Friday, 4 May 2018

Magical Marvelous Me! Camp - A review

While we are busy focusing on academics, we must not forget the emotional and character building aspect of our children. Here's what Charlene, a mum with a P2 boy loved about The Little Executive's Magical Marvelous Me! Camp.

Like most parents of a firstborn who’s recently entered the formal education system, I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a programme that would foster a positive attitude, an indomitable spirit that would rise to challenges instead of “saying die” and perhaps even some planning and organisational skills. At the same time, I was concerned about burdening my 7-year-old with yet more activities to his already punishing days.

Then I came across The Little Executive’s Magical Marvelous Me! Camp, which was to be held during the March school holidays. This camp is centred around Dr. Seuss’ inspirational book on life “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”.

I was sold – it would be a meaningful holiday activity without burden to his stretched school term schedule. He was thrilled – what a welcoming change to his routine of school!

“Today, you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss
Let our dreams soar
A Journey of Self-Discovery

The camp kicked off with a series of physical and team activities that seemingly served as ice-breakers but in reality, offered opportunities for the children to explore their personal qualities.

The games over, the children were led through their personal written reflections on their own strengths and qualities. I was pleasantly surprised to see the self-reflection of my 7-year old in his personalised camp journal.

·      Going Places through Goals

The children conducted a goal-setting exercise in their journals, with an added component of thinking and planning through the resources they needed to get there.

This is actually an important life lesson! While people set goals quite readily, even in the workplace, oftentimes they forget to consider the feasibility of these goals by not examining the required resources or what they have already going for them.

Part of goal-setting and the execution includes planning and prioritising which are pre-skills for young kids’ learning and development in other aspects of their lives, resulting in positive behaviours which they also exercise towards their families and other environments.

Taking stock of their resources would probably help the kids set realistic expectations and lessen any potential disappointment. That said, when this still fails and the kids are…

·      Losing track of the way

They learned to conduct self-monitoring first of all by examining and thinking through what would happen if they did not succeed.

Tied closely to this, the children learned how to manage their emotions as well should they not succeed. They each made their very own beautiful calming jar. Filled with glitter in a liquid suspension of their favourite colours, the gradual falling patterns in the jar would help the children to calm down whenever they are anxious or upset.

“Kid, you’ll move mountains! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss

Moving mountains through teamwork

The children were led in team activities like a treasure hunt and constructing and getting through a maze. These taught them invaluable lessons that many minds and hands are better than one, as success hinged on alternative ways of doing things, and splitting up the workload.

Precision and Accuracy

Craftwork such as building a hot air balloon develops their skills of paying attention to detail, planning and prioritising. They learnt to crack codes which taught them the need for precision and accuracy to get it right.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!” – Dr. Seuss  

Parent Presentation

Attending the culminating event for parents in the last hour of the camp - I had 3 indications that the children were taking forward strides to success.

·      Confidence, ownership, leadership

In a show and tell format, all the children – even the littlest ones aged 5 - recounted their experiences and shared what they have learned. And they did it with so much pride and gusto that I felt so proud of each and every one of them!

The children also served as guides, leading and cajoling parents around the maze that they built. There was a lot of joy and satisfaction as the children discussed strategies in handling the challenge of the maze.

Friendships forged

When it was time to leave, the children were all gathered in the doorway, unwilling to go. They took the time to arrange informal play dates. This is surely a sign of how well they got on with friends they had made over the short few days!

Putting it all into practice

When Term 2 started, I noticed my son applying his 3 P's:

Persistence - He had a more positive attitude towards schoolwork and exams. Even when faced with a deluge of homework, I saw how he staunchly tackled the pile, to the point of falling asleep on the table twice within a week!

Problem-solving - One day he was all excited with his own creativity, telling me that he had organised some personal items by colour for easy differentiation.

Prioritisation - He started to think through his tasks and homework with new eyes and would share occasionally why he chose to do things in a certain manner. I realised then that he was mentally evaluating the worth of each task and putting them through a hierarchy of priority.

I wouldn’t say that his priorities or solutions necessarily align with mine, or that he is always on track with his focus. But I would like to think that all these skills learned could be refined given time and more practice!

