Miseducation: Preschoolers At Risk Book Review

This book warns of the danger of subscribing your child to the preschool programs which promises to develop your child’s fullest potential both physically and academically. Like many young parents, I too succumbed to such advertising gimmicks and peer pressure seeing how other kids outperformed my own. I lost my vision of wanting a childhood for my child, convincing myself that what I was doing wouldn’t rob them too much of whatever playtime I have since I am very time strapped myself. Thankfully, by a stroke of luck, I chanced upon the Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education which brought me back to my roots. Thankfully I had not done any damage to my sons yet. It was due to this that my research brought me to this book.

I believed in what the author wrote about children having an innate ability to learn through play. I can attest to this. Let me quote an example:

For the past 2 months or so, I read extensively how parents taught their children to read and solve mathematical problems. I read on the Montessori method and the Glenn Doman method. I aimed to incorporate these techniques in my daily activities with XXM.

One day, I sat down with him with the intention of teaching him sorting. I read about how many parents prepare materials for their children, laminated pictures etc. I had no time to prepare. I took a set of his construction sets and attempted to show my XXM what is sorting. I have never done this exercise with him before, neither my mil or maid. I grouped pieces of the same shapes together and presented three sets before him. Then I passed him a piece and asked him which set that piece belongs to. To my surprise he was able to place it in the correct group. I repeated the experiment this time by grouping objects with the same colours together. He wasn’t able to identify colours sorting that well. Nonetheless I was impressed. This experience showed me that certain concepts needn’t be taught and babies do not need to follow a curriculum. They have the ability to learn by themselves.

Concerns with Miseducation

1. Many pre-first-grade children are subjected to rigid formal prereading programs with inappropriate expectations and experiences for their level of development.

2. Little attention is given to individual development and individual learning styles.

3. The pressures of accelerated programs do not allow children to be risk takers as they experiment with language and internalize concepts about how language operates.

4. Too much attention is focused upon isolated skill development or abstract parts of the reading process, rather than upon the integration of oral language, writing and listening with writing.

5. Too little attention is placed upon reqding for pleasure; therefore children do not associate reading with enjoyment.

Early education miseducates, not because it attempts to teach, but because it attempts to teach the wrong things at the wrong time. When we ignore what the child has to learn an instead impose what we want to teach, we put infants and young children at risk for no purpose.

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my first BRAINQUEST 3rd Ed (Ages 2-3)

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I chanced upon this whilst browsing my favorite motherhood website.

Join a little monkey named Max on his fun-filled days and watch your child’s vocabulary blossom! Help Max get dressed. Visit the zoo. Have fun at the circus. Enjoy a picnic in the county. Plus celebrate holidays, mark the changing of the seasons, and learn all about animals. It’s a game of 400 questions in picture form that will help your child develop essential learning skills and get a smart start.
Vetted by a panel of America’s highest award-winning teachers, and embraced by kids and parents because it flat-out works, Brain Quest opens a world of information and education with its fast-paced question-and-answer format, bright full-color illustrations, and lively attitude
It’s never too early to build a child’s vocabulary, and the updated My First Brain Quest–designed specifically for 2- and 3-year-olds–is a fun way to get started. The tall, skinny plastic box contains three decks (the cards are attached so they fan out on a hinge) with a total of 400 questions, and a spongy, nontoxic Max toy monkey. The idea is to have the toddler bond with the monkey, so the child associates the cards with playtime!

Curious about it, I ordered one. It is not cheap, BP price @ $17.50. Retails at $19.95. On hindsight, I really should control my impulse buying. It is kinda cute when I received it. Something different from your usual flashcards. There are three decks of cards. Deck One offers a full day with Max from the time he wakes up until bedtime. For example, a full-page cartoon of Max in his colorful toy-ridden bedroom asks, “Who just woke up? What is Max wearing? What do you see in his room?” The cards break down into smaller illustrations with object and activity identification (“What is Max doing? He’s putting on his slippers” or “What is this called? A clock.”) We follow Max through breakfast, school, music lessons, and more. Deck Two introduces children to seasonal activities, including trick-or-treating and playing on a snowy day. Deck Three explores the world, following Max from the mall to a picnic in the country to a farm.

