Saturday, 26 November 2016

Do schools make the PSLE more stressful than it should be?

The 2016 PSLE results are out and something strange is happening. I'm still wondering why a parent's response to her own child's results was picked up by a newspaper, which has gone viral.

Our children, who have increasingly more access to the internet, are picking up on the views of us adults, and that is where they are forming their own opinions of self and success based partly on societal norms.

What should we be talking about, the days following the release of results?

The stories about resilience and students surmounting great obstacles are encouraging, and I would also love to read about the special programmes of various schools which might suit my child's interest and aid in our selection of a secondary school.

#4 had a rough ride this year and did not enjoy her PSLE year like her 3 older sisters did. They were up for the challenge, were motivated, supported well, and fought hard.

For her, the preparations and exams leading up to the PSLE were so daunting that she was overwhelmed. Even more of a pity is that despite the ridiculous amount of work piled on them, with hours of homework every day, there was no correlation to results.

As a parent, what do you do when you see your child cracking under the pressure? Push some more? For her sake or mine?

I shall not disclose her score as I did previously with my other girls as she was uncomfortable with me documenting her P6 year and I respect that.

Suffice to say that her results were as expected and I had already come to terms with that in June as she was not coping well and we had terminated all her tuition which we began in January. Her sanity was more important to me than those 3 digits.

However, what was unexpected was that several of her classmates had low scores too, despite them having a ton of tuition. I can't understand why parents are so caught up with top scorers and the percentage of students scoring above 250. Shouldn't we consider the weakest link in any situation? More so when there are GEP students making up the bulk of that percentage.

I only put her in this school after giving the school in our neighbourhood a shot with my 3 older kids and realizing that the values of the principal did not align with ours. On this note, I have to say that #4's principal is one of the best I have encountered and she was indeed lucky to have the opportunity to be in this school at this time. Her care and concern for each and every student was evident, and her greatest desire seemed to be to imbue in them solid values such as respect for others, service to the community, gratitude and humility.

I clarified with her teachers if she was in the lousiest class in the cohort, but no, I was told that it was a general mixed ability class. So that was quite puzzling. The hubs is disappointed that a seemingly good school is unable to prepare their students adequately for the national exams. It can't be that she is a very weak student because she managed to score an A for her English.

We did not scold her, for she must already be disappointed that she does not have many schools to choose from. We also could not say that as long as she had tried her best, that was enough, because honestly, I don't think she had given of her best in the run up to the exams.

Could we have done things differently? I do not know. Was it the pressure of the system that became too much for some of these 12-year olds to cope with? Likely so.

All I can do is to put things into perspective and tell her that the exams that needed to be taken were taken, and the results are out. This is definitely not the end, and life goes on. She has another opportunity to work hard and to do well and she should seize that chance.

Now it's off to consulting THE GREY HANDBOOK for the 4th time! It almost feels like an old friend.

One sad fact is that because her friends come from all over the island, from as far as Yishun, Pasir Panjang and even Sengkang, most of them are choosing a secondary school near their own home and the group of them will be separated.

That is her greatest worry now, to enter an unknown school, alone.

Whichever school she goes to, we can only hope and pray that she is lucky enough to get passionate teachers who will go the extra mile to teach and encourage them, and that she will find good friends to journey the next 4 years with.


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

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Exciting Holiday Camps

School's out and things are heating up around here! Our team at The Little Executive is going full steam ahead to prepare for 3 weeks of holiday camps.

Join us for an exciting Dino Discovery Camp, where our mini paleontologists will have lots of hands-on opportunities to make their own fossils, do a Dino-dig, crack IQ codes, work together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton and create a Dino cave! How cool is that?

Dino Discovery Camp - 4 days
Date: 29 November - 2 December 2016
Time: 9am - 12pm (N2, K1, K2)
2pm - 5pm (K1 - P2)
Fee: $400 per child
Holiday Camp
Our fun and interactive P1 Prep Camp will get your K2 child ready for a big new school! Entering Primary 1 is a very different experience from our time. The demands are much greater and kids today are less classroom ready.

Over the 4 days, we aim to equip them with our 5-Step Learning cycle to excel academically, a Growth Mindset to be unafraid of failure and become resilient students and Executive Functioning Skills which form the foundations of independent learning.

The kids will have fun running a mini 'tuck shop' and take turns buying and selling snack items while learning to handle money. They will also have ample opportunities to practice speaking up and communicating their needs.

More details of P1 Prep curriculum.

P1 Preparatory Camp
Date: 6-9 December 2016
Age: K2 only
Time: 2-5pm
Fee: $400 per child
P1 Prep Camp
Our popular Astronaut Training Camp is back this December holidays! Let us take your child on a unique mission to Outer Space where they will hone their problem-solving skills to complete Space Missions and enhance their teamwork and communication skills as they work together as a crew to build the ultimate space shuttle!

