Monday, September 11, 2017

A reflection: Term 3 of Primary 3 – I want a happier child

I want a happier child. And by that, I am saying that I want a well balanced child who has time to reflect, moments to dabble in her interests and even quiet moments to be bored. Dumpling is in P3 now and the workload this year has been tremendous so I cannot imagine how things will be like in the next 3 years.

The irony is that I work with teachers and leaders who work with children in the early formative years, where we often celebrate uniqueness and creativity; where we are reminded to respect each child’s expressions and feelings. So how is it that once they hit Primary school, all things come to a halt and rote learning and endless worksheets and homework seem to be the way to go?

I recall that while growing up and attending lectures (during Uni and Poly days), there was much talk and in a way, comparison, between our youths versus those in Western societies. Most often than not, “creativity” and “entrepreneurial spirit” (the lack of) are two areas which are often brought up.

How do we, then, encourage children to develop these skills? Because it seems to me that most of my friends and I “learnt” through rote learning and worksheets while growing up. So how is it that as a nation, we are still using a similar approach 30 years ago when everything else has evolved? And how does that encourage children to think out of the box and problem solve when everything is so structured? Can creativity and critical thinking skills even be cultivated? 

Honestly, I have no idea. But I would think that a self-directed learner has a higher chance of being a more creative child with more out of the box ideas than one that has been constantly exposed to just an instructional / didactic approach. When a person is engaged (regardless of age), “active” learning takes place as the person is more inclined to read up, research and learn more about that topical interest. Similarly for children, they are more likely to experiment and dabble into things when they are engaged. However, to do that, children need time and loads of it to reflect and to ponder.

Dumpling, being homeschooled at a young age, was encouraged to pursue and read up on whatever that catches her fancy and till this day, she still has a very keen interest in “Ancient Civilisation”, “Mythology” and “Social Studies”. She finds the lifestyle of the Mayas and Incas fascinating as the same with Greek Mythology. And in the same breath, she’s shared with me that in Norse Mythology, the days of the week were named after their gods and goddesses. For e.g. Friday is named after Freya and the day was known as Freya Day while Thursday is named after Thor. How fascinating that is. :)

While watching a documentary on Jane Goodall last evening, the narrator mentioned a place, Tanganyika, which Dumpling shared with me that it is now known as Tanzania (Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar and the country was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.) And I was blown away. 

So I made a decision to reschedule Dumpling’s classes and to free up more time for her after school. Why? Because I want to have a happier child. And more importantly, I have realised that while Dumpling does well academically, I have learnt that if I were to continue to push her towards maintaining that academic excellence, she’d just be textbook smart where she'd regurgitate facts but I recognize that we both want more than that or she'd not be the inquisitive and passionate child that I know and that I love so dearly.

Image result for jack ma parenting quotes

In an interview that Jack Ma did, he shared that he does not need his son to be the top three in his class as “only this kind of person [a middle-of-the-road student] has enough free time to learn other skills”. That was a pivotal learning point for me. For any child to continue to excel academically and to be able exercise that level of precision during exams is to practise, practise and practise some more. But that also means that the child is limited to only that academic exposure and nothing else.

Now, I do get that practice makes perfect but why are we so fixated on only that version of “perfection”? And why is it only results centric?  

The only answer that I can come up with, is that "perfection" is the version most of us were measured against when we were studying. So that same “value” we have pegged to results is the same value we are using to measure our child’s success and even the “standards” of schools here (elite versus neighbourhood schools). And Singapore, having gone from a third world country to a first world in 50 years, further cements that "results" is the panacea. So, the system can’t change because in a way, we can’t. Unless we see beyond the value of "just grades" and recognize that our children are all created different and we should celebrate that diversity, then likely, this will always be an academic rat race. 

