Wednesday, September 30, 2015

As We March On...

Ironically, not long after I took the indefinite break from running the lapbooking classes and workshops in 2013, I also stopped lapbooking at home.

Of the three kids, O started at the earliest. She made her first lapbook at 2 years old. We went on to work on a few more. But instead of completing one lapbook a month as I originally planned, our pace slowed gradually over time as other priorities emerged, and I began devoting fewer and fewer hours per week to homeschooling. In the end, we only managed to complete a handful in the next 12 months. Sadly, this year has been an even slower year in the homeschooling front.

Two days ago, O looked through her lapbooks and to my pleasant surprise, she can recall so much from her "lessons" with me, even though many of these lessons were conducted months ago. Her responses demonstrated what I have always suspected - that she can comprehend as much as her brothers when they were this age. Yet another proof to what I used to advocate to friends and parents of former students - INPUT, INPUT, INPUT even as early as 18 months. The pay offs will come later, and usually we can start to see it around ages 3-4.

I was suddenly inspired to review all the lapbooks I had made with the boys. It brought back so much wonderful memories and warmth to my heart. Just looking through all the lapbooks that O made with me so far, it is fascinating to see how much my lapbooks have evolved. 

Those made in the early days of lapbooking in 2009, such as Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny, were more straightforward, with simpler activities.

By 2010, the lapbooking activities were a lot more varied, with more emphasis on honing creative and critical thinking skills for all age groups. For all age groups, the content and activities introduced were pegged at least 10% - 20% above the norm, as seen in the typical enrichment programmes and kindergartens.

When the boys used to work on lapbook at home with me, we would spend between 15 and 25 hours in total, over a period of few weeks, to complete all the activities in the lesson plan. This elaborate lapbook, that M did when he was only 5 years old, was one such example.

Thankfully, my baby O, who has just turned 4, is able to read as well as the boys when they were this age. Now it is time to pick up the pace on lapbooking again, so we can reap the benefits of the comprehensive programme I have in store for her.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Silence

I have not thought about this blog for many months. Until tonight when I was trying to recall all the crafts that I used to do with Chip when he was 3 to 4 years old.

Life has been too busy and my priorities have also shifted in the recent years, so blogging has become a luxury that I can no longer afford. Still, I was taken aback that there was only one post in 2015. Oops.... 

A quick recap.... 

We finally moved to a new address in April. After spending too much time and $ on renovation, we have settled down at our really amazing home. There is so much to love about this new home, and every so often, I will count our blessings for what we have. However, it is further away from the boys' school, which means I spend more time in traffic just sending and fetching them. 

Straight after the mid-year exams, we left for a month-long trip to London where kids got to spend loads of time with grannies and revisit London attractions through their more "grown-up" eyes. E and I took the opportunity to head to Prague for a fabulous getaway sans kids, so finally I can strike this off my bucket list. The other highlight of my London trip was our trip with kids to Cornwall. It was breathtaking and will be a trip that I will remember for decades to come. 

The boys are now in Primary 5 and 3. The eldest has a super hectic schedule and he doesn't even have tuition!!! He leaves home at 7am and only reaches home after 4pm, four times a week. School workload is crazily heavy with five subjects. At Pri 3, Chip has a relatively easy life, just like M two years ago. In comparison, M will forever be the one who looks like he has to work "harder", simply because being older, he has more to complete on a daily basis. Something which he is not pleased about and just one of the many issues I have to deal with regularly.

While every phase of a child's growth presents different set of challenges for parents, I find this current phase of tweens to be one of the hardest I have faced so far. Combine that with an equally curious and highly intelligent sibling who is just two years younger, some days can get so bad that I either feel like a failed parent or a monster. Those glorious days when I could simply smiled at my own parenting wits were long gone and forgotten. On nearly a daily basis, I encounter numerous teachable moments and opportunities to impart life lessons. They sap too much energy and give me headaches sometimes. But I also know, I got to embrace this phase, bite my teeth and march on.

