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Banana Mom's Guide To Preparing For Chinese School - For Non-Chinese Speaking Families

Wednesday, May 04, 2016



Malaysia June School Holidays Dates And Free May Calendar 2016

It's May 2016 and while designing my free printable calendar for May 2016 I realized that May has a lot of interesting dates and celebrations for parents, students and teachers.

Here are some of the dates worth taking note of in May 2016

Labour Day 2016

We recently enjoyed a nice long weekend due to this annual holiday which falls on 1st May. It is the exam season so those who are preparing for exams in early May may have taken the opportunity to do some last minute revision whereas those who have completed exams in end April may have had a good time relaxing after the exams. Either way, it was a good weekend.

Wesak Day 2016

The date for Wesak Day this year is 21 May 2016. In Malaysia, Wesak Day is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the fourth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This means that if you are looking at the Gregorian or western calendar, the dates will be different yearly. 21 May 2016 is a Saturday.

Mother's Day 2016

Mother's Day is celebrated on various dates around the world. In Malaysia, as with many other parts of the world, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May each year. This means that in 2016, Mother's Day will fall on 8th May 2016 which happens to be the second Sunday in May 2016. It's very early this year because the first Sunday is the first of May.

Teacher's Day 2016

Just like Mother's Day, Teacher's Day is also celebrated on different dates around the world. In Malaysia, Teacher's Day is celebrated on 16 May 2016. 16th of May 2016 happens to be a Monday. Some schools may be still busy with exams or marking of exam papers. Quite often, schools may postpone the celebration to another day, sometimes on a Friday or the Friday just before the mid year school holidays. Sometimes it is celebrated on the Friday preceding the actual date. Different schools may choose a different date to have their Teacher's Day celebrations. So, if you are planning to prepare a token for your child's teachers, do check the actual day it will be celebrated in your child's school.

Mid Year School Holidays 2016 Malaysia

The Mid Year School holidays is for 2 weeks starting from 27 May 2016 if you are in Johor, Kedah, Terengganu or Kelantan or 28 May 2016 for all other states.

All of the above dates are marked on our free printable May 2016 calendar to facilitate your planning.

Members can download it from our free printable page link below.

Free Printable May 2016 Calendar Download Link.


Thursday, April 28, 2016



30 Commonly Used Math Terms For Kids Bilingual English and Chinese

This post is for all English speaking parents who send their kids to Chinese school or commonly known as SJKC in Malaysia.

Helping kids with homework is not an easy thing. It requires patience and time. Even more so when you do not know the language.

Kids in SJKC have to study Math and Science in Chinese. They used to have to study it in two languages doing Math and Science both in Chinese as well as English. Although I would have preferred Math to be taught in English, I was secretly glad when it was reduced to just one language because it reduced the kids burden. Burden in terms of having to sit for extra papers as well as burden in carrying workbooks, textbooks and exercise books to school.

However, one of the problems faced by kids who come from homes where families speak in English, Malay, Tamil or Chinese dialects other than Mandarin is the lack of practice and exposure in the language. If they are weak in their Mandarin subject, they will have trouble in their Math and Science in Chinese even if they understand the concepts well.

One of the things we've done as banana parents is to teach our kids Math and Science in English. That way, at least half the battle is won when they understand the concepts well. The other half of the battle is to help them with the Math and Science terminology or vocabulary.

In this post, I have come up with 30 commonly used math terms in English with Chinese translation and pinyin as well. These are very basic terms for kids just starting out in Primary one or Standard 1. Things like addition, subtraction, multiplication etc. These terms will be used in all other areas in Math whether you are studying the topic on Money, Time, Volume, Mass, Shapes etc. Every topic in Math requires basic calculation.

You will also find that if you make an effort to help your child master some commonly used math terms, by standard 3 and higher, they will be all right because in Math practice, the sums may get harder and harder but the basic terms do not change. You may learn some new topic specific terms but the basic calculation terms will remain the same.

I hope you find these 30 commonly used Math terms in English, Chinese and pinyin useful as a Cheat Sheet to help your kids with homework. You can also get your kids to learn these terms well so that they recognize the terms easily when they come across them in a question.

