Tuesday, 27 June 2017

{Interview #12}: Doreen Tan - Textile and Apparel Industry Expert

Doreen Tan is the Chief Executive of Textile and Fashion Industry Training Centre (TaF.tc), Asia's leading training provider for the textile and fashion industry. Her career has spanned across the private sector, academia and training as well as involvement in government agencies, benefitting individuals and enterprises both at the national and regional levels. She has trained executives from companies such as Club21 (S) Pte Ltd, LVMH Asia Pacific Talent Development Centre and Chanel Asia Pacific Pte Limited, and as Merchandise Director at AMC (known as Target today) she managed a sales volume of US$87 million.

As an International Consultant with International Trade Centre (UNCTAD/WTO) of United Nations, Doreen has completed various projects in the Textiles and Clothing Industry in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mauritius, Romania, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Her husband works in the logistic industry and they have three children aged 16 to 21 years old.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life's path.
Doreen Tan
Your qualifications
MBA (Macquarie Graduate School of Management - Sydney)

Describe your job
As the CE of TaF.tc, I am actively involved in initiatives that enhance the industry's capabilities and capacity development. Since 2004, I have conducted training to executives of MNCs and local companies in the various segments of the fashion industry both locally and globally. Under my leadership, TaF.tc developed the Workforce Skills Qualification Textile and Fashion Industry Framework that covers over 70 competency standards and assessments for the textile and fashion industry. We provide relevant courses for people interested in fashion design, footwear construction and merchandising, from the basics of drafting and sewing to setting up their own store.

Tell us about your career path.
I started working in the textile and apparel industry doing global sourcing for US retailers for 10 years and was promoted to Merchandise Director at the age of 26. I went on to complete an MBA in Sydney and joined Temasek Polytechnic as one of the pioneers to establish the Apparel Design and Merchandising diploma programme. During my 7 years in TP, I was also teaching in TaF.tc and worked part time in Nike and Ghim Li as a trainer and consultant.

How did you find your passion?
When I first joined AMC, my boss was unwilling to teach me everything, especially on costing. There wasn't the internet then, thus I learned from my suppliers who are owners of garment factories and fabric mills. I used to spend hours learning from these owners and took the initiative to organise visits to their factories, mills, YKK zipper plants and button manufacturers. The manufacturing world never fails to fascinate me. I traveled around the US to meet customers and also traveled widely regionally to source for more manufacturers as factory owners venture to different countries with lower costs.

It was an eye opener as I realized that decisions made by buyers and merchandisers often impact the product process and thus the cost and quality. The most unglamorous work is done in the factories where thousands of workers toil for hours so that beautiful clothes can be churned out. These workers will find work to earn a decent salary to bring home to their families. I was disturbed by the extremely low wage of USD58 per month until I visited the villages with some Korean missionaries where I discovered that the farmers earned much less! It changed my perspective, and whether wages are high or low is quite relative.

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
I get great satisfaction from seeing people picking up a new skill and finding a job.

What does success mean to you?
Doing something that you love and believe in.

Does this job enable good work life balance?
The fashion industry is notorious for long working hours. I remember when I first joined the industry, I used to work till 1 or 2 am doing filing. When I reached executive position, I used to stay up late to call my customers in US which is a different time zone. We only have one life and we do the best we can in this one life. If you are passionate about what you are doing it is hard to draw the line. What is personal and what is official? What is life?

You must be incredibly busy. How do you avoid being burnt out?
I take short vacations, rest and recharge by doing nothing on weekends. I spend time with my loved ones, eat, chill, laugh at mistakes, exercise (although I could do more!), read, attend seminars and workshops.

Are you involved in any voluntary work?
I am involved with Don Bosco Phnom Penh. TaF.tc orders cookies regularly from ASPN and collaborates with PLOVE to conduct classes for autistic adults.

One piece of advice to parents
It is important to teach them values and to allow them to learn as many things in life as possible, especially in music and sports. Make sure your children know that you love them, teach them to be independent, and ensure they don't grow up with an "entitled" mentality. Inculcate a good reading habit and travel as a family to different countries.

One piece of advice to teens
Give yourself many options by studying hard and getting good academic results. Work part time during school holidays and pick up as many sports and musical instruments as possible. Travel to different countries to open your mind and do volunteer work in third world countries. Allocate time for your family and learn to speak some dialects.