The dolly is nearly 4 and has grown so much since my last post. She still enjoys school tremendously and is a mega charmer in class. She spends her daily mornings with me, but I am extremely guilty to admit that I am usually so busy with all kinds of stuff that she does not get as much of my attention as she truly deserves. If there is one area that I must make immediate changes to, it has to be this. While she can be the sweetest being in the family, who melts my heart with all the right things that she will say to me, she can be the fiesty chili padi when she decides to throw her monstrous tantrums. Evidently, her terrible-two phase has lasted the longest amongst the three kids and hers is also the wildest and hardest to tame. 

When I looked at my baby girl earlier, who had fallen asleep on my bed while waiting patiently for me to finish whatever I was doing, I was guilt-stricken and overwhelmed with emotions as I stroked her sweaty head of hair. She is so big now...... Then I remember all the things that she has been wanting me to do with her and she is still waiting....

It is the CA2 week (aka. school tests, for those abroad who are not familiar) now, so I have been focusing my time on the much-needed revision with the boys. Can't wait for it to be over, so I can kick-start a new routine, with more focus on the homeschooling agenda for O. 

Overall, my days this year are mundane but purposeful. But I can do better. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The First Seven Days of School

It was a deliberate decision of mine to keep Olivia at home till 2015. I simply did not see the need to send her to daily school yet, especially after having the experience of raising two older kids and educating preschoolers.

But I did my research and checked out many options, from church kindergartens to premium childcare centres, with the intention of enrolling her in 2015. There were many factors to consider but most importantly, whatever we pick has to suit our daily schedule. So it was not as simple as sending her to the nursery with the best curriculum or one that suits our budget. Convenience was my main consideration, before I would even consider curriculum and lastly budget.

After more than 18 months of toying with all my options, I registered her on the 8th Jan at the previous kindergarten that Chip went to. Even before Chip graduated, I already decided I would not be sending her to this kindergarten because I did not think its curriculum was as great as some would believe. But as it turned out, this is the only centre in the area that has a class which fits perfectly into our daily schedule. It makes logistics so much easier for me and the kids do not have to waste much time in the car waiting for each other. 

I brought her to the nursery that Thursday to familiarize with the place, registered and bought her school uniforms, all within an hour. For the rest of the day, I prepped her for the important "first day of school" routine. Throughout the day and much of the next morning, she just looked fearful and hesitant and repeatedly said she did not want to go to school. The next morning, it took some persuading for her to get dressed. E took the day off work so he could also witness his baby's first day at school. 

By the time we got to the waiting area where parents were supposed to say their goodbyes and leave the kids with the teachers, she was wailing uncontrollably. I hid in a corner to watch the teachers handle her for ten minutes before leaving the area. By the time we left, she was still crying and trying to run away from them, towards the exit which was where she last saw us. 20 min later, when the class finally made their way down from the hall to the classroom, I saw her walking with the teacher, no longer sobbing. When I picked her up at dismissal, I could tell she was not happy to be in school but at least she was not crying.

For the next few days, she would cry when I dropped her off but the teachers were able to distract her enough so her crying stopped after a few minutes.

Yesterday was Day 7 and daddy decided to bring her to school. Just as they reached the hall, a teacher came by and asked her for her name. E replied "Olivia". Just then, a boy (presumably from her class) remarked, "But she said her name is Elsa!" To that, my baby promptly pointed out, "Actually it is Queen Elsa of Arendelle."


When I picked her up at dismissal, she told me she liked going to school now. Her reasons - because the teachers gave me yummy snacks like honeystars (cereal) and she could just dance in the class.

Not really the reasons I was waiting to hear, but for now, they shall suffice.

Edit to add later:

I do notice the vast difference in my "first day of school" posts for all three kids. Just reading the details I felt compelled to go into in order not to forget his first day at nursery gave me goosebumps, especially after I read this post of my third child's equally important milestone.

I am tempted to say that each kid's first day at school is just as important to me. But who am I kidding?! If they are just as important, then why did I not feel compelled to spend as much time blogging about the details of O's first few days at school? The lack of time is a realistic reason, but also because of the "I have been there, done that" mentality. It is a fact that with more years of parenting experience, my expectations have changed. That said, while I may not blog as much about the first day or weeks of O's schooling experience now, it does not mean that I treat her days as anything less important than her siblings'. Sometimes I do wish I have more time to blog about her experiences so that I can look back in future and reminisce as fondly as I do now with the old posts.


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