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Book Review — The Intuitive Parent

When I read the front flap, I immediately know that I must borrow this book, another book for parents.

“(Children) don’t need flashcards, educational videos, or the latest iPad app to help speed their development.”

Title: The Intuitive Parent — Why the Best Thing for Your Child is You

Author: Stephen Camarata, PhD

I do not want to be a tiger mum but I cannot be a laissez-faire mum either. In competitive Singapore, either style does not fit me. I have bought books and flashcards in sets, even the toys must serve a purpose for the child to learn.

Even when the playgroup teacher told me that my child is advanced for her age, I was sceptical. Did she just say it to make me feel happy?

Though I cannot define my parenting style, I know it is somewhere between tiger mum and laissez-faire mum. After reading this book, I know I am on the right track. I parent on as what my intuition tells me. If I am too tired for a bedtime story, I just tell her a two-sentence story. All flashcards can wait if she is more interested in toys.

Intuitive parenting emphasizes focusing on your child, enjoying the moment, and reacting naturally to whatever the baby is doing.

 

The book is very thick, including a chapter on brain science. If you are too busy to read the whole book, each chapter ends with a summary of the chapter.

Have you ever wondered how to be the best parent? What is the best for your child? Read this book and you might just realize that you are the best person for your child. Happy reading!

 

 

* * ### Thanks for reading! ### * *

A Twist to the Gifted Education Programme

On 5 October night, Talking Point on Channel 5 was showcasing an interesting topic: I Want to Be in GEP!

What that episode of Talking Point wants to find out is whether you can train the gifted as parents are sending their children to enrichment classes to prepare the children for a series of test at Primary 3. There is a father who doesn’t believe in his son making his own choices, and thus spend more than S$7000 for GEP Preparation Course. As the episode proceeds, it is clear that the children do not want to be in GEP; rather the “I” in the title actually refers to the parents.

Another mother buys assessment books from Secondary 1 and Secondary 2 for her son who is in Primary 5.

Correspondingly, what is so special about the GEP?

The Gifted Education Programme (GEP) was set up by the Ministry of Education to cater to the intellectually gifted students. This programme aims to develop gifted children to their top potential and it places a special emphasis on higher-order thinking and creative thought.

Through the aforementioned series of tests, the top 1 per cent of the student population will be selected to enter the programme.

It is a good initiative by the MOE, but the problems come when parents misunderstand the purpose of GEP and start preparing their children for GEP, which as shown in Talking Point, it is not a good idea after all. The child may pass the tests and get into GEP but later suffer stress because he / she cannot keep up with the syllabus.

Students in GEP are also complaining about the high expectancy of teachers on their work and they feel stressful. Being in the GEP means less free time, more homework and demanding teacher for the students.

After reading on books on stress, competition and learning for children and a blog written by a student in GEP, I wish there is a twist in the GEP.

Suggestions

  1. Drop the name “Gifted”.
  2. As the mother of Primary 5 student finds out, the GEP is just learning two years in advance. Is it true? If yes, I would like to suggest giving Primary 5-equivalent tests to Primary 4 students. If they can score 95% or above for all subjects, promote the Primary 4 students to Primary 5.
  3. For students who have been promoted, assign them as young teachers to teach their peers. In this way, all parties involved are benefited. The teachers can prepare for activities that challenge the promoted students, the promoted students can be trained on leadership and the peers can learn better. Learning to work with students of different levels actually prepares students in real life.
  4. Other leadership roles, such as the class monitor, prefect, etc, can be assigned to the promoted students.
  5. Rather than giving more homework, the teachers can identify which areas interest the promoted students and allow them to explore in the same classroom or a separate classroom. Some activities to challenge the mind are Sudoku, Rubik’s cube, chess, debate, etc.
  6. The promoted students continue to take the national Primary School Leaving Examination like other mainstream students. When they are in secondary schools, provide them with the real life problems that we are facing, and let them experiment and come out with a solution. These are projects to challenge the mind and benefit the country.
  7. For secondary students, they can expand their knowledge in quantum physics, astronomy, plant science (to make a better Garden City), etc. Let their interests guide them; they will be more enthusiastic to learn what interest them.
  8. If the promoted student chooses not to be promoted, he / she can stay in the same level as his / her friends and do activities in suggestion 3 to suggestion 7.
  9. The promoted students are allowed to take “time-off” from school as long as they can keep up with the syllabus.

Why I do not start with Primary 3 students? — Primary 3 students are still young and a year difference means they have a year to develop their intellects.