I tried to introduce it to XXM. He was totally nonchalant about it. XMM on the contrary, chews eagerly on Max. Day 1 and teeth marks are formed. Sigh. The stuff I own are going to have poor resale value in the future,. The assuring part is that it is made of non toxic material, making it safe for budding teeth. Alas, I was disappointed with XXM’s response. Is it money down the drain?

However just the other night, XXM was still up by the time I got home from clinical attachment. Seeing me, he was very happy. It suddenly dawned on me that I should try to introduce the first couple of pages of BRAINQUEST which showed Max getting out of bed. But I bullshitted and told XXM that Max was getting ready for bed. Haha. I introduced him once again to the foam toy Max and taught him to point with Max just as the parent’s guide suggested. This time, he was more receptive. Instantly, he registered who Max was. When I quizzed him the next day where Max was, he was able to tell me. So, I slowly went through the full page picture first, then to the smaller illustrations. I related what we saw in the cards to the things around us e.g the pajamas that Max was wearing, the blanket that covers us when we sleep etc. He loved it! I was so pleased and continued grinning from ear to ear the next day.

I haven’t got the chance to try it with him again. Will find the opportunity this weekend. I came across a review on Amazon which one mother claimed it helped supplement her son’s speech therapy classes. Sounds wonderful! What I can see for now, if XXM has a sustained interest, is that it works great as a conversation starter with your child. If u are bored with your daily limited vocabulary with your two year old, this will definitely get the ball rolling. XXM’s linguistic ability lags behind his peers, probably because we speak a mixture of languages to him and perhaps he isn’t that outspoken like me. But he’s catching on. Slowly but steadily. He doesn’t have a learning disability cos he pretty much understand what we say in whatever languages we throw to him. He just doesn’t like to articulate that much. So, I think BRAINQUEST may be able to help in this area. I will definitely review more when I have gone through more of it with him.

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I miss my boy next door…

Man’s greatest enemy is thy self. That is indeed true in my case.

Other than being preoccupied with my commitments and responsibilities, my mind is constantly battling inner emotions.

One of my biggest battle is the guilt I felt towards my younger son Xiao Miao Miao (XMM). He entered our lives just when we were celebrating our new found life with XXM. It was a pleasant surprise for us. We wanted to share our love , time, bed everything that we did with XXM with XMM. So for the first four months of his life, we slept together. Often, I have to deal with two crying kids cos either one will wake up the other. If I get XMM well settled, full and comfy, XXM will be the one to wake him up with his cries. If XXM is sleeping soundly, XMM will wake him up with his night feeds. It was a difficult situation as neither child can sleep well, let alone Meow and myself. I had already returned to the workforce when both kids are three months old. It was a real struggle working, studying and looking after both boys. But I told myself I have to do it. My time is all used up and it is only that few hours of nap time that my boys can feel me, smell me and feel me breathing beside them. I have to make my presence known somehow.

One day, XXM fell ill. He was coughing frequently into the night for nearly a week. He couldn’t sleep well and his discomfort caused him to wake up frequently. Whenever he does so, meow had to hurriedly carry XMM out of the room for fear of waking him up. It was a real test for us. Meow is very obliging. He knew of my insecurities and really goes out of his way to oblige me and help me with the kids. Sadly to say, I know I don’t appreciate him enough for all that he does. I was probably up the entire night, calming down one boy or the other. Usually I can go back to bed at 5am. But at 6.30am, my trusty alarm clock will ring. I wasn’t getting much rest at all, considering I usually get home at around 11pm. I gritted my teeth and bore it all.

But, then I finally decided to throw in the towel. My MIL has always opposed to both boys co sleeping with us. She knows that I am tired. So she offers to take care of them at night. We didn’t let her for XXM cos she’s quite elderly (coming to 70 years old). We wanted her to rest after looking after XXM for an entire day. However, when XMM came along, we knew she needed help even though she insisted she could manage. So our maid came along when XMM was four months old. With her in the picture, my MIL was even more insistent that XMM should not sleep with us and that both of them can take turns looking after the boy. Meow was always the one who backed me up. So when XXM fell sick, even though we struggled, we simply refused to give up our rights as nurturing parents. I finally did. Why? Because I was afraid XMM will get the virus and he may lacked the immunity considering he was only a newborn.

