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Ben Kao Enrichment Homelearning fun Learning fun! Reviews

Exploring vocabulary through My World of Words [Review]

June 19, 2015

I guess one of the good things about being a language person is that it translates to being a mom that’s extremely particular about vocabulary building for your kids. I am big on making sure my children have a rich deposit of words in their vocabulary bank and make it my mission to introduce new words in English (and in Chinese too) wherever we go.

Like telling Ben, ‘Look, the snake is slithering up the tree. And it’s sticking out its forked tongue.’

So a snake doesn’t just move. It slithers. It doesn’t just have a tongue. Its tongue is forked.

Or telling Becks that there are many shades of pink. It can be bright or dull in its simplest. But it can also be luminous. Or fuscia. There’s bubblegum pink, coral pink, flamingo pink. And no, it’s not good to say Mama has pink cheeks but rather she’s applying blush.

And so am I glad that Scholastic sent these Ben’s way – because here in this house, we’ve all gotta be building our vocabulary foundation well, brick by brick so that we can speak a little more descriptively in English!

These books provide early and transitional readers (see the type of readers here) a very colourful experience of reading thematically through picture stories, as well as discovering specific meanings and definitions of nouns and verbs. There are some simple writing exercises, creative writing tasks, as well as fun activities like crosswords that follow each picture story, and is a very good resource to hook a 6-year-old up with.

First, a picture story

First, a picture story

Then reading the definitions and filling the numbers into the blank bubbles

Then reading the definitions and filling the numbers into the blank bubbles

And then trying out the suggested activities

And then trying out the suggested activities

What I really like about these books is that they provide the plural form of each noun beside each noun description; and like a good dictionary, they have sentences to illustrate the meaning of every verb and noun. There is no differentiation between US English and UK English as well, because the book follows Standard English, covering a range of nouns and verbs used the standard way. There’s really nothing to complain about, because the book is really thoughtfully and colourfully designed to educate and enrich the early reader. Perhaps some sticker-activities, to keep the little hands occupied, would be my humble suggestion.

My World of Words and My World of More Words can be found in major bookstores.

Disclosure: The books were sponsored by Scholastic Education for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are our own.

Enrichment Learning fun! The Kao Kids

Rise & Expo: Giveaways, a discount code and more

August 13, 2014

The Rise & Shine Expo is back this year, and it’s promising to be bigger and even better, with double the size of 6,800 square metres as compared to last year’s and plenty of shopping fun, enrichment trials and entertainment.

R&S_A3 Disney Poster 08JUL

Rise & Shine 2014 is happening next weekend from 22 August to 24 August 2014 at Suntec Convention Hall 401 – 404, and just like last year, this is one event that can proudly claim to be the only parenting event in Singapore dedicated to nurturing our children holistically. We still have fond memories of drawing and colouring fish in “Colour My Feeling” last year, the first record-breaking colouring contest in Singapore, and spending a couple of hours visiting booths and meeting mascots.

Ben and Becks a year ago, at the Rise & Shine 'Colour My Feeling' Colouring Contest

Ben and Becks a year ago, at the Rise & Shine ‘Colour My Feeling’ Colouring Contest

Where I also got to judge entries from a different age category

Where I also got to judge and pick the winning entries from a different age category

Once again this year, we can all expect a fun funfair and lots of booths offering exclusive discounts on enrichment classes, preschool programmes, toys, books, children apparel, organic food products, as well as an enriching event packed with parenting workshops and trial classes for craft and cooking, sports, the performing arts, as well as literacy and academics offered throughout the weekend. There are also stage programmes and fun activities lined up for the kids too throughout the fair, so it looks set to be a weekend that’ll be meaningfully fun!

As Rise & Shine’s partner blogger, I’ve been given the privilege to:

  • Host 2 trial passes for 2 classes of my choice

—  I chose sports trials at Ready Steady Go Kids, a multi-sport and exercise programme (with 3 trial time slots to choose from) and Krav Maga Self Defense System, a practical self-defence system developed in Israel (with 6 trial classes to choose from)

— Usual price for a trial class: SGD10 + $50 worth of goodie bag

— Usual price SGD15 for single, SGD 20 for couple

So…

If you wish to utilise the discount, enter MOTHERKAO in the Promotional Code when you register for the 2 programmes I’ve chosen. The same promo code applies to the parenting workshop.

Or…

Participate in the giveaways here on this blog using the Rafflecopter App! (Ends 18 August, 12am)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s going to be an exciting weekend for the young and old, so see you at the Rise & Shine Expo this year!

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Enrichment Learning fun! Reviews

Cookies, anyone? [Review of Rush-Me-Not Art Studio’s Holiday Workshop]

June 12, 2014

Making home-made play dough has been at the back of my mind for the longest time since I attended a course on teaching children writing. Getting the kids, especially preschoolers who are starting to write, colour and draw, play with dough is one the best ways to strengthen those little fingers.