To be a good merchandiser, you must have an eye for detail, very high level of commitment, be reasonably good in maths, management as well as coordination skills.

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 - Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

#2 - Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium

#3 - Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

#4 - Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness

#5 - Professor Tan Huay Cheem Cardiologist Director of National University Heart Centre

#6 - Ruth Wan Children's Book Author Timmy and Tammy series

#7 - Andrea Decruz Media Personality Owner of CINQ Salon & Belmont Flora

#8 - Ebelle Chong Dance Practitioner / Choreographer SSLD:7 in R.e.P 2015

#9 - Dr Phillip A. Towndrow Research Scientist Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice

#10 - Christine Teo Mental Health Social Worker Founder of Generation 414

#11 - Peter Draw Artist / Cartoonist 4 Guinness World Record holder


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


Thursday, 25 May 2017

5 Survival Tips of a Mum Boss

I was running on adrenaline last year which I documented in "A week in the life of a blogging mum". I started The Little Executive with my partner and as with any new start-up, there is a never-ending list of things to look into.

I worked in the mornings when Kate was at school and was home by 1 pm to see to the kids as they streamed home. Although there is flexibility as your own boss, it is in a sense worse, because with no clear demarcation, I ended up working round the clock. Many a night, I crashed at 9 pm only to wake at 2 am to start the day.

It came to a point where Kate hid my phone because she had to fight with it for my attention on a daily basis. It is worse to be physically present but mentally absent as it sends the message that whatever I'm doing on the phone is more important than her.

I also fell sick a couple of times and I knew I couldn't sustain that level of energy. I needed a better strategy.

This year, I changed my routine. After dropping Kate off at school, I work until about 4 or 5 pm, depending on which kid I need to pick on the way home. I take one day a week off to go for yoga and spend the day catching up on household admin, fixing a good lunch for the kids and taking Kate for class. Of course, I end up doing sporadic work on the computer as emails or texts come in requiring my attention.

With this new arrangement, my working hours are more structured but it is physically exhausting. When I was a SAHM, it felt like running a marathon with no finishing line. Now, as a full-time working mum, it feels like I am walking in quick sand. I wish I had a remote control where I could press the PAUSE button.

To be honest, I do enjoy the part where I drop Kate off at school and head in to work. I can do my thing in peace, have adult conversations and dream up ideas to implement.

But when I get home, I can't kick off my shoes and lounge on the sofa as my second shift begins! Kate will be running to me with open arms exclaiming "Mummy you are home!" and starts regaling me with her day's escapades. She could go on and on, if not for #5 who would be dragging me to see yet another of his creations. Soon enough, our helper sets dinner and it's full on action until bedtime.

The thing with 6 school-going kids is that the clock doesn't stop. I was a FTWM yonks ago when the 3 of them were below the age of 6 and it was different. There was no agenda and no urgency. Now, I have #1 coming to me to discuss her Poly assignments (which I actually enjoy), #5 to nag at when he realises at 7 pm that homework is still not completed, and the rest of them to sort out issues arising from school.

The weekend rolls around and as we all know, it's not like we can lie in bed and rest our weary bodies and minds.

I wondered how working mums do it. By the second week of January, I was so exhausted I wrote a post "Are we killing ourselves?"

I have since put in place these 5 simple strategies to keep things in balance before I lose my sanity or end up neglecting the kids.
Rooftop picnic
1. Simple Bonding Time

When Kate sees me at home, she will look at me expectantly with a bright smile and say, "Mum, shall we have a picnic?"

Thoughts of where to take her zip through my mind - Botanic Gardens? Chinese Garden? "No, another day ok. I have too much to do." She doesn't give up. "Don't worry mummy, I will prepare the food. We can have a picnic at home!

Dawned on me that we don't need to come up with grand plans or constantly take them to new places. To us, it may seem simple, but these moments are special in their eyes. And because it became doable for me, the bonding time happened. I just had to follow her up to the rooftop patio and give her my full attention for 20 minutes, and she was pleased as punch.

The hubs used to ride her to market on the weekends and I'm sure that would remain a precious memory to her.

These moments of connection are important for their emotional growth as they feel they are important to us and because it fulfils their need, they don't play up so much just to get our attention.
Family Command Centre
2. Stay organised

I have a Family Command Centre right smack between our kitchen and dining room which I blogged about 4 years ago, and had to make changes since starting work. I had a mountain of paperwork piled on my desk which put me in a frenzy because I couldn't find things I needed, and I didn't have time to waste digging through the mess.