That night, I reluctantly gave him up. Prior to it, meow and I had a discussion. We know that once he is out of our rooms, it will be difficult to get him back in. And yes, it has been so. XMM is 10 months old now. Initially we assured ourselves that we will take care of him on weekends. We tried a couple of times but the outcome is always the same, we have to carry XMM out in the middle of the night cos his crying will wake up XXM. Over and over again, this repeated itself. We have finally resigned our current sleeping arrangements. We told ourselves we will get him in again when he can sleep through the night which we estimate when he turns one. However I have my doubts. XXM is not a deep sleeper and at least once or twice a week, he will wake up crying. His biological clock is tuned to my activities such that when I return from class, he will wake up to look for me. When I leave the bed, he can sense it too. I do not know how we will mange unless XXM leaves the room.

So, can u imagine the guilt I carry upon myself. Meow has been constantly reassuring me that I am not a bad mother and there are more irresponsible parents out there who even though they are able to, they leave their children in the care of a caregiver while they enjoy themselves. He says we are victims of circumstances and I really shouldn’t reproach myself too much. But I cannot help it. I believe this knot in my heart can only be released when I regain XMM. He is starting to show preference for the maid over me. I don’t know if he will be used to us again. How I miss my boy next door.

One fine morning….

Moments before bedtime…

中医门诊 001

病例(一)

患者姓名:自己
性别: 女

主诉:
右侧腹部起几粒红色疹两日。剧痒,夜间尤盛。无灼热感或水泡。近日心情烦躁。纳可,口不渴。小便稍有热感,大便软。寐差,容易入睡但由于夜间照顾小孩,醒后难再入眠。素体怕热。这一周,白带多,质粘稠,色白,有异味。傍晚时容易腹胀。

舌质:边有齿印,舌尖红
舌苔:薄白
脉象:细

病名:皮肤瘙痒症

辨证: 脾胃湿热

处方:
甘露合剂
逍遥散
芦荟膏

被老师诊断后,虽然证型与自己想像中一至,但处方不和。我本想开给自己的是五味消毒饮和消风散。接着来了一位病人与我得了同样的病。详情如下:

病例 (二)

患者:女 40岁

主诉:
皮肤红疹剧痒三周,服中药未见改善,烦燥,夜卧小腿抽筋,眠差,纳可不吃蔬菜及水果,服保健品方能通便,素体怕冷。对酒精敏感。

舌质: 淡暗,边有齿印
舌苔:薄白
脉象: 弦(左)、弦滑(右)

病名:皮肤瘙痒症

处方:
肉苁蓉 ~ 阳虚便秘
逍遥散
苦参
地肤子
蝉蜕
桂枝
桑枝
苍术
酸枣仁

*今日的例子体现了中医同病异治的道理。

临床心得:辨证论治还是不行。看了几个病人但无法对病人立下正确的证型。老师说已经四年级了,不能再这样,要加倍努力!

A Letter to Skye

Dear son,

Daddy and I can’t believe our eyes till this day. It seems like yesterday that you entered our lives and I could still recall my “torturous” birth story. Actually, it was much more fun than I had expected and even funnier to recount my battle with anesthesia. You have grown so much and so fast especially in the last 6 months when your developmental milestones switched from physical to the linguistic department. We really can’t fantom what you will and can become in a couple of years.

Some brief recap over the past year. Up until the age of 1, you were the happy and easy going kid that everyone likes to play and carry with. You have an infectious laughter and a smile that people says resembles me. You are simply cute! At 10-12 months, you were an excellent crawler, navigating your way throughout our house. We have obstacles here and there but you proved yourself capable of negotiating them. You demonstrated to me that I shouldn’t waste my money sending you to indoor gyms like Gymboree etc with cushioned floors. Your infrequent encounters with the homogenous flooring and furniture has moulded your skull into an army helmet, incapable of pains. When Daddy and I play head on games with you, it is more often than not that we are the ones feeling the pain and agony. And many thanks to Grandma who taught you “knock knock” at seven months, you go banging your head against another’s with such gusto. Sometimes, you missed and you ended up hitting my nose. Mummy hates that!!! I will settle my cosmetic surgery bill with you at a later date.