And so I made a mental note to remember to make DIY play-dough with the kids this holidays and to sign them up for any dough related classes (baking, clay modelling, whatever) at the nearest community club  if it’s affordable.

And then I forgot and it’s now the second week of the June holidays.

Thankfully – and I say it with gratitude to God and to the people who invited us Rush-Me-Not Art Studio asked if we would be keen to review their ‘Sweets For The Sweets’ clay modelling workshop. The workshop promised to be a fun and tactile experience for children aged 3 and above as it would involve kneading, moulding, pinching and shaping clay to make colourful cookies.

And so to Novena Gardens we went on Tuesday. It was a three-hour drop off class and I was told that Ben and Becks would be in good hands. Here at Rush-Me-Not, the teachers and principal firmly believe in keeping classes small so that they can give the children their fullest attention, along with constant positive reinforcement and encouragement so children can pick up art skills in an enjoyable, therapeutic manner.

I didn’t worry much because when I saw the glee in Ben and Becks’ eyes when they found out they were going to be moulding clay and painting on it, I knew they would certainly be having a good time.

And they did. The folks at the art studio sent me these pictures as testament of the learning and fun they’ve had while at the workshop:

Rush-me-not Holiday Workshop_Clay modelling_1

Rush-me-not Holiday Workshop_Clay modelling_2

Rush-me-not Holiday Workshop_Clay modelling_3

On Tuesday, I had two very proud kids. Just look at what they’ve accomplished in three hours!

Sweets for my Sweet

Those little Kao fingers got their much needed practice for their fine motor skills despite their forgetful mother, got their kneading and moulding fix, and their creativity unleashed painting and patterning on air-dried clay. No wonder they were happy and excited the whole day. They would be glad to tell the whole world they made “cookies”, these children.

Thank you, Rush-Me-Not Art Studio, for inviting Ben and Becks to such an enriching workshop. Now at least if we don’t have the time to make play-dough, I would be happy that they did at least mould some clay this June.

And I know I’ll do good to remember the words of Principal Jealina who shared with me that when it comes to art, never rush the children!

More details:

Rush-Me-Not Art Studio is a Singapore-based holistic art studio that aims to provide an inspiring environment to adults and children alike in their exploration of art-making. Having been around for ten years, the art studio focuses on providing quality coaching, quality art materials and keeping class sizes small so that self-discovery, character development, expression and recreation can be experienced through visual arts and the fine arts.

Rush-Me-Not offers a variety of art-therapy workshops for children and parents, as well as regular classes and holiday programmes. They also believe that children can start learning art young, and even conduct Baby Art classes for 2 to 3 year old toddlers! For more information about their ongoing curriculum and programmes, you can get in touch for trial classes via email at rushmenot.artstudio@gmail.com or call them at 6256 1449. Connect with Rush-Me-Not via FB for the latest news and updates on their workshops and activities.

Rush-Me-Not is located at:

  • 273 Thomson Road, Novena Gardens #03-02, Singapore 307644 (Tel: 6256 1449 | 6254 7398)
  • 195A East Coast Road, Singapore 428900 (Tel: 6348 8608).

AND JUST FOR MOTHERKAO READERS, RUSH-ME-NOT HAS A SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR YOU!

Here’s not one but FOUR specials for you:

1) Quote [Motherkao] when calling Rush-Me-Not Art Studio and enjoy a free trial class (worth $40)

2) Sign up for 2 holiday workshops and get to enjoy 5% off the total fees

3) Sign up for 3 holiday workshops and get 10% off the total fees

4) Form your own groups for any holiday workshop with 2 or more friends and everyone gets 10% off the workshop fees

More details on holiday workshops here.

Here’s what’s offered this June holidays:

RMN Workshop 1

RMN Workshop 2

RMN Workshop 3

The holiday workshops run till 30 June 2014.

Disclosure: Ben and Becks were invited to one of the holiday workshops conducted by Rush-Me-Not Art Studio. We didn’t receive any monetary compensation for this but we got lots of clay cookies and some snacks to fill those hungry tums while moulding clay. All opinions here are my own, and after a thorough interview with the two excited and proud participants mentioned.

All this blog's PR Stuff Enrichment Learning fun! Reviews The Kao Kids

Learning how to improve children’s writing at Lorna Whiston

June 5, 2014

In April / May, I was invited to attend a short course for five weeks at Lorna Whiston to learn strategies to teach young children to write.

I declined the invitation at first. For two hours every Monday from 6.45pm to 8.45pm, at the busiest two hours of the peak period at home, I would have to leave my husband and the helper (and then we didn’t have one for a while even!) to handle dinner, tired kids and tuck-in. No mother would want to put anyone except herself through that. Even if it’s once a week. Or for five weeks.

