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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shopping Mall Behaviour

How do your kids behave at the malls? Mine behave as if they have just been let out of jail. The moment we reach the mall after parking the car and going up the escalator, its "FREEDOM!" and they'd run off. Its my husband's fault really. He would encourage them to run and race with him. Sometimes he'd urged me to leave my heels behind in exchange for sneakers so that I can join in the race (which I do occassionally). If you see a mad family of 4 plus 1 maid racing in the mall and annoying all passer bys, that would probably be us.

I am really worried about the kids running into people's trolley and injuring themselves or of them being grabbed when they are out of my sight and I have nagged at my husband many times about their shopping mall race so now we compromise by allowing them to run from Point A to Point B or at designated points or familiar places where we can see them. Its really hard to break a habit that has been formed and even harder to tame two kids when there is a third bigger kid supporting them.

Another thing, its the shopping mall floor patterns. The kids are so fascinated by the patterns and tiles that form patterns that they would hop and jump and run following the patterns or tiles on the floor. Its like playing an unending and weaving hopscotch. Hop hop jump, twist run, small hop, large hop, big skip, twist and turn and run straight..... depending on the pattern on the floor. If you're holding their hand, you'd have to weave along too.

The boy likes to run into a different aisle or walk a different way and them meet further up in front. The only problem with that is, sometimes he miscalculates the direction and ends up somewhere else.

I also hate it when we are shopping for clothes with lots and lots of racks. Racks make great hiding places. Oh how they love to hide in between the clothes and peek out at me from there. Sometimes they want to help me choose instead, bringing hanger after hanger of clothes and say "This one is nice, mummy. How about this one." and they'd get really upset if I did not consider their opinion.... "But, mummy, we haven't walked this way yet. I want to show you the clothes on this side."

At the shopping mall, they talk and joke and laugh and run about and forget that I said "Shhhh! This is not your house! Stop running about!" just a minute ago for the 100th time.

The little one used to pretend that his legs were as hard as stone and he can't move them anymore. Then he'd make a big show of dragging his heavy legs with his arms drooped down to the floor. This happens especially when he is bored with our shopping direction ie when not looking at stuff that interest him. He'd say that he is really really tired and needs to be carried. He looks so funny then, I really don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Recently this behaviour has eased off a bit. Now, he just says that he is hungry when he is bored and he doesn't drag his feet anymore. Crazy though this may sound, I kinda miss looking at his funny drag the feet look. But of course this funny look isn't very funny at all, when I am in a hurry. Haha.

Both of them have a hard time leaving the toy store or an amusement park but usually it doesn't turn into a full blown tantrum unless they're very tired to begin with. Usually its easy to distract them and stop the flow of tears. The trick is a firm "No" and then distract, distract, distract with other things.

Another thing we frequently encounter at the malls is balloons. When my girl was young we would rush to queue up for a balloon whenever we see one because it made her so happy. Now we try to avoid any sales promoters carrying balloons. lol. The kids love balloons but it can be terribly annoying for other shoppers because they do not carry it well, swinging it everywhere and into people's faces. On the very few occassions when they get a balloon without our knowledge, we sometimes return it or allow them (because they just love it so much so we feel a bit bad to forbid them all the time) but we tell them to carry it like an umbrella and play with it only when they get home.

In the supermarket, they usually follow their daddy so that I can shop in peace so there's not much to tell about that. They always prefer to follow their daddy in the supermarket because he is much more fun. He would point out fruits and vegetables and teach them their names. He would surprise them by putting cold cans next to their skin to make them jump and all sorts of funny antics whereas with mummy its always "Don't pull the leaves off my vegetables! Don't touch the fish, its dirty!"

As for free food in the supermarket, its a no no. Not unless mummy or daddy says its ok to take from that sales person. Once, I was put in spot when I accepted a food sample and my girl asked me "Why did you take food from that stranger?" because I had always told her that she must not talk to strangers or accept anything from strangers. I had told her that some bad people may pretend to be nice by offering kids sweets etc so she must never accept anything from a stranger. I had a hard time explaining that one.

So, how do your kids behave at shopping malls? Do they drive you up the shopping mall wall?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chinese Kindergarten or English Kindergarten?