Image result for fish to climb a tree

Dumpling and I had quite a few chats on the rescheduling. This is in a bid to leave her with more "tinkering" time - be it doing some online reading / research, or working on one of her subscription boxes, doing her SCRATCH coding or start work on her stop animation project. Of course, the slight sense of unease is still there but I trust that the future world values things BEYOND grades. 

Sure, grades will open up some doors and maybe opportunities for them but I also believe that other traits such as grit, being able to work well in teams, to lead, creativity, etc., will bring her further in life. 

I recently told her "baby, I don't need you to always be the top 3 in class ya? You know that right?" To which, I am very heartened to share that she said "yes, I know. Because you want me to just be happy and to do things which make me happy." 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Giveaway: Chinese eOracy HomeKit!

Chinese Oracy is one area that I cringe when it comes to exams and tests. Like most Singaporean children, I think that Dumpling is not as fluent as she should be when it comes to chatting in Mandarin. I have been more intentional lately when it comes to engaging her in conversations in Mandarin as she still has 病句. It is more about practice to build up the competency as well as right usage of words. 

So as a parent, how do we start and where do we start from? Especially since there’s been a change in the Oracy requirement for PSLE; where the format is now an e-format, using video clips and where the marks are now 25% of the total score

I then chanced upon a home kit – eTutor eOral Exam Pack by the creators of eZhiShi (and “newspapers” such as 新朋友which I believe many of the Primary school children are subscribing to). I decided to buy the set (retailing at $69) to try it out.  

:: What the pack consists of:
A Guide Book and a USB Drive

In the USB, it consists of:
-          5 video conversations 
-          10 animation conversations 
-          15 read aloud 
The USB card also consists of e-oral procedure and simulation, oral prompts and reference answers. 

Guide Book:
The booklet is an e-oral guide which shares tips on scoring for the examinations. 

:: How it works
The USB drive comes in the form of a “card” where we need to insert it facing this way. 

Your laptop / PC should read the drive and there should be a pop up screen with folders inside. For most, you should be able to set it up by clicking “autorun”.  However, as I am not the administrator for the laptop which I used to try out this card, I had to then click on the “” folder and then double click on the icon where it opened up this screen below:

After loading it, the page below should pop up:

The eOral pack, as seen above, has individual sections where you can work with your child directly on reading aloud, video conversations, etc. There is also a complete "end to end" mock experience (eOral Simulation) which leads from "read aloud" to "video conversation" seamlessly.

:: The main sections:

1) Read aloud
The format looks very similar to the portal and in this USB, there are 15 read aloud passages.

Your child can then choose to read on his/her own or click on the "readaloud" button where a narrator will read it and as he/she does, the font colour changes, assisting the child to follow the "flow" better.

The great thing is that even if  you are not around as your child attempts it, you can get him/her to record the reading (red button) and you can review it later. In the event if there's any assistance needed, a quick click on the "question mark" will yield a "help guide" (below):


2) Conversation practice
There are 10 "scenes" used in this animated clips with different 生活单元 for discussions with your child.

Each conversation practice has 3 sections to the discussion (indicated by the numerals below) and like the other sections, this also allows your child to record his / her answers. Your child can also choose to read the text to the oral prompt given. 

Importantly, for some children who need more support as they are unsure of how to proceed, a sample "answer" is provided - both the text as well as someone narrating it. 

3) Video Conversations
Besides the 10 animated clips, this eOral pack also includes 5 video recording. I understand that more clips will be added after a quick call with the company :)

Like the animated clips, these also has 3 sections to the oral prompts. 

4) eOral Simulation 
Lastly, there is an eOral simulation which brings the child through an "end-to-end" Oral Examination experience - Reading aloud + the conversation after watching the video clip. 

You can view a sample of the video clip here as well as a simulation of the procedure at the same link.

:: What I like about it

Convenience & Content
Honestly, this is #1 reason because I believe many of us will have challenges being able to get our hands on the resources to be able to view any video / animated clips. To have this in a ready format brings convenience to a whole new level as it is basically a "plug and play" hit.