But I eventually accepted the invitation for three reasons. #1: It would be a good break away from the kids at the busiest time of the day (how about you kids learn to handle life without Mama for two hours huh?); #2: I need to acquire more strategies in my arsenal to interest Ben and Becks to start writing (since we’re starting on our reading already); #3: I can’t wait to learn from the experts.

Course title

The five-week course addressed a few key questions: How do children learn? What teaching methodology will best support children’s learning? How do we create a supportive writing environment? How do we get children started on writing?

And when they do pick up a pencil and start to write, how do we develop a wider vocabulary with them? How can we get children to plan and structure a story? What can we do to teach them how to start and end a story effectively? What are the stages of writing development?

Being a home-teaching mom who is actively involved in my children’s learning, especially for the English Language, I do already have some ideas and strategies up my sleeves. Attending this course gave me more ideas, more strategies to tweak and adapt for my own children and helped clarify some doubts I have regarding how children learn.

This writing course was also helpful in that the trainer, the Head of Teacher Development Unit at Lorna Whiston, meticulously planned and customised his sharing to our children’s developmental and learning needs. There were four of us mothers in the course, and we all had children of different ages ranging from two years old to nine. And as we interacted, we discovered our children had different needs and challenges, and as we shared them with the class, Jonathan also provided his expert opinion and shared resources and strategies to help with those challenges.

Lesson in progress 1

Lesson in progress by Jonathan Cooper, Head of Teacher Development Unit

Lesson in progress 2

In class, we learned how to evaluate writing based on a ‘Success Criteria’

It was a suitably tailored course with plenty of interaction.

A good deal of learning and relearning took place during those five weeks for me, and it helped me to evaluate some of the things I’ve been doing with the older kids. The course also reminded me about returning back to the fundamentals of role modelling and reading.

Here are five things I took away from the course, which are particularly needful at this stage of my children’s learning development at 5 and 4 years old:

1. Create a print-rich environment at home

One of the key things to create a supportive writing environment at home is to start by creating a print-rich environment. There should be an easily accessible library, lots of pen and paper lying around, attractive displays of their writings, labels that accompany visuals, word maps and charts, and lots of big books for sharing and enjoyment. Creating this is the first step to get children to associate fun with words and words with fun because the home is now literacy-rich and words are everywhere.

For me, it’s a reminder that I need to constantly create and recreate this at home – even though it means that the house looks like a classroom now. Time to change some of those posters and put up new displays on walls.

2. Don’t stop reading to your child and with your child

Reading to and with our children helps them build their vocabulary. And as long as the child wants to read to, regardless of how old he or she is, we should read to them. When they don’t want us to read to them any more, there should be time set aside to read together.

3. Bring back the play-dough and monkey bars

I hate play dough. I hate the mess it creates and the cleaning I have to do after. But I have to bring it back. Kneading dough actually helps strengthens those little fingers and prepare them for writing. During outdoor play, get children to swing on monkey bars to strengthen their grip and develop those muscles.

Time to bring the dough back for play!

Time to bring the dough back for play!

Ok, time to encourage my monkeys to swing and to make some DIY play dough for the kids.

4. Scribe by highlighting to create storybooks authored by your child

This is one tip I learned which I found especially useful. If our kids can’t write or spell yet, we can still get them to imagine up stories and put them all on paper – with us as their scribes!

I tried this on Ben recently and it was a hit with him. I put some paper with triple lines together and asked him to author a story book. What does he want to write about? Who’s going to be in the story? What’s going to happen? Then as he told me his story, I took a highlighter and wrote out the sentences for him, after which he took over by tracing what I wrote with the highlighter.

Writing his story

Writing his story

A Fun Party by Ben Kao

A Fun Party by Ben Kao

Doing this also allowed him to practise penmanship and learn the basic structure of a story – that every story has a beginning where characters are introduced, a middle where something happens, and an ending. And best of all, he loves writing now, and wants to create more storybooks.

5. Always model. Children need good models.

Children need to see adults write, whether it’s a shopping list, a note for someone or a birthday greeting. When they see that, they wouldn’t be averse to writing so much. Yes, so it’s time to put down the iPad and phone – because typing a text message is not writing – and start picking up pen and paper in front of the kids to scribble something.

Samples of guided writing by different ages shared with us at the course

Samples of guided writing by different ages shared with us at the course

Also, every element of story writing requires specific teaching and modelling. So it’s important to share good stories with children, and possibly even use bad examples to show them what not to do.

Recent reading research tells us that preschool teachers and parents should be systematic and explicit in their support of literacy skills, which means that things should not be left by chance and teaching should also be organised according to developmental milestones. So if it’s time to teach how to start a story, make it explicit and expose the child to as many story starts as possible. Plough through a story to learn vivid verbs if the child is at the stage where he needs more vocabulary to create the element of excitement in his story. Bottomline is: as parents, we need to model, we need to teach. Don’t leave things to chance.