“You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

The next run of Magical Marvelous Me! Camp (for K1-P3 kids) is on 30 May - 1 June 2018, 9am-5.30pm at The Little Executive, 144 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 229844 Tel: 69081889 / 84835354 Email: knockknock@thelittleexecutive.asia www.thelittleexecutive.asia

~ www.mummyweeblog.com - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Kate's final 'childhood' year

When I started working longer hours, I moved Kate to a full-day childcare for peace of mind and flexibility to pick her up late. It was a tough decision as we were happy with her (then) current preschool.

We checked out several childcare centres and initially, my priority was to put her in a reputable school to get her ready academically for primary 1 as the K2 was a crucial year.

However, the more we looked around, the more I felt sad seeing little kids sitting at desks doing lots of worksheets.

Witnessing my 5 older kids stuck in this system where they have to keep running and have no way to get off the 'hamster wheel', it dawned on me that the K2 year was the last window of opportunity for her to play, explore and have a happy childhood with her friends in a safe environment.

I finally chose an international preschool where the emphasis was on learning through play.

My sis-in-law with a child the same age as Kate started worrying for her. "More play? What's going to happen to her when she enters P1?"

It was a difficult decision to make as I watched mums around me sign their kids up for more and more enrichment classes to prepare them for P1. But when I saw how happy Kate was, interacting with friends of different ages and diverse nationalities, I know this will give her a good lens to view the world.

The children spend a lot of time outdoors, having water play, sand play, free play and games in the garden. They bake bread for tea and grow their own vegetables for lunch. The older kids who have dropped their naps are given the responsibility of patting the toddlers to sleep. Such smart teachers haha. Kate came home and was proud to share that the little girl under her charge slept very fast! I do love the chill 'kampung' vibe of the school and how they are taught to respect one another.

I almost regretted my decision of putting her through another transition in her last year of kindergarten as she sobbed so pitifully every morning for almost 2 months. Thank goodness she has settled in well and strides confidently into school now, eager to see her friends.
At pick up time
Next year, she will have to wake up at 5.30am, carry an oversized schoolbag, sit behind a big desk and get into the routine of homework and tests.

No more luxury of waking up naturally at 7am, taking a quick ride to the market with daddy and coming back to watch him cook a simple breakfast for us before heading off to school.

It's happening all too fast! Soon it will be time to register her for P1 and the baby of our family will enter formal schooling like the rest of her siblings.

For now, I'm going to let her enjoy every last bit of her carefree childhood.


~ www.mumyweeblog.com - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Are we prepared for the teenage years?

We all know about the dreadful teenage years. Of raging hormones and irrational behavior.

But do we really know what to expect? Are we prepared for it?

Just as we start to enjoy the freedom of independent kids who can function without us, the next phase descends without warning.

As I started to navigate my way around unchartered waters, I reached out to those with teenage kids/young adults for advice.

What a vast difference from when the kids were little. We could relate to one another with similar rants of bedtime battles and sibling quarrels. Bonds were formed with fellow mums as we shared tips and supported one another through those long and tiring days. We could rope our other halves in, the helper plus grandparents to ease our load. We were not alone.

But this. This was entirely different.

Nobody talks about the worrying problems facing our teens. No two situations are alike, and there are no easy solutions.

As I spoke to other mums, the conversations were done in hushed tones. The seriousness of the issues poured out gripped me with fear. They were too real. Not something you read about in the newspapers. Some were lucky that their kids did not give them sleepless nights. But many others shared personal tales of a time shrouded in darkness.

There were stories of eating disorders, self-mutilation (sometimes in groups), being the victim of cyber bullying, peer pressure, depression, obsession with their looks and self-perceived inadequacies, inhaling harmful substances to get a high to escape from reality, relationship issues, negative influence from classmates, staying away from home for days, attempted suicide and other sombre tales.

Having to face just one of these issues can wreck havoc in a teen's (and their family's) life.

In some cases, it can be to the most heartbreaking extent where as a parent, you have to turn your own child over to the police after discovering something like drug abuse.

The tough decisions parents have to make.

It really is the most difficult job in the world. Nurturing children to walk the right path and being strong enough to face the pressures from so many aspects.

Nothing prepares you for the things you will come face to face with. With a heavy heart, you witness the consequences of the choices they make.