Additionally, I really like the content as it is based on authentic experiences (生活单元) where I believe that it is easily understandable and relatable to children.

Content flow
The flow is thought through properly and Dumpling was pretty much able to navigate through easily. While Dumpling may not be at the level of the suggested vocabulary (this goes up to P6), I thought that it is a good exposure for her.

Guide Book
Importantly, this set comes with a guide book where the questions and the suggested answers are printed in it.

This makes it easy for us as we have a hardcopy to readily refer to as it provides a "compilation" of the activities and model scripts in it. :) 

I am pleased to share that I have 3 x eOral Exam Pack (worth $69 each!) to give away! 

Terms and Conditions
  1. The products are kindly sponsored by E Com Education International Pte Ltd and the giveaway is not endorsed, or associated with Facebook.
  2. The products cannot be exchanged and are not exchangeable for cash
  3. Please answer this question in the comments section below: “What are you doing to encourage / support your child's Oracy skills at home?”
  4. Winners are to collect  (during office hours) from Monday to Friday at: 33 Ubi Ave 3, #03-23, Vertex Building, Singapore 408868

Disclaimer: My eOral Exam Pack was a personal purchase where I found it useful and collaborated with E Com Education on this giveaway. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

REVIEW: Little Red Hood 小红帽

Little Red Riding Hood is certainly a familiar tale in many households being as well known as it is. But watching it in Mandarin and with some modern twists to the story? That’s certainly something of a different experience which the kiddo and I had a chance to preview, 2 weekends back!  

:: The story
The play starts with Little Red’s family running a cake business – 甜心蛋糕屋. Business was thriving and the family, happy. Little Red’s father would deliver cakes to “Grandma” from time to time until one day, Little Red’s father did not return after leaving one such afternoon and this is where the adventure unfolds…

Little Red was well played as the actress exuded the same sense curiosity and the bubbly personality I’d imagine the storybook character to have. Along the way, she met Wolf (好狼, who pretended to be kind) and later, Woodcutter. Like the story, Little Red unwittingly gave away Grandma’s address to the cunning wolf. However, unlike the original story, the woodcutter is a bit “Dory-like” (as Dumpling puts it) because he seems to have short term memory loss hence he brings along a HUGE journal which he documents people he met and experiences he had along the way as a reference point.

The play had many funny and interactive moments which had the audiences shouting away. The wolf, though sly, did not appear scary but instead, I found myself laughing at his antics (and his smooth dance moves I must add ~ just look at the photo below!)

The story becomes interesting as we see an unlikely hero in Woodcutter when he and Red pair up to save the day… So what happened to Grandma and who, exactly was the wolf?

:: What we like about the play
Compared with Nightingale, this Mandarin play I feel; is a lot more suitable for younger children. Perhaps it is because it is such a popular fairy that it is easily understood even with younger children. As the entire play is in Mandarin, it is a good way for children to grasp and be exposed to the language in a fun and interactive manner. The songs were quite catchy and the famous lines were also translated "smoothly" to Mandarin which had the children in the rows in front of me, repeating them. 

Idioms and "strong" vocabulary were used during the play (一落千丈、吃盐多过吃米), which I feel, for the older children such as Dumpling who is in Primary 3 this year would gave them a more in-depth perspective on how these 成语/好词好句 can be used in her descriptions and compositions. 

I got Dumpling to add on her thoughts in Chinese for this review too:


Keen to catch the play and introduce Mandarin to your children in a fun way? Here's the event details:

Event Date
Thu, 20 Jul - Fri, 1 Sep 2017
Weekdays: 10am
Weekend & Public Holiday: 11am & 2pm

You can purchase tickets here

Disclaimer: We were invited to watch the play by Singapore Repertory Theatre so that we can give our opinions on it. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Review: Dive Degree Scuba Try Out for Kids

I attained my Open Waters licence many years back before the kiddo came along. I recall the blonde moment when I got into the waters and I realize how different the feeling and scenery as compared to watching on TV.