All in all, fruitful learning took place for me for five weeks and I am going to gradually introduce some of the writing strategies to the kids as we chug along in our homelearning journey. If you’d like more information about the adult courses Lorna Whiston runs, you can connect with them on their FB page, visit their website or contact them at 6251 7662.

This was the course I attended

This was the course I was invited to attend

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Improving Children’s Writing course conducted by Lorna Whiston Study Centres for 5 weeks. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are my own.

Becks Kao Ben Kao Enrichment Happy days Learning fun! Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

It’s the sound of music!

March 31, 2014

It’s time to start the kids on their music journey. We’ve been waiting for Ben and Becks to turn 5 and 4 respectively, and since it’s going to be happening this year, we thought we’d begin.

A family friend gave Ben a recorder on his birthday and taught him how to blow some notes. It’s been noisy ever since, since the others also think it’s the longest whistle they can ever blow!

I haven't see a recorder since my primary school days!

I haven’t see a recorder since my primary school days!

And someone thinks it's a whistle!

And someone thinks it’s a whistle!

A good friend also lent us her piano, and I’ve started the kids on piano lessons at home. I initially had grand plans to teach my own kids (c’mon, Mama started learning at 5!), but gave up that ambitious idea because I really didn’t know how to scaffold their learning to help them understand the theory of music. I don’t even remember how I learned when I started; and all I am left with right now is a bunch of knowledge all jumbled up and rolled together in my head. It’s a challenge for me to teach the kids what I know because I no longer am able to relearn and break it down into easy-to-understand lingo for my completely clueless kids.

Hence the decision to get a teacher.

I must say, I really like the interesting ways their piano teacher is teaching them to identify the keys on the piano, as well as the engaging ways in which she gets them to understand the theory part through clapping, tracing and colouring. Check out how she places a little cat on the C key, a dog on the D and an elephant on the E with a dog house covering them all, so the kids recognise a pattern.

These little fingers are playing the piano, and I am really excited for them

Here's Ben learning the 'Good Morning' song

Here’s Ben learning the ‘Good Morning’ song

And Becks is learning 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'

And Becks is learning ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’

We also bought a set of drums but that would have to wait while we get going with their piano lessons for a while more.

Hopefully by Christmas, we can have a live band performing.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Enrichment Learning fun! Reviews The Kao Kids

Steady progress at Eye Level (+ trial passes giveaway!)

March 18, 2014

Ben and Becks have been learning at Eye Level Learning Center for three months now, and I’m really happy with the kids’ progress in Math.

Actually, I’m also happy to be outsourcing this to their patient and caring teachers and get some time to myself every Wednesday afternoon, even though it’s just sitting outside the centre to wait for them. At least I get to read kdrama recaps, snack on OCK and chill for a while. Ha.

But I digress. Yes, as I was saying, I’m really happy with the kids’ progress because I think they’ve gotten their foundation in the basics right these past three months. Before starting at Eye Level, I’ve taught Ben to count using his fingers and counters and by making him count out loud, but here at Eye Level, they’ve done something even better. Through the activities in the activity booklets he does every lesson (and one more weekly for homework), his teacher guides him to add and subtract mentally (no fingers! and I hear the finger-way is kinda wrong!) and has taught him to count up to 120, and even doing it backwards (to help him understand subtraction). Concepts are revised regularly, and new concepts are introduced with a lot of scaffolding and practice, and then revisited in different ways.

Here’s how Ben’s learned addition up to 2 numbers in a variety of ways:

The activity booklet is designed to cover each concept in a variety of ways to keep the child engaged

The activity booklet is designed to cover each concept in a variety of ways to keep the child engaged

At Eye Level, they also provide regular progress reports to keep parents updated. I like that the teachers there care enough to work closely with the parents and even provide a paragraph worth of comments on how the child is learning in class:

I get frequent updates after class, as well as consolidated reports like these

I get frequent updates after class, as well as consolidated reports like these

The best part of all these is not that I have a 5-year-old who can count big and add or subtract. Really, if you know me, I’m not a mother who lives to brag of such things. The best part for me is that these are learned without any blood (boiling) on my part, and sweat and tears on Ben’s part, and that most importantly, Ben is enjoying Math stress-free.

Because sometimes I can demand so much from my own kids teaching them. And that actually stresses them out a lot.

Looking at Ben through another classroom's window: see how much glee there is!

Looking at Ben through another classroom’s window: see how much glee there is!

As for Becks, she’s learning to count up to 10 through activities like story telling, colouring, cutting and pasting and sticker fun at Eye Level’s Play Math Programme – and the little girl is enjoying herself much too. She’s learning to count objects properly and systematically (and in fun ways while at it), as compared to haphazardly – and that to me, is great news.

Just look at how beautifully illustrated these counting activities can be from the Play Math Programme!