As a mother, their pain is your pain magnified a thousand times.

At this age, they are hard to decipher and you are unsure what to say or what not to say.

I've discovered a sad truth from opening up to other mums. Beneath the surface of good grades, affluent lifestyles and superficial answers lie secrets many mothers carry in their hearts.

They are yearning for a confidential ear to listen to their worries. And when the storms have finally passed, they are more than willing to share their experiences and offer advice to others.

Just because they don't have the visible signs of toddlers hanging off their arms, it doesn't mean they are not burdened.

Yet more importantly, what about the teenagers?

Beneath their sullen look and curt replies could be a torrent of emotions they cannot handle, the demands of school and life which they cannot live up to.

Be the supportive village they are so in need of. If you do not know what to say, it is better not to say anything. They are very sensitive creatures at this point in their lives.

To mums of teens, hang in there. It is going to be a bumpy ride. It takes a strong heart.

Be ever vigilant. Teens are so good at covering up what they don't want you to know. Don't take things lightly. No matter how busy you are, keep an eye on them.

Don't be afraid to open up and share with other mums of teens. They may not face the same issues but will understand what you are going through and can provide the much needed support in troubling times.

A wise friend with grown-up children shared this:

Never give up on them, never cease praying for them. Keep on loving them especially when it is so hard to do.

Some moments, I wish they were little again. When I could scoop them in my arms and life was so much simpler.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

3 new teachers after CA1

Term 1 practically flew by. January saw them settling down and getting acquainted with their new P6 teachers as only his Math teacher followed them up from P5. February was a short month with CNY festivities and before we can catch our breath, CA1 was upon us and we've come to the end of March!

The homework load was as expected, with daily homework from most teachers.

The good thing is that #5 does his homework very quickly. Unlike his sisters who waste a lot of time in the lead up to homework (tidying their desk, taking out pretty stationery, filing their notes neatly, choosing the perfect pen from a bulging pencil case, chatting with their siblings), he whips out a pen, thinks quickly and gets through one worksheet after another without dawdling. 

The bad thing however, is the quality of his work. He has given up asking us for help when he's stuck because the hubs and I spend a long time trying to figure out each question, and his siblings are either too busy studying for their Os or As or they themselves have forgotten how to do it and it becomes very time-consuming. He goes into their rooms and the few of them will be huddled around his worksheet and he emerges 45 minutes later, and there is still other homework to be done.

So far he only has Chinese tuition on Saturdays at his aunt's place and I'm still in the midst of looking for a good private tutor for Math and Science.

Based on his CA1 results, he has been moved to another class for 3 out of 4 of his subjects. When I spoke to his Principal recently, I brought up the issue of #4's PSLE year, where it was quantity over quality and I asked what would be done to help students prepare for the PSLE instead of shifting the responsibility over to parents and tutors.

She promised that they will be keeping a close watch on the P6s this year and true to her word, these kids who need more help have been placed in smaller classes of around 10 students.

I was delighted but did have one more concern - yet another change in teachers and 'wasting' time getting to know each other as we are approaching the start of April which leaves us 5 short months before the PSLE (haha, parents are difficult to please right?).

Thus when his dear Chinese teacher sent me a final Dojo message that he will no longer be in her class and updated me on how happy she was that he is now participating well and willing to try, I voiced out my sadness especially since he had been making steady progress under her. She reassured me that she had shared her observations with his new teacher who is the HOD of Chinese and that #5 should continue to see improvements under his guidance.

It was not easy for #5 to come to like his Chinese teacher and I was not hopeful that he will find another teacher whom he can quickly build rapport with.

Lo and behold, he came home and declared that he likes his new Chinese teacher!

He related how his teacher was very friendly, did not give them homework, and even told them to write down his handphone number and that they can call him anytime if they needed help. Not just for homework, but if their mothers are angry with them and scold them, they can reach out to him.

I was flabbergasted but I guess as HOD he is concerned and has to be especially vigilant with the P6s. Over the years, I have personally heard of several situations where students go into depression, or their minds go blank during the PSLE, and even students going missing because they feared going home to face their parents and police had to be called in.

The PSLE is a very stressful year for most kids, sometimes too stressful for 12-year olds to navigate and as parents, the hardest thing is to find the balance between stretching them to reach their potential yet not pushing them over the brink.

