Thursday, 23 November 2017

PSLE Results: Good or Bad, what do you say?

2017 PSLE results will be released tomorrow. I was asked for my views for a CNA article, and what poured out was enough to write a whole post after going through this 4 times!

As the PSLE is the first major exam they face, we, as parents have an important role to frame this experience for them. How we guide them to view failure and success is crucial. Our children need to know that one failure does not define them; they can get up, dust themselves and try harder next year. If they have the resilience and tenacity, they will go far despite early failures.

Thus whether they do well or not, it is a window of opportunity to start talking to them about how they themselves feel about their achievements and what they did to get there. The discussion about the process is even more important than the end result of the grade.

I remember the day I collected my PSLE even though it was so long ago. My parents were not well educated and left us to handle our school life. They did not know when our exams were nor gave us any tuition or assessment books.

The day before the results were released, my dad who had never said much relating to school told me this: "No matter what, just come home. It's ok."

I didn't really know what he meant until the next day.

When we received our results, there were exuberant friends, crying friends and parents with grim faces.

My results were average, better in some subjects, worse in others. I didn't know what to feel, as there were friends who did much better and friends who did much worse.

What stuck with me the most, was that the aggregate itself didn't matter.

What mattered was that I could go home, not having to hang my head down or having to face the wrath of my parents. I knew they loved and cared about me, regardless of what was written on that paper in my hands. I felt safe. Several of my friends dreaded to go home, afraid of what their parents would say.

When I showed my parents my results, they acknowledged the good and the bad and told me simply to work harder next time.

These days, it is as much a PSLE mummy's journey as the child's, or perhaps there is even more at stake for mum. The time and money poured into sending them for tuition, having to face friends and neighbours who may be judging us or worries about our child going into an "undesirable" school.

But try to resist the urge to compare them to their siblings, label them as "lazy" or take it as an opportunity to unleash your pent-up emotions on them. I'll admit that I have done all of the above at various times with my 4 older kids. It's hard, but we have to restrain ourselves and not say things in the heat of the moment we might regret.

So what advice can I give to parents?

If your child has done badly, all the more, it is crucial for you to provide them with emotional support at a time when they are probably feeling lousy about themselves. They may have worked really hard, and are disappointed in their own grades. Or their close friends may have done well and are all celebrating and discussing exciting plans and looking forward to entering the schools of their choice. They may have cousins in the same year and relatives are patting them on the shoulder, telling them how smart they are or how wonderful they have done. It is not easy for a 12-year-old to experience and process all that is going on.

When one of my kids did badly for the PSLE, I had to bite my tongue. I wanted to scold her, "Watch some more TV la! Sleep late and don't concentrate in class!" My mind darted around, looking for things to blame - Our education system for being ridiculous in expecting all 12-year olds to be suitable for this narrow examination model, her teachers for focusing on quantity instead of quality, resulting in many of her classmates scoring between 180-210, the hubs for allowing her to watch Chinese drama with him and wasting precious time, our dog for her incessant barking, affecting her concentration. I had to exercise tremendous self-control and not rub salt into the wound as I knew she was already feeling awful.

There is no point in giving them a long "I told you so" lecture the day they get their results. Instead, take them out individually for a meal or an activity to show them that above all, you love them and value them, despite their result. Try to refrain from talking about the PSLE (I know it's hard!) unless they raise it. Then, when they open the conversation, go in for the kill! (just kidding). Talk to them about what they are thinking and feeling. They may be afraid of going to a new school all alone, especially if their group of friends all made it into the affiliated school. They may feel embarrassed, ashamed or upset that they have disappointed you.

Just imagine what they have gone through for the past year. All that stress, late nights studying, and expectations from parents and teachers, culminating in these 3 digits. Give them time and space to process their emotions. When they have come to terms with their results, you can move on to discuss how they can learn from this experience. What strategies worked for them and what did not, what are their areas of strengths and weaknesses.

For children who do well, it is also an opportunity to guide them. Acknowledge and celebrate with them if they had run the race and emerged triumphant! But instead of congratulating them as being a smart girl or boy, praise the specific effort and strategies which helped them to excel. #1 went from failing all 4 subjects at the end of P5 to scoring straight As in her PSLE. By putting in sustained effort and persevering despite the odds, it showed in her results. She was self-motivated and did 4 hours of Math practice almost daily, and went to her aunt's house every weekend to practice her Chinese Oral, going from being shy and having a limited vocabulary to being more confident about the language.