Just look at how beautifully illustrated these counting activities can be from the Play Math Programme!

Prior to attending lessons at Eye Level, Becks would throw tantrums just because I corrected the way she counted (she would point at objects randomly and double count most of the time). There were two things that didn’t work in our favour back then a couple of months ago: she was temperamental (even after exiting her Terrible Twos, yes) and I’ve got a pretty short fuse. Now that she’s three-half, she’s a lot better with those tantrums and I’ve learned also to be gentler when it comes to correcting her. Plus, I’ve also got a win-win situation here whereby Becks attends lessons at Eye Level and gets undivided attention from a very patient teacher whom she likes a lot.

Which translates into her liking Math a lot more now than before.

Becks getting ready for class

Becks getting ready for class

We’ll be continuing our lessons here at Eye Level for a while more because I like their systematic curriculum, the way learning is paced to be progressive and the fact that there’s a lot of proactiveness on the teachers’ part. Most of all, I like the idea that Ben and Becks are learning in an environment that’s fun and stress-free, but at the same time developing so much confidence in their thinking ability.

Thank you, Eye Level, for inviting us to review your excellent programmes!

Here’s something special for Motherkao readers, courtesy of Eye Level!

If you’d like to have your child attend trial classes at Eye Level, I’ve got THREE one-month trial passes for ANY programme at any Eye Level Learning Center located in Singapore for three readers of this blog.

You can choose from one of these programmes: Play Math (suitable for ages 2.5 to 4), Math (for ages 4 to 14) and English (for ages 4 to 14) at any of their learning centres islandwide – check for a location near you here.

*Do note that your child would need to take a diagnostic test before the commencement of the trial because Eye Level’s curriculum is designed to be progressive by levels.*

To participate for the random draw, all you need to do is:

1) LIKE Eye Level’s Facebook Page

2) LIKE Motherkao’s Facebook Page (if you haven’t already done so)

3) Leave me a comment here telling me the age of your child, the programme you’d like him / her to attend and your preferred location

Don’t forget to leave your email address so we can get back to you. Giveaway closes on 31 March 2014.

We’ve randomly picked… AND CONGRATULATIONS TO THE THREE WINNERS!

Eye Level Giveaway Winners

Disclosure: Ben and Becks have been invited to attend Eye Level’s Math and Play Math for a term of three months (and now another three more months!). Motherkao has accepted sponsorship for her reviews of their programmes and endorsement of the centre. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own (with input from Ben and Becks).

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Enrichment The Kao Kids

Review: I Theatre’s The Ant & the Grasshopper

March 7, 2014

Last Saturday, we caught the The Ant and the Grasshopper at Jubilee Hall, I Theatre‘s very first production of the year. Based on Aesop’s famed fable, we were told that The Ant and the Grasshopper would be fast-paced, interactive and full of fun, with an unexpected twist.

TAAG_Ben and Becks

And so it was what we were promised indeed.

The show was an engaging 55 minutes filled with happy songs and witty dialogues (love those bee puns!) and there was even a segment where the kids had to get up and exercise with Mr Grasshopper! The insects – the two Miss Bees, Miss Ant, Mr Grasshopper and Miss Caterpillar (and a special guest appearance by Miss Ladybird) – chattered, bickered, laughed, sang and danced all through summer, and learned the important lesson of having a balance (not ALL work and not ALL play, yo!) and embracing change through the bitter cold of winter.

The simplicity of the story with colourful characters (we love the bees’ costumes!) was what won Ben and Becks over. They are familiar with the story and the moral behind it, but the kids especially love how the characters all came alive (and there were side stories that were also hilarious and touching at the same time, like the one about Nessa the Caterpillar resisting change but morphing into a beautiful butterfly) which made the story meaningful for them.

TAAG_Press photo1

TAAG_Press photo2

TAAG_Press photo3

They couldn’t help chattering about who their favourite insects were long after the performance was over. Ben tells me that he learned that “there’s a time for work and there’s a time for play” when I asked the kids what they took away from the story, and Becks says, “Mama, if people don’t have food, we must share with them. I like Ant because she shares.”

Who would have thought that we could learn some of life’s valuable lessons from insects?

TAAG_Cast

More details:
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper is suitable for children (3 years old and up) and families, and is on till 15 March 2014 at the Jubilee Hall. Tickets from Sistic.
  • I Theatre is a non-profit organization which exists to create top quality theatre for children and families. Since April 2008, I Theatre has been a registered charity and an Institute of Public Character. It relies almost entirely on ticket sales to support its work of four quality productions annually. To support ‘Theatre For All’, email team@itheatre.org.

Disclosure: We were given media passes to The Ant and the Grasshopper. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are mine.

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Enrichment Learning fun! Reviews The Kao Kids

Learning the Eye Level way: Math Programme Review

February 3, 2014

Ben is enrolled in Eye Level‘s Math Programme and has been attending their once-a-week Math lesson for two months now. At each lesson he attends, he’s basically exposed to two things: Basic Thinking Math and Critical Thinking Math.