My girl is now attending Primary One in a Chinese School. Many of her classmates went to a Chinese Kindergarten so that they will be more prepared for Chinese school. My girl did not; because we were undecided even up to the first day of school (seriously!), whether to send her to a Chinese School or a National type school. But would we do it differently, if we had been more firm in our decision about sending her to Chinese school? Would we have sent her to a Chinese Kindergarten?

I think not. Sure, her classmates who had gone to a Chinese Kindy adjusted more easily to Chinese School. Some of them had even been sent to the Kindergarten of the school itself for 3 years prior to Standard One so they had no trouble adjusting to the language, the environment and the homework. So why not?

My son who will be following his sister to Chinese school in 2 years time is now attending kindy, the same kindy as his sister. It is not a Chinese based kindy. The main medium of instruction is English. Chinese is taught as a subject but thats it. I like this kindy because it has a good mix or it used to have a good mix, they have gardening, gym, sewing, arts and crafts, water play and not too much homework. In other words lots of fun learning. (which is something I think preschoolers should have). Well, at least in my girl's time there was not much homework but now even this school has succumb to the pressure from parents etc to have more homework and there is a lot more homework now. :(

I do not believe that children as young as 3-4 should be started on rote learning and learning to perfect their chinese character strokes and doing tons of homework. So I will not send my son to a Chinese based kindy. It seems that I have not learned from my past mistakes eh? So maybe he too will have trouble adjusting like his sister. ;)

However, the main reason I am doing so is because I want my kids to learn and "master" English first. My kids will have to grow up trilingual. They have to learn English, Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia but they cannot be equally good in all. I want them to be good in English first of all so my main emphasis is still English. I want them to learn their ABCs and to master their reading and writing in English BEFORE they learn their Chinese character stroke writing which is not an easy thing for a kid. Thats my priority. In other words, I would like English to be the core language with Chinese and Malay as the secondary languages.

Furthermore, I feel that among the three languages, English is the easiest to learn, followed by Bahasa Malaysia and the hardest of them all would be Chinese. That would also be because we speak English at home so that makes it easier for them to learn it. So it is easier to master English first, then move on to Chinese in primary school. (even if it means difficulty adjusting to school). I do not want to confuse them by pushing them to learn all three languages too early. It is better to concentrate on one language first.

Malay is harder to learn than English. I was frustrated going through a Malay revision book with my girl because even I couldn't answer the questions given. It would seem that only the author knew what was required. Hmmph! Ok. Ok. Maybe that doesn't mean that Malay is harder to learn but rather I got a lousy book but its by Longman. Oh, I digressed.

So, now my girl is doing her catching up in Chinese after having "mastered" English and some Malay. In school they teach them mostly in Chinese. Sure there is Maths and Science in English but I get the impression that the school places little emphasis on it and do it merely as a requirement. No wonder it was reported that most Chinese school students chose to answer those papers in Chinese. There is so much emphasis on the Chinese language that English is very low in priority. If I hadn't given my girl her foundation or groundwork in English, she would have very poor English. Not only that, I have to continue to coach her in English myself, otherwise in no time at all, our groundwork would have been wasted as her level of English deteriorates from neglect.

Why, from the begginning of the year till now, she has only been tested to spell 6 words and they are easy words like book, pin, bag. She spelt "bag" as "beg" (ie the Malay spelling) and the teacher gave her a correct mark, a star and 100% plus there was a stamp "Disemak oleh gurubesar" on that page and I signed the page to acknowledge it unknowingly! I only discovered the error before writing this post.

Right now, my husband gives the kids Math "tuition" at home and I am the "tuition teacher" for English, Malay and other subjects but mainly English and Malay while the girl catches up on Chinese in school after having attended an English medium kindy for one year.

Can you tell me what YOU think about this issue?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where did you go during the school holidays?

"Where did you go during the school holidays?" This is a standard question that teachers would ask students everywhere right after the holidays.

Yesterday, I stayed back at the kindergarten to speak to my son's teacher and I heard the teachers asking the kids this question.

To everyone's amusement, the kids replied.....

"IOI Mall"
"Berjaya Times Square"
"Mid Valley"

Hahaha. Looks like one week is too short for anyone to go anywhere meaningful so its just to the shopping complex to jalan-jalan for most kids.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Two terms in a year

I checked the school calander and saw that the recent holidays was actually a mid-term holiday. So it was not the end of the first term holidays as I had erroneously thought.