Many of our Astro cadets said it was the best holiday camp they have ever attended!

Astronaut Training Camp
Date: 13 - 16 December 2016
Age: K1 - P2
Time: 9am-12pm or 2-5pm
Fee: $400 per child
The Little Executive

  • 10% off camp fees with 2 or more sign ups
  • Parents are invited for the last 30 minutes on Friday for a presentation by our campers
  • Location: 144 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 229844 (5 min walk from KK Hospital)
  • Email: knockknock@thelittleexecutive.asia to register
  • Tel: 6908 1889
  • Website: www.thelittleexecutive.asia

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

Friday, 11 November 2016

Kate turns 4!

This is the first time we had a low key birthday.

I mean, really, really, low key.

After 6 kids, I've had enough of OTT birthdays. Of inviting the whole kampung, hiring magicians, jumping castles, and game hosts. That was before Instagram and extravagant dessert tables.

It didn't help that we used to live in a condo and that became the norm and our kids expected it. I had a whole cupboard filled with presents which I could whip out when an invite came from one of the neighbours, which happened every weekend or so.

With Kate, I have stopped doing things just because and now I think through why we do what we do, so much so that one of my teens remarked recently, "Mum, Kate has such a different childhood experience from us!"

Last year, I tried to keep her birthday cosy, but I guess it wasn't small enough. When too many guests arrived, she was overwhelmed and burst into tears. We thought inviting 10 kids was a small number, but add to that the accompanying adults, and it was all too much for a 3-year old.

This year, I decided to go old school and keep it simple. Nothing fancy, nothing lavish.

Thankfully, Kate seemed to have the same thoughts.

I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday and she counted off her closest friends from school whom she wanted to invite home.

Each time I asked her (just to be sure), she mentioned the same 4 names, and she was very firm about it.

I was amused, because after 16 years of elaborate parties with 30-40 kids, with unhappy kids at the end of every party, I finally read that the number of guests should correspond to the child's age.

So 4 years = 4 friends.

Perfect.

After handing out the 4 invites, I was slightly nervous. What if only 2 could make it? What a strange, boring party it would be.

Luckily, all 4 accepted our lunch invitation.
Birthday in school
The day before her party, she celebrated her birthday in school and was overjoyed that I turned up to celebrate it with her and her friends.

She was clearly excited that her best friends were coming to her party and she tidied up the living room without me asking.

I have been extremely busy the past 3 weeks, and couldn't put one more thing on my plate. The night before her party, with nothing planned, I asked myself, how hard is it to keep 5 little kids entertained for 2 hours? It took me just 30 minutes to get everything ready for her party, compared to previous years where it took us a full day to cook and prep the house and activities!
Kate turns 4!
Just look at this photo.

I love how old school it is. Reminds me of the photos we had of our childhood!

Normally, I would be busy flitting around, keeping guests entertained and seeing to everyone's needs.

This time, I could actually sit down and have decent conversations with the other mums.
Clay fun
#3 cooked up a batch of clay and they had fun adorning their creations with sparkly bits.

I came up with the brilliant idea to get the girls to make their very own DIY party bags! Ok, with a lot of guidance from the mummies.

I filled some baskets with snacks and little knickknacks such as stationery and girlie craft items.

After they were done making their bags, they chose what they wanted from the baskets to fill their party bags.

It was nice to see the girls give in to one another and no one fought for the same items.
DIY party bags
And of course, after lunch, the real fun began when the girls ran off from the adults' prying eyes and made up their own games.

After her friends left, the rest of our extended family streamed in and I allowed Kate to skip her nap. She opened her presents and continued playing into the evening with her cousin.
Look what I made!
I am a convert.

No more big parties if I can help it.

My recent decluttering of our house using the minimalist KonMarie method might have something to do with my desire for simplicity.

Such an eye-opener. Less is indeed more. In many areas, with less frills, we can go deeper and enjoy better, the things which matter and bring happiness.

Happy birthday to my littlest!

May you always know where to find real joy and happiness.


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




Sunday, 6 November 2016

Dream Cruises - Media Invite

I attended the launch of Genting Dream, Dream Cruises' inaugural cruise ship, which is amongst the largest and most spacious cruise ships in Asia. Having not sailed on a cruise ship in more than 15 years, I was unsure just how spectacular a family cruise holiday could be.

Needless to say, I stepped off the luxurious 18-deck ship a convert.
Genting Dream
With 6 kids spanning the ages of 4 to 18, I was on the look-out for activities to suit my toddler and my teens. I was delighted to discover that they were not short on entertainment for kids.