This free printable math term is password protected for members only. 
Members can login here to download and print them.

As a  parent who do not know Chinese myself, I had to rely heavily on Google translate and a Chinese to pinyin converter to come up with this list.

As a parent who do not know Chinese with kids in SJKC, I use a lot of online tools and apps which are freely available. I share some of them below:

I agonized over the decision on whether to send my kids to SJKC and was undecided right up to the last minute! I wrote this ebook as a guide for parents who go through the same thing "Should I or should I not send my kids to Chinese school?" "Am I doing the right thing?" 

Year after year, parents are asking themselves this question and go through the exact same dilemma I did. If you know of anyone going through that dilemma now, do recommend them my book "Banana Mom's Guide To Preparing For Chinese School - For Non-Chinese Speaking Families." Thank you.

Monday, April 25, 2016



Test Taking Tips For Young Kids

It is the mid term exam season. There are many kids who are now pros at taking tests. However, there are also many little ones who are sitting for tests for the first few times. Some of the younger kids may not understand the concept of tests. That is why we have prepared the following Test Taking Tips For Very Young Kids.

This free printable Test Taking Tips is a very basic one. It is written in very simple language and with a colourful train graphic to make it less serious and scary. Test taking need not be a stressful thing for young children if approached correctly. It is but a mere evaluation to see whether they have understood what they have been taught in school.

Members can go here to print out this free printable Test Taking Tips.

The Test Taking Tips include the following strategies which has been written in more detail for parents to use when explaining these tips to their kids. You can print out the tips and put it on their study table to remind them of the following strategies.

The following Test Taking Tips is for parents to use together with the free printable which is a simpler version of this.

Test Taking Tips For Young Kids

  • Write Your Name - Little ones often forget this. How is teacher going to mark if she does not know whose paper it is? Remind your child about this important fact
  • Watch The Time - Use a timer or alarm clock to practice at home so that they know they have to do the test in a given time period
  • Write Neatly - Remind your child that it will make his or work much more legible and easier for teacher to mark
  • Read Everything - Every single word on the paper is there for a reason, so read EVERY word 
  • Read Instructions - Never answer a question immediately without reading instructions even if it looks easy and you think you know how to answer
  • Ruler - Use ruler for drawing lines. For example, matching word to picture 
  • Check Your Work - Remind your child to check her work upon completion. What to check for? Check for spelling errors, punctuation, capital/small letters should not be mixed up. If words are transferred from passage to fill in the blanks, DO NOT copy wrongly by misspelling the word etc.
  • Cross Out Used Words - For fill in the blanks type of questions with given words, cross out the words you have used as you go along so that you don't end up using the same word twice. It will also make it easier to answer the remaining questions with less and less words to choose from.
  • Count - Don't miss out ? (?=Questions). Do not miss out any question. If  you don't know how to answer multiple choice questions, guess the answer and do not leave it out. If you guess, you will still have a chance of getting it right. If you leave it blank, you will get it wrong straight away. Make sure your child do every question in the test paper. Whole pages have been missed out through sheer carelessness. 
  • Follow Instructions - If the questions say circle, don't underline etc.
  • Underline Important Words - Underline or circle important words to highlight the clues of what is required 
  • Do Easy Questions First - To safe time, do easy questions first BUT always remember to do the rest later!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016



Teaching Times Tables Posters, Reward Sheets And Interactive Multiplication Sites

Memorizing times tables is boring but essential as a good building block for Math. If you can master your times tables by memorizing the 1 to 12 times tables, you can do many sums involving multiplication with ease and speed.

There are many sites online which offer free printable time tables worksheets, posters and flashcards but this is one if the best I like. It is from a site called Instant Display. This site offers educational posters for sale. However, it also has free resources.

Below is the free maths times tables posters and time tables reward sheets. I like how the times tables posters comes in separate 1 up to 12 times tables format as well as all an all in one 1-12 times tables poster. It also has a colourful and fun times tables reward chart for every level as shown below.

To download these free poster and reward chart, go to Instant Display and look for the corresponding image. They are in doc and pdf formats.