On the other hand, there are children who are able to ace our exams year after year either because their intelligence fits our education model or because they have been highly tutored. The danger comes when they move into higher education. Some children have never tasted failure, and when they do so, it could be at the A levels or University and they are unable to bounce back. Worse, they may go into depression or even attempt suicide because of self-imposed shame or despair as they are no more seen as being smart.

I was surprised but many bright kids I spoke to regret not putting in more effort and felt they were too complacent. Don't compare them to others saying things like, "Wow you did so much better than so and so." Instead, hold them to higher standards because they are capable of more. Tell them that you expect great things from them, and they should still strive to put in their best effort and achieve what you know they are capable of.

The PSLE may be over, but it is not the last exam or challenge they will have to face. It is in our hands to support and empower them to ready them for the next stage and beyond.

It's not going to be easy, but see it as an opportunity to help them take ownership of both their successes or failures. Good luck parents!

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?
#21 - Why I do not coach my kids anymore.



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

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

All that glitters is not gold

I haven't blogged in a long time. I've been busy. So busy that I only had an hour to whip Kate's birthday party up, just before her little guests arrived.

Maybe my next post should be entitled, "How to prepare an awesome birthday party in under 60 minutes."

I was going to put up a pretty picture of her birthday party and dedicate the post to her.

Afterall she turned 5. What a sweet little milestone.
Best buddies
But you know, with so much going on in my life right now, it kinda feels like a lie to just shine the spotlight on that one bright moment while brushing everything else aside.

So, plot twist.

Life has been running at a breakneck speed. I'm working a full work week now but I can't complain because I love what I am doing - I just wish I had more hours in a day. Like triple the amount.

The folks are also getting old and this is the time where things shift from having help in ferrying the kids around to having to ferry them around. We've been so lucky to have had their limitless love and support from day 1 and now is where the care is to be reciprocated tenfold.

And when you are running so fast, being pulled in every direction, you wish that everything at home is going just great. That somehow, the kids are behaving beautifully, so that you don't have to worry and can concentrate on doing what needs to be done.

Unfortunately, having a current houseful of unpredictable and hormonal teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 can make life very blustery.

One moment they are sweet, sensible, helpful young ladies, voicing opinions that I appreciate. Yet the next, they are moody or sensitive or in tears about something someone said.

My days are really long now. Our house seems to be running on two separate time zones. A too early morning start with noisy bickering younger ones while the other half of the house comes alive only when the sun blazes high (the kids in secondary school have already started their holidays. Already?)

These nocturnal animals who communicate in their own lingo are cheeriest between the hours of 8pm to midnight, and there's a mini party going on in the kitchen or their bathrooms most nights.

Then, they wake up grouchy. I asked a perfectly normal question with a smile, "Would you like to tell me your holiday plans now that school has ended?" Only to be answered with "Nope" and the offender casually resumed eating her breakfast.

And that was it! No explanation, no elaboration.

Breathe.

I need to keep calm and mother on, and re-present that question after 8pm.

No, actually, I gave it to her, telling her that it was an unacceptable answer and I expect a proper response.

It is tiring. Tiring to come home to little kids who need to be nurtured and watered, and big kids who look like they don't need you, pretend that they don't need you, but still need you as much as the little ones.

Maybe someone can tell me that it will all pass soon enough.

The truth is... this gig called parenting? It doesn't end. And it doesn't get easier. It gets - different.

So all I can do is to take a deep breath and mentally prepare myself for the long haul.

It's funny how people look at us bloggers with our shiny happy pictures and imagine that we live in a perfect world with model kids.

Honestly, how is that even possible?

Perhaps we should stop showing happy pictures of wannabe princesses and fake castles. But then again, we can't be snapping pictures of grouchy teens or quarreling siblings while in the midst of disciplining them.

So that in a nutshell, is our life at the moment.

Happy birthday my little one.

Life is magical when you are 5, isn't it?


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

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Giving Family Festival - TOUCH Community

Want to have fun, bond with the kids and do good?