Why I want the promoted students to teach their peers? — From GEP, we know that the students are labelled as “smart” and they compete with their friends who are not in the GEP. Their teachers also always compare them with those who are not in the GEP.

Competition ⇒ Stress ⇒ Not performing optimally

By teaching their peers, they learn how to explain better and able to identify which knowledge they lack. Also, if the promoted students only mix with like-minded students, will they be frustrated when they meet a mediocre colleague who can’t see things eye to eye as them?

By allowing the students to explore their areas of interests, we will create lifelong learners, instead of learning robots who can learn best but cannot apply knowledge to real life.

The above suggestions are my two cents. Any comments are welcome.

 

 

 

* * ### Thanks for reading! ### * *

An Encounter with a Spoilt Brat

When I board the bus, a boy is crying beside two school bags. A woman is standing beside the school bags, guarding the school bags (and the boy).

I sit down just two seats away from the boy and observe. This is not something that you encounter everyday. The woman does not make any effort to stop the boy from crying. The boy is crying, shouting and mumbling at the same time. Other passengers are looking at the pair, wondering what is happening.

The bus has travelled a few bus stations away and the passengers are getting impatient.

Someone offers a seat to the boy but is rejected.

Someone asks the boy to keep quiet but we get more shouting and crying.

Someone says he will call the police but he does not.

An innocent preschooler says the police will catch the boy and the mummy hushes the preschooler immediately.

An elderly woman calls the boy a spoilt brat softly so that the boy won’t hear her.

The bus captain calls the control station but nothing can be done as the trip needs to go on and the woman accompanying the boy should be responsible to calm the boy down. He calls the control station twice!

The boy moves to sit down. He is closing his eyes, sobbing still. It is almost time for me to alight. I get ready my travel card and a tissue paper. I offer him the tissue paper when I walk to the bus door. He wipes his tears.

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I do not know what happens next. From observation, the woman is his domestic helper. The domestic helper calls the boy’s mother after the bus captain calling the control station. The boy says the domestic helper doesn’t let him eat. Well, they are on the way home and food is ready at home. It is just that the boy is hungry at the moment, hungry and tired, and maybe stressed from school.

No one, NO ONE, tries to understand why the boy is making a fuss, not even his domestic helper. Everyone is blaming him for causing a scene in the bus. Only I offer him a tissue paper. I feel sorry for him. I would be making a fuss if I were at his age, hungry, tired and stressed out.

I really hope that Singapore can be a better place for children to live. It takes a village to raise a child. But what if the child is in a village that does more harm than good? The boy is just in primary school. How is he going to cope when he goes to secondary school?

I have been reading books on brain and emotional stability and how childhood experience will “haunt” a child even after he or she becomes an adult. I do hope the boy can learn from his experience and do not let the incident haunt him when he grows up.

This encounter has opened up my mind and my eyes on how strangers can be so “harmful” even though they mean no harm. They just use the wrong method. The tissue paper will dry his tears, why no one has ever thought of that?

 

* * ### Thanks for reading! ### * *

The Power of Hugs

In the society where I grow up, we do not usually hug each other on a daily basis. I still remember my first hug when a friend was going overseas to further her studies. My hands were “frozen” half way in the air as she happily hugged me. I feel awkward; maybe hugs are not for me.

Time passes by quickly and now I have a child. Thus, I have been reading a lot on parenting. There is one that catches my attention: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth”, as quoted from a respected family therapist, Virginia Satir.

How do we count a hug? How long should a hug last? How do I hug my child when I am not used to being hugged?

More research is done. As it turns out, physical contact that lasts at least 20 seconds has the same effect as hugs, for example, patting and touching. Now, it is something that I can do.

On one particular night, my toddler was having a nightmare. Remembering the benefits of hugs, I patted her lightly. In under a minute, she became quiet and fell asleep peacefully again.

Wow, that’s amazing! I am going to hug pat and hold my child more.

Note: The healthiest hugs must come from someone you trust. Strangers, please do not simply hug anyone.

* * ### Thanks for reading! ### * *

 

 

I Don’t Know Babies Burp

*Burp*     “Excuse me.”

“It’s ok. Everyone burps, even babies.”

“I don’t know babies burp.”

It was the conversation between me and an 11-year-old girl who just burped.