Most of the time, when I watch TV programmes where there are underwater scenes; it is always somewhat a flat landscape with corals. However, nothing quite prepares you for the moment when the schools of fish swims in front of you and parts like a silvery curtain or when you see that it’s more than flat / low land with corals.

I had the chance to do snorkeling with the kiddo a few years back and thankfully, she was quite into it and was fascinated by what she saw. The hubs is a divemaster so this is one area which he is quite enthusiastic about letting the kiddo try out and have the chance to bond with her. So we were naturally excited when invited by Dive Degree for the kiddo to have a chance to do a Scuba Tryout!

:: About Dive Degree

Dive Degree is set up with the vision to deliver the ultimate dive experience and is committed to extend the privilege of exploring the underwater world to everybody with services reasonably priced and easily accessible (scuba programmes for children aged 8 years old and above) services.

Dumpling participated in a Scuba Try-Out on a weekend morning. The session is slated for 90 mins but may exceed as per our experience as this is dependent on the children's readiness and water confidence. 

:: Why let kids take up scuba diving at such a young age?
Some advantages of picking up scuba diving include, but are not limited to the following:
 Boosts kids’ water confidence 
Learn safety rules & principles 
Application of problem-solving skills & laws that apply to buoyancy and gravity real life in an underwater setting 
Educate them on ocean conservation 
Encourages discovery and exploration 
Strengthen family bonding with our parent-&-child sessions

:: Learning objectives
As it is a try-out session, the main objective of the morning is to basically let the kids learn the basics they need as well as let them experience how breathing underwater feels like. Importantly, it is meant for the children to also learn some basic safety skills.

:: The experience
The morning started with a quick introduction by Jack, Dumpling’s instructor for that morning. Thereafter, she was led to a room to get herself geared up as Jack explained and did the fitting for the children. So basically, the course fee includes the rental of equipment.   

Singapore, Outdoor fun, Kids, Parent Blogger

Once the fitting was done, the next part of the lesson was the safety briefing.

Safety Briefing
As with any sports, safety is of utmost importance and personally I feel that with Scuba diving, more so. Besides being well prepared, it is important to stay calm and know how to handle “situations”. Things such as mask clearing and the retrieval of the regulator are vital especially when you depend on these equipments in the water. Hence for that morning, the theory session took up about 35-45 mins, something which you may inform your child prior.

Parent Blogger, Singapore, Outdoor Fun, Scuba Diving Kids

The briefing that morning covered these sharing:
  1. Introduction to equipment
  2. Inflating of BCD
  3. Standard hand signals
  4. Basic safety skills such as clearing of masks, retrieval of regulator, reading of air gauge

 Parent Blogger, Singapore, Outdoor Fun, Children

Pool session
The next part of the session was definitely the part that Dumpling enjoyed the most though when she first started, she was a bit hesitant. The hubs, who was there, helped her out with the gearing up, but reminded her that she will be pretty much on her own with the instructor as he was there to take photos + videos.

Jack started by demonstrating on how to enter the pool 

Parent Blogger, Singapore, Outdoor Fun, Children

and once in it, it was a couple of minutes for the children to get used to the masks as well as swimming with their fins on.


In the water, Jack also went through with the children on swimming with their snorkels on, getting used to breathing through the mouths through their regulators. Importantly, Dumpling also had the chance to clear her mask, test her buoyancy as well as retrieve her regulator.


Parent Blogger, Singapore, Outdoor Fun, Children
I'm OK!

The pool session ended with a game where Dumpling had to swim through hoops and assemble a Lego boat. :)

Parent Blogger, Singapore, Outdoor Fun, Children
Gimme that brick!

Tired but happy with her Lego!