Be part of TOUCH Community's 25th Anniversary celebration which promises lots of fun for the entire family!

Here's what you can expect:
  • Bumper rides
  • Game booths
  • Festival run
  • Snow time
  • Hands-on workshops
  • Live performances
  • Mouthwatering bites

Sure sounds like a whole heap of fun over the two days!

What's more, I'll be running a {GIVEAWAY}! Details at the bottom of this post.

WHAT: The Giving Family Festival

WHEN: 4 & 5 November 2017 (Sat & Sun) 10am to 9pm

WHERE: Singapore Sports Hub, OCBC Square

WHO: TOUCH Community Services

TOUCH Community Services is a non-profit charitable organisation dedicated to meeting the needs of the community. Over the last 24 years, they have been reaching out to individuals from all religions and races, including children, youth, people with special and healthcare needs and the elderly.

Your involvement will support the needs of more than 28,000 beneficiaries including vulnerable families, youth-at-risk, people with special needs and disadvantaged seniors.

Festive passes
Purchase your Festival coupons now at The Giving Family Festival

{GIVEAWAY} 10 Festive Passes up for grabs!

Each Festive Pass includes: 

*1 FREE Ride + 1 FREE Game + 1 FREE Hotdog*

5 Winners will be chosen at random - 2 Passes per Winner

All you have to do is hop over to my Instagram account to join the giveaway.

1. Follow @mummyweeblog on IG

2. Leave a comment, and tag at least 3 friends.

{Giveaway} Ends Sunday 22 October 2017 at midnight.

Let's do our part, and be part of The Giving Family!

See you there!

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


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

My daughter created a winning exam strategy

When #2 took her O levels last year, I knew it was a whole different ball game from preparing for the PSLE.

In 4 short years, they morph from caterpillars into butterflies. Beautiful individually formed strong characters, ready to flap their wings and fly.

But, along with the development of their unique and bold patterns, there are 3 areas we as parents have to come to terms with:

- They are no longer little children whom you can dictate to, and expect pure obedience (could we ever?!).

- Their phones are like an extension of their hand, which can't be forcefully extracted from them lest I am keen on igniting a war of wills. It can be used positively, or become a huge distraction.

- They have a life (with the prom being a few days away from the last paper not helping things at all) and their friends have a far greater sway than before.

I learned that it was futile to nag and scold, and I left her to figure out her own exam strategy. Instead, I watched from the sidelines and support and guide where necessary.

I made it a point to turn up for all her parent-teacher meetings, and was so heartened to see that her teachers were genuinely concerned for her. She was a child with a lot of potential, but she was very clearly an Arts student who loved her Literature and English subjects, but struggled with the Science subjects.

Her poor Chemistry teacher found it so hard to motivate her and even encouraged her to turn the boring formulas into songs and allowed her to bring her guitar to school to sing. When she received her results, she told me: "Mum, she was the only teacher who never gave up on me."

She devised this simple but effective strategy in the months leading up to the O levels.

She painstakingly wrote out every chapter of every subject on individual bits of paper, numbered and colour-coded them.

Once she had finished revising a chapter, she would move that piece of paper to the other side of the wall.

With this system, she demolished the chapters systematically. The brilliance lay in its visual cue, where you can see the number of chapters per subject left very clearly.

It was also highly motivating to see the bare side of the wall starting to fill up!

She was excited to take up the challenge of this crucial year and after the exams, she said, "It was actually quite fun to set my goals and study so hard." And her great achievement was sweet reward indeed.

I am pleased that my efforts over the past 15 years of guiding them to be independent learners have finally borne fruit.

And that I was able to give them a carefree childhood where tuition and assessment books are not a normal part of their lives, yet they have emerged to be driven and motivated teenagers.

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?
#21 - Why I do not coach my kids anymore.


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

Monday, 11 September 2017

What would I do if I had an 18-month old again?

I gave a talk to 80 families whose babies turned 18-months old. That stage feels like so long ago. My eldest is 18 years old! Gosh, did 18 years just evaporate like that? I asked myself: What would I have done differently?

I would have enjoyed them more.

I was hung up on certain things and was too engrossed in wanting to bring them up 'properly'. I was chatting with the hubs, and he has a whole different outlook of their early years.