For about an hour or so, he would complete the two tasks (two booklets for each lesson that his teacher would give him) under the close supervision of his teacher. Teacher Emily reads him the instructions in the booklet, guides him when he needs help and teaches him the key concepts for each lesson. However, unlike in a private tuition setting, she doesn’t hover over him for the entire time he’s there. She also attends to other students in the class who may or may not be at the same level and standard as Ben, and together with other kids, everyone present engages in self-directed – but heavily scaffolded – learning.

Ben in class with his teacher and another older student

The classroom setting: Ben in class with his teacher and another student

I was told the ratio of teacher to student for the Math Programme is 1:8, but at Ben’s timeslot, Teacher Emily usually handles 2 to 3 students (including Ben) at one time. Which is great, I think. Not too many to distract him (he can get very distracted, alright), but enough to spur him on to sit down and concentrate, just like them. It’s also good that the kids are also older, and he learns from their example.

This setting, which he’s exposed to once a week, is proving to be extremely beneficial for me at home. At home, Ben is now able to sit down on his own to complete his work (he gets homework to revise the concepts he’s learned at Eye Level). He doesn’t need me to accompany him anymore (*finally*) and is able to cancel out distractions from his siblings all by himself to complete his work.

Ben completing his work at home

Ben completing his work at home

Hurrah for self directed, independent learning, I say.

Eye Level Learning Center’s Math Programme is designed to help students improve their mathematical thinking and problem solving skills by enabling them to master concepts each step of the way as students progress through the curriculum. For now, Ben has got his numbers 1 to 110 all settled in terms of counting (in order and in tens), writing, ascending and descending orders and simple problem solving (involving counting). He’s moving on to addition and subtraction this month – something which he is already acquainted with – and I can’t wait for the programme to extend this learning for him, simply because I am really bad with teaching anything beyond simple math. Hurhurhur. 

He also tells me he enjoys Critical Thinking Math more, because it’s “more fun and interesting”. For critical thinking, he gets his spatial sense, depth perception and problem-solving and reasoning skills developed with puzzles, blocks and shapes and math games that are very well designed to engage young minds.

Basic Thinking Math at Level 10 (counting from 1 -20): Ben did these in December

Basic Thinking Math at Level 2 (counting from 1 -20): Ben did these in December

A glimpse from the pages of one of the Critical Thinking Math booklets: Ben learned patterns here

A glimpse from the pages of one of the Critical Thinking Math booklets: Ben learned patterns here

Like I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, the kids really look forward to going for Math enrichment every week – Becks is at Play Math (and I shared my review of the programme here) and Ben at the Math Programme (SGD$120 for a once-a-week lesson, and SGD$150 for twice a week). I’m just really glad they’ve been offered this opportunity because it has gotten them interested in Math, all thanks to the fact that the programmes at Eye Level are so thoughtfully designed to engage the little ones. I don’t remember being so happy learning Math at preschool – what with all the forced memorisation of multiplication tables and assessment books – and I am heartened to have my preschoolers like numbers and even finding it fun to count.

AND JUST FOR MOTHERKAO READERS:

Eye Level is extending a promotional offer to all Motherkao readers! For $10 (usual price $60), your child can take the diagnostic test, attend a trial lesson (30-45 min) and get a complimentary study skill analysis.

Eye Level $10 voucher

Simply quote [Motherkao] to enjoy this offer via walk-in to any of the Eye Level Learning Centres island-wide. You can also leave a Facebook message on Eye Level’s Facebook Page or make a telephone enquiry to any of the Eye Level centres.

Disclosure: Ben and Becks have been invited to attend Eye Level’s Math and Play Math for a term of three months. Motherkao has accepted sponsorship for her reviews of their programmes and endorsement of the centre. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own (with input from Ben).

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Enrichment Learning fun! Reviews The Kao Kids

Learning the Eye Level way: Play Math Programme Review

January 21, 2014

The kids have been attending Math enrichment classes at Eye Level Learning Center at City Square Mall for more than a month now and they are always looking forward to their lessons. It’s like a routine they anticipate weekly, with us either driving or taking the NEL down to Farrer Park followed by an engaging lesson with their respective teachers, complete with getting their fruit reward stickers and some play time with blocks and counters at the centre’s play corner after class, and then have the day end with a treat of Hongkong Egglet from our favourite stall at Basement 2.

Becks attends Eye Level’s Play Math Programme where she gets to experience mathematical concepts in a fun and engaging way. Play Math is a programme specially tailored for ages 2.5 to 4 years old and is aimed at laying the foundation for developing a preschooler’s understanding in Math. The child learns how to sort, match, classify, count and recognise patterns at Play Math.