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Before I was pregnant, I told my future baby that I am ready for him or her, physically, mentally, physiologically, psychologically, financially, you name it. I read up books on pregnancy, articles on how to raise a child, save money, exercise to keep myself fit and healthy, etc. Yes, I thought I was ready. But I was wrong. The labour was a horror even though I had attended the antenatal class and learnt how to “push”. Despite knowing that breast milk is little but sufficient for baby on first few weeks, my baby keeps crying for milk every hour, 24 hours everyday. Three months after the labour, things slowly get better with an exhausted mum, thinking how arrogant I was when I said I was ready.

joyfulyue.com_baby_preparation

Preparation for baby

You can never be ready enough. Self-confidence is good. But over-confidence will take you by surprise. Even if you have studied diligently and done all the homework, you still need to do revision before the examination. For students who are in Primary 5 this year, it is never too early to start preparing for PSLE next year. Happy preparing and getting ready!

* * ### Thanks for reading! ### * *

Typical Singaporean Parents?

The 9 pm show {The Dream Makers} shows different types of typical Singaporean families (parents). Though there may be some exaggerations, but generally you will see similar patterns even at countries other than Singapore. The families and parents affect the children most, whether it is in a good or bad way.

Let’s discuss about different types of parents:

1. The working dad and mum

We need to be realistic: with Singapore high living standard, it is very difficult to have only one parent working and still able to support the whole family. With both parents working, the responsibility of taking care of the children is on the third-party; normally they are the grandparents, the maid and/or the eldest child.

You can see that children nowadays are pampered, the so-called spoilt children (spoiled children in American English). Why? It is because the third-party can only take care of the children. To teach them the basic virtues, children learn from their parents and the parents, out of guilt-driven, always give in to the children.

There is no “authority” to stop them from misbehaving; the spoilt children will not listen to grandparents, the maid and/or the eldest child. They always complaint, sometimes twist-and-turn the incident, to the parents when parents come back from work. The tired parents, who want to get a quick solution, often scold the third-party and the matter rest in favour of the spoilt children.

In the 9 pm show, although NaoNao is not considered a spoilt child, his lack of love from both parents has caused another problem. Luckily, his condition improves (Do we always have happy ending in real life?).

2. The single parent / divorcee

It is difficult enough to have both parents working, it is even more difficult with a single parent is trying to make ends meet and take care of a child. The single parent needs to work and he/she may not have the resources to find a third-party to take care of the child. The child is left on his/her own and the effect is more detrimental than category 1.

Again, in the 9 pm show, we see another happy ending that we may not see in real life.

3. The working father and stay-at-home mum

This seems to be the better version of a family structure. The responsibility of taking care and nurturing the children is on the shoulder of the mum. Nonetheless, the father should also try to spend time with the children so that the mum can rest sometimes.

Comparatively, the children from category 3 are more obedient and polite than the children from the other two categories. Though we cannot choose our family, parents are advised to spend more quality time with the children. Childhood is the most important time for children to learn, whether academically or non-academically. Thus, putting in effort in raising a child is worth the effort and is more important than any other things in this world.

Happy parenting!

The Power of Encouragement

When I was younger, my father was my supporter. He supported whatever I did. I was good at baking cakes, but I had never tried to make the icing. Once, I tried but failed, it was too sweet and it did not even look like icing. But my father ate it and said it is a success. Though I never make icing ever since, I still remember my father’s encouragement.

No matter which type of students I encounter, I give them encouragement as and when necessary. There are positive results. For good students, after getting encouragement, they become better. For not-so-good students, after getting encouragement, they try to be better. Of course, there are some who need time because parents have been giving them negative comments and they have lost their confidence.

There is one student whom I would like to mention here. When I first saw him, he was hyperactive, not listening to me after around half an hour. I tried almost everything, flash cards, stories, mobile games, etc. Whenever I gave him a new thing to try, he was interested for the first five minutes and then started his ‘dreaming’ again. Even the white board that he likes so much, he only writes and draws for around ten minutes. Then I have to find something else to get his attention.

Nonetheless, I keep giving him encouragement, when he has done something right. At the fifth session with him, he tried an exercise and he requested to mark his own answers. After making sure that his answers were correct, I let him mark the answers. After marking, he drew a square and wrote 5/5 (it means 5 questions out of 5 questions are correct). He has done a few pages of exercises that day, a success to me because I have been trying to get him to do more than three pages of exercises, but failed. He asked me whether the number of questions is correct (he is P1, just learning to count). If it was correct, I let him go ahead to put in the numbers in the square. If it was wrong, I taught him how to count the questions.

I will keep giving encouragement, after seeing so many encouraging results. I hope parents will give encouragement to their children too. Encouragement will open up more possibilities.