He really enjoyed their company, and if he could turn back time, he would love to have a bunch of 5 little kids again. Initially when I heard that, I was going to jump at him with the "That's because I did all the work while all you did was play with them" line. However, as I mulled over it, it dawned on me that it was up to me how I chose to see the 'job'.

I saw the tantrums, the mess, the challenges. He saw their joyful responses, the spontaneous cuddles, the happy laughter. That's not to say he did not discipline them - he is the disciplinarian in the house. Rather, he never let one part affect another, nor his mood, which I tended to do.
Baby Kate
I would make time for myself.

A short walk around the block, a phone call to a good friend, a book in the park. I lived with a "not enough time" mentality for many years. I didn't even have time for a decent shower, let alone coffee with a friend.

Finally, I took a 2-week pilgrimage with my mum as she's getting old, and turns out, they could survive without me! I should have given myself permission to take an hour or so every fortnight, or even 15 minutes every day to care for myself. It would have helped my sanity tremendously in those trying days. A happy, recharged mum would definitely make a better mum, don't you think?

And most importantly, this is what I would do differently.

I would discipline them with love.

To discipline is to teach, and because guiding them was a huge part of raising these little people, I swung from a patient, loving mum to a yelling monster, sometimes in the span of minutes and sometimes it became a daily occurrence. With 5 kids under the age of 10, you can imagine how often my patience got tested.

With Kate, I have finally learnt that you can still love your child while in the midst of disciplining them. It was such a radical experience for me, to come from a place of peace and love, standing firm with her boundaries, without feeling my anger or frustration rising with each passing second! It starts with awareness and gets better with practice.

Since I can't turn back time, I can only share these hindsight notes with you :) Happy parenting your little ones!


Other discipline tips (which I've learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Tip #9: When the gramps can't say 'no'
Tip #10: 6 Tips to stop tantrums in toddlers
Tip #11: Who has the energy to discipline our kids?
Tip #12: What a day out with #1 taught me


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


Friday, 1 September 2017

KinderBike Morph Hybrid

Kate has been using her Kinderbike E Series for about 2 years and she's been zooming down slopes like a pro. I felt it was time for her to progress to the next stage of adding in pedals.

I contacted Tikes and Bikes and the lovely owner recommended the Morph. She explained that instead of moving to a bigger bicycle with pedals, a gradual transition would be for the child to get used to a bigger and heavier bicycle without pedals first, and once she is comfortable with that, the pedals can be added on.
Kinder Bike Morph
Kate's cycling journey began with her little red E Series when she was 18 months old, and she hops on to her niffy bike every time we go to the playground. It is light and very manageable even though she is pint sized.

It grew with her and I easily extended the handle bar and seat higher as she became taller. Most kids are ready to ride a proper bicycle with wheels when they are around 4-4.5 years old, as their coordination and gross motor skills are developed sufficiently by then.
Wheeee!
She was extremely excited to go down and collect her brand new bike. It came in a huge box, and as I was wondering how to carry it to the car, the lady asked if I would like it assembled. At that, Kate immediately whooped, Yes!

It was fixed up in a matter of minutes and she taught me how to convert the bike to the pedals when Kate was ready. I was thinking that I should have brought the hubs along, but was pleasantly surprised that it was a very simple 1-step maneuver to switch it from a balance bike to a regular bike.
Feels like Christmas
All you have to do is to remove the entire back wheel and replace it with another back wheel which comes with pedals.

Just a simple sliding action, pop in the screw and viola! It morphs into a regular bike with wheels!

It is a very sturdy bicycle, which offers a comfortable ride. The seat and handlebar are adjustable to grow with her.
Balance Bike

Once we were out the doors, Kate got on her new bike and pushed off, thrilled with her new set of wheels.

When we got home, Kate wanted to have a go with the pedals and I changed it back for her. However, she is still not used to the bigger and heavier bike, and could not balance herself enough to lift her leg off onto the pedal.

As we were advised, she needs to get the hang of this bike without the wheels first, the same way as she has been doing with her little E series, before trying to cycle with the pedals.
IMM
I'm certain this new bike of hers will share many adventures in the months to come!

We went down to their warehouse in IMM, but several bicycle retailers do carry their stock as well.

Tikes N Bikes
2 Jurong East St 21
#02-154 IMM Building (warehouse section)
Opens:
Saturday 12-6pm
Cash only.