A big hit will be the waterslide park. They have a total of 6 slides, ranging from gravity-defying ones for adults and older teens, to gentler ones for the younger kids.
Waterslide park
I'm sure my teenagers would love spending hours careening through the wild slides. A waterpark on a ship! How cool is that?
Main Pool Deck
For the daredevils, there is a 35m zip line situated 18 decks above the sea, over the side of the ship. Definitely not for the faint hearted! I was surprised to hear my 18-year old say, "Mummy, can we go?!"

Not forgetting the younger kids, this is probably the most scenic 'walk the plank' I have come across. Perfect for photos!

In addition, they have a plethora of family-friendly activities such as a rock climbing wall, mini-golf, rope course, basketball court and 3D cinema screening the latest blockbusters.
Mini Golf
Of course, there is a kids' club where the staff are all certified child care professionals. The Little Pandas Club offers activities such as arts & craft, themed costumes, movies, toys, and the venue is also available for rent for birthday parties (minimal charges apply).
Kids' Club
Video Game Centre
As guests cruise the sea, they will be entertained and enthralled by "China's Got Talent" in a 999 seat state-of-the-art live performance venue. A transcendental dreamy production Voyage of a Lover's Dream, conceived by pop-artist Jacky Tsai will be also be screened (no charge, but pre-booking required).
Voyage of a Lover's Dream
I thought I heard wrong when they mentioned they have Zouk on board. Jiak Kim Street's Zouk has also been imported?! With the Zouk concept, besides an indoor dance club, LIVE guest artistes and DJ performances, they also have DJ open deck workshops, an outdoor day and night party deck, movie nights under the stars, a glow in the dark bowling alley and fireworks on the last day!

They also have two state-of-the-art submersibles, where guests can explore spectacular sights and encounter a dazzling array of fish and sea creatures deep under the ocean.

I'm impressed.
Media Interview hosted by Diana Ser
The rooms are a pretty decent size, and with a private balcony, you don't feel claustrophobic. More than 70% of staterooms feature private balconies and there are 100 staterooms with connecting rooms to cater to bigger families (perfect for us!). I was looking at the pictures of the Garden Penthouse and Palace Suites and those look exceptional.
Balcony Deluxe Stateroom
With more than 35 restaurants and bar concepts, guests can indulge in the very best of Chinese regional, Asian and international cuisine. From healthy eating to fine dining, both adults and kids will be spoilt for choice. If the standard of our lunch on board was anything to go buy, I can say meal times would be highly enjoyable for the entire family.
Quality & authentic cuisine
Umi Uma Sushi Bar
Genting Dining room
Wine connoisseurs on board Genting Dream can indulge in an array of rare Australian wines and fine vintages from one of the world's leading wineries at the Penfolds Wine Vault as special wine tasting events form part of the ship's overall experience. Ah, perfect for the hubs.

To round off this exceptional voyage, a visit to the Crystal Life Asian Spa must be in order. Being the largest Asian Spa at sea spanning over 1,000 sq.m, this relaxation hub features more than 70 treatment thrones. I'm sure I will step out feeling like a queen!
Sun deck
Truly, a spectacular cruise ship suitable for the entire family. I know where I will be spending most of my time, while the kids are happily occupied somewhere around this massive ship.

For now, the vessel will depart from Hong Kong or Guangzhou and make stops in Danang and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. A second ship is expected to be ready in November next year, and Singapore is under consideration as a port of call in the company's new itineraries.

Currently, they have FlyCruise promotions to Hong Kong or Guangzhou, which can be found on their website.


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

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Preparing for Primary 1: Setting them on the right path

Reading about the Primary 5 boy who committed suicide over his results and the two students from a top JC who ended their lives a few months ago, discussions about our highly stressful education system have been raging. I feel heavy hearted, because for every case we hear about, there are many more suicide attempts and distress signals which go unheard.

We all want the best for our children, and as parents with pre-school children, what can we do to give them a headstart without giving them unnecessary stress?

The solution is not pumping them with tuition. Amidst the proliferation of Primary 1 prep classes, experts warn against pre-teaching content and concepts which will be covered in Primary 1.

Dr Nimala Karuppiah, an early childhood and special needs education lecturer at the National Institute of Education, said that these classes may "over-prepare" young children for primary school. They may become bored and uninterested in learning. Once that happens, it is difficult to make them love learning again," she says.

However, we recognise that the transition from pre-school to primary school is significant, and there are many areas we do need to prepare our children in, to ensure a smooth transition.
Getting ready for P1
Ask any parent with a primary school kid (or 5, like me) and he or she will be able to tell you that navigating primary school requires more than just being able to sit down with your books.