You can then have your child practice memorizing the times tables and present them with a reward chart when they master each level.

In addition to the above, your child can get extra multiplication practice from the following site which lists down interactive multiplication sites for kids to play and practice multiplication. The site which is called Interactive Sites For Education lists down sites in an easy pictorial manner making it really user friendly to search for fun online educational activities for kids. Besides the multiplication page, you can explore the site for other interactive learning for kids.

Monday, April 18, 2016



Information On SMJK In Malaysia


We've heard of SK (Sekolah Kebangsaan), SJKC (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina) and SJKT (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil) for primary public schools in Malaysia. However, some of us will be familiar with SMK (Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan) but have not heard of SMJK (Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan).

What Is SMJK?

SMJK stands for Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan or National-type Secondary School. The Education in Malaysia Wikipedia has a good definition of SMJK and a little history to help you understand SMJKs.

Read this wikipedia link on Secondary Education to understand the history of SMJK and What is SMJK.

In short SMJK used to be Chinese medium schools and they continue to be run like one. They teach the same syllabus as a SMK with all subjects in BM (unless the school has been approved to run the DLP or Dual Language Programme in which case, Math and Science will be taught in English) except there are 5 periods of Chinese instead of 3 and Chinese may be a compulsory subject for SPM in most SMJK. They are rather like a cross between a SMK and a CIS (Chinese Independent School)

What Is The Difference Between SMJK and SMK?

  • MJK has a higher ratio of Chinese students and teacher
  • SMJK and SMK uses the same syllabus except Chinese is a compulsory subject for SMJK. All subjects are in BM unless they are a DLP school where Math and Science are taught in English
  • Read this archived news link to understand the Characteristics of SMJK.
How Many SMJKs are there in Malaysia?

There are 78 SMJKs in Malaysia. Here is a List of the 78 SMJKs in Malaysia. You can also view the map below for the geographical location of the 78 SMJK in Malaysia to search for a SMJK near you. If you prefer, you can check out this map for the list of SMJK according to states in Malaysia.




Where Can I Get More Information On SMJK?

You can visit the SMJK Education Portal for the latest SMJK news. Here is another archived news article on SMJK which may interest readers seeking more information on SMJK.

Friday, April 15, 2016



Online Colouring Contest 15 April - 30 April 2016




















Hey there parents,

With April being such a hot month, outdoor activities are not encouraged. So what do you do with a bored kid at home? You can colour!

Mumsgather Finds is delighted to bring to you a digital online colouring contest sponsored by Books Kinokuniya Malaysia Webstore in conjunction with their colouring books promotion in April 2016. It is extremely easy to enter. No registration is required. You don't have to book a space or make sure you remember to mark  your calendar to go to the colouring contest venue. You can do it in the comfort of your own home.

Make it a fun family project. Mom, dad, child. Even grandpa or grandma can join in.

This online colouring contest is open to Malaysians only, both East and West Malaysia. 

Criteria:

  1. You must have an account with Books Kinokuniya Malaysia Webstore
  2. You are a member of Mumsgather Finds
  3. You are a member of The Malaysia Primary and Secondary School Parents Group on Facebook


Here's what you need to do.

3 Simple Steps

  1. Go to our free printables page for members to download and print your colouring sheet. It looks like the image above.
  2. Rope in mom, dad and every child in your house to come up with ideas to colour the colouring sheet that you printed. You can use any media, colour pencils, crayons, water colours, glitter pens, sharpies. Anything! Be creative and get everyone involved. This is a family project. You can print as many sheets as you like and try to colour as many as you like to test out or have a mini contest at home, then submit the best one. However, only one entry per family is allowed. Submission dateline is 30 April 2016.
  3. When you are done, take a photo of your creation, then go to our Facebook group : The Malaysia Primary and Secondary School Parents on Facebook and submit your entry by uploading your picture in the album called "Books Kinokuniya Malaysia Webstore Colouring Contest". The album will have the following sample photo in it. Click on "Add Photo" to add. In the description, type in your name and media used as per the example given.