Disclaimer: We were sponsored the KinderBike Morph Hybrid. All opinions are our own.

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

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

My BEST Parent Teacher Meeting EVER

I dreaded to attend #5's PTM. Every year, his teachers complain about the same things. He doesn't pay attention in class, blurts out irrelevant things while the teacher is talking, is always fiddling with something, does not hand in his work on time and can't file his worksheets properly.

They have tried everything - the soft approach (talking to him nicely), the hard approach (scolding him), punishing him by making him stay back during recess to finish his work, but nothing works.

In their eyes, he is a mischevious and problematic student.

While walking into school, I seriously contemplated turning back. I don't have to subject myself to another round of complaints from his teachers, exhorting the same problems. I can already hear it coming... "He talks too much, is distracted, likes to do his own things."

But I took a deep breath and as the PSLE is next year, I wanted to keep tabs on what he's been up to in school.

I entered the classroom with trepidation. Finally, it was my turn.

Mrs Lim, his Science teacher sighed and said, "You are xx's mum..." (yes, she did let out an audible, resigned sigh. I'm sure I wasn't dreaming it).

I looked at her pleadingly like ok, give it to me straight.. what else am I going to hear this time. Let's get it over and done with.

She started with the same old. "He doesn't pay attention and is always busy fiddling with his pencil case and I have to confiscate his things."

I probed further. "What do you mean by not paying attention?"

Now I'm almost an expert on attention issues, having seen all permutations of kids who come to my enrichment centre because they are bright but not reaching their potential.

Sitting across his teachers trying to figure out his learning behaviour made me realise how much firsthand experience I have gained in this one year by being the bridge between hearing from parents and seeing the changes in the kids by isolating their problems instead of seeing them as being "naughty", "lazy" or "distracted".

I wanted to get to the root of the problem so that we could work together to help him.

Mrs Lim elaborated. "Halfway through my lesson, he will stop listening and do his own things. Thus when it comes to doing the worksheets, he does not know what to do because he has stopped listening."

Ah, he had the same problem last year and his Math teacher discovered exactly what was happening. She said that the first time she introduces a new concept, he is interested and will be listening attentively. But when she repeats herself the second or third time to cater to those who did not fully understand, that is when he will switch off and start fiddling in his pencil case to create something. She realised that he understands concepts easily and gets bored when the lesson is moving too slowly.

So his Math teacher decided that she would let him fold his origami quietly if she has to repeat herself for the other students. This is better than him turning to his friends to start chatting. So long as he is not disturbing anyone, it was a reasonable solution.

However, because he has switched off, he would miss important information and thus would not be able to complete his homework. She would then call his attention before issuing instructions. It took her many months, but she finally figured him out. In a class of 40, it is not easy to move everyone along at the same pace, thus it is inevitable that some students fall through the cracks.
#5's tinker corner
Mr Tan, his form teacher, had been listening quietly as I chatted with Mrs Lim and he finally chipped in. This is the first time #5 has a male teacher and I was keen to get his perspective.

I asked him directly. "Is he naughty in school?"

"He is not naughty. Yes, he is playful and very active and tends to talk loudly. But he is not what I'd call naughty. In fact, he has a caring side. When classmates do not understand their work, he will explain to them."

Music to my ears! Finally. A teacher who could see past his challenging behaviour, and in turn, he probably behaves himself better in Mr Tan's class.

He asked me what he does at home and I described how he likes to while away his after school hours tinkering with engineering concepts.

He starts by looking at the manual, but would toss it aside and freely create what he envisions in his mind. He would spend hours cooped up in his room and has no problems being able to focus on a single activity for several hours.

He built this structure and allowed Kate to place the little balls at the top and watch them drop into the collection cup he fashioned. He patiently problem-solved and shortened or lengthened the various threads and added or removed segments of the track to align it at the precise height for the ball to turn smoothly. He must have adjusted it a few hundred times! Such perseverance.

He explained to me that it should not roll too fast (or it will fly off course) nor too slow (as it will come to a halt). After playing with the same structure for a few days, he will dismantle it and start dreaming up something new.