In a normal school day, they need to be able to pack their school bags according to the timetable, copy down homework in their homework diaries, start on their homework at the right time, communicate important information, remember to ask parents to sign consent forms, learn their spelling, pay attention in class, follow instructions, obey rules, wait their turn, adapt to change, buy food from the canteen, make new friends, handle disappointments, and so much more.

These are categorised as Executive Functioning skills. Instead of hoping that they will somehow 'get it', these skills can be improved with direct teaching. We had an interesting conversation amongst a group of teachers. The secondary school teachers assumed these skills were taught at the primary levels, while the primary school teachers expected P1 kids to come equipped with these "common sense" traits.

The fact is, during our generation, we picked these skills up via incidental learning. These days, children are receiving less face-to-face contact, supervision and support from both parents and teachers. Coupled with more demands placed on them, that is where the breakdown happens and many of these skills are not developed in children by the time they enter formal schooling at age 7.

Before they embark on their primary school journey, teaching children How to learn in a What to learn culture will go a long way towards helping them achieve their potential.

In our Primary 1 Prep camps, we cover the basics of Executive Functioning skills such as task initiation, organisation, planning and prioritising, flexibility, strengthening sustained attention, problem-solving, improving working memory and impulse control, amongst others.

By equipping them with skills and strategies which they can harness for all subjects, they will be able to handle the demands of our curriculum and forge ahead over the years. We want to give them that learning edge.

At each age level, students are expected to cope with an increase in workload and independence, and without a firm foundation and proper system, we may see a drop in performance, which usually becomes apparent at Primary 3 or 4.

Recent studies show that all children stand to benefit from developing these executive functioning skills, and school becomes less overwhelming and more manageable. We teach them how to plan their activities, make schedules, get started, and see them through. The goal is to gradually fade supervision and increase self-reliance.
#5's homework (P3)
In our fast-changing world, it is not enough to be book-smart. On top of these practical strategies, we hope to inculcate in them a growth mindset, where they are not afraid of challenges, see failure as a learning experience and have the resilience to keep persevering.

Whether they are eager or anxious in moving to a big school, this is the best time to frame primary school in a positive light. The role of an educator or parent as a mediator is very powerful, but often overlooked. Our teachers stand as a mediator to frame, interpret and draw attention to what the child is about to learn or experience, benefiting a lifetime of learning.

As we equip them with the necessary skills, we want our K2s to be excited about embarking on this new phase of their lives, taking pride in their work and taking ownership of their learning.

The gift we wish to give every child who comes through our doors is the knowledge that they are able. That they have it in them and can succeed in what they set their minds on, no matter how many times they may fail.

They will keep going. They will never give up.

And that, is the hallmark of a Little Executive.
P1 Prep Class
This year-end school holidays, we are bringing back our extremely well-received Astronaut camp, for K1 to P4 children. More details about the activities we did in a review by Debra, mum of Ryan (N2), about Astro Daryl's great adventure by A Pancake Princess, A P2 child -Dana's experience of learning Executive Functioning skills, and how we incorporate the Growth Mindset while the kids are having fun! The kids said it was the best camp ever, and some wished the camp lasted the whole year and they could come here every day.

Astronaut Training Camp: 13-16 December 2016
9am - 12pm: K1 - P2
2pm - 5pm: P1 - P4

Astronaut Training Camp
The kids who have enjoyed Astronaut Training camp are looking forward to our Dinosaur camp which promises to be just as exciting, as we trace how dinosaurs lived through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceons periods, while learning about evolution. This camp also highlights inductive and deductive reasoning skills, sequencing and problem-solving abilities, and is suitable for N2 - P4 children.

Dino Discovery Camp: 29 November - 2 December 2016
9am - 12pm: N2 - K2
2pm - 5pm: P1 - P4
Dino Discovery Camp
{GIVEAWAY} ONE HOLIDAY CAMP (WORTH $400)

To thank my readers for encouraging me as I embarked on this new passionI would be delighted to invite ONE K2 child to The Little Executive for our upcoming 4-day P1, Here I Come Prep Camp.

Date: 6-9 December 2016. Timing: 9am-12pm or 2pm-5pm.

In addition, I'll be extending 15% discount for all our year-end holiday camps.

Please email knockknock@thelittleexecutive.asia with the code "mummywee15" and details of your child or call 69801889.

For the GIVEAWAY, all you have to do is to:
  • Like Mummy Wee's Facebook page
  • Leave your name and email on this post in Facebook (you can choose to leave your email privately at mummyweedotcom@gmail.com)
  • Tell us how your child feels about entering Primary 1 - Excited? Anxious? Fearful? Happy?
  • AM or PM session
Giveaway ends midnight on 7 November 2016, and Kate will draw the name of one lucky winner, to be announced on our Facebook page on 9 November 2016.

Good luck!

The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229844
Tel: 69081889
(located near KK Hospital)




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





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