The school has only two terms in one school year. The first term ends in May with a 2 week break whereas the 2nd term ends in November with a 2 month break. In between those two terms there are two mid term breaks of 1 week in March (for the first term) and 1 week in August (for the 2nd term).

This is a bit different from my school days when we had three terms in a year.

Its back to school today. We didn't go anywhere during the holidays but the kids enjoyed it all the same. I wonder what the next half of this term holds for them. Hopefully, they both do well in school, in terms of making friends and getting along with friends and teachers so they will feel a sense of belonging, being able to understand what is taught so they feel more confident during lessons etc. That is my wish for them.

The girl has a trial piano exam in April and a piano concert for exam students in June before her piano exam in July. The boy has a charity concert in May. It would seem like I am living my life around school holidays and school events now.

My girl takes piano lessons and nothing else, no other extra activities. Everyday after school, she comes straight home and starts working on her school work right after lunch. Even then, her days are full. I wonder how other kids with days chockful of activities do it? I really wonder. (Some of my girl's classmates take swimming, ballet, art, badminton etc in addition to music lessons) I wonder how they do it. I don't think we could cope with more activities.

Monday, March 16, 2009

1st Term Review

Time flies. My girl has gone to Primary School Year One for 1 term now. Here's a short summary of the first term
  • Still says she dislikes school but no more tears

  • Homework is manageable. Most days is 2-4 pages of Chinese Writing and an occassional other subject, Math, English or Malay. I wouldn't say its little but she doesn't have to stay up till late in the night to struggle to finish her work either

  • Sometimes does not understand instructions in Chinese but can write well enough

  • Teacher says she has no confidence

  • School curriculum is still easy. A repetition of what she has learned in preschool

  • Scores A-C for most school work

  • They have Chinese Spelling, Ejaan and English Spelling once a week. English teacher seems rather slack. Hardly turns up or teaches much of anything. BM teacher teaches BM in Chinese Mandarin language.

  • No tests this term. Surprisingly, the school has been quite relaxed. There were no books during the first 3 weeks. Merely singing, coloring and relearning ABCs and 123s. It was like 3 weeks of orientation for them. After CNY, books were handed out and thats when work began but still its not as much work as I had expected of a Chinese School. (I later found out from another parent that there were some assessments during the last week of school but my girl didn't know about it and didn't tell me.)

  • Says that she has only 2-3 friends though I see her waving to many after school

  • I have not heard her complain about any harsh punishment from teachers that I always here about Chinese School. She says her English teacher carries a rotan but only uses it to bang the table. Once, she said her teacher pushed a talkative boy out the door and closed the door but only for a minute. Another time she said the teacher banged the table very loudly till a boys pencils etc all fell off the table and the table almost tilt over but that is it so far.

There is no need for tuition for now. Her kindy teacher comes in twice a week to talk to her in Mandarin to improve her speech and Chinese Conversation. Its more like an Oral Chinese Class. Sometimes they just chat about school, sometimes the teacher asks her to read a book and then they discuss. Its very informal. There is no extra written homework involved. We had requested that the teacher do it in this manner so that there is no added pressure as in a real tuition class.

As for the rest of the subjects, Daddy teaches her Math and Mummy teaches her English, Malay, Science, etc when time permits. The rest is left to the teacher at school.

Thats all I can think of for now. I wanted to do this review so that I can compare it with the 2nd and subsequent term.

Friday, March 13, 2009

School Holiday Activity: Creating a story with Storybook Weaver Deluxe

I wanted to do this preview later but I better get it done today or not at all. (Reason: Kids will be on school holiday and I won't have the luxury of time alone when they are at home next week.)

The above is the Storybook Weaver Deluxe writing program. I bought it from Edushop for RM19 plus RM6 for transport. I received my order on the next day after I ordered it. Very fast. I don't know whether the price is expensive or not because I hadn't looked around. I had wanted to buy the KidPix Deluxe 3 or 4 for my girl since she was using it at school but they no longer supply that so I found this instead.

It is a delightful writing program, a creative program that has both the elements of text editing input as well as a paint program. It is quite easy to use.

When you start a story, you are taken to the title page. Here, you input your title and author name and choose a background plus any objects you want on that page. You can also select your font type and size.

After that you move on to the pages. On each page, you can choose the backgrounds as well as the objects. You can move them around, increase or decrease the size etc. Then you type in the text for your stories.