The 1st tray is Urgent, so nothing important is missed, and I look at it every morning. Things I'm working on currently at work go into TLE and I slot accounting receipts separately so it's easy when I pull it all out once a fortnight to get that filed.

I teach the little kids at church once a week, and notes for that go into the CGS slot. I also handle the GST filing for the hubs' company, so that goes there. These are the areas I have to tackle on a regular basis and the rest of the documents will get moved upstairs to our home office. The black tray on top is for the kids to put papers they need me to sign so nothing gets misplaced.

3. Schedule in breaks

Since working 2 jobs (as I call it now) I have felt my stress levels rising. I'm running non-stop and there's no breather. The only way is to factor in de-stressing activities into the week.

My teens are such darlings. They've been noticing how hard I'm working "hey mum, you actually go to work!" and surprised me on Mother's Day by drawing up a nice warm bath and making a lovely moisturising bath bomb. They asked me to "relax and take your time, dad is fixing dinner." It was the first time soaking in my own bathtub after so many years.

Instead of taking Kate to busy places, we go to quiet parks. She roams around on her bicycle while I get to clear my mind and refresh my soul.

#2 and I started drum classes on Sundays for some mummy-daughter bonding time and found it quite relaxing. More than that, by taking an hour out to do something for myself, it changes my overall frame of mind from scarcity to abundance and by allowing myself permission to do something fun, I feel better overall. The last time I took any classes was before I had kids!

I used to turn friends down for tea or lunch as it takes up too much time, but now allocate 1 day a week to allow myself to chill, talk about things of leisure, have a heart to heart chat with close friends.

4. Cut myself some slack

As though I don't have enough on my plate, I have an added duty of preparing 4 lunchboxes every night after dinner. It started because of #2. Her JC releases the whole cohort for recess at the same time, so it is a 30-40 minute queue for food. She would rather not waste time queueing and buys a cookie or pie from the cafe.

I offered to pack her a salad (thinking she might say, "No thanks mum, who brings a lunchbox to school at 16?) But she loved it, and so did her friends! Since I started doing that, the other 2 teens reasoned that I might as well pack them healthy salads as well.

Near the end of the week, I was really tired and instead of pushing myself to do it, declared "Kitchen Closed - due to mum fatigue". Glad the kids took it in their stride, and now they don't take my lunch box for granted!

5. Enjoy the little things

It's all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life with kids and end up feeling frustrated and defeated a lot of the time. I have learnt to be present in the moment and to savour the little things.

After a challenging Thursday night where I scolded the 2 younger ones, I went to work and didn't see them on Friday. I had dinner out with the hubs and when we returned, I saw a note stuck to the bedroom door, which read: 

Dear Mummy, Kate and I are sleeping happily. Love, #5 & Kate. 

And to see them fast asleep, arms wrapped around each other, was just the best thing.

Being a mum, however way you spin it, is tough. I'm grateful to Debs for initiating this very meaningful series, to give us mothers a chance to learn from one another and know that we are not alone.

I'm finally getting into the rhythm of this FTWM gig and finding my balance.

No matter the demands, mothers make it work.

Somehow.

This post is part of the "Mothers Make it Work! Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other inspiring stories, please click here.

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting stories, you can start with this one here by Debs G over at Owls Well as she considers the challenges that her Aged P faced as a stay-at-home-parent. Debs is a Sunda Scoops Owl who married a nice British Barn owl and is raising a trio of hungry young owlets in a highrise tree in Singapore. Debs is a trained medical professional who is currently training to be A Parent.

At next week's stop, we will be visiting June at MamaWearPapaShirt. June is a work-at-home mum to 3 kids. She is a writer and trainee educational therapist who is passionate about helping kids with learning needs. Her idea of self-care is drinking a good cuppa and enjoying a good book. She is constantly exploring calm and positive ways to parent her children.


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

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Fun Holiday Camps

Our kids need more than just academic knowledge to thrive in a fast-changing world. They have to learn to work together as a team, be able to communicate their ideas confidently, think out of the box and come up with novel solutions.

At The Little Executive, we create exciting holiday camps to give them real world learning and lots of opportunities to develop these crucial skills.

Mummy blogger Selena, mum of Asher says, "The kids have so much fun they probably didn't realize how much they were learning." Read her full review here.