Mr Tan said simply. "#5 is a bright boy. He is creative and inventive. He has lots of ideas and can lead others. The unfortunate thing is, he will perhaps not thrive in our local system, but I think you don't have to be worried. I am certain he will have a bright future. Are you considering sending him overseas?"

I asked him, as his English teacher, how can he tell that he is intelligent? He explained that when they discuss open ended questions, it is usually #5 who can come up with a fresh idea and he is able to back it up with a logical reasoning.

Mrs Lim, on the other hand, was concerned that this term, he has become even more inattentive. As we discussed further, she said that they are spending time covering answering techniques.

That explains it. She said that #5 is attentive when she is teaching a new Science topic. But when she teaches them how to answer the questions using the correct key words, he is not interested in listening.

Can I fault him? Should our exams even be thus? Nothing more than drilling and regurgitating, and giving the examiner the correct key words they are looking for?

As for his other 'bad' behaviour like blurting out in class, not filing his worksheets in the correct order and not handing in his homework on time, these are weaknesses in his executive function and that is a whole different set of skills altogether that is hard to address adequately in school.

I was never able to pin point them until now, and am actually relieved to discover that he is not just being lazy. He has poor verbal impulse control, lacks time management and organising skills and is weak at task initiation. Really need to work on these with him.

It was a rather strange PTM. 3 seated at the same table, coming from 3 different standpoints.

Mrs Lim was very worried and stressed that the PSLE is next year, yet he is so "unteachable".

Mr Tan who didn't quite know what to say to this parent, as he seemed stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is a part of this system, a system which is glaringly inadequate to support these mavericks, yet he recognises the different learning styles and needs of the students.

And me. A parent who wishes our education system was more progressive. I have thought long and hard about it and have made peace with the situation. We live in this country we call home, with family and friends around us, and we will stay put. It's a pity that our education system is evolving at such a snail's pace and our children are wasting too much time learning to ace exams.

It is something I have never conformed to and have decided that I will not subject #5 to it, at the risk of dampening his love of Science and of learning.

I will not force my round peg into a square hole. It is not worth it. I am prepared for whatever score he might get for his PSLE and I know it is not a reflection of his abilities nor intelligence.

I will be sure to let him know that too.

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?
#21 - Why I do not coach my kids anymore.


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



Monday, 14 August 2017

Rock Climbing at Railay Krabi

We went rock climbing in Krabi during the June holidays. From Krabi International Airport, it was a smooth 45-minute drive to Ao Nang. From there, we took a longtail boat to Railay, a climbing paradise with hundreds of different routes catering to beginners as well as experts.

The majestic limestone cliffs form part of the world's largest coral reef, stretching from China to Papua New Guinea, offering spectacular views for climbers. My kids enjoy rock climbing and were excited to try the real thing.
Railay
At Ao Nang, we picked The L hotel mainly because of its location. It sits in the middle of Ao Nang Beach Road with the boats anchored directly across the road. There are shops and dining options flanking it, and this stretch is livelier than Nopparat Thara Beach.
The L Hotel
We bought tickets from the booth at the beach front, which cost 100THB (approx S$4) per person. Buy your return tickets from here even if you are staying at Railay for a few days otherwise, you'll have to haggle with the unlicensed operators when you depart.

It was low tide and the boats were unable to come close to shore so we had to wade out. We should have donned our swimwear underneath our clothes. The water level was around our waist when a wave washed up, adding to our adventure!
Not so sure if I wanna climb..
It was a picturesque 15-minute ride from Ao Nang to Railay as we soaked in the sights of the massive limestone cliffs. Railay is only accessible by boat due to the cliffs which surround it, and there are no cars on this isolated peninsular.

We stayed at the Sand Sea Resort, and as our boatman alighted us at Railay Beach West, the resort was right in front of us. Perfect.
Longtail boat
Checking in at reception, we were dismayed at the poor attitude of the service staff. Instead of the typical warm greetings you would expect from the Thais, they were curt and unfriendly. Perhaps Railay is getting a little too touristy.

Our rock climbing session was booked online with Krabi Rock Climbing school, and in the email, I requested to be picked up at our resort. Our instructor was punctual and it was a 5-minute stroll through the sleepy "Walking Street" to his shop for the kids to be geared up.
Walking Street
I didn't expect Kate to climb as the minimum age stated in their website was 5 years old and she's only 4, but seeing her older siblings don their harnesses, she stood in line. We were amused that they did have tiny shoes small enough to fit her as she's rather petite.