I have been in close contact with #5's teachers this year, and am really heartened to hear that he has had a shift in attitude and gradually adopting a growth mindset and willingness to push on.

His aunt has set him an even more realistic goal for Chinese. Instead of telling him to aim for a Pass, she turned it around and told him "Let's aim to not fail too badly." That took the pressure off him and he now enjoys going to her place every Saturday for Chinese tuition.

After going through so many PSLEs and O level exams and now able to look at the big picture, I am more concerned about the mental and emotional health of my kids. So long as he is starting to take his work seriously and has a good attitude towards learning, I am contented.

In a way, I'm glad he is still a simple child, joyful (no doubt still mischievous), eyes brimming with excitement and animated when he talks about subjects he loves.

One term down, 2 more to go. Jia You all P6s!!

PSLE Diaries
No more T-score. Now what?
PSLE results: Good or Bad, what do you say?
My 5th PSLE child - My son
Mum, just get me exempted from Chinese

~ www.mummyweeblog.com - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Saturday, 10 February 2018

"Mum, just get me exempted from Chinese."

#5 started failing Chinese in Primary 4 and he had absolutely no interest in the subject.

On hindsight, his weak foundation started in preschool. I had placed him in a Montessori in our neighbourhood. It was run by an Indian national and as most of his classmates were expat children the Chinese teachers spoke English to them. We did not suspect that he was not picking up much Chinese as he was able to read the readers he took home. They had complex words like "mangosteen", "durian", "grapes", "monkey", "elephant" etc and we were impressed! I have since realised that it was because he saw those complicated words with many strokes as a picture and memorised them as an image.

When #5 entered P1, his classmates were rattling off Mandarin verses while everything seemed new to him. His Chinese started off in the 80-90 range but as his foundation was not strong his grades begun to slide year after year as the syllabus became tougher.

I tried hiring a private tutor but none worked out. He has a short attention span and is difficult to teach. Moreover, the native Chinese teachers were strict and did not spend time building rapport with him.

I did not panic yet as my older girls managed to score As despite not having much external tuition and assumed that he would eventually buck up. What I did was to hire a tutor to read to them stories in Mandarin for an hour a week since their grandparents did not speak the language.

After his P4 year-end exams, I had a talk with him and asked him what should we do about it. I was intending to work out a study schedule with him and was taken aback by his response. "Mum, just apply to let me drop Chinese."

I pretended not to know what he was referring to, and he elaborated. "Some of my friends are exempted yet their Chinese is even better than mine! I'm sure I can get exempted too." I was shocked that he had this mentality as we have never spoken about the topic of exemption before.

I explained that his classmates must have some sort of learning disability, hence the exemption.

"No, they are normal. Why don't you ask their mums how they did it?"

When I checked with friends and kids from various different schools, it surprised me how an elite school like theirs seem to have a disproportionately high percentage of exemptions. Many parents knew about this "loophole" and had lots of advice for me. No certainty of getting an A/A* for Chinese? Better to drop one laggard and protect their overall aggregate, which also leaves more time to concentrate on the other 3 subjects. If you can afford it, why not give it a try? Brilliant strategy, until it seemed like MOE started moderating the number of exemptions they granted.

It was a tempting backdoor, but I didn't want to send the wrong message to my kids. If you are not good at something, instead of pressing on and trying your best, let's find a way to wriggle out of it. And I was afraid that after going through all those sessions of testing, what might he think? Maybe there really is something wrong with me.

I have to admit that I did consider that option for #5. I spoke to the hubs and in his characteristic straight way told me, "What are you thinking? He is a bright boy and there is nothing wrong with him. Are you letting him take the easy way out? Find him a good tutor. All he needs is to put in much more effort. I'll give him a good pep talk."

I'm glad he had swiftly put a stop to it, and ended my dilemma of taking the big step to get him tested.

That was in P4 and I did not think about it again until now.

Looking at his devastating P5 results, the reality sunk in, and my fears were heightened. What if there really is cause for concern and my child had a genuine difficulty in picking up Chinese? It would be unfair to him to let this slide.

I finally made the decision to send him for an assessment.

On the way there, it suddenly occurred to me that this cheeky boy might intentionally get it wrong because he badly wanted to be exempted from Chinese.