And the best part of this progamme? It’s a one-to-one lesson (about 30 -45 minutes) with the teacher, and done through story-telling and lots of sticker fun!

At every lesson, Becks receives an activity booklet which is filled with colourful illustrations that follow a story. Each activity booklet is designed to help her advance in her understanding of mathematical concepts like correspondence, sorting and classifying, comparing and counting according to levels, and the level for her to begin with was first determined using their diagnostic assessment which she sat for in December.

Eye Level_Play Math Fun for Becks 2

Becks getting ready for class and having her lesson with her teacher. Every lesson involves counting, tracing, cutting, glueing and lots of stickers!

Fun times (clockwise): Becks playing after class while waiting for Ben and peeling off stickers for her reward chart

Fun times (clockwise): Becks playing after class while waiting for Ben and peeling off stickers for her reward chart

The girl started at Level 33 and has now progressed to Level 38.

Here’s a glimpse of what’s in the activity booklet that she gets to do with her teacher at Eye Level Learning Center. I had the opportunity to take her through one activity booklet at home recently (she was given homework for one of the public holidays as the centre was closed) and we had a fun time together with it.

In this activity booklet, Becks learned the numbers 1 to 3 through a circus story about unicycles, bicycles and tricycles:

Eye level_Play Math Stories

Very captivating illustrations to engage a preschooler, I say

The activities that follow include getting her to group items, count, and put the corresponding number of stickers for the things she’s counted:

Eye level_Play Math Activities

Becks favourite part has got to be  peeling stickers off and putting them in the book

She also got to practise drawing lines and strokes which would help her develop good hand-eye coordination and better control when she starts writing her numbers:

Eye level_Play Math Activities_Join the dots

This ‘follow the circle to the the square’ kind of activity appears several times in one booklet – this is to teach the child to read and write from left to right, help in hand-eye coordination and strengthen the finger muscles so she gets better control when writing her numbers

We had a good time doing this together. I sat next to her and read her the instructions and she proceeded to do every task rather happily, although she did say her teacher was more animated when reading the story than I was. I can tell she really enjoys doing every booklet – from the one time we did it together at home, and from my interaction with her after every class. She gets to bring home the activity booklet after every lesson and would sometimes come home to erase some of the things she’s done so she could do them again at home. That’s how much she likes it!

I would say that Eye Level has scored some wins with their Play Math Programme, which I find engaging and value for money (at SGD$140 per month). Firstly, the lesson is conducted in a one-to-one setting and an experienced teacher is assigned to the child to take her through the booklet in a fun way. Secondly, the booklet itself is designed to keep the child engaged for at least 45 minutes with its colourful illustrations, stories and activities. Thirdly, the child gets to bring the materials home so she can revisit what she’s learned from the week’s lesson, thereby solidifying the learning and keeping the interest alive, at least till the next week where she gets to read another story, meet new characters and work on different activities.

Who would have thought we could learn Math this way? I’d thought my counting lessons were quite fun, but I have to admit that Becks is having a fun-ner time at Eye Level, and I’m really glad that she was invited to attend lessons there for a term (hurray for the opportunity to outsource!).

Note to self: must.find.more.creative.ways.to.teach! but until then, thank you, Eye Level Learning Center for the kind invitation!

AND JUST FOR MOTHERKAO READERS:

Eye Level is extending a promotional offer to all Motherkao readers! For $10 (usual price $60), your child can take the diagnostic test, attend a trial lesson (30-45 min) and get a complimentary study skill analysis.

Eye Level $10 voucher

Simply quote [Motherkao] to enjoy this offer via walk-in to any of the Eye Level Learning Centres island-wide. You can also leave a Facebook message on Eye Level’s Facebook Page or make a telephone enquiry to any of the Eye Level centres.

Disclosure: Ben and Becks have been invited to attend Eye Level’s Math and Play Math for a term of three months. Motherkao has accepted sponsorship for her reviews of their programmes and endorsement of the centre. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own (with input from Becks).

Christmas happiness Enrichment Going Out! Learning fun! Motherkao loves...

Oh December, you were too short

December 29, 2013

December has got to be the shortest month in the year. Time always flies whenever we’re having fun.

This December, we made some really beautiful memories together. Memories of the wet, dramatic and crafty kind.

In the first week of December, Ben and Becks were invited by Little Harvard International Preschool to join their ‘Christmas Crackers’ Speech and Drama Holiday Programme. We were told that the programme would be conducted by Daniel Jenkins, one of the executive directors of The Little Company and associate assistant directors at the SRT. I’ve heard of the name Daniel Jenkins in the theatre circles for a long time, and know that he’s a legend in his own right. I couldn’t wait for Ben and Becks to meet him and learn from him, and so to Little Harvard International Preschool at Jalan Gelenggang we went for the Speech and Drama Holiday Programme every morning for four days.