What we like about the session:

As this is a try-out session, we were very aware that it is mainly to give Dumpling a chance to trial this sport as well as get a chance to experience breathing underwater and try on the equipment. Personally, I like that the safety briefing was precise because as parents, safety is the top concern for most of us. Importantly, these skills will carry over if you decide to enroll your child for a full scuba certification course as a Junior Scuba Diver (10YO). 

The duration of the session was just right for us though it started getting hot as we finished closer to noon. Dumpling enjoyed the game section a lot as it was a great way to test out her water confidence in a fun way. On hindsight, she said that it would be nice if Uncle Jack can add in more games. :p

The tryouts are also conducted in small groups (no more than 4 children at one go) and Jack was patient and funny, both qualities which I believe help me to engage children too. :) 

Now that we got you interested, here's some course information! 

Course Info and Requirements:
- Child must be at least 8 years old
- Comfortable in water
- No prior experience needed
- Depth of pool: 2m / 6ft 

Keen to try out in September holidays? Here's Dive Degree's September promotions!

Sign up with a friend by 13 Aug (Quote "Beanie N Us")to receive a special offer of $180 for 2 for this try out session! (U.P. $120) 

Dive Degree will also be participating in Travel Revolution 4-6 Aug, at MBS. Hop on over if you wish to find out more in person! 

:: Dive Degree
67B Queen Street, Bugis Village
Singapore 188546
M: 8822 5764 (Whatsapp/Wechat)


Disclaimer: We were invited for a media session to share our experience of the tryout. All opinions expressed are entirely our own.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Monday, June 12, 2017

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY! Chemical Free + Hypoallergenic Certified - Pipper Standard Household Cleaning Products

My family started having a helper before Dumpling was born as we decided against an infant care centre. The good thing is that I get to spend precious time with the kiddo after work – whether it was through homeschooling or now that she is in Primary school, looking through her homework or going through revisions with her instead of having to use that time for chores. The bad thing is that there’s a certain level of reliance on the helper (on the kiddo’s part) for even the simplest thing.

Whenever my helper heads back for her home leave, I would get the kiddo involved in cleaning and packing up. However, anything regarding washing – laundry / dishes would leave her with very dry hands and she then starts to peel around her fingers. (Picture below is already after tons of moisturizer)

I come from a family with strong allergy genes – asthma, nut and egg allergy, and believe it or not, I am also sensitive to extreme weather changes as it would leave me in with hives. Sadly, even my dog – Jaime also suffers from allergies!

Hence, my skin care regime and body care products are all certified as dermatologist tested and free from paraben, sulphate, silicone, petroleum surfactant, etc. Hey, one cannot be too careful, after all, my household includes dogs and a young child.

The part that I have not quite gotten to was being able to find a cleaning range of products which is basically chemical free as exposure to petrochemicals can lead to the development of allergies, skin rashes, asthma, eczema, etc. So I am really pleased and excited to have a chance to try out and to share our review of Pipper Standard cleaning products!

Dish washing liquid

The Road Test
All of Pipper Standard products are naturally made from pineapples and have hypoallergenic certifications, non-irritation certifications, and are free of known allergens; parents do not have to worry when using Pipper Standard household cleaning products in homes with babies or young children.

For me, because of the sensitive skin my kiddo has and the allergy history from my part of the family, that was exactly the range of household cleaning products I was looking for.

Additionally, I also believe in doing my share for the environment (even the facial and body scrubs that I use do not consist of plastic microbeads which causes harm to the environment) hence anything that’s biodegradable earns an extra point from me!

In comes Pipper Standard Dish Washing detergent. Formulated with its proprietary pineapple fermentation process that yields natural organic acids, natural enzymes, natural preservatives and biosurfactants which in turn allow our product to clean as well as or better than chemical products!

When the kiddo used it, the first thing she said to me was “it smells really good!” A quick look at the label shows that the products have essential oil added to them hence the fresh and clean citrusy scent.