I told him, "Make sure you do your best. Don't think that by getting it all wrong will you get an exemption."

He thought for awhile then said, "How will she know?"

I told him that it is not easy to get an exemption and it has to be shown that he is capable of learning the other subjects but not Chinese."

Sometime after that session, I went for the consultation and the psychologist told me that there might be grounds for exemption and a few more rounds of testing were needed to further assess and substantiate his learning disabilities. He would also need to be referred to a practitioner in another field for further assessment.

However, what was puzzling was that his results had a great disparity in a few components which tested the same aspects.

Strange as it sounded, I was glad to know that he may have some issues and could be exempted!

When I told him that the results were out, he beamed, "So how? I got exempted right? I purposely did one whole page of questions wrongly! And when she was testing the numbers, I jumbled them up." He was jumping around excitedly.

I stared at him. Goodness. That explained the huge variances in his scores!

He had figured out which bits to do right and which bits to do wrong in relation to learning Chinese.

I was mad.

Then I calmed down and thought about it. In his juvenile mind, that was his goal.

For a few moments, I was conflicted. Should I let him go ahead with the next rounds of testing, knowing that he would likely foul it up, and perhaps have a chance at exemption? I can't believe how desperate I was to "help" him.

But I would be reinforcing that he can try to think up ways to outsmart the system instead of putting in effort to work on his challenges.

The answer was clear.

I told him: You know what? The results show that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your brain nor your learning ability. In fact, you are a bright boy and you will have no problems learning Chinese if you put your mind to it. I will take you to your Aunt every weekend for tuition and she will help you improve.

Strangely, he accepted the conclusion, as though he had given it his best shot but now that avenue was shut.

I explained to the psychologist what #5 had admitted, and we decided it was best to end the testing there.

Even though he is starting from ground zero at P6, this will be a hard lesson he will have to learn.

He will have to find it in him to fight this battle, tough as it may be. And I will not succumb to letting him take the easy way out, but to stick with it.

The good news is that his Chinese teacher has given me feedback that his attitude has improved tremendously this year and he is putting in a lot of effort.

She sent me a message on Class Dojo:

"He has put in a lot of effort this week and was able to pronounce the words when I went through revision. Everyone was truly happy for him and I took the opportunity to praise him. He is starting to show interest and I think that is a very important step. As long as he continues this good attitude towards learning, I believe he will improve."

I am so thankful for his teacher and her willingness to walk the extra mile with him to encourage him. It feels like we're all in this together!

We have set a realistic goal of achieving a Pass for his PSLE.

I know I made the right decision.

PSLE Diaries
No more T-score. Now what?
PSLE results: Good or Bad, what do you say?
My 5th PSLE child - My son


~ www.mummyweeblog.com -  A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Sunday, 21 January 2018

My 5th PSLE child - My Son

Somehow, I feel like a new PSLE mum. After #1, it was more or less the same with the next 3 girls as they were on auto-pilot and there was no need to micro-manage their school work.

For #5, after a horrific showing at his P5 year-end results, I need to monitor him closely this year. We gave him a serious pep talk and I think the severity of the exams have sunk in. At least a little.

It helps a lot that there is the Class Dojo app, a lifesaver for parents like me with a boy who is still not getting with the system at P6. I can easily send any of his teachers a quick check-in text and vice versa, and follow up on the reminders they post almost daily.

So far, he seems to be pretty upbeat and on top of things and he has been putting in effort and handing up all his homework on time. I was most glad to hear from his Chinese teacher that he is trying hard but Chinese is still a subject he really struggles with. His aunt has taken on the very daunting task of tutoring him and we hope that he is able to lift himself from a miserable ungraded mark to at least a pass this year.

We attended the talk by the Principal last weekend and 2 things caught my attention.

One was the flip classroom model whereby students are to be more initiated and learn at home via Google Classroom so that when they come to class, there is more time for discussions and customised learning (whatever that means in a class of 40).

I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this transformation from the traditional method to one where there will be more opportunities for discussion and individualized attention. I was wondering if my other kids are also using it as they have never mentioned it before and asked them at dinner. My older girls giggled to themselves and tried to explain to me that it is nothing fantastic. "Mum, it's the same as google docs. Everyone can see the lesson and questions. That's all."