When you were 13 months, along came didi whom you now affectionally bellow “Hao…..Yun……” with an ang mo slang. The first month, you kissed and caressed didi like we told you to. But in month two, we started seeing you slapping didi on the sly. I wonder if it was because of jealousy. By now, you were walking. You were walking with bowed feet, wobbling but steady. You are walking really well now, running and jumping with both feet of the ground at 23 months. Mummy is so proud of you. It took you a mere one week to get your feet off with lotsa encouragement from Daddy and I.

Your favourite game has always been peek-a-boo and you enjoyed a game of hide and seek whether you are on all fours or twos. You were our estate’s cleanliness inspector making a point to pick up any garbage, leaves or twigs on the ground and depositing it into the nearest bin. It really is a pity we didn’t bagged the cleanest RC award in Punggol. It clearly shows the effort of one is not enough. Since kakak’s entry into our household, you have also updated your abilities to perform simple household chores, from sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the window panes and wiping up after you have dirtied the floor either with your poor eating habits or urinary incontinence.

Com’on, life hasn’t been all about slavery for you for the past year. You did everything with the goodness of your heart and a warm one you have. Your thoughtfulness puts shame to adults like us. Whenever Mummy has a sniffle or two, you are always the one bringing a tissue to me. No questions asked. I feel so touched when u have to walk all the way from the living room to our bedroom, climbed up the bed just so for that piece of tissue and brought it all the way out for me. You waited for me to finish and willingly took the tissue and dumped it in the bin. I wonder if you will find my mucus filthy in future.

Whenever, I got home from work or school, you will always greet me at your fastest speed. Since a couple of months back say at about 20 months, you started bringing in my shoes from the doorway and replacing it on the shoe rack. We have never taught you or demanded this from you. It is purely an act of love on your part and I am so grateful.

Lately, you are also showing more love for didi, sharing your snacks and giving him the bottle. But you have also been stealing didi’s milk when he was younger. It was a funny sight. You have become a racer with the car that godma gave you. Daddy had a shock when he discovered your capability. He went on to train you on the slopes for the disabled when I wasn’t around. Heard that you have difficulty maneuvering round the sharp bends but it appeared you learnt. These are things not meant for me to see. Mummy trusts Daddy to give you an all rounded childhood that you deserves to have.

As you turn two on this day, we can’t wait to see what other surprises you have in store for us. Daddy’s wish to you is for you to 快高长大. Mine is for you to grow up happily. Our evergreen wish for you is 做个好人. Daddy has a expanded definition of 好 from mine. I will leave him to explain to you when you grow up.

Happy Birthday Tian Tian!!! (^O^)/

Aww… So Sweet…

Yesterday I was trying to catch a power nap after a busy morning. I thought of resting for 10-15min before heading to Sengkang library to return some books which were due that very day.

As usual, my elder son, Xiao Xiao Miao (XXM) follows me wherever I go. He is very attached to me which really is a surprise as I am frequently not home to do any activities with him. I depended on my husband to tuck him to bed on weeknights whenever I have classes. So, one might expect his relationship with my hubby to be very close but it isn’t the case. He kicks and bawls whenever Meow tries to carry him. It really hurts Meow very much. He tries to be upbeat about it and conscientiously makes an effort to bond with his son. But he hasn’t seen the fruits of his labour yet.

I needed to entertain XXM while I napped and I reckoned the best option was to give him the iPad. I could hear him playing his favorite app – Starfall ABCs. It was recommended by one of the mummies whose blog I was following. Anyhow, in the background, I could hear van, train, taxi etc. Before I knew it, I was knocked out.

Subconsciously, I heard “twinkle twinkle little star” being played in the background. I thought my son had moved on to another app. I left him to be cos I know he was still being entertained by the iPad which means I can still sleep.

Later, the music got a little too much to bear and I woke up. Meow had came into the room. He related that XXM turned on the nursery rhyme upon seeing me sleep. And he refused to let Meow turn it off. I sing to him when he sleeps and lately my adoptive daughter has been using this app to lull him to sleep in the afternoons. I wonder if that’s the reason why he was playing it for me.

An unexpected gesture from a 2 year old. So thoughtful and sensible. This is something I never want to forget.

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