You can choose to have music to go along with each page as well as for each object. Objects will have sound effects when you click on it. You can even make your objects talk by recording your own voice. The kids were thrilled when we recorded their voices barking and growling as animals or simply talking.

It also has a text to speech feature so you can get each page read out loud if your pc has this capability.

There are lots of scenes and objects available. Fantasy, Space, Everyday, People, Animals, Furniture, you name it. Its up to your child's imagination.

Its meant for kids age 6 and up and I think that would be just right unless you are prepared to sit with them and work with them. Older and more creative kids can use the spell check and thesaurus as well as the paint program to alter the added objects.

This school holidays, our main project is to create our own story with the Storybook Weaver Deluxe. The kids are really looking forward to it.

Below is the title and Page 1 of the story I created for illustration for this post. Do you like it? In Page 1, I selected a plain background and added all the furniture, people and technological devices in it myself. Its fun! You can add little details too like a painting of the wall or a pretty ceiling or wall lamp, plants etc but I'm too lazy. Page 1 has text on it "Mommy bloggers love new devices" but it doesn't show here though. Oh, btw, I could easily upload this because it also allows you to save your story as a Web Document.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Registering my Second Child for Primary School

The first child is like an experiment but with the second child, we feel a bit more confident about our parenting skills from past experience so things are a little different and quite often easier, from breastfeeding to toilet training to registering them for school.

On 11th March, 2009, I went to register my second child for Primary School. It took just minutes to get the relevant forms in and receive a chop or rubber stamp at the back of his birth certificate to confirm the registration.

This time we didn't give a second or third choice of school. Only one choice, his sister's school. This time we didn't have to visit several schools before deciding. This time we didn't have to crack our heads on whether to send him for Chinese School or Kebangsaan School etc.

Everything is smoother and easier with the second child. Afterall, (where schooling is concerned), we had given it much thought and research for all our kids in deciding for the first one.

Registering for school this time round was much much easier. The clerk says the letter informing us of the ministry's decision will be out next year sometime in July. I paid RM1 for postage for that letter.

Her latest book

My girl loves to write and draw. Her favourite toy is her drawing board. She also keeps a notebook with her storybook collection where she will write story after story. She comes up with a title, draws a box around it, decorates it a bit, then writes her story. When she is done, she moves on to the next page with the next title and story just like in a real storybook collection.

The above is my little author's latest story. Thats the title and the cover which she designed herself. She hasn't written the story yet. I can't wait to read it.

Most of her stories feature herself. One funny one went like this...... (I've left it as it is unedited together with the spelling errors etc.)

Mary's Flowery Garden

Once upon a time, Mary had a flowery garden, because she was good. So, Mary even was sent to kidspots, and oslo to McDonlness, KFC, and A and W and even dominos. So she was very happy, skippng away, taking to herself, looking at herself and oslo, playing toy slides and the A and W slides too! The end.

Here's another cute one....

The Rocket that flew so high

Once upon a time, there was a rocket that flew so high. She flew so high that she was so near a moon and many stars. She was a Girl. She is a Pink Rocket. Pink for girls to go in. She was so happy that she flew so high in the sky. and i forgot to tell you one more thing it's when she was happy, she oslo flew as fast as she can! She flew everywhere she liked and affter that, it was time to go home! The end.

To encourage her creativity and her love for writing, I've bought her a pc game called the Storybook Weaver Deluxe. Its going to be our school holiday project. She was so excited just hearing the title of the cdrom game. Will update more about it once we learn how to use it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A bun a day makes me very sleepy

These are my hairstyling tools

When I was a young girl, I had long hair. I could see from my early years photo that my hair looks long. But after I went to primary school, *snip snip snip*. My school did not allow us to keep long hair. So I had short hair from Std 1 to Std 6 (ie 7 - 12 years old). *Sob Sob Sob* In secondary school, I kept long hair but we were required to use either blue, white or black ribbons to tie up the hair in braids or pony tail.

My girl's school allows them to keep long hair. However, they must use black clips only AND they have to tie it up in a bun. Aiyoh! Thats a lot of work for mothers. Its not easy to tie a bun early in the morning while your eyes are still half shut especially if the hair is the smooth, slippery type like my girl's.