Everyone was handed a bottle of mineral water and off we went. Don't forget the insect repellent and sunscreen!
Krabi Rock Climbing
It was another 10-minute walk as we were led through the middle of Railay to get to Railay Beach East. Being the start of the monsoon season, there were fewer than 20 climbers there. We were fortunate that the weather held out for us despite thunderstorm forecasts and we could enjoy Railay without peak season crowds.

He briefed the kids and #1 went first. They said that the difference between this and the artificial walls back home was that these walls were much rougher on the hands.

Our instructor gave the kids clear instructions when they were unsure which foothold to reach for next. Each route took about 10-20 minutes and he kept shouting encouraging words to motivate them to reach the top, and the girls managed to complete their climbs.

I'm glad they persevered and pushed past their limits to reach the rings where he anchored the ropes. It's a great sport to build grit and resilience.
Posing for a pic
They took turns, resting between climbs, and progressed to the more challenging routes. The kids were exhausted but really enjoyed it. Faces flushed, beaming with a sense of achievement.

We had purchased the half day climb, which was from 2-6 pm. The morning climb starts at 9 am, which was too early for the teens. The good thing about the afternoon climb was that the sun was starting to wane and it wasn't too hot. It costs about S$45 per person for the 4-hour climb.
Descending carefully
The kids had no problems with the descend as they knew how to use their legs to kick off the wall, but we did see a lady who did not do it the right way and she swung around and her body hit the wall. It is best for kids to get some experience with the artificial walls before coming here.

Railay East is not a proper beach and you can't swim nor play sand. We spotted longtail boats alighting and departing from this side as well, and unlike the West, there is a stone path which leads out to the boats, keeping you dry.

There are pros and cons of staying at either side of Railay. Railay West is nearer to the rock climbing walls, and you won't get wet when alighting from the boats, but you would have to trek across to the other side to hang out at the beach. For us, the accessibility to the beach was the main reason we decided to stay at Railay West.
Railay Beach East
Kate was content watching her siblings ascend and descend, but when it came to her turn and she was hooked onto the rope, she suddenly burst out crying. I asked if she wanted to climb just a little bit and she wailed, "Noooo!" We all laughed and her maiden climb ended even before it began.

I came prepared with a picnic mat, snacks and drinks which came in really handy as the kids started to get hungry after all that climbing and I didn't want to leave them and walk to the convenience store to look for food.

The ground is uneven and the stones are very rough so you have to be careful especially with younger kids. Kate made up her own game of stepping up and down the strange looking rocks.

I brought a spade and she whiled away the hours digging around the hard sand. I was also equipped with wet wipes, extra water to wash their hands, a towel, ponchos, sunblock and mosquito repellent. It drizzled for about 10 minutes but stopped as quickly as it started.

#5 is not as adventurous as the girls but he did try his best and enjoyed the experience too. He was more curious about the limestone cliffs and just had to climb into the little 'hole' to check it out. Many of the routes are shaded by the other cliffs and it was a rather comfortable climb.

We returned the gear and headed back to the beach. The younger ones played in the sand while the teens had fun bopping with the waves.

I had a wonderful time doing nothing and simply enjoying the laid back paradise. Glad we came during the low season as the beach was not crowded.

The sunset was spectacular and it was surreal how the beach goers sat in silence experiencing this simple marvel together. Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched the sky dance in a myriad of colours for a good half hour.
Stunning sunset
The rest of our time at Railay was spent frolicking on the beach, building sandcastles and enjoying the gentle waves.
Railay Beach West
With so many kids in tow, I did not venture down Walking Street for local food. We had all our meals at the beachfront for convenience. There was a wide variety on the menus, from local to Western to pizza and pasta but the prices were typical hotel prices.
Railay Bay Resort and Spa
The kids are keen to return to try the different climbing routes and we'll set aside time to explore the interesting limestone caves on kayaks or stand up paddles.
Little Kate
Maybe the next time I come back to Railay, I'll be brave enough to try rock climbing. Till then! xx


Related post: Why I took 6 kids on holiday by myself

Another paradise: Maldives - A most memorable vacation

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

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