And I have to say, this was the best holiday programme we’ve ever attended. Ben and Becks loved it so much, they were ready and raring to go every morning. They absolutely loved Daniel Jenkins, or ‘Teacher Dan’ as the kids address him (or the uncle with the grey hair, as Becks endearingly call him). He makes them laugh, he plays fun games with them, they do craft together and get to pretend to be elves and reindeer. And he does that every day to the point they lament the fun at class is too short and wish they could go back for speech and drama “every day forever”, or so Ben says.

They were no tears, no need for long and sad goodbyes every morning when they were dropped off for the programme. And it was so wonderful I got two-half hours of me time for a few days!

For four days, they learned songs, did craft and practised for a mini concert on the last day. Every child got to play elf, reindeer, fairy or snowman, and all of them helped Santa spread the Christmas cheer!

So, I was really glad it was a drop off programme!

So, I was really glad it was a drop off programme!

It was indeed amazing to see Ben stand confidently, deliver lines and get into his role as an elf. And even more amazing to see Becks do the same. You’re talking about Becks, who’s almost always too shy to greet a person with confidence. She was one happy bouncy reindeer at the performance!

Introducing Ben the Elf, with his two other elf friends

Introducing Ben the Elf, with his two other elf friends

And Reindeer Becks who would be helping Santa with his sleigh

And Reindeer Becks who would be helping Santa with his sleigh

LittleHarvard_Christmas Crackers Performance 1

The children sing, “Here comes Christmas our favourite time of the year!”

LittleHarvard_Christmas Crackers Performance 2

And do a “Ho Ho Ho!” with a huge leap in the air!

And best of all, it got the kids excited about Christmas, this being the first week of December. With their craft work, we got decorations up and an elf and reindeer in the house all ready to spread the Christmas cheer. What an awesome job Daniel Jenkins did, and I must say, he’s really a legend indeed!

Everyone, meet the legendary Daniel Jenkins

Everyone, meet the legendary Daniel Jenkins

On the second week, the kids were also invited to Artz Graine, a leading arts studio, for their Art Eureka Holiday Programme. In the hour they were there, they made Christmas stockings to put up so that Santa can leave some presents in them.

Of course, these kids are too smart to know that Santa doesn’t exist and their stockings are too small for any presents.

Artz Graine Christmas Stockings

But all in the name of good fun and just cos’ it’s Christmas!

Our family also headed to Festive Hotel for a staycation on the third week of December. I’ve heard so much about the hotel’s deluxe family suite and when I chanced upon a 50% offer on the room rates, I had the suite – complete with a pull-out sofa bed for two, a loft bed and a king-sized bed – booked immediately. My favourite parts of the staycation had to be eating at Chili’s and spending the morning exploring the Hard Rock Hotel’s poolside that had water play features, a child-friendly slide, a jacuzzi and an entire area filled with the finest Australian beach sand.

There's nothing not to love at the Hard Rock Hotel's Poolside!

There’s nothing not to love at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Poolside!

The kids are into getting wet now and not as fearful of spraying water features and wading pools as they were before, so it was all very fun, fun, fun!

Two days of swimming at the Festive Hotel Pool and the ones at Hard Rock Hotel

Two days of swimming at the Festive Hotel Pool and the ones at Hard Rock Hotel

And just when we thought we’ve gotten enough of getting wet, Port of Lost Wonder at Sentosa sent us an invitation for a day of getting wet and to join them in their Christmas Joy activities.

Our tickets to fun at Port of Lost Wonder

Our tickets to fun at Port of Lost Wonder

Oh how we missed you, POLW!

Oh how we missed you, POLW!

We had ourselves another crazily fun, wet day at POLW, running around and in and out of the huge pirate ship, making Christmas candles and gingerbread cookies when we wanted a break from the spewing waters, and running around and in and out of the huge pirate ship again when we were done exploring the various activity stations.

Making Christmas candles

Making Christmas candles

We made some gingerbread cookies for our snack!

We made some gingerbread cookies for our snack!

We all got a couple of sun kisses that day, but hey, we ain’t complaining cos’ God gave such beautiful weather to play!

Lovely weather to play all day

Lovely weather to play all day

And to end the month on a sweet note, we had the most awesome Christmas party with the awesomest of company. They came, we ate (or rather, pigged out) and carolled. So spontaneously and melodiously.

P/S to my friends: So I wasn't allowed to put on youtube to make you all overnight singing sensations but you guys didn't say anything about being on my blog. Haha. Everyone's sketched so you shouldn't be too recognizable, yes?

P/S to our friends: So I wasn’t allowed to put you all on youtube to make you  overnight singing sensations but you guys didn’t say anything about being on my blog. Haha. Here’s the only picture I have of everyone singing.

And so ever happily. We are truly grateful for such wonderful friends and family in our lives.

December was NO WORK, ALL PLAY. One can never get enough of December!