Quite a lot of mothers I know just snip off their daughter's hair. But I feel too sayang to do that. So I have to get up extra earlier to tie her bun. Have to put lots of gel and pins too, otherwise it won't stay. Really hard work I tell you. Yawwwwwwn!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Conversations between banana moms

Situation 1

Mom 1: Excuse me, can you tell me what this form is all about? (Holds out a form printed in Chinese)

Mom 2: Hehe. Sorry. I also dunno. I was about to ask the teacher myself.

Situation 2: A telephone conversation

Mom 1: Hi Mom 2, Sorry to trouble you but I was just wondering whether you know what homework the kids are supposed to do tomorrow? My dotter wrote something but its incomplete. I have no idea what it is.

Mom 2: Ok. No Problem. I was just about to check the dictionary myself. I will sms you after I check ok? My girl also don't know what its all about when I asked her.

Mom 1: Well, at least she managed to write down something you can check on the dictionary. My dotter didn't manage to copy down anything. I only know its something to do with "My Family" I'm not sure whether they are supposed to bring a family photo for a project or something.

Mom 2: Yah, I also know its something to do with "My Family" because I can read that but I'll check the other words on the dictionary afterwards. BTW, did your dotter bring toilet paper to school yesterday?

Mom 1: No, why?

Mom 2: Apparently the class teacher asked all the children to bring but my girl also didn't bring because she didn't know what the teacher was talking about.

Mom 1: Oh, I didn't know anything about this because my dotter didn't say anything about toilet paper. She also doesn't understand whats going on in class most of the time.

Note: Later on Mom 2 called Mom 1 to inform her that its not a family photo that is required but the kids are having an art competition the next day and the theme is "My Family".

These are true life conversations. Be prepared to have crazy conversations like this if you're a banana mom sending your child to a Chinese school. Oh, and do make connections with other moms and get their phone numbers. It'll really be useful. lol.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Its time to register kids going to primary 1 in 2010 and 2011

My daughter brought home a leaflet informing parents to register kids who are going to Standard One in 2010 and 2011 during this two months. So if you have a child going to Primary One in those years, you have two months starting from this month to register them.

My 5 year old boy is going to Primary One in 2011 so I will be going to register him in the same school as his sister soon. Its easier when there is a sibling studying in the school of your choice. This time we don't have to crack our heads as before on which school to send.

You can register your 4 or 5 year old now. All you need to do is go to the school of your choice and fill up the "Borang Pendaftaran Kemasukan Tahun Satu." and submit that together with your child's birth certificate (Original for Sighting and Copy for the school), a utility bill under your name (As proof of residence - Must be near the school that you want), and a copy of your (Parents') I.C.s

So, have you decided on which school you want to send your child?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Their first toy they bought from their Angpow money

Each year after CNY, we would calculate the kids' Angpow Money and then bank it into the bank for them. This year, since they are older and just starting to learn about the value of money and how to buy things on their own etc, we decided to let them keep a little to buy something for themselves for keepsakes. This is the first year they got to spend any of their Angpow money.

They had RM20 each to spend and RM1 each to put in their money box. We took them to the toy store and asked them to make their selection but we reminded them that it had to be under RM20. Everything that they selected was ABOVE RM20. Hahaha.

We almost gave up. We wanted to take them to the bookstore instead but the little one grumbled. They both still prefer toys to books although they love books. :)

However, just as we were about to leave, I spotted the above fun torches for them. They love playing with torch lights so why not get them one of their own each. The girl's torch was called Fairy Lites Magic Torch and the boy's was Glow Zone Space Adventure's Torch. It has little caps with pictures of fairies (for the girl) and space craft and spaceman (for the boy) to put over the torch so that when you switch it on, the fairies and space craft would float all over the room and ceiling or wherever you shone them. It cost RM20.90 each. Just perfect. So they kept the balance 10 cents into their money boxes instead of the originally intended RM1. :)

They loved it! They paid for it themselves queueing up at the cashier excitedly. Fortunately the cashier was free and had time to take one payment after another from them as well as issue separate receipts and give them a plastic bag each.

Daddy loves it too because now the kids will leave his torch alone. And mummy loves it because now when the kids tell her "Come play with us, please, mummy" she can switch off the lights, lie down on the bed, relax and say "Shine here. Shine there. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1.... Blast off! (for the rocket) or What a sweet fairy princess. Look at her grow bigger/smaller." (Its the easiest toy to play with the kids for this old tired mummy.) lol.

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