Winners Selection
  • Organizers will select 10 finalists from the Books Kinokuniya Malaysia Webstore Colouring Contest Album and the artwork will be featured on our website on this page.
  • FB Group members will be called upon to vote for the best 3 out of the 10 featured artwork
  • The best 3 artworks will win the following prizes (subject to change by organizer)
  • Winners will be notified by private message
Prizes:


Mother Earth Colourart by Emila Yusof

Nature Sings Colourart by Emila Yusof

Treehouse Colourart by Emila Yusof

Good luck and have fun!



Thursday, April 07, 2016



Standard 4 Science In English Resources For Students In DLP Schools



I often read about the frustration of not being able to find Science in English workbooks from parents with kids doing Science In English in DLP schools. This year (2016) the Ministry of Education Malaysia or Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia (KPM)  introduced the DLP (Dual Language Programme) in selected schools that fulfill certain criteria set by KPM.

The pilot DLP starts for
  • Std 1 pupils for "Dunia Sains dan Teknologi" and "Matematik"
  • Std 4 pupils for "Sains" and "Matematik"
  • Form 1 pupils for "Sains" and "Matematik"
Some parents are frustrated that they were unable to find workbooks for their kids to practice at home. Well, fret not. When a subject is in English, the world wide web is filled with resources you can use to help your child at home. What's more? They are free. 

Here are some resources for Std 4 science in English. They may not be exactly the same syllabus exactly but when it comes to Science concepts, they're all the same. You have access to powerpoint presentations, printable word and pdf documents, videos. What more can you ask? All you need to do is search.

1. Std 4 Science Mind Maps - this is from the old Malaysian Std 4 Science syllabus. A summary of everything in mind maps. 


Mind map year 4 from nabihah7

2. Primary 4 Science from Wikispaces - You'll find topics on animals, plants, energy, machines etc. with lots of visuals and very easy to understand layouts.

3. BBC Bitesize Science - plenty of Science topics for all levels. Just browse the different levels for what you need including light and sound, electricity, forces and motion, earth and space and much more.

4. Science Zone from Woodlands Resources UK - Plenty of games, quizzes and Science resources have been summarized according to topics for you.

5. Primaryresources.co.uk - You will find lots of printables here for various Science topics in word and pdf format as well as ready made powerpoint presentations which you can use to teach your child. Investigative skills, life processes, living things in their environments, electricity, forces and motion, light and sound etc are some of the science topics included.

Are you still frustrated about not finding workbooks? Don't be. You have so much more Science resources available to you now. Learn to make use of them. As for workbooks, you can try second hand bilingual books from those who have used them previously. Check to see if anyone is selling them here Malaysian Primary and Secondary School Parents Market. This is the sister group for buying and selling preloved school going stuff from the parents in our discussion group the Malaysia Primary and Secondary School Parents on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016



Primary School Science - How Plants Reproduce

My little guy is very into planting now. He often comes home with a random seed to plant. A bean that he picks up in school. Red bean, green beans etc. We've been planting capsicums, green chillies, avocados, papayas, vegetables, lemons, corn. Not all of them are successful but they're always fun to plant. No, we do not have a big beautiful garden. We only have pots on a concrete porch.

The plant you see in this picture grew out of one of those random leaves he planted or rather threw into the pot. This plant reproduces from leaves.

I think that planting is a great activity for kids and the best way to learn Science, especially on the topic on how plants reproduce.

Here are some other projects you can try with your kids at home. Planting to show how plants reproduce in primary school science.

  1. Home Science Experiment - Germinating Bean Seeds. Very simple, effective and fun 
  2. Home Science Experiment - Growing Plants From Stem Cuttings. You can harvest and eat the vegetable when they are fully grown
  3. Kids Activity - Planting Broccoli from Seeds
  4. Planting Activity For Kids - Planting Flowers and Planting Flowers Part 2
  5. Planting Red Beans - Kids will learn Math, Science and Life Cycle of a Plant
These may not show all the ways that plants reproduce but you can see some of the ways like, leaves, seeds, stem cuttings. While you're in the garden, you can also try this if you spot a caterpillar. 


Happy Planting and learning! The study of science is the study of life itself. 

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