Oh. I thought it was some kind of interactive online learning portal from the way it was explained at the talk. 2 of them have been using google classrooms, in poly and in sec 1, while the other 2 girls in sec 4 and JC 2 have not come across this as yet. I guess it will be rolled out in all schools soon enough.

Let's see if this new method is effective, though I wish the students had more time to get used to it before the PSLE year.

The other thing which I was dismayed to hear, was the Principal explaining that this year the focus has shifted from quantity to quality, that there is no point piling them with a whole load of extra work with no real understanding.

This was the exact feedback I gave to the Level Head 2 years back after #4's PSLE. Many students from her class and the next class fared between 180 and 220 which is disappointing for a top school, and we parents were lamenting how many of them were burnt out from doing stacks of past year papers yet there was not enough time for the teachers to go through with them the corrections to learn from their mistakes.

Yes, I'm glad they take our feedback seriously, but why does it seem like it's still a matter of trial and error. It was disconcerting to know that there isn't a solid system to prepare the cohort well for the national exams.

I've seen this swing in my other kids' previous primary school as well. If there was an alarming case the year before, there would be a call to step down on the PSLE workload given to the point where up till March, she still had almost no homework at all until I explained to her teachers that she did not have extra tuition outside and her teachers gave her individual homework.

The more I go through the PSLE with different kids having their own learning footprints, the more I feel a better way of sorting them at 12 is needed.

The kids are stressed, the parents are stressed, the teachers are stressed. I honestly can't tell who is the most stressed!

I'm not overly bothered about the grade he will eventually get for his PSLE (yes, I've reached this stage after going through too many PSLEs) but it is sad that for a child like #5 who is creative, bright, and able to think out of the box, but weak in Chinese and not keen on memorizing key words and composition formats, he may very well end up in the technical stream which is not suitable for him.

I can totally understand many parents' fear and drive to push their children to accumulate awards and do up impressive portfolios for DSA and such.

We need to relook this PSLE game.

Is it really achieving its objective about educating the next generation and sorting the kids suitably according to their natural aptitude and abilities into the different pathways or has it become a system gamed by the adults with our kids feeling like pawns?

There is no easy solution, but not addressing it head-on soon enough is like letting a bullet train derail at high speed.


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

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

2018 - Can I run and hide?

2017 went by like lightning because work picked up momentum. I finally felt the weight of a working mum holding down 2 jobs. A busy work week, followed by an even busier weekend of seeing to the kids' needs. I was on a bullet train that couldn't stop.

After a nice, slow December, I am all rested and recharged. I have put Kate in childcare which took a load off my mind. Initially hesitant to move her at K2 as she was happy in her preschool but glad she managed to settle well today, with just a little bit of tears halfway through the afternoon. She missed her mummy, her old friends, and has to adjust to a new routine.

If 2017 was crazy, 2018 will be pure madness. Our student numbers have tripled and it's going to be an exciting run with my team of teachers this year.

On the home front, first of all, I have a PSLE child. After going through this 4 times, the PSLE is just another year to me. However, dealing with my boy is a whole different ballgame altogether. His Chinese has been deteriorating year after year and is now at a miserable 20/100. He used to enjoy Science and was scoring 80+ but failed his P5 SA2 exam paper. This was what he wrote:

Yes. The type of answers we laugh about on Facebook. When I questioned him, he explained the whole molting process and exclaimed, "Mum, such a tough life right?!" His imagination is that vivid. I went for a talk recently and the speaker was explaining how children can be categorized by their fingerprints and he called this group of kids Type R. Creative, full of original ideas, our future designers and architects, but constantly getting into trouble with teachers.

Headache.

This requires a different tact from how I guided the girls, as I'm sure if I left him to his own devices, he will go through the week without any homework handed in nor relaying important messages from school.

His teachers said that a big part of his problem is his motivation, and we are scratching our heads on how to get him to buy into the idea of having to conform to the PSLE structure and memorizing appropriate key words for the sake of doing well in the exams so that he can go into a better school. This is something that baffles his immature 11-year old mind.

