Friday, January 22, 2010


It's really fun when now that Eliza's older and she can play better on her own.

Read an article on NPR that "Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills". Play is quite a hot topic these days isn't it? While i'm planning to plan things for Eliza to play, she really doesn't ever come to me and complain that she has nothing to do. She'll just hop on to another activity, regardless on whether it's a ok thing to do or a no-no (like opening the fridge to check out its contents, we have recently put a child-lock on the fridge to prevent her from doing so cos it was becoming too electricity wasting and distracting). Sometimes she'll ask me to play with her and sometimes she's quite happy on her own. Most of the time i realized, we are the ones who join in on her play. I'm asked to play when she is threatened by another kid nearby, or legos which we have always been playing with her on it.

Anyway to quote that article:
"Organizing play for kids has never seemed like more work. But researchers Adele Diamond and Deborah Leong have good news: The best kind of play costs nothing and really only has one main requirement — imagination. "

It is isn't it? Imagination.
I do think that Eliza's only on the early stages of imagination and it's too early to expect that from her but she has her own ways and ideas of playing without me even guiding her. While she does a lot of copying from us, somethings she does surprises us.

""It's interesting to me that when we talk about play today, the first thing that comes to mind are toys," says Chudacoff. "Whereas when I would think of play in the 19th century, I would think of activity rather than an object."

Though at home i wonder what activity she can do other than tinker with her toys. She loves playing bouncing/throwing/rolling balls and it always sets her really excited. I do find that when i bring her downstairs to the playground and the park she also has her own ideas about where to run off to, with some prompting from me on what can or cannot be pick up. Once i give her the freedom to do so she'll be more or less of to her devices. Else, at times she's a little afraid of somethings like bugs and big kids and even adults.

"It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.

Unfortunately, the more structured the play, the more children's private speech declines. Essentially, because children's play is so focused on lessons and leagues, and because kids' toys increasingly inhibit imaginative play, kids aren't getting a chance to practice policing themselves. When they have that opportunity, says Berk, the results are clear: Self-regulation improves.

"Because of the testing, and the emphasis now that you have to really pass these tests, teachers are starting earlier and earlier to drill the kids in their basic fundamentals. Play is viewed as unnecessary, a waste of time," Singer says. "I have so many articles that have documented the shortening of free play for children, where the teachers in these schools are using the time for cognitive skills."

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all."

I remember one of the most fun things during my pri school days was recess and after school when we do manage to beg our way out of the house to play downstairs. I do remember always teaming up with my cousins to beg our grandparents to let us go downstairs, to the school nearby to play at the physcial fitness equipments and look at the small farm that was there. We threw leaves into the small drain that was teaming with the after-storm water to see and chase it while it floats away and improvise from there. We played a lot of chasing games though and i always lose out to my very nimble cousin, that made the challenge more exciting and rewarding when i did win him though.

Oh well...i'm not sure if that helped us in anyway, but it was really memorable. Still can you measure play? I don't really think so and the results aren't always the most obvious. I do believe it works with a secure home foundation as well.

thank goodness our pre-schools here aren't going to be regularized. Cos after that it's not as fun when the exam stress comes in.

Obviously i knew who was the one who did it. She left me this "straw chair" after taking out the straws in the drawer, poking it in there and ran off, leaving me to find this. I was quite amused.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We have on and off always been talking about education in SG / for Eliza. And some of the books i've read have been really an inspiration. Ww is not for early schooling and if possible homeschool or have her in a good school (not the usual ones you can find in SG unless it's a International school..but then again, i have no idea what and Int' school is like anyway).

Still, it is hard to resist comparing with or keeping up with the educational flow that's going on here. A lot is about the results. (ask a teacher and the many awards their school they go after) Somewhere in pri school, i also knew that it was the results that i needed to achieve, it wasn't good getting below 75marks. It's hard to draw the line between the real learning or the learning to get the results. And we didn't want to put her in a system like that, that it is all about succeeding, getting the grades (yes even when the school is not blatantly saying it's about the grades). And me being part of the system, can't help but feel like that at times too. Now that Eliza's still young, these things are far far away. Still it's one of the major things we'll be going through as she gets older. I am not too certain whether i want to send Eliza to playgroup/preschool, but Ww is sure that she doesn't need to till she's at least 3. (any hopefully if we do go overseas, i may have no choice but to do pre-school homeschool..which isn't all that bad).
When i read an article from a mum's blog, and showed it to Ww, the more he's sure school isn't necessary for Eliza at this age. (check out the 2 links which the mum put in the blog). I remember him mentioning about it that kids pick up bad habits from kids and it is the adults that they pick up good habits from, even before he read it.

“We find that attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their kindergarten teachers” (Loeb et al 2005).

We might guess that the problem lies with poor quality preschool centers. But even high income children—-who presumably attend the better preschools—-showed increased behavioral problems if they had attended at least 15 hours a week (Loeb et al 2005). Moreover, the effect is dosage-dependent. The more time children spend in centers, the worse their behavior becomes.

Researchers found that the more time kids spent in non-maternal care during the first 4.5 years of life, the more behavioral problems they developed."

Anyway, on another note, I love the principles by Charlotte Mason, quote:
"Her method, the Charlotte Mason method, is centered around the idea that education is three-pronged: Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

By “Atmosphere,” Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that atmosphere makes up one-third of a child’s education.

By “Discipline,” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits — and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education.

The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

For example, Charlotte’s students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in story form by one author who has a passion for the subject. A living book makes the subject “come alive.”

She taught spelling by using passages from great books that communicate great ideas rather than just a list of words.

She encouraged spending time outdoors, interacting with God’s creation firsthand and learning the living ways of nature."

Sounds quite fun actually. The schools that follow CM's methods have schools in the morning and the afternoons is left for play outdoors. If education was like that, would not it be so much more fulfilling? would not it be so fun? You've got to read her books to get a better sense of what this is about.

I'm currently reading "For The Children's Sake - foundations of education and school" by
Susan Shaeffer Macaulay.

Hmm...the next thing I'll need to do is to quit my job.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Potty training prep

Here we go on another potty training trial again. I mainly left it there after our last attempt...cos she was refusing to sit and i didn't know what to do. I thought i'll try again after our phuket trip so as to save me the trouble of potty training during the trip.

Last week, we got a new potty so that i can put one in my bathroom and one at the kitchen bathroom. And we tried sitting on it when i went to the toilet. She did sit twice that day. And the next day twice as well. The problem with that was that she didn't allow me to close the toilet door! And i had do that if there were people in the house. By the third day, she already blatantly said no and ran away! any further attempts ends up in tears.

There's no way i can force here to sit. It'll be a super bad idea.

I've read many articles that the child has to be ready too for potty training but honestly, some signs are hard to tell. She can somewhat pull down her pants but her big diapers always add that extra barrier. She can't be dry for 2hrs! by 1hr she would have prob wet her diapers big time. Really, i've got no idea how ready we all are. I just guess we'll give it a go.

I'm trying to get my mil to help me in this, but i'm not sure if she has done it yet. Cos now that i'm back to work, i really don't have the time to do so. So i'm gonna get my mil to practice going to the toilet with Eliza and getting her to sit on the potty. So hopefully by friday, we can start potty training more formally. At least i'll have 4 devoted days to do it. So no outings for this coming week.

this is kinda scary for me cos it's new territory but i'm prepared for all the bribery and praise and rewards. let's hope Eliza is too.