This June, the kids (3-10 years old) are spoilt for choice! From going on a Global Adventure, donning Little Chef aprons and whipping up gourmet meals, being cadets on an Astronaut Training mission to going on a Dino Discovery, they will find something to suit their interests.

Globe Trekker Camp

The kids will go on an Amazing Race, discover interesting facts about different countries and prepare for a global adventure. They will make simple maps and learn to read them, have a treasure hunt and solve puzzles using the knowledge acquired. They will also learn to be responsible travelers, including packing their own bags!

Date: 29 May - 2 June 2017 (Mon-Fri)
Time: 9am - 5pm
Ages: 3 - 8 years old
Cost: $480

Little Chefs Camp

This is no ordinary cooking class, as we open their minds to what it entails to be part of a team of chefs. From the process of proper food storage (do you know why bananas are not kept in the fridge?) to getting them to understand how Math and Science are applicable in everyday life, to empowering them with a sense of purpose as a crucial part of a team where their contribution is important. The kids whipped up gourmet snacks each day such as strawberry cream cheese rolls, Mexican quesadillas and cinnamon rolls and the best part was, they polished everything up. On presentation day, parents were delighted to be served by their lil' chefs!

Date: 5-9 June 2017 (Mon-Fri)
Time: 2 - 5pm
Ages: 4 - 7 years old
Cost: $480

Practical P1 Prep

To get them ready for the big transition is not to pre-teach them content. Primary one teachers hope kids came to them prepared in areas such as:
  • Being able to copy accurately from the blackboard
  • Being able to read the timetable
  • Knowing how to pack their school bag properly and bring the right books
  • Being able to manage their emotions
  • Being able to handle money and buy food
  • Having a growth mindset so they are not afraid to take on challenges
We use role-play and hands-on activities to get the kids prepared in these essential skills and by learning these skills now they have ample time to practice them before going on to Primary 1.

Date: 5 - 9 June 2017 (Monday-Friday)
Time: 9am - 5pm
Ages: K2 only
Cost: $480

Astronaut Training Camp

The kids will have a great time unleashing their creativity while building their own space shuttle, designing jet packs, making space slime and dehydrating space food on a mission to Outer Space! They will learn to work with precision as they repair space equipment and walk the constellation grid, like how mission control guides a team remotely. Lovely to see our cadets proud of their own achievements!

Date: 12-14 June (Mon - Wed)
Time: 9am - 5.30pm
Ages: 5-10 years
Cost: $580 (15% early bird discount before 31 May)

Dino Discovery Camp

Your mini paleontologist will embark on a dino-dig, unearthing ancient dinosaur fossils and working together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton. They will make their own dinosaur bones, discover how a real archaeologist site is organised and learn grid work; strategising in teams to develop skills such as spatial orientation, being flexible while working with constraints and learning to think ahead. Lots of action going on!

Date: 19 - 23 June 2017 (Mon-Fri)
Time: 9am - 12pm
Ages: 3 - 7 years old
Cost: $480

Parents are invited for the last 30 minutes on the last day to see what the kids have been up to. There are a few slots left for each camp, and a special 10% discount for my readers - just quote Mummywee.

Videos of the activities carried out during the camps can be found here.

Email: knockknock@thelittleexecutive.asia
Tel: 69081889
Website: www.thelittleexecutive.asia
Tea break will be provided for half day camps.
Lunch and 2 tea breaks will be provided for full day camps.

The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road 
Singapore 229844
(Row of shophouses opposite Newton Circus)



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

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Postnatal depression is real

Hearing about the mother jumping to her death with her newborn in her arms was just so heart-breaking. Mental illness is still a hush-hush topic. It shouldn't be, and mindsets need to change.

We need to raise awareness and remove the taboo surrounding depression so that new mums have the courage to seek help. I was planning to share my own experience and was heartened to see a fellow mummy blogger Justina from Mum in the Making post on her Instagram account - Depression is NOT a dirty word, where she shared her own battle with PND and encouraged other mums to do so as well.

When #1 was born, we were studying overseas and did not have any help at all. Besides the usual household chores of cooking and cleaning, we were studying full time and had a newborn on our hands. With no experience and no advice from anyone, all I could do was to read books on getting baby into a routine. They were not particularly useful and I did not know at that time that her crying had almost everything to do with her lack of sleep.