Thankfully, the older girls do understand the importance of the crucial years as the 3 of them are taking the O and A-level exams as well as Sec 2 streaming. I do worry though, that they don't get enough sleep and it will doubtlessly be a stressful year even without me putting any pressure on them.

As for #1, she is in a bit of a dilemma trying to decide what her next step should be. After 3 years in poly, she realised this is not where her passion lies, but her interest is veering towards design. She is unsure which aspect of it should she pursue, and several friends in this field have shared their own experiences as we are exploring whether to go for a degree, another diploma, or gain some experience working. Such a tough decision with no clear answers.

Academics aside, these teenage years are the hardest in our parenting journey. The influence of friends and social media is a big concern, along with raging hormones, doubts, self-esteem issues, being critical of everything, and their world view being starkly different from ours.

Sometimes after an exchange with the lot of them, I feel like I've come out of a battlefield. Parenting a bunch of teens is not for the faint-hearted.

When I stop and think about this coming year and how I'm going to fit everything in while setting aside enough time to guide this brood properly, it looks extremely overwhelming. You know, the deserted island in The Last Jedi? The notion of escaping is enticing. Being alone. In silence. Where no one can find me.

Ah well, it's nice to dream for a moment. But this is my reality, these, my responsibilities.

I am so thankful for little Kate.

She's the ray of light with her sunny disposition as she runs into my arms like a furball greeting me with an exuberant "Mummy!!"

Whether it is after a long day at work, or when a heavy issue is weighing on my mind, I can still smile.

When things seem impossible, I can only put my hand in God's hand and let go. By faith, I can find hope. I can find peace.

Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing
In everything, give thanks

Bring it on, 2018! I am ready :)


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Friday, 15 December 2017

ECHA - The Mother of all Awards

I'm a proud mama. So very proud of #1 and #2.

All the prouder because they did it on their own.

We take them as they are and they know they never need to be top just to please us.

#2 mentioned being nominated for some award. I wasn't exactly sure what it was until the letter came in the mail.

You have been awarded the Edusave Character Award (ECHA). The ECHA is given up to 2% of students who have demonstrated exemplary character and outstanding personal qualities through their behaviour and actions.

WOW. 2%! That was quite something.
Well done, kids!
Glad we had kids way before any of our friends and were never bombarded with smiling faces and awards floating around social media making us feel inadequate.

It was a good 5 years after #1 started primary school that we first heard of such awards given out by MOE. That same year, 2 of them received awards and we were thrilled!

One was for good results being the top 25% of her cohort. But what surprised us even more was that the other child also received an award. She has always been weak academically even though she is very bright.

She's a kinesthetic learner and a curious questioner, which our education system is unable to develop and recognise. When she received a good progress reward, we all laughed, but it was wonderful that MOE gives out such a category to recognise the effort these children put in to further motivate them.

The kids turned it into a joke and quipped: next year, I will purposely do very badly for SA1 so that by SA2, I will have the greatest improvement!

Since that first award almost 10 years ago, they have received different awards for results, progress, leadership, Eagles, and the level of excitement has muted.

Until now.

We opened the letter with the MOE logo and #2 was overjoyed that she had clinched the ECHA award in JC1.

Now that is something else altogether. Not only is it accorded to the top 2% of the cohort, but hearing about the stringent selection process made me immensely proud of her.

First, she had to be nominated by her classmates and also her CCA mates. Crossing the peer hurdle is already a big deal when you are a teenager! Next, the nomination has to be approved by her own teachers and CCA teachers which says a lot as they are in class with you on a daily basis and everything from work attitude to conduct to punctuality is taken into consideration. Thereafter, she had to write not one, but two 500-word reflections on her education experience. Only then was she selected for a face to face interview with the panel of school leaders.

AND SHE MADE IT!! (I'm sure you can tell I'm still elated.)

Before our excitement abated, #1 came home beaming and showed us her cert. She has been placed on the Director's list! What better way to wrap up her 3 years in poly.

For her, the journey was tough. Over the course of the diploma, she realised that this was not her area of interest and some days she really couldn't sit through one more boring lecture. Yet she trudged on as I told her that no matter what, there is something to learn in any field and she should still put in good effort.

She has made it through her first diploma and I'm excited to see how the next few years unfold for her as we guide her to explore and narrow down her career choices.

For now, it's all smiles around here :)


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