As the dishwashing detergent is not formulated with chemicals, both the kiddo’s and my hands were soft and not dried at all and the cups rinsed off easily.

THEN I made a startling discovery! The dishwashing liquid can also be used … TO WASH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES! YES, FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!

After thinking and reading through, it all makes sense. See, since there’s no chemicals added to this product and the range is made of natural ingredients, they are safe for washing fruits and vegetables! One of our family’s favourite fruits is grapes and if you were to google, you’d notice that grapes are often listed high up on the list of fruits with pesticides! Naturally, I have been concerned with such pesticides on our fruits but with Pipper Standard Dishwashing liquid, I now have a good way to put my mind to ease.

How do you use it to wash fruits and vegetables?

Just simply dilute one pump of dish washing liquid into a large bowl of water and soak the fruits and vegetables for 10 minutes, rub the grapes, rinse off and serve!

Laundry Detergent:
OK, now that the dishwashing liquid earned brownie points from us both, what about the other products from Pipper Standard? We decided to put Pipper Standard Laundry Detergent to the test!

For the kiddo, the most “filthy” item she has would probably be her school and sports shoes. I guess that’s to be expected as unlike school uniforms which are washed daily, her shoes are washed weekly.


The Road Test
For the road test, I got the kiddo to soak her sports shoes in a pail of Pipper Standard laundry detergent solution. After a quick 15 mins soak, we started scrubbing them. The dirt came out easily but what I was really surprised with was how easily it was rinsed off.

Before wash

After wash

What I found out was this: most detergents in the market add harmful chemicals to create a foaming effect due to the common misconception that more foam=better cleaning. But most fail to realize that what it equates to is that more water is used to rinse your items out! With the upcoming 30% increase in our water prices from July 2017, anything that helps to conserve water is good news for us!

As I use a front load machine, one of the concerns that I have is to find low suds detergent. Now, with Pipper’s Laundry Detergent having none of the foaming chemicals, this means that it is easy for front load machine users like me! 

And yes, if you are wondering, Pipper’s laundry detergents are hypoallergenic, non-irritant and biodegradable certified by 3rd parties.

I am pleased to share that I have 2 x Dishwashing Liquid to give away

Terms and Conditions
  1. The products are kindly sponsored by Pipper Standard and the giveaway is not endorsed, or associated with Facebook.
  2. The products cannot be exchanged and are not exchangeable for cash
  3. Please answer this question in the comments section below: “Why are Pipper Standard products safe for the family?”
  4. This giveaway is opened only to Singapore Residents. GOOD LUCK! 
Looking for further chances to win more? Read on!

Stand a chance to win a $200 SGD gift voucher to BOVE- world’s largest baby superstore in Suntec City! Simply take a photo with your kids doing fun cleaning activities with any Pipper Standard product.
  1. Take a photo with your child cleaning with any Pipper Standard products
  2. Upload to your Facebook (Tag Pipper Standard Singapore and hashtag #PipperWithKids) don’t forget to make your photo public!
  3. Get your friends to like and share
  4. Post with the most likes wins the gift voucher; second place receives a gift basket of all Pipper Standard products!
About Pipper Standard
From a wife’s care and concern for her husband’s allergies came a line of natural, non-toxic household cleaning products which clean without adding harmful chemicals.Made from the fermentation of pineapple, PiPPER STANDARD is the result of years of dedicated research and development to invent a line of natural household care products that are both safe and as powerful in cleaning as chemical products. PiPPER STANDARD products are free of known allergens, hypoallergenic certified, and are readily biodegradable. We believe the skyrocketing rates of allergies and similar maladies worldwide are caused by excessive exposure to chemicals. By providing consumers a full line of natural household care products to use in lieu of traditional chemical-based products, we can decrease our exposure to harmful chemicals and help care for others by fulfilling our vision to decrease allergy rates and to decrease contamination of our environments.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation by Pipper Standard. All opinions expressed are entirely our own.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 
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