She cried all the time and had to be carried. The hubs would try pacifying and rocking her, but when she cried incessantly for hours on end, he gave up. On days when the hubs was at school the whole day, I carried her until my arms ached and in desperation would plonk her on the bed while I went into another room to cry. I didn't know what to do with this baby who was driving me insane. I was waking up every 2 hours to feed her and I went to classes exhausted. Besides all that, I had many other concerns weighing on my mind.

There were these community huts where we took #1 for her regular check-ups. I remember the nurse doing the usual developmental milestone checks for her and she gave me a questionnaire to complete.

I still remember what she said to me, which was very cryptic at that point. "Oh dear, we would like you to come in again in a week, not so much for bubs, but for you."

It was only a year later while working in the mental health community hospital that I understood. I was looking through the different questionnaires for depression and chanced upon the same one that I did. I roughly remembered my score and was stunned to discover that I fell under the moderate to severely depressed category! Every time I went to the cosy little hut, the nurse would have a chat with me about our situation and my concerns, and those were counselling sessions!

Imagine what new mums have to go through. Apart from the rollercoaster of hormones after the birthing process, there may be extreme physical changes and pain to deal with, and external worries such as work and childcare arrangements, added responsibilities, expectations, and even clashes in child-rearing philosophies with the grandparents. The list is endless. Plus round the clock demands of tending to a new baby who doesn't come with a manual.

These unexpected emotions and avalanche of changes may be overwhelming, and mothers need to be reassured that there is nothing wrong with them and they should talk to somebody about it and ask for help. I have heard stories of how some mums had thoughts of harming their baby or even trying to fit their baby into the rubbish chute before suddenly 'waking up' and being shocked at what they were about to do.

Just as motherhood is a beautiful experience, it can also be a lonely and terrifying experience. No one can understand exactly what we are feeling nor going through. And sometimes we need to put on a brave front and soldier on because we want to shelter the other kids from our stress and not give our family members undue worries.

The motherhood journey is not easy. Yet in this journey, we rediscover ourselves. The depth of our love, the layers of our being. If you were to ask me now, after having 6 kids, do I regret it? Despite all the pain and difficulties, the answer is a firm no.

Let us open the conversation on depression and acknowledge that it is real and could happen to any of us.

May we find support in our families and communities and draw strength from other mothers.

May we walk with open eyes and outstretched arms to see another mum's needs and provide support where we can.


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

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Centre Stage School of the Arts - A Review by Mum of 6

I used to send my 5 older kids to drama classes and like any typical parent, the highlight was watching my little tikes perform on stage. However, they did not seem to be progressing much from one performance to the next. Having evolved into an educator myself, I realised that it was superficial to focus on simply memorising the script and adding in suitable expressions and actions. Thus for Kate, I was searching for something more.

When I chanced upon Centre Stage School of the Arts from an enrichment app colloquially named Today Got Class, what caught my attention was the calibre of the teachers.

"The strength of the school is in its staff. All of the full-time teachers trained primarily as performers and completed courses in UK or Australian drama schools and universities, many have worked and continue to work in the theatre and on television."

Interest piqued, I checked out their website and was surprised that they have been around since 1999. They have developed into a full creative and performing arts centre offering regular drama, musical theatre, performance acting and dance (ballet, tap, jazz and contemporary) programmes for children - from toddlers to teenagers and even adults. As well as early years play programmes parents can attend along with their tots.

"Creative Drama is the heart and soul of the Centre Stage ethos. It is process driven, rather than performance based drama - the emphasis and the value is in the journey rather than the outcome."

I was sold. This is the same philosophy we uphold at my enrichment centre, with the focus being the process rather than the product. Skills become internalised and benefits, far-reaching. I could tell that Kate would be in good hands and given a solid foundation in the dramatic arts.

I had a chance to sit in on a session for the purpose of this review and boy, was I impressed. I don't know how Ms Sophie does this day in day out, but her energy was infectious. I felt like jumping in and being part of the fun! The kids were engaged from the get go, and in that hour, not once did she miss a beat as she moved through the different activities seamlessly. She was firm and had full control of her class, managing to corral even the distracted ones, all while keeping it exciting.

Kate is in Creative Drama Stage 1, and the session opened with the segment News. Ms Sophie asked one by one in a sing-song voice, "Do you have any news for me today?" It sure sounded very grown up. Each of them had something to share, and some brought along an item to show. They waited patiently for their turn, respecting others while they were speaking.

This was quickly followed by Warm up, where they ran through a series of exercises warming up different parts of their bodies.

They launched into an Action song with lots of movement. Clapping of hands, jumping, turning around and Stop! In super speed, no less. This kept the kids on their toes, attentive and listening carefully to the changing instructions.

Next up was the classic childhood game What's the time Mr Wolf. Ms Sophie reminded the kids to make a scary wolf face and they took turns being the Wolf.

In the Magic segment, the kids used their imagination to act out different scenarios as Ms Sophie magically turned them into various animals. They were pigs rolling around in the mud, cows heading to the water trough, birds flying around and jumping off branches. And BINK! Just as quickly, they were turned back into children in the blink of an eye.

After all that movement, the kids settled down for Story time. Today's book was Spot goes to the farm. Ms Sophie elaborated on the storyline and asked them open-ended questions such as "What do you think he found?"

She dimmed the lights and they had to imagine what it was like being in a farm. The lesson culminated in Creative Drama, where they acted out what they had read. 

"The children learn through improvised drama, music, mime and movement drawn from favourite books, poems and stories. They start within the safety net of the group and as self-confidence develops, begin to take on individual roles. The students start to acquire the basic skills of drama, the need for clear speech and an expressive voice and body."

It was a whirlwind of movements as Ms Sophie talked them through their farm adventure. From getting dressed and hopping into the car to finally reaching the farm.

The kids had a chance to meet Farmer Sophie (aka Ms Sophie) and busied themselves with chores around the farm. Collecting eggs from the hen house, cleaning the smelly pigsty, feeding the horses and stroking baby chicks.

Before I knew it, the helpful farm hands were back home, changed into their PJs  and nicely tucked in bed. Phew. I was exhausted just moving around taking pictures of the action.

I can see why Kate loves Ms Sophie's lessons and look forward to them every week. She has been attending this class since the beginning of the year and feedback from Ms Sophie is that Kate is very participative and contributes good ideas to the group. She is expressive and creative and notices the finer details. For example, when they pretend to get into a car, the rest might just go "zoom zoom!" but she will turn on the engine and put on the seat belt before moving off. Great to hear that she is meticulous in that way.

Indeed, Centre Stage is a top-notch performing arts centre delivering quality programmes for babies right through to adults. Here's how you can join in the fun!

Today Got Class Exclusive Deals
A package of 5 trial classes from $210 onwards (for new students) - only available when you book with TGC! Classes cover Drama, Dance, Singing and Play groups.

I had a go at using the app to book Kate's Creative Drama class and it was a breeze. Best of all, you can access it anytime, anywhere.

Centre Stage Portsdown Road: 5 trial classes
Centre Stage marine Parade: 5 trial classes


Out of the Box
If you have a 2 or 3 year old toddler, why not check out Out of the Box, a 90-minute drop-off play based learning environment that aims to bridge the gap between home and full-time school. Sessions include Drama, Dance and Music. Contact them directly for a trial class.

OOTB @ Portsdown: Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 9am-12pm
OOTB @ Marine Parade: Tuesdays & Thursdays 9am-12pm

Trial Classes
There are still 2 slots left in Kate's Wednesday Creative Drama class, do contact them at 67327211 or drop Renee an email: info@centre-stage.com. Other Creative Drama classes will be open for trials in June.

Centre Stage School of the Arts - Portsdown Road
Block 15 Woking Road
Singapore 138694
Tel: 67327211
Email: info@centre-stage.com

Centre Stage School of the Arts - East

5000G Marine Parade Road
#01-32 Laguna Park
Singapore 449290
Tel: 64496211
Email: east@centre-stage.com


Disclaimer: We were sponsored Kate's drama lessons. All opinions are my own.

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

Monday, 8 May 2017

Why I do not coach my kids anymore

I have been asked this many times - Do I coach my kids? The answer is no. Not at all. I don't look at their daily homework nor test them spelling. In fact, I tell them not to come to me when they get stuck because I probably won't be able to answer their questions.

I'm not kidding. The way they do Math is different from our time, and don't get me started on Science structured questions. "Mum, you need to answer with key words." When I guided them on their Chinese composition, they came back with a fail grade. It is still a running family joke.

They know my standard answer - go look for an older sibling as they'll have better luck in getting the concepts explained properly to them, with the appropriate key-words thrown in.

It wasn't that I didn't try. When #1 was in P2 & P3, she would come to me when stuck while doing homework and I was able to help her. The turning point came in P4. Every few days, she would need help to finish her Math, Science or Chinese homework and truth be told, I was annoyed that she couldn't independently handle homework doled out to her.

Having 4 other kids on my tail left me scarcely any time to deal with #1's academic demands, and being in a constantly sleep-deprived state must have made me prone to going berserk.

I remember one particular incident when I was trying to help her with her Math homework, and she could not comprehend it. I became angrier and angrier and started yelling at her. I can't remember exactly what I said, but they were unnecessarily hurtful words along the lines of "I've explained to you so many times! What can't you understand? What is wrong with you? Why are you so stupid?" My blood was boiling and I felt like smacking her. 

I was shocked at my own extreme reaction. I am by nature a calm and patient person, and here I was, getting agitated by my own child, over MathI saw the fear in her eyes as she recoiled from my wrath, and there and then, I decided that it was not worth it. I could not let this ruin our mother-daughter relationship. My first and foremost responsibility is to be her mum, and this tutoring job can be outsourced.

I did feel like some kind of failure, but found out that many of my friends were in the same boat. Some have flung school bags out of the house, while others have raised their hands at their children. It is never the right thing to do, and we have no excuse. But the reality is that it is not easy teaching our own children. Some parents are cut out for it, and some are not. I am glad I recognized it early enough before saying or doing things I might have regretted.

When she moved on to P5, it became an almost daily struggle to complete her homework. Being our eldest, it did not occur to us that she might need tuition as she was fairly bright and in a top school so we had the impression that the teachers would prepare them adequately for tests and exams.

Since I had thrown in the coaching hat, the hubs volunteered to do it. The first time #1 went to him with her Math problem sums, he eagerly took on the challenge. 3 hours later, she finally emerged from the room. She revealed that daddy took so long to finish 2 pages of her Math homework and she still has other homework to do. Worst of all, he used the wrong method. His coaching stint ended as soon as it began.

Since then, we have stopped coaching them. Even if they come home with entire worksheets covered in red or if they fail their tests, I seldom nag or scold them. I ask if they had prepared well for it, and what are they going to do about it. I don't want the focus when they get test marks back to be on what mum is going to say, but on how they think they can improve in future.

I keep an eye on the big picture and monitor their grades for their CAs and SAs throughout the year. It is better to find out their percentile instead of looking at the raw score. In her P5 year, #1 barely passed her English mid-year exams. I was concerned, but when I spoke to her teacher she said, "Oh, don't worry, it was a very tough paper and almost the entire class failed. She was one of the top scorers."

They get one-to-one tuition in the P6 year because I find that an effective way to plug the content gaps in topics which they might have missed over the years. The tutors also know how to guide them to phrase their answers to suit the examiners. 

While writing this post, I was chatting with my girls to get their perspective now that they are already in secondary school. I asked them how did they manage without coming to me for help.

"We know that you will tell us to figure it out ourselves or ask our teacher, so we have to pay attention in class. There is a lot of wasted time between lessons, so we quickly get our homework done and if there is anything we don't understand, we ask our friends. Most of them have tuition."

I burst out laughing. They had found their own strategy and outsourced the coaching to their classmates! It's good for their friends too, as the best way to understand something well is to explain it to others. Brilliant win-win situation.


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?


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

Saturday, 29 April 2017

BYKido - One Pass, Multiple Savings

I've heard of membership passes where you get discounts on F&B or fitness classes, and the good news is that now there is one for families!

BYKido, which means Bring Your Kids Out, was started by a dad who wanted to make it easier for parents to bring their kids out by helping them save money and effort (where to go? what to do?) Basically, you purchase a membership pass for $30 which is valid for 6 months (Jan-June or July-Dec) and you are entitled to a whole host of discounts.

It was fun experiencing some of the activities which we normally would not have tried, and it is also a great way to let your kids be exposed to a variety of classes before signing up for something they are keen to pursue. These were some of the things we got up to recently!

CLIMB ASIA

1 hour Guided Family Climb
2 Climbers @ $39 (U.P $80)
Additional climbers pay $29 (U.P $40)
Promotion available for multiple visits until 30th June 2017

Join Climb Asia for a 1-hour Guided Family Climb (at least 1 climber is between 4-12 yrs old) at the 9-metre indoor climbing wall for some family bonding through sports.

Climb Asia is dedicated to serving the needs of anyone looking to engage in a full-body activity, a competitive sport, a social activity and a lifestyle. Whether you are a complete stranger to climbing or a veteran rock warrior, Climb Aisa will introduce you to new dimensions of adventure and fun.


Activity Details:
Age: 4-12 years old
Location: 60 Tessensohn Road, Civil Service Club, Singapore 217664
Tel: 62927701
Email: beta@climb-asia.com
Climb Asia
Ready Steady Go Kids

2 Trial Lessons @ $10 (U.P $49)

Ready Steady Go Kids is Australia's largest multi-sport and exercise programme for pre-schoolers, to enhance their gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye, foot-eye coordination and balance. Their trainers lead and educate on important features such as warm-up, stretching, cool-down, team-building and sportsmanship. But most importantly, we hope to spark their life-long love for sports and being healthy.

Terms are 10-12 weeks, with 5 sports covered each term: Football/Soccer, Tennis, Hockey, AFL (Aussie Rules Football), Criket, Atheletics, Basketball, Rugby, Golf and T-ball.


Activity details:
Age: 2.5-6 years old
Location: The Cage Sports Park @ Bukit Timah or Kovan Sports Centre
Tel: 98558221
Email: info@readysteadygokids.com.sg
Quote MummyWee for 10% off term fees
Ready Steady Go Kids
A2 Parkour

1 for 1 Trial classes @ Lavender ($25)

A2 Parkour is Singapore's first & premier parkour academy providing the highest quality of coaching standards for its students to learn in a progressive & safe environment. But beyond simply imparting technical knowledge, they seek to impart values, ideology & a positive mindset approach to life's obstacles & challenges.

All kids love to jump around. Let your child discover how to move and have fun correctly as they learn to navigate the environment.


Activity details:
Age: 5-13 years old
Location: Free Runner Lodge, CT Hub 2 #05-91, 114 Lavender Street, S 338729
Tel: 91849744
A2 Parkour
Seimpi School of Music

Free trials and Reg Fee waiver (worth $53.50) for BYKidO Pass holders with any selected MIM course sign up (min 2 months)

Music for the Mind (MIM) is a carefully planned syllabus to guide students from a tender age of 4 months to the age of 7 to explore the richness and excitement of music through interesting play, activities and musical games. Seimpi also incorporates eye and ear training, speed reading, pitch training, memorizing techniques and music theory.

All activities involve stimulating the inter-connectivity between the two hemispheres of the brain by engaging in holistic and all-rounded music training. MIM provides a seamless transition into music graded studies.

Activity Details:
Suitable for: 12 months - 8 years old
Location: Centre Point (Tel: 67376731), Pasir Ris, Hougang (Tel: 63435347), JCube (Tel: 62621193)
Seimpi School of Music
Busy Tables

Purchase 2 Passes and Get 1 Free Pass (Save $18)

Busy Tables is exclusively dedicated to children between 0 and 5 years old and their parents, so they can have fun in a safe environment, away from bigger children. We promote educational values of play for young children and encourage positive parent and child interactions through the provision of quality toys, games and resources.

Activity Details:
Suitable for: 0-5 years old
Location: 35 Rochester Drive, Rochester Mall, #03-22
Email: Busytables@gmail.com
Busy Tables
Thinkasaur

$8 off Single Box and $33 off 6 Month Box Subscriptions

Thinkasaur provides a subscription based children's science programme. The programme, which is founded primarily on encouraging hands-on learning and Do-It-Yourself fun for children, delivers a different set of science experiments each month for both parents and children to work on together.

Thinkasaur comes in the form of a science kit that provides the full spectrum of materials, equipment, instruction manuals and learning points for up to four experiments per box. Each box covers a specific theme, such as chemistry, physics and earth science.

Subscription options available:
Single Box - $48
6 Month Subscription - $258

Activity Detail:
Suitable for 5-10 years old but primarily targeted at 7-10 year olds
Website: www.thinkasaur.com
Email: hello@thinkasaur.com
Thinkasaur
Besides PROMOTIONS, they suggest lots of IDEAS (places to go and things to do) as well as organise ACTIVITIES for new parents to meet up and share tips. With so many exciting offerings, what are you waiting for? Sign up for the pass and bring your kids out today!

BYKido
List of promotions

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


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

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