better their command of English, the higher they will score at PSLE? Or the better their results, the better their future career prospects? It is only when you know why you want your child to read, can you decide on how you want your child to learn to read. 

    Our home library

    Here’s my story on their ABCs…

    #1 started kindergarten at the age of 3. I knew we had to send our children to kindergarten but was totally unaware of this whole enrichment business out there as I had no interactions whatsoever with other mummies. As we were the first amongst our siblings and friends to have children, I didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice.

    Before long, I made friends with my daughter’s best friend’s mummy. She asked me what enrichment I was going to sign my daughter up for, as the school offered a different enrichment after school every day. I was surprised. “Enrichment? What for? Is it good?” She said it doesn’t matter whether it is good or not as they will still learn something. Her rationale was that as she was busy working the whole day, it was at least better than letting her daughter watch TV at home. Her daughter had the whole array of enrichment classes, including phonics. She could read well enough by the end of N2.

    My daughter on the other hand, could hardly read a single word even at the end of K1. She was having a miserable time in school as the teacher would ask the children to name 5 things beginning with the letter ‘S’ and she was the only one who couldn’t. She would be punished by being made to stand at the corner of the class. I was shocked. I couldn’t understand why the teacher punished my daughter for not knowing when she was the one who had been teaching her the whole of that year. In fact, shouldn’t she be angry at herself for not being able to have taught her well? 

    I started to find out why all the other kids were better than her and was surprised to discover that almost all of them had phonics enrichment outside of school. I also learnt that many of the parents were involved in their kid’s education, meaning they either read to their kids frequently or made them do assessment books at home (yes, at the age of 4 or 5). I thought to myself, ok, things must have changed tremendously from my day when anything to do with school was confined to school. I have to admit I felt rather disconcerted that we seemed to have to ‘top up’ more work just to get by, on top of what was taught in kindergarten.

    Anyway, I pulled her out of that kindergarten and transferred her to a Catholic kindergarten. Things were very different there. The whole atmosphere was different. The pace was slower, the children were calmer, the teachers were more loving. And nobody was punished for not knowing their work. I was happy and so was she. Then came shock number 2. She enrolled for Primary 1 and we went for Orientation day. As all the excited K2 students streamed into the hall, I could hear them reading quotes off the walls. They could read words like “wisdom”, “praise” and “diligence”. I was dumfounded. #1 couldn’t even read “Cat”.

    I called up my one and only ‘mummy’ friend. I related the incident to her and she gave me a whole spiel about how #1 will lag behind if she can’t read. It will snowball and she will find it hard to catch up and her self-esteem will be affected. She will also have difficulties with Math as she would not be able to read instructions like “Underline the bigger objects”. She recommended a phonics centre and I signed #1 up the very next week. In 2 months, she was able to read fluently enough for P1 standard.

    I started getting concerned about #2 who was then in K1, and monitored her reading. Luckily she had an enthusiastic young teacher who followed their class up from K1 to K2. She was very diligent and was able to get the whole class prepared for P1. Not only could #2 read well, but she was able to write simple sentences on her own! I was relieved.

    When #2 went to P1, I attended a dinner at her school. At our table was an English tutor of 20 years who previously taught at a prestigious primary school. She was sharing with us parents that there is no point in drilling our children with assessment books. It is much better to get them to read vocariously as they will then have a very strong foundation on which to build on. She kept telling us to get our kids to read, read, read.

    So that was just what I did. I told #2 that she had to start reading. I did not have time to read to her as by then I had 5 kids under the age of 8. You can imagine how crazy things were around the house. I bought her a lot of books and she read everyday. Her aunt knew she loved reading and bought her a French classic children’s book called ‘Nicholas’ which was translated into English. When she visited again about 2 weeks later she enquired if she had finished reading the book so that she could purchase the sequel. #2 replied, “Yes, I have finished reading it… 3 times.” She went on to read classics like Anne of Green Gables, Heidi and Little Women.

    Sadly, #1, #3 and #4 did not pick up a love of reading as they were not introduced to books from young. As for #5, things started getting less chaotic when he was around 2 years old. By then I knew how important it is to read to your child. I also had more time to spend with him in the mornings as the other 4 were in school. So I read to him every morning. We would go to the library and borrow heaps of books. He loved being read to. He would gather a pile of about 10 – 15 books each day and plonk them on the sofa. We read for about 30 – 45 mins each time.

    I read the stories straight through without talking about the pictures or discussing the characters. His teachers commented that he had a nice rhythm to his reading. Most of the other children could also read well, but they sounded flat. That must have been a result of listening to me read to him all the time. He also did well in journal writing as he was brimming with ideas. Reading gave him a wide vocabulary and a whole pool of ideas to draw from. 

    So now, why do I want Kate to be able to read?

    I have decided that besides the undeniable need for her to be prepared for primary school and to fare well in her future exams, I want her to grow up to love and embrace reading. To be excited to open a book, to discover a different world within. To broaden her mind, to read a wide variety of subjects. To question what she is reading and to draw her own conclusions. To discuss with like-minded individuals what she has read. To be immersed in the richness of poetry. To enjoy reading Bronte, Dickens and Hemingway. For time to stand still when she reads.

    What strategy am I going to employ with Kate?

    I’m not going to be caught up about whichever type of reading method they use at the pre-school I will enrol her in. I will be wary however if her teacher makes reading a bore or a chore. But ultimately, as with most things, reading begins at home.

    I will: 

    • Read aloud to her daily (But not just straight through. I will share how to read to her in another post)
    • Expose her to all genres of books
    • Make a trip to the library a monthly family routine
    • Have regular reading sessions with her (we can find a lovely picnic spot, she reads her book and I read mine)
    • Never make reading a punishment or a bribe
    • Ensure she reads good books, both in language and content

    Sane tip: When your child loves reading, she can spend hours by herself immersed in her book. You can either read with her (ah, how relaxing) or you are free to do your own thing.

    Save tip: Our local libraries are quite impressive these days. Check out the children’s section at the Central Public Library at Bras Basah. Form book circles with other mummy friends. Each family can purchase a series of books and then swap them around.

    Other related posts:

    Tips for reading with your child
    Help! My toddler refuses to read
    The Groovy Giraffe